Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fitness Plan for After the Third Baby

Eight months along with baby #3

Before I had Finny, I made a list of ten things I wanted to get done before he was born that would make me feel more prepared. I had already had a baby, so I knew that none of these things--in fact, nothing at all in the whole world--would actually ensure that I was prepared for this new HUMAN when he arrived to restructure my universe. But that didn't stop me from wanting to feel prepared, or more accurately, feel proactive.

Now I've had two babies so I'm less bought in to the notion that preparedness is a reasonable goal; and furthermore, to the extent that it is reasonable, we're already there. If the newborn-plus-toddler-plus-preschooler combo hits us like a pile of bricks, we know how to order our groceries online and how to access a lactation consultant and how to frantically call my parents and screech "CODE OVERPOPULATION!" over and over again until they show up at our door.

So my proactive focus for this third go-round consists of only two prongs: maintaining my mental health is one, and regaining my physical fitness is the other. Below I'm outlining my goals for the latter--not necessarily to "hold myself to it," but more so that I can keep track of what worked before...and to give you all a chance to gently remind me of what didn't. (My hindsight may be 20/20, but it's still impossibly rose-colored.)

1. Give myself two weeks. Some moms give themselves an established "wait" period before jumping into tasks like birth announcements and organizing the non-gender-neutral baby wardrobe. Those are the things I will love doing while Dave is home (or at least home more often than not). I will also be establishing a milk supply and trying to sneak in sleep where I can, so I will NOT be doing any official exercise in those weeks.

2. Spend the next six weeks doing something active every day, but count on that "something" involving a baby. For instance: go for a walk with the baby in the carrier, or work out at my parents' while he/she sleeps next to me, or do an exercise DVD in our basement in between feedings (and while the older guys nap).

3. Get gung-ho with exercise at the start of week nine. Eight weeks after my due date is when our summer sitter comes home from school to start helping me out. At that point I'll have a designated time every day when I can at the very least do a more strenuous DVD workout downstairs. Hopefully the baby's feedings will be a bit more spaced out, and it will be MAY. Glorious May! I might be able to do some runs outside if it doesn't straight-up kill me.

4. Join Weight Watchers online at the start of week nine. Truthfully, the WW allowance for nursing moms means it's barely a diet, at least for me. I know that's the point--you're not supposed to diet when you're pregnant or breastfeeding--but it is frustrating that I seem to be one of those who carries an extra layer or two until I've weaned my baby. That being said, for the purposes of being proactive, it does make me feel better to keep track of what I'm eating and how damaging or beneficial it might be to my overall fitness goals. That way, even if I'm unable to lose all the baby weight until I'm done nursing, at least I'll be on the right track already.

5. September will likely be a transition month, and I hope that getting in shape can be a top priority starting then. The boys will go back to school; the baby will be six months old and eating some so-called solids; it may be easier to utilize the Y's baby-sitting room while I hop on a treadmill or take a class as the weather gets chilly.

To some, this plan probably sounds like overkill--to others, it might seem lazy or just unrealistic. But the truth is, even though I started this post by separating my mental and physical health from each other, getting in shape only changes my mindset for the better. A few friends with kids have described one benefit of going back to work as "focusing on something else for a while every day." I'm not going back to teaching anytime soon, so when I need to focus on something other than parenthood, fitness can be that focus. I also feel like my non-pregnant self starts coming back to me when I am able to fit into my...well, my non-pregnant clothes again. Where the body goes, the brain will follow. I hope. Wish me luck!

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