At 37 years old, I have the most body fat I’ve ever had in my life. Except, possibly, for when I was in my mid-20s. At that point, my teenage metabolism had all but stopped and the weight was creeping on faster than a basement flood in spring.
Today’s culprit is different. For the past 10 years, I’ve stayed in shape by exercising an average of 5 times a week. I actually used to look forward to winter, because then it meant that I could go skiing. The city where I live has an excellent lighted trail system, meaning one can work all day and glide down silent, wintry trails by night.
I’ve tried all the different fads – bootcamps, step aerobics, zumba, running, yoga, spin – and I’ve loved them all. (Well, except perhaps yoga). My favourite, though, is weightlifting. I have lifted weights for over 10 years. There is nothing like the feeling of moving heavy objects around, feeling oneself getting stronger every (second) day.
But in early 2013, I became pregnant. Try as I might, my heavy body just gave out. By March, I had to stop weightlifting because my lower back kept popping out of place. Running I stopped in April. By August, I could only do elliptical and spin. And those I could do only lightly.
Today my baby is 6 months old and I’m lucky if I get to the gym once a week. My partner and I juggle work and childcare, meaning if one of us is parenting, the other is getting done everything that needs doing. We have been fortunate enough to get our child in part-time daycare. So, while my partner works full-time, I work part-time.
Where does exercise fit in? In addition to childcare, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and staying in touch with loved ones, I am pretty much pooped. For a while, I tried both working and exercising during the time my son is in daycare, but I had to stop doing that because work began taking up all this time.
Then, my partner and I took turns going to the gym in the evenings. The only problem with this was that if our son got sick, or my partner had to work late, one of us had to give up the gym.
Our new plan is for me to lift weights at 6 AM during the week, and for him to work out in the evenings. We’ll see. I am desperate to regain muscle, but I also value my sanity.
These days, exercise is about priorities. It must compete with my child, my work, running errands, family life, and friendships. Is it possible to have them all? Stay tuned.