Sweating the small stuff

It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a worrier, mixed with a serious dash of perfectionism, a side effect of which is insomnia inducing mommy-guilt.

I’ve been caught up in a massive change-up of my routine (again) due to Nora’s new mobility (crawling, cruising, and crashing, oh my!) and those precious 20 minutes I had for two whole weeks to get in a workout have once again vanished.

It sucks.

I’m just not a dieting kind of girl. I’d rather eat foods I enjoy and then kick my own ass for a couple hours at the gym. It makes me feel strong. Being hungry makes me feel weak.

And cranky.

And like a bad mother.

I know I’m just in a rough headspace the past few days, still playing catch up from my time in Greenfield helping my sister’s family and now having some new concerns about Nora’s hips that will go unanswered for a couple more weeks until we get down to see her doctor again… I’m just a little stressed.

Unfortunately, 3 a.m. isn’t the best time to get resolution so I should probably try getting some sleep instead.

so far

Second blog post of the month! That makes twice as many as last month!

Well I guess I should try not to be too hard on myself since 90% of my waking hours I have my hands full, quite literally with this baby.

Sometimes I feel guilty about that, or that I’m disappointing some imaginary ‘other’ because it seems so hard for me to simply put the baby down. Sometimes it’s hard because I know she’ll just wake up the instant I try to move her,  but mostly I just like to hold her and be right there when she wakes. I’m so in love with that smile she gives me each time her eyes open and delightfully, mommy (and the boobs) are still right where she left them.

Actually it seems easier for me to get up and get things done when Nora is awake. I can plop her happily in her swing, or strap her to me in a wrap or sling and go about my business while she takes in the world.  And then, of course, we have to talk about it. I do really mean “we” since she also loves to talk, practically dialog back and forth when she’s awake. Even if I’m in the next room I can hear her pipe up with extra loud babbles and coos waiting for me to respond in turn.

She also likes to show off her new physical skills. She loves to sit up, and is already doing so nearly on her own, as well as pushing herself up to standing with some support. And even though she still kind of hates her tummy time, she easily props her head up to gaze around. She’s very close to rolling front to back now, which I know is important, but then we roll back to front too, and that brings a whole new set of terrors for me. What might she suddenly roll off of, or on to, for that matter?

Oh well, I guess that’s just part of the deal. Every day she will become a little more independent, a little less snuggly. I heard once that parenting is just a series of letting-go’s starting the moment a baby is born. Maybe that’s why I hold her so much now, because I still can.

Of course, now that Nora is officially three months old, we’re starting to face a lot of new challenges. For one, our freezer stock has been finally emptied, which means I have to cook real food if we expect to eat. Secondly, it’s really time for me to work on taking better care of myself. I’m finally starting to get the hang of showering (almost) every day, but I still need to get in a bit of exercise. Even though we have gym memberships, actually leaving the house to get there (and then coming home and getting cleaned up again) is way too challenging for this novice. Thankfully I have a stash of workout DVDs and a few of them have short 20-25 minute workouts that I should be able to squeeze in every couple of days. Yeah, it’s not much, but we’re just getting started.

All things considered, I feel so very lucky for how everything has worked out. Brandon has taken such good care of all of us, and I really believe all my successes so far are because of how much he has supported me and jumped in headfirst into this fatherhood thing. We truly are a team and Nora is thriving because of it!

Fresh

I really don’t do resolutions for the New Year.

It seems a little arbitrary, and I make plenty of commitments to myself to do things better or differently the whole year through.

However.

This past year has been a doozy, and the one upcoming, mind-boggling. With all the memories and hopes swirling around, I’m feeling extra sentimental (blame the pregnancy, if you wish) and I figured a few goals might help keep my sanity with all the chaos. So here are a few fairly attainable goals for 2012:

1.) Floss every day. Like really every day, not every day for a couple of months, then every two or three days, then on Saturdays, then not for a month and then start the cycle over again. Also, pack some floss in my purse again.

2.) Go to the gym 100 days in 2012. That’s about twice a week on average. Considering the new baby factor, I’d say that’s fairly reasonable. I know I’ll be playing catch up a lot over the summer once we all start settling down into a rhythm, and I’m okay with that. Summer will be setting up for some other big maybe’s in the fall.

3.) Get back to pre-pregnancy weight before we start trying for another baby. This one is a must for me, and I am going to need a lot of reminders when I start trying to rush things along. The one thing I feel like I could have done differently this time around was be better physically prepared for the stresses that my body is going to go through. Next time, I will know better, and getting off on the right foot always makes a big difference.

(And yes, there has been a little bit of talk about another baby very soon, but it’s just an idea we’re throwing around. Obviously we have no idea what life with Nora will be like and I, for one, want to see how that goes first.)

(And no, this is not just because my sister is pregnant again so soon. I happen to believe she stole the idea from me, since she originally  said she’d be waiting a year. *wink wink, love ya, Tiff!*)

Anyway…

4.) Read a book a month, for fun. This is almost pathetic, but again, with the baby… who knows how it will go. I’ve gotten really bad about starting books and not finishing them, too, even when they’re really good. So hopefully this will kick-start something I really want to do anyway.

Finally 5.) Drink plenty of summer beers. I feel like I’ve been complaining this ENTIRE pregnancy about missing out on all the great seasonal brews (and wine, and everything else for that matter). But I absolutely love all the light, crisp summer beers, and I may never recover from the loss this past year. Yes I’m being melodramatic, and for the sake of full disclosure, I did manage to enjoy a couple pints of Bell’s Oberon while we were honeymooning, but that’s all. Tragic.

So that’s it. Mostly don’t forget to take care of myself, and enjoy myself a little. If I can do all that, and have a baby, I’ll be considering 2012 a wild success!

Happy New Year!

 

Limits

If there’s one thing training has taught me about pregnancy, it’s that pain is not the sign you’ve reached the limits of your capabilities.

That’s not to say that pain should be ignored. Quite the opposite entirely. It’s a very loud note you have to learn to harmonize with. Some pain means you did something wrong, some pain means you did something you’re not ready for, and still other pain means you need a little break and then you should try again. And my favorite kind of pain: stop doing nothing and move.

It’s not easy to learn how to translate pain. Even before I started lifting, I was a pretty accident prone kind of girl. When I was growing up, I had more sprained ankles and wrists, more trips to the ER for x-rays, more bumps and bruises than just about anyone I know. But after breaking my arm twice, I learned what the difference was between a break and a sprain.

As an adult, I tried running for a while, too. I learned what the difference was between shin splints and chondromalacia thanks to some very nice doctors. (Also, I learned I kind of hate running, even without injury.)

There  have been assorted other minor injuries, fewer and fewer as I’ve learned more about myself and good techniques.

So now I’m closing in rapidly on 30 weeks pregnant. Every trip to the gym is different, requiring planning and focus. And it still hurts, but a lot less than sitting on the couch does. My hips will probably continue to protest long after this baby is on the outside, from what I hear. But that’s all the more reason to get stronger, to get healthy mobility back and to do it all over again.

There’s also another kind of pain I’ve never faced before. For some, it’s insurmountable, and for others, it’s a gift reminding them of the beauty of humanity. I hope when this baby’s time comes, I can take all of these lessons and put myself in the latter category: I am only as frail as my fear and as strong as the pain I bear for love.

Stronger

How would you feel if someone told you that you had to go from couch potato to marathon runner in three months? Would you laugh in their face? Would you suggest maybe a 5k instead? But what if you had no choice? Panic? Start training and see what happens?

That’s pretty much where I’m at.

Now I don’t feel like my body is entirely at ‘couch potato’ level because I’ve been trying to keep up on some small amount of exercise and yoga, but once you factor in how ‘strong’ I feel shuffling around with this belly, and the pain in my hips, it mostly cancels out.

There have been times over the past year when I really did feel strong: when I was running (and not injuring my knee) almost every day and making huge cardio gains…  Or when I was really in my lifting groove, and pushing and pulling around my heaviest weights yet. But I got away from it when real life (mostly wedding stress & a new puppy) got in the way, and I haven’t been back.

I know, it’s not like I just found out I was pregnant and I should start kicking things up a notch. Of course when I was just finding out, I was also utterly exhausted and nauseous every day for three and a half months. And since then, I’ve been exercising to manage pain, but that’s about it.

The good news is I feel like I could be stronger, even with this growing belly I’m sporting. I just have to get serious about training. (Training for childbirth… now THAT sounds equally ridiculous and intimidating.) It’s going to hurt at first; it always does. But how much more will it hurt if I’m not ready?

(Yes, I know that plenty of women who are not in great physical shape give birth all on their own power every day. But there are other goals for me as a person, not just me as a new mother, that will be much easier to reach if I give myself a head start now. Not the least of which is getting back into my pre-pregnancy clothes.)

And I know me: it’s easier to sit on the couch, to complain about being tired, to say “Hey, I just had a baby, I deserve a break.” But I also know I’m at high risk for postpartum depression, and feeling like a grumpy, unattractive slob will not help.  So for my mental and emotional well being, as well as my physical: this matters. A lot.

From today, it’s two weeks until December (and two weeks + a couple days until my third trimester officially begins). Today I started myself on a very basic strength program, in hopes of working out the soreness before I head to the gym. Next week I’m going to head to the gym with my free 7-day pass, and then come December 1st, fork over the money (aka motivation!) for a membership.

Honestly I love going to the gym once I’m there, so having a membership again gets me all kinds of giddy. Now to just make it through the first pains and keep going!

Relief

Back pain is something I take pretty seriously. Between my family history that includes chronic back pain, osteoporosis, and my own history of weight issues and injuries, I know I have to be proactive about these little annoying pains now before they become major concerns.
I’ve grown up around chiropractic care, and I’m a firm believer. But I’ve also recently learned the merits of strength conditioning both as a supplement and alternative for chiropractic care. Basically, when I lift, my back doesn’t hurt. Knowing this, and taking into consideration my limitations with being pregnant, these are some of the stretches and exercises I’ve started doing, along with visits to my chiropractor Dr. Boggs and periodic ice therapy throughout the day.
Firstly, cat pose, or cat spine.

Obviously, with my growing belly, I’m not nearly as flexible as I once was, especially in the head back position. But with a little care to not overextend myself, I get a lot of relief just from this simple stretch.

Next, while I’ve already got myself down in quadruped, the bird dog:

This is a great lower back & glute strengthening exercise that is highly recommended for relieving lower back pain. One of the main ways in which strength training supplements chiropractic care is that good muscle tone allows your body to hold corrections better. You can keep getting adjusted several times a week, but if your body can’t hold those adjustments, the pain will just keep coming back.

And one more quadruped based exercise for the upper and middle back:

Quadruped extension rotation. Harder than it looks, but you feel it  all through your back in a good way. P.S. I’m a huge fan of Eric Cressey’s training program Show and Go, so don’t be surprised if I plug a few of the exercises from the program in the future. I bought it almost a year ago for pre-wedding fitness training, and go back to it regularly.

On your feet now. Basic body weight squats.

Basic core stability training as well as balance and leg strength. One modification for pregnant women (if you’re not already doing squats as part of your regular routine) is to not dip your thighs below parallel. Softened joints are part of your body preparing to pass a child through your pelvic area, and your knees may be more susceptible to damage as a result. Also bare feet are highly recommended, or flat shoes. Soft, squishy ‘running’ shoes prop your body forward and misalign this movement. And don’t hesitate to hold gently to the back of a chair as your balance shifts.

And last one, for now: wall push-ups.

More core stability, with upper body strength. My sister quite casually mentioned how surprised she was that her arms were sore for days after delivering her baby, from pulling on various objects (including her legs) during her son’s birth. So I’m trying to be diligent with training my whole body, gently and consistently.
This is also a good exercise to work towards doing a ‘real’ pushup, as opposed to the knee pushup modification. As your upper body gets stronger, you can lower your angle until you get down on the floor.

This is a pretty massive post, so thanks for sticking with me if you’ve made it this far. Hopefully sticking to this routine of doing one or more of these exercises during regular breaks from work will make my back happier!