The challenges of a mother lifting weights and attempting to live a healthy lifestyle are much different from the challenges of say a young man without children trying to get jacked.
The young man can work 10-12 hours/day, then hit the gym for 2 hours, plan every bite that goes into his mouth, and maybe get less than optimal sleep and still make progress, not get sick, be exhausted, or overwhelmed.
A mother of small children on the other hand needs a different approach. As a mom your cup of stressors fills up pretty quickly and you often don’t notice until it’s too late and you get sick, blow up, wrench your back, or get a breast infection.
Yes, breast infection. That was me last week. Ache-y, feverish, and with a very sore left breast (the one I have a fore-mentioned is the favorite of my son, because it has a stronger flow of milk. Since he nurses that side more of course it makes more milk and the cycle continues!)
Raising children is a HUGE stress to the body as is breastfeeding. Simply meaning that you need extra nutritional reserves (and emotional reserves) to deal with them successfully. Also did I mention that I have horrible allergies? So from now until it freezes–maybe October, that is another stress to my system.
Oh, and exercise is a stress on the system.
And I just decided to change the focus of my training to met-con/fat loss with kettlebells for a bit (so that I have more clothes to wear) since I just got pretty strong from the last 6 months of heavy barbell training.
So what does my metabolic-conditioning look like? 4 days/ week training instead of 3. Getting up early more days of the week which of course equals less sleep. Another stressor. And don’t forget cutting the calories back because that is what really brings the fat loss. And what does less food signal to the body?
Oh right, DANGER DANGER YOU’RE ABOUT TO STARVE! AND SO IS YOUR BABY! While I know that wouldn’t actually happen, and you know it wouldn’t happen, my body doesn’t (idn’t Mother Nature wonderful like that?)
Soooo perhaps it’s time to reassess goals. Again.
Maybe balls to the wall (or ovaries if you prefer), isn’t the best option right now. But truly, I thought I was working in moderation! Body says otherwise.
Women everywhere need to take this all into consideration–unless you have a nanny and a cook, and someone to clean your house for you, and you don’t do any outside work at all–then I’m not talking to you. But, for everyone else (including myself), here are my suggestions.
1. Take a break
If you”ve been training hard for more than 3 months, you probably need at least a week totally off the training. And if you’re sick see number 4 and crawl into bed. I give you permission.
2. Change it up
If you’ve been doing really heavy strength training, do some conditioning or vice verse. If you’ve been doing 5×5, do 3×8. If you’ve been doing barbells do some kettlebells or maybe even go do some yoga. You get the picture–switch it up and give your body a rest from the same ol, same ol.
3. Pay attention to good nutrition
This means eat. Not just “graze” on lettuce, coffee, and water. And it means eat meat, veggies, maybe some fruit, nuts, dairy. Real food. Not ice cream, chips and soda. Make sure you’re getting more than adequate protein, and healthy fats.
4. Ask for help
Call the mother, the mil, a friend, your husband, for help with cleaning, grocery getting, childcare, so you can, you know, breathe. I know it’s tough to ask for help–but DO IT!
5. Sleep (Say what?)
I sleep with my kids which helps me get more sleep. This may or may not work for you. Make your sleeping arrangements so that everyone can get the most sleep possible. I always want to get back up after putting kids to sleep and spend time with my husband or get some “me time” but usually the next day shows that it’s just not worth it. Sleep probably has the biggest effect on your attitude, and your recovery from training than anything else.
Maybe I need to Shock! Gasp! Horror! have no set physical goal right now. I could approach movement from more of a primal angle, making it all about play. Just enjoying my physicality, dancing, jumping on the trampoline, walking, yoga… I don’t know, that might only work for personality types with a “P’ in their profile. As an INFJ I don’t know if I could pull that off. Live in the moment? Really???
Or I could trick myself and make play the goal–so many times per week try something new.
Don’t for a second believe that is going to happen.