It’s that time of year when everyone is creating ambitious training plans and hitting the gym daily. Not me though, at least not this year. Becoming a mom has taught me a lot about respecting my body. Prior to Cooper my body was a lean machine that frequently had its limits pushed in various races, nights of little sleep in order to complete “important” tasks, and back to back scheduling that kept me constantly on the go. Years of training as a distance runner had taught me to ignore my body’s “complaints” and given me the idea that I was in control. When I was pregnant with Cooper I was dismayed at what I perceived as my body’s betrayal as I was forced to ease up on physical demands and give up some activities altogether. In retrospect, Noel’s wearied reminder of, “You know you’re pregnant, right?” is comical, but at the time it was really hard for my brain to compute.
The biggest blow came after Cooper was born. I had somehow gotten it in my head that all of my dedication to exercise would make for an instantaneous recovery. I foolishly packed pre-pregnancy clothes in my hospital bag and I remember having a break down in the grocery store parking lot three days after Cooper was born because I was still wearing maternity outfits. Not working out for a month and a half post-baby was torture and I was admittedly frustrated by what I perceived as my doctor being overly cautious and treating me like a wimp. When I was finally cleared to exercise, I went on my first run in months and arguably the worst run of my life. It was like one of those nightmares where a bad guy is chasing you. No matter how hard you try you can’t get away and it feels as if your feet have gotten stuck in cement. I was sure there was something wrong with me and was more than a bit frustrated when my doctor checked me out, told me everything was normal, and suggested I try speed walking or jogging for awhile and just build up to running again. It was a humbling experience for me, but I learned that not doing everything all out was okay.
Over the past 2 1/2 years I’ve learned that my body deserves my respect. Sometimes sleep is the most important thing for your health, listening to your body isn’t necessarily a bad thing, natural childbirth is way more impressive than qualifying for Boston, and sometimes it’s not just “okay” to take it easy, but a really good idea. I still love exercising and even though my running heart hurts some days when I waddle down the street instead of running effortlessly Chariots of Fire-style, I’m learning to be okay with just doing what I can. These may not be my PR years or the decade of ripped abs, but perhaps after the baby years and the period of maternity pants I’ll fit that in. Right now, I’ve resolved to simply appreciate what my body is capable of, exercise as I am able, and to do what I need to just feel good.