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All of our lives, we are told that our bodies are temples and that we should treat them as such: Go to the doctor, eat right, and don’t abuse it because we’re only given one. Since the day I found out I was pregnant, it was drilled into my head that every moment outside of work, should be spent catering to the needs of my children.
That is what mothers do. Anything short would be selfish and taking away from the child. If mom is away, who will cook dinner? Who will fold the laundry? Who will clean the house? Who will read the bedtime stories?Taking care of my body was about 100% easier pre-pregnancy. I was young, naturally thin, could eat whatever I wanted, and my idea of working out was walking to the store to buy wine.And then I got pregnant and I gained 65 pounds. I remember going to the doctor around seven months, she says, “You should gain about 35 pounds overall.” I felt my heart skip several beats. By that point, I had already gained about 40 pounds and still had two more months to go.
Even after giving birth, the weight did not budge. Admittedly, I thought it would just melt right off me. If celebrities like Jessica Alba and Halle Berry were able to drop the weight with a clean diet and moderate exercise, I could to, right?For a solid year, I tried incorporating a good diet, moderate exercise routine, drinking tons of water, and eating plenty of leafy greens. But the truth, even the bare minimum was a struggle while trying to juggle parenthood.
It felt like my son needed my attention every moment of the day. From making homemade baby food to breastfeeding for two solid years, I was exhausted. After a year, my hips were in constant pain, my knees felt like they were on fire, and my head felt like it was floating around in a thick layer of fog.
One day, like a ray of clarity, I realized that I am not Beyonce (it was a sad day). I don’t have a nanny to watch my child, a personal trainer to plan my workouts, a chef to whip up my leafy greens, or a personal assistant to prioritize my day. But what I do have is this one body.
This one body to treat like it’s worth something, and a child who depends on this body to be his mother for the next 60 or so years. I had to learn to prioritize the things that were important to me and fit them into my day. That meant taking care of my body. Regular moms don’t get sick days, solo bathroom trips, or a single hour to work on their glutes while jamming out to 80s pop at the gym.
My body continued to give me hints and nudges to get to the gym. Finally, I put my foot down. I promised to give myself 45 minutes every other day to completely indulge in self-care. That means going to the gym, alone. That means sweating out stress, tiredness, fog, and frustration, which would prepare me to be an awesome mom outside the gym.
I pack my gym bag and take it to work with me so that I can go straight to there after work. No pit stops, no excuses.Yes, working on myself does take time away from my son every other day, but he gains so much more:
- 45 extra minutes alone with his dad, totally uninterrupted by me.
- A more patient mom
- A mom who does not bring home her frustrations from the day
- A mom who is that much happier to see his adorable little face
- A mom who is able to love that adorable face even longer because she is improving her health
Going to the gym, on the surface, seems like I am taking away quality time spent with my son. However, being able to give him a mom who is healthier, happier, and patient enough to read the same bedtime story five times in a row is actually giving him much more.