Fitness has definitely been a journey for me. I am not one of those people who grew up loving
it, or really enjoy even doing it. To be quite honest, I was overweight until I went off to college when I started going to the gym during my sophomore year simply because I was bored and had nothing else to do. Several months later and 40 pounds lighter, fitness became a regular part of my routine. It was a way for me to relieve stress from whatever was causing it – school,
work, relationships. And I felt better, slept better, and had more energy. By the time I became
pregnant a little over two years ago, and almost 10 years after making fitness part of my
routine, working out 4-6 days a week was normal and my body knew exactly when I skipped a
few extra days. In fact, I taught 60-minute HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) classes until I
was 25 weeks pregnant and continued to attend those classes 36 out of 38 week pregnancy.
I naturally assumed that I would do the same post baby. And while I’m happy to report at 18
months postpartum, I really do workout 4-6 days a week for anywhere from 20-60 minutes just depending on my schedule, it took some time to get back into the groove of things because I was adjusting to being a mom, in addition to the other roles I already had which included wife, managing a team of 30 employees as a hospital administrator, and other extracurriculars. Those first few months were tough with adjusting and learning and frankly just the lack of sleep, but I now realize that starting this routine earlier would’ve helped me and I’m here to share why in hopes that it also helps you:
1. It allows you to give back to yourself: As women, and especially as mothers, we spend so much time pouring into others and I love that! But, if I’m being completely honest, sometimes when I’m constantly pouring into others, I’m left feeling personally drained. Taking the time out to exercise regularly gives me something that is just for me. Sometimes I go meet friends, sometimes I do it at home in my living room while fighting over my step and other exercise equipment with my toddler. But sometimes, it is just me running in nature or at a studio class for an hour and I feel so accomplished when I’m
done. After that workout is done, I have a completely different mindset, which leads me
to my second reason.
2. It is an excellent stress reliever: I don’t know about you, but I am very Type A and have the tendency to become anxious when I have a lot of decisions to make or tasks to complete – which is basically motherhood 24/7. When I start to feel this way, I’ve learned over the years that working out, even if just 20 minutes, allows me to reset and refocus. Sometimes I think about solutions to whatever task I have to complete, and sometimes I make sure not to think about it. Regardless of which route I choose, I feel so much better afterwards. I’ll never forget the line in “Legally Blonde” when Reese Witherspoon says about her client who is on trial for murdering her husband, “Exercise
gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their
husbands, they just don’t”. It’s funny, but seriously, when you workout your body
releases chemicals called endorphins which interact with the receptors in your brain
that help reduce your perception of pain. They release a positive feeling in your body
similar to morphine, which can help you tackle all those tasks with more ease.
3. It gives you energy: 4th trimester is HARD, y’all! Not only are you getting used to a new human, but he or she is getting used to a completely new environment, including adjusting to a sleep schedule outside of the womb. And, if you’re anything like me, all the sleep training in the world will not convince your child to sleep through the night even at 14 months. Those first few months, I longed for a full night’s sleep because I am an eight hour a night person and used the lack of it as an excuse for why I could not get up early in the morning to workout. About 7 months in, I made a commitment to wake up every weekday to work out and can I tell you, even with waking up earlier, I had so much more energy starting after that workout for the entire day. I wasn’t dragging into work or barely getting through making dinner in the evening. Now, mornings may not be your thing, but find a time that works for you, I promise it will be worth it.
4. Lastly, but certainly not least, it helps with weight loss: Every woman’s pregnancy and
postpartum journey is different. Some will gain a little weight and some a lot, some lose
weight from simply breastfeeding and others gain it while breastfeeding, and some get
back to that pre-baby weight really quickly while it takes others a while. We’re all
different, and that’s okay. For me personally, I gained 65 pounds during pregnancy,
even with working out regularly. I’m happy to report that I have lost all of that weight
but that didn’t just fall off. I knew I needed a fitness routine to jumpstart my
weight loss in addition to healthy eating.
These are the main reasons I have made it a priority to workout after I having a baby, but there are so many more. If you’re struggling to allow yourself the time to give back to yourself,
remember, it is hard to give to others when you’re not feeling your best. I can honestly say that when I am taking the time to give back to and take care of myself, I am a better, more attentive, more patient, and all around more engaged, wife, mother, friend, employee, manager, and all the other hats I wear to everyone around me.
Bio: Founded in 2018, Tennis Shoes and Tiaras is a fitness, motherhood and lifestyle blog.
Ashley created this blog after giving birth to her first baby and trying to figure out how to
balance fitness and health (Tennis Shoes) and her newfound title as a mom to a little girl
(Tiaras). The goal of this blog is to share real life tips that she has found and figured out along
this journey that have helped her “juggle" all of the different areas of her life: marriage,
motherhood, fitness, health and everything else in between, because she recognizes that at the end of the day, her audience is looking to provide a healthy wholesome and fulfilling life not just their families, but also themselves. To follow along, head to Tennis Shoes and Tiaras or check her out on Instagram: @tennisshoesandtiaras.