We all do it. For various reasons, we get on the boat, and off the boat. Or on the wagon, and we fall of the wagon. However you want to say it, most of us have at least one time (or many) found ourselves beginning an exercise routine … again.
Sometimes we just get lazy. Sometimes we get “too busy”. And sometimes, for health reasons, we just don’t have a choice.
It wasn’t that long ago that I was training for (what I thought at the time) my first marathon. After months of running and battling through shin splints, I was able to run a half marathon. Not too shabby for a mostly novice runner, but I never could shake the feeling that I seemed to have to train harder and work more for the same miles that my peers were achieving.
Months passed and we found out we were expecting our ninth baby boy, Malachi. Yeah, the nausea and vomiting were a definite vote against running, and well, exercise of any real kind at all. The first few months of the pregnancy were typical. The last two were hard. I denied it then, but looking back I can see my struggle. I would search online for answers to why I might be feeling so poorly. “I’m just a tired, pregnant mama of 8 already. Once the baby’s born, I’ll be back to normal.” I hoped. I just couldn’t shake it. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t have energy. I seemed to really be okay about that. The thing that would freak me out was that I would literally be out of breath simply from moving from couch to chair, let alone going up the stairs.
Labor came and for the first time in my child bearing years, I came face to face with the reality of not being able to give birth naturally. Once he was here safe and sound though, I thought my physical health would improve. And I did feel somewhat better with him on the outside of my body. But I still ached. And then the stress fracture. Without warning, I found myself going from active mother to sitting on a couch for weeks trying to allow a major bone to mend. And trying to figure out how to continue nursing a baby though my body was seriously deplete.
And it had been deplete. You don’t become vitamin D deficient overnight. And the months of swallowing vitamin D and calcium in large amounts began. And the waiting.
Waiting for MRI results and bone density scan results.
Waiting to be cleared to walk freely. I was.
Waiting for the pain to subside. It did.
Waiting for the muscle weakness to just stop nagging. Dreadful. But it did.
And alas, waiting to feel strong enough and energetic enough again to bike and lift weights. To be at the gym.
It was hard those months, and I learned a lot, not being able to move like I wanted to. At first, it was hard watching other people run and play with their kids when I was sitting. Tears streamed down my face as I pondered that luxury being stripped away from me. The luxury I’d forever taken for granted. But no more. And then, watching people run on the sidewalks past my house, or as I drove here and there. Could I, someday? Ever? Eventually?
And I became keenly aware I only wanted one thing. To be healthy enough to fully be here for my family.
Was I okay if I had to be wheelchair bound? Yes, I had to ponder that, too. And while the answer was yes, I sure didn’t want that. I sure did want to be a healthy, fully present, active mom for my nine boys and my husband.
And to be fit? Well, that would just be totally icing on the cake!
And this week, I am thankful. Not only am I healthy enough to exercise, but I feel like it. I want to!
I went to the gym Monday morning with a very realistic expectation. I honestly just wanted to warm my muscles up and see what they felt like doing. Was it sobering? You bet! Not even two years ago, I would run 8 or 10 miles and then do “a quick 5 miles” on the bike to cool down. Day 1 at the gym showed me 3 miles would be work. And the weight I could lift would be roughly half to two-thirds what I used to handle. But it was okay.
Today I already increased my mileage and intensity for bike time. And while I used to do sets of 8 on weights, I’m starting with sets of 5 for now. And that’s okay! It really is. I have some occasional slight pain in my leg as is normally the case when I put some good stress on it, but I’m taking it slow and listening to my body.
So I’m thankful. Incredibly thankful. For those of you have followed this journey for years, months, or even weeks, thank you for your prayers. I mean that.
And if you are a mama struggling with finding the time, strength, or energy to exercise and take care of your body, can I encourage you with two things?
1. It’s okay if you really can’t do it right now. Nursing a baby or growing a new life are so important, and hard work! Give yourself some time. And please don’t underestimate what your body IS doing right now. There will be a new season in which you can find the time, the strength, and the energy for “extra” exercising.
2. If you CAN exercise right now and you’re not, I urge you to begin. Start out slow and begin where you are. Just start. For your health. Because you have to take care of you, too. You’re important!
Be blessed, my friends.