In my last post I talked about the postural changes we go through from pregnancy into motherhood and the contortions we subject ourselves to as we basically try to keep these kids alive during that tough first year.
Now my youngest is nearly 1 year, I’ve started to feel the affects of having that heavier child who crawls (like an absolute maniac), but can’t walk, meaning there is a lot of squatting, bending over, and generally a heap of strength needed to pick up this little lump and sit him on my hip (normally the same one) for sometimes long periods of time…simultaneously making dinner, wiping a toddlers bottom or opening a screw top bottle of wine with one hand (corks are soooo last lifetime).
I’ve never felt so tight in my back, and I’ve also never been so body aware as I am now. As much as these aches and pains feel like negatives, you can actually begin to view them as positives – our body and mind is awake and we’re taking notice.
In my twenties I had one aim. Be slim. I also wanted to be tanned, but mainly slim. In order to achieve my (constant) goal I would go to the gym before or after work, and sometimes double up at lunchtime with a spin class. In my mind Yoga and Pilates was enjoyable but not as affective to maintain weight as a run or weights. So an hour in one of these classes would mean one hour I could have been doing other more sweat inducing workouts, meaning there was a guilt free carb filled dinner in the can. This train of thought went on for a good few years, then….I had a kid and everything changed.
When I say everything, I mean body, mind and perspective….life changed, in a monumental way. I’m comfortable saying that not all these changes felt good, I missed my old life, my gym time, my freedom and independence, but suddenly being slim wasn’t my priority, not even I was my priority, and that was quite enlightening. Scary, but enlightening.
I fought it of course, trying for a few years to reclaim my old life, but never succeeding because things had changed, not for a month or a year, but forever and there was no going back, in other words….fuck!
So with this new human to look after who didn’t seem keen on sleep, there was no way I had the energy to work out like I used to. I did however want to escape the house for an hour, and I did want to exercise, so I started with Ivengar Yoga. Awkwardly and self-consciously chanting for the first few weeks then beginning to crave the escapism it brought to the mind as well as the body. Priorities had certainly changed, my aim now was definitely escapism, relaxation and invigoration. I wanted to float back into the house and to the baby feeling happier, calmer and more able to take on whatever the day or night would bring. I wanted to be a better mother.
So as sleep improved a little and the baby grew, strength also became a basic need - not just the outward stuff like a six pack and a tight bum like I used to crave, but real internal strength that would last. Pilates gave me the physical strength, the mental escapism and the relaxation because of how the moves are designed. Stretches are incorporated into strength work, the mind is totally focused, and the heart rate stays low during mat work so you have the energy to really work every single muscle. Plus if you’ve had a bad night you don’t dread your class, you absolutely can’t wait for it.
So, in a nutshell, yes as we get older our body gives us more issues, but maybe they’re just a little nudge to start paying attention, forcing you into another, perhaps healthier place, somewhere that is more about how you feel, not just how your body looks.