How to exercise after having kids
I’m always impressed with the lengths mothers will go for the sake of exercise. Women weigh themselves down with a Baby Bjorn on the front and a hiking carrier in the back, all for the sake of taking a walk. Even pack mules only carry a load on one side of their bodies. When I see tiny women jog 10 miles while pushing three kids in strollers the size of rickshaws, I think, why stop there? Heave a Pack ’n Play full of children onto a forklift, and push that.
I love exercise, and before I had kids, I worked out pretty much every day. When I got pregnant, I tried to stay active. I signed up for water aerobics, thinking it would be easy on my body. Ten minutes into the class, I almost passed out. There’s nothing like having a bunch of 80-year-olds dominate you in an exercise that involves foam noodles and floating. They were kind enough to use their webbed aqua gloves to fan me. My obstetrician told me to give up exercise.
I figured I’d get back in shape after the baby was born and my heart rate had returned to normal. I would be like those women in parenting magazines who bench-press their adorable babies! I’d hold her over my head like Rocky lifting a tractor tire while training to defeat Drago (but more tenderly). I’d gaze lovingly at her while doing downward dog. I’d multi-task by doing squat thrusts in between nursing and changing diapers.
But having a baby laid me out for months. I was beyond sleep deprived; my hip somewhat unhinged during the last trimester and wouldn’t go back; and nursing was so difficult for me that I was perpetually hooked up to a breast pump like it was a rolling IV drip. It was all I could do to walk around my own house. I spent hours on the couch cuddling my baby and watching Designing Women reruns. During a particularly low point, I was eating corn chips and a blob of salsa dropped on my baby’s head. I didn’t even bother to get up for a napkin; I just licked the salsa off her hair.
I eventually recovered. And had more babies. Again, I tried to exercise. But if I tried to do Pilates, toddlers snuck up on me and I donkey-kicked them. I couldn’t align my chakras during a yoga video because my children were whispering, “Can I have a Tootsie Roll?” over and over into my ear.
I thought there was no hope for me until I realized that my daughters liked dancing to Disney songs. There was no end to their synthetic, rash-inducing princess costumes and inspired leg kicks. I wondered: if I substituted that treacly nonsense music with something I could aerobicize to, would they go for it?
They did. So now my exercise is dancing around with my daughters. I’m actually doing aerobic exercises, but I pretend it’s dancing so they won’t figure out I’m taking time for myself. Whenever kids figure out that their mother is having me-time, they put a stop to it. Retaliation is swift and sure. So I keep up the ruse. My only concern is that one of my daughters will do the Jane Fonda “dog peeing on the fire hydrant” outer thigh move in the middle of Prom because her mother told her that’s “dancing.”