ADVICE FOR NEW MOTHERS
Slow Down To Finish First ADVICE FOR NEW MOTHERS (and others) ON DECELERATING FOR HEALTH AND SUCCESS.
Today I started a new fitness journey. It’s called “backing off”, and it’s a challenge for me. The reason I’ve chosen to take this path is because I learned I have to decrease my exercise pace and intensity in order to reach my goal of optimal health. Specifically, I the fact that my heart rate rises quickly, particularly when doing a cardio routine, means that my aerobic capacity is not great, and the way to improve it is to keep my heart rate at a much lower range and then gradually build up. Here’s the thing… I know that “fit” doesn’t necessarily equate with being “healthy”, and I’ll do what it takes to be healthy. But, I like to push myself physically. It makes me feel strong, physically and mentally. It’s difficult for me to imagine that I’m getting a good workout if I’m not working to capacity. Constantly monitoring my heart rate to stay under 130 is making me nuts! After going at full speed for so long I’m now supposed to modify every workout and barely break a sweat? I’m not happy. But, once again, it’s all about mindset.
I’m a mom, and like many moms, I feel compelled to do it all. I can’t really figure out if I’m driven more by an innate desire to get a lot done, or by the perception that doing more makes me a better mother. I was thinking of this when I was walking around my neighborhood this morning (yes, walking – as opposed to tackling the “Game Day” workout from Insanity: The Asylum, which would have been my preference.) It does feed my ego to be able to juggle teaching, blogging, reading, taking courses, food shopping, straightening up the house, cooking, shuffling my daughter back and forth to various activities (sometimes until 10pm), and helping her with her homework… not to mention exercising and spending time with my husband. On a good day, I revel in the notion that I can fly around with an invisible cape on my back and a giant S on my chest. But, on a bad day, when everything feels like a priority, and I’m rundown, and unexpected responsibilities infiltrate my schedule, there’s nothing uplifting about the ability to do it all. It’s just a major league burden. As I climbed Colby Drive, keeping my heart rate steady at 125, I made a connection between the benefits of decelerating my fitness life and the benefits of decelerating my life as a mom. When I attach myself to a particular notion, like… the harder I push myself physically, the more fit & healthy I’ll be; or, the more I can cram into my day as a mother, the more of a Mom On Top I’ll be – I’m completely blinded to the bigger picture. In turn, I’m slowly and unconsciously contributing to a gradual deterioration, instead of implementing my intended game plan, which is to build myself up, both physically and emotionally. Modifying my workouts to get my health on track (which eventually made perfect sense) woke me up to the idea that pacing myself in general will make me the best mother I can possibly be (my #1 goal). I must ask myself, what will affect my children more – having the pantry stocked at all times, or having a calm, healthy, happy mother? In the long run, there will always be enough food to choose from, and if a favorite has not immediately been replenished, they will learn patience (an unexpected benefit!) I can tell you this for sure… When they are older and reflecting on their childhood and on me as their mother, I don’t want their memory to be “my mom always made sure we never ran out of Cheerios, but she was a stressed out lunatic.” We walk through life with a very narrow focus. We think that there’s one way, and one way only to reach success, and we get stuck in that belief. (Being a new mom is a particularly vulnerable time for forming that risky mindset.) Seeing
things differently, allowing the “aha” moments in, and then internalizing the peace that comes with this new vision, is life changing – both for the present and, even more profoundly, for the future. If I back off – even temporarily – with my exercise now, I’ll greatly increase the odds that I’ll be skiing and climbing mountains with my grandchildren someday. If I slow my life down – even just a little – in my day to day, I’ll greatly increase the odds that my children will be better off for it. And there’s no harm in donning my cape and engaging my superpowers every now and again, for a little “I can do it all” ego boost!