Let's talk about movement. I am going to share how movement has fit into my journey, but if you missed the Who Are You? post I would recommend reading that first for an overall background.
Searching for health has always been my overarching goal, but I did not realize it at the beginning. In high school, I wanted to be skinny even though I was active playing volleyball, basketball, and track. In college, I tried new forms of exercise by taking Zumba classes, learning yoga, and going dancing with friends. I did not focus on health at these times and did not need to lose weight, but rather was enjoying movement.
Fast forward to after baby number 1 (She is 8 now). I had baby weight to lose and no real game plan in place to lose it. A friend mentioned to me there was going to be a half marathon in the spring (the baby was born in August) and asked me if I wanted to do it with her. I had never ran for distance before, but I said yes. I knew it would push me to start exercising again because there was no way I would be able to show up the day of the race and run 13.1 miles!
How do you start exercising?
For me, I picked an activity that I had not done much of before: long distance running. Should I have started with a smaller race like a 5k or a 10k? Probably, but in this case I had an accountability partner which made all the difference. I knew that when I did not feel like running she would push me to and when she was busy she knew I would be asking her when the next training session would be. Training was also key to prevent injuries and gradually allow time for your body to improve by easing into it. With the extra exertion, I did not forget about eating calories or drinking water.
You might look at the pictures of three different half marathons I ran and think "Wow, she looks fit." While, yes I did lose most of the baby weight and was in the best shape I have ever been, I was not healthy. I remember running on the treadmill for 2 hours and afterwards, instead of choosing a protein rich post-workout snack, I ate 5 chocolate chip cookies in succession. I had no concept of health in a complete, well-rounded manner. I merely thought if I burned calories while running I could eat anything I wanted to eat (calories in equals calories out if you are familiar with that concept). This only fed my sugar addiction and desire for sweet snacks, slowed my metabolism, and affected my mood.
Can you exercise too much?
In my case, I was running for hours multiple times a week and my health was not benefiting from incorporating both positive exercise and eating habits. Yes! It was too much for me. To this day, I dislike running and would dread the thought of having to go on a run, but it is still a good option for movement. Instead, I chose to explore other exercises that would bring me joy and help with weight maintenance.
What exercises help you lose weight?
Fast forward to after baby number 2 (She is 5 now). Zumba, yoga, dancing, HIIT, and jumping rope were all fun activities I experimented with for a time to lose baby weight. You can see me hiking with my newest chubby-cheeked baby near a waterfall. Exercises that I have not tried, but seem to be good options are CrossFit, pilates, jazzercise, rebounding (which I recently learned about from the Trim Healthy Mama Facebook group), and golf. I've done mini-golf – does that count?! I also had a better understanding of health promoting foods this time around, but I had a difficult time implementing what to eat and when. Since it was new to me and I lacked cooking skills, I did not pick it up - yet. Thankfully, there was more to experience.
Fast forward to the day after baby number 3 was born (She is 2 now). I decided this time would be different. That this time would have the best results! I would incorporate a complete approach to both eating and moving my body. I was not going to focus on being skinny, but for a healthy routine to last for life.
Can you do multiple exercise routines?
Right now, my exercise consists of walking the kids to school and daycare in the morning, riding bikes together at night, swimming whenever there is a chance (you can see me in the picture with the youngest not caring about how my swimsuit fit or how I looked and, instead, enjoying the time), and lifting weights (I use a Bowflex) when the weather outside is frightful. Yes, I do multiple exercise routines. But is it too much? No and these are my reasons why:
- These are short bouts of exercise, namely 10-20 minutes here and there, which does not make me dread exercising.
- I like the activities and do not exercise anymore for a negative reward like the eating multiple cookies situation (which was also a snacking all day problem).
- The endorphins after working out boost my mood.
- Exercising reminds me to be grateful for what my body can do, not disappointed in it for how I believe it should look when I was younger.
- Movement with my children instills a positive love of exercise for them plus they have become my accountability partners! We are currently participating in St. Jude's 150 mile September biking challenge and are right on track. We bike to get our groceries now to make sure we get our miles in.
- Focusing on overall health has been the most sustainable weight loss, enjoyable approach, and the best results I've had all along.
- Do not forget, movement can be fun!
I hope this story can inspire you to starting exercising, keep going, or maybe change up your routine. Movement has been an integral part of my health journey and I do not plan on stopping. Shout out to all the lovely ladies who took the time to respond to my poll asking about movement and if you like it or if you exercise because you feel like you should. I would love to hear in the comments how movement has helped you!