Thursday, December 26, 2013

How Exercise Makes Me a Better Mom

The Maria Kang controversy has really had me thinking.  It never occurred to me that anyone would think negatively of a mom for making working out/fitness a priority, because in my mind, it makes me such a better mom person. But people do judge “fit moms,” and I think it’s silly. I am not saying I agree with her posting what she did (I’m not here to argue…I don’t really have much of an opinion on that one way or the other), but I thought sharing some insight into the ways exercise helps ME be a BETTER mom might help remove some of the stereotypes against fit moms.

I know not everyone enjoys exercise, but it is no secret that I.LOVE.IT.  I was always very active in athletics, so when I was done playing sports, I needed wanted something to fill that void. I started running, lifting, working out, etc., and fell in love, for many reasons. It is also something Jonathan and I enjoy doing together, and I am so thankful that working out is our hobby. Hello, free AND good for you? Yes, please! I know when I was pregnant I said I wanted to continue to make working out a priority after having the baby.  Some people said, “Yea, we’ll see how that works out for ya” & I know a lot of people assumed it wouldn’t happen.  I knew it would be a little tougher to find the time & the energy (and it is!), but it is important to me.  I started working out again once I recovered from having the baby and I haven’t looked back. I work out 2-4 times a week, and try to be active throughout the day too. I would prefer to work out more, but sometimes two times is all I can squeeze in, and I am okay with that. I make ‘em count! (Intensity is key!)

I do not work out because I am vain, a narcissist, or obsessed. Working out does not take priority over my spiritual walk or my family. And I can assure you that my child is FAR from being neglected. But you’d be surprised at the number of people who make negative judgments against moms who work out. Seen this bad boy floating around?? Ridiculous.

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I truly believe exercising makes me a better mom. This may not be true for everyone, but it is for me.  I want to be able to give my babies the BEST version of myself, and I know working out is one component to making that a reality.

I’m pretty certain that half the time Jase doesn’t even know I work out because my 45 min- hour workouts are during his naps. Sometimes Jon & I take turns going to the gym while the other enjoys some quality one-on-one time with our little man. We typically work out during his naps, but if he is awake, he plays in his exersaucer or pack n play and watches us as we do a Can You 24 DVD (24 min) together. We talk to him while we are doing it and he is all laughs and smiles while he plays. I’m sure when he gets a little bigger he will want to join the fun too!

Exercise is very important and extremely beneficial to me in many ways, SO here are some of those ways.

1. I sleep better when I work out. Sleep is huge for me. I am a nicer person when I am well rested. I make better food choices (because I’m not trying to stuff my face all day trying to find energy), I’m more patient, and I’m happier overall. I don’t need to take naps throughout the day when I get enough sleep, which means I am more productive as well. I fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly on days I work out.

2. I have more energy when I work out. When I am sluggish and do not exercise, it becomes a vicious cycle and I feel even more groggy. I take my role as wife and mom very seriously and LOVE taking care of our home. Even though Jonathan is a HUUUUUGE help, I like having the energy to get things done around the house- and do them well. I know some people are naturally very energetic, but my energy improves big time when I am active &working out.

3. Exercise is a huge stress reliever and helps me with mental clarity. I feel like a new woman after a good workout! If I have a lot going on in my life, either a lot to do or some personal issues going on, an intense sweat session can seriously help me regroup.

4. I am healthier when I work out. My blood pressure and other health stats improve when I am working out regularly. It’s important for me to take care of myself from the inside out. Spiritually. Mentally. Emotionally. And physically. I am all about some disease prevention, and although you can’t ward off everything, eating right and exercising have been shown to significantly reduce the risks of 7 out of the top 10 killers that are rampant in America.

5. I look and feel better in my clothes (& out of them), which means I am more confident. Not trying to be all TMI, but I’ll just tell you that Jonathan benefits from me being more confident, even if he likes me any way I look. That is an important part of keeping marriage healthy. And, I am less likely to have any negative self-talk when I am happy with my body. I hear lots of moms talk about “being fat” or “being on a diet” in front of their children, and unfortunately that is not the best example. Yes, my body looks a little bit ‘different’ after having a baby, but I truly am content and confident. I am strong and in good shape, and that feels good.

6. I am a better wife when I am working out. Like I said, it improves my mood (thank you endorphins!), I have more energy and am more productive, and I am more confident and happy. All of that leads to me being a better wife to Jonathan, and THAT is ultimately one of the best ways to be a great mom (in my opinion).

7. It’s what I do for “me time.” I recently received an article from one of the
“What to Expect” websites I subscribed to while pregnant, and it talked about the importance of taking care of OURSELVES as moms in order to be the best for our children. I couldn’t agree MORE.  I know many of us neglect ourselves “in the name of love,” but that is not necessarily the truth. I love my hubby & lil man more than life, but investing in myself is important for me and in helping me be the BEST version of myself. This is something I do for ME, and investing a few hours a week reaps immense benefits that last way beyond that.

I am not saying you have to work out to be a good mom. Some of the best moms I know don’t enjoy working out, so they don’t. And that doesn’t take away from the fact that they are fantastic mothers. But for me, exercising helps me be a better mom….and I don’t feel as if there should be judgment against fit moms either.  It doesn’t mean they are neglecting their children to spend hours every day at the gym. I eat clean (and so does Jase) and I work out hard (and he plays hard). It works for us. Of course I know there is way more the Maria King controversy than that, but I just thought a little insight into the mind of a mom who LOVES FITNESS might change the perspective for some who don’t necessarily get it.

9 comments:

Kristen Kliethermes said...

Very good! I am so happy that I believe a lot of the same things you do. Personal story: I was a cheerleader in high school. I was very fit and I worked out on a regular basis. Ate very well. Then, I went off to college. The healthy food section was a very small section in the huge cafeteria we had. I was 2+ hours away from home so that wasn't an option. So I slacked in my eating habits. I started getting so much homework, I put that in front of working out. I ate quick food which turned into a horrible habit. Before I knew it, I gained the freshman 15. Then 30, 40, and before I knew it I gained 60 pounds! I started having stomach problems which turned into gallbladder removal surgery, then IBS and serious heartburn. I had given up hope that I would never get better. Then, I found your blog. I am the same height and was the same weight. You have given me the motivation to turn my health around and I can't thank you enough! Don't stop posting this stuff because you may get a lot of negative comments, but you're still helping others :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Danielle- I've been completely inspired by your blog. I recently got married on 10-11-13 and I like reading your posts on your spiritual journey, your beautiful baby Jase, and your marriage. Thanks for sharing your blog.

christa said...

I too am a nicer person when I get enough sleep and am able to get some exercise.

Sherri Teat said...

It saddens me that you feel as though you have to explain yourself, although I absolutely can relate as a working mom. I hear ugliness from both sides. You are such an inspiration to many of us. Please know that.

CydneyB said...

YIKES, that "letting myself go" ecard is just plain mean! I don't have children(yet), but fitness is such an important part of my and my husband's lives that I cannot imagine just taking it out because I have children. It isn't like you can spend *every waking minute* with your kids-- they need to nap-- and that seems like a perfect time to get a workout in. It's great that you're keeping up with your fitness!

julie said...

I love and appreciate this post so much. I started working out originally about 8 years ago when my second child was about 6 months old. I was having a rough time in motherhood/ my marriage / life in general and my physician suggested that I try running. God placed several others in my life to give me the push I needed and it was one the THE BEST things I have ever done for myself. I chose to work out (run / gym etc) every day. I am SO much nicer and more pleasant to be around ... I love that it has opened doors to create lasting friendships with likeminded people and given me a healthy outlet. I wish we women / moms would quit judging each other and would embrace one another and agree that we are all just trying to do the best we can for ourselves and family.

Anonymous said...

Hi! This blog is one of my favorite blogs! I am single with no kids-you and your husband are an inspiration to me. You give me hope to believe that there are loving, godly marriages out there AND that I can have one. Women tell me all the time that when I have kids I won't be able to do the things I enjoy because the kids come first. I am not exaggerating...I've been told all kinds of things by other women. And hearing all of those comments almost makes me not want to have kids.....It's such a shame that women do not support each other more. Danielle, you do what makes you be the best you can be! Be blessed! :)

Christina McGuire said...

AMEN SISTER! FIT MOMS UNITE! :) haha Love this post!

Mindy Gray said...

Amen! I've been slacking between the holiday craziness and some terrible napping on the part of the little one, and I can soooo feel the negative effects from my diet to my energy to my housekeeping and, ahem, wifely duties ;) Time to get back out there!