I cannot believe my baby will be 9 months tomorrow. Yes, it makes me a little sad as I feel like at times it has gone by fast but it is also such an exciting time to watch her try to crawl and interact with her brother. I still think one of the best quotes about parenthood is that the ‘days are long and years are fast.’ This past week has been super long and rough with both kids having fevers, and Madelynn having some major sleep issues. But as I have mentioned before, I never want to wish my kids are at a different age than they are. I try to enjoy it but as we all know when you are up at 3 am holding a sick, crying baby, ‘enjoy’ might not be the word that comes to mind.
I started thinking about being 9 months postpartum as this is the same amount of time I was pregnant (yes, I know it’s technically 40 weeks but the first month does not really count). Things are very different this time around with my recovery because it is my second child and because I am 2 years older than I was when I had Caleb.
I posted a quote earlier this week on social media about the “No pain, no gain” mindset and how inaccurate it is. But it literally use to be my motto! I mean I could have had a tattoo with that saying. I love to sweat, I love intense workouts, I used to love long workouts. A 30 minute workout? No way, what would be the point? Though I love yoga and have been practicing for over 10 years, I still gravitate towards the hard, hot type of yoga. Restorative workouts have not been my forte. Even if I try to swim to give myself and my body a non-impact workout, I find myself doing sprints. 🙂 Oh how things have changed. I do not have nearly the same amount of time I did before I had kids to dedicate to working out (and learned you can get a kick butt workout in 30 min or less) but I am also not physically the same.
Needless to say, I cannot keep up this type of workout mindset my entire life. Most people’s bodies will not handle it well. As I turned 35 a few weeks ago, I have been thinking about how my working out and recovery has changed as I have become older and since having 2 babies in the last 3 years. The most significant thing I have learned is how and what my body needs to recover. I just cannot recover like I used to when I was in my 20’s.
Here are the 5 most impactful things I have learned about exercising and recovering in the past 5 or so years.
- Balance of workouts and less overall volume. This is very challenging for me. As I mentioned above I love intensity. In a perfect world I would lift fairly heavy 4 days a week, do a few interval workouts, go to hot yoga, maybe a hard kickboxing class and get outside for some type of ride or run. First, of all, who has time for that? 2nd of all, holy my body hurts. Getting older and having babies is hard on your body. Having a baby is often the most traumatic event that a women’s body will go through. Yes, there is a lot of pressure to ‘get our bodies’ back faster than maybe our body wants to be back. I put a lot of pressure to lose all my baby weight fairly fast with Caleb. This time around I have been much more forgiving as and it has been a lot harder. My back hurts, my hips hurt. Some of this pain could be from lack of core strength, some from not recovering properly but a lot of it is probably doing from pushing myself too hard. I have also come to the realization that more is not necessary better. I have dramatically cut down on the volume of exercise I do. This pain has intensified just in the last few months and I have forced myself to back off on some intensity. I am still nursing, my body is still healing, I have to balance the intense workouts with less intense workouts. Easier said than done for me but I have really been making an effort lately.
- Nutrition needs to be on point 80 % of the time. Now I love my sweets and wine. But as I have gotten older, my overall nutrition really makes an impact on how I feel, digest, sleep, and perform in my workouts. I love going out and indulging some but 80% of the time my nutrition needs to be loaded with vegetables, good quality protein and fats, fruits and quality carbohydrates. If I go more than a few days of not eating well, I do not feel well.
- Sleep. UGGG….this is the hardest one for me right now for obvious reasons. Someone in my house is always not sleeping. If Madelynn sleeps, Caleb has a bad dream, if Caleb goes down easy then Madelynn is up all night. If both the kids are sleeping, I swear the dog will wake me up. This is can be very challenging especially with small children but I have to make sleep a priority. For me, it means shutting down the computer and actually going to bed once the kids are sleeping or sneaking in a quick nap on the weekends.
- Down time/alone time. I think this is crucial for anyone regardless if you are a parent or how old your kids are. I think everyone needs down time. I often feel that I never have actual down time. There is always something that needs to be done. I really, really struggle with not doing anything. How is this related to exercise and recovery? Because it is recovery for our brain. Last week I was at CrossFit, I literally had so much on my mind about kids, family, work etc. that I was so completely unfocused and my workout pretty much sucked. I would have been better off taking that hour and going for a slow walk or meditating (HA! Me mediate for an hour? More like 5 min but you get the point) to clear my head. Yes, some exercise does help me clear my thoughts but based on the majority of my exercising (refer to #1) I need something very restorative to allow me to unwind.
- Use recovery tools more often. This includes massage, baths, foam rolling, mobility work,stretching, essential oil blends for muscle pain, restorative walking. I have taught group exercise classes for 13 years and though people know they need to stretch, a huge percentage of people still leave during the stretching portion of the class, even knowing how much they need it to help them feel better the next day. I have started to foam roll more, I get massages often as I make it a priority and am loving using small mobility balls to work into my hips, glutes and back. Even a few minutes of this type of work after a warm-up or workout can really make a differenceI am truly amazed at what our bodies can do and am so grateful and proud of what my body has done in the past 3 years. I have grown, birthed and nursed 2 human beings. I am working on being kinder to my body. I am working on not constantly feeling like I need to put in through the ringer day in and day out. I know as a fitness professional that most strength gains come during recovery, not during the workout. Learning to back off a bit is definitely still a work in progress for me but as some of my aches and pains have intensified the last few months I have really started to focus more on what I have learned about my exercise and recovery habits as I get older.
What have you learned about your exercise habits and recovery as you have gotten older? I would love to hear!
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