Running is my secret weapon. And it can be yours, too. No really, let me explain.
My Super Secret Weapon to Being the Best Mom I Can Be
First off, before you decide that running isn’t “your thing” or you’re not a “runner”, I’m here to tell you that no matter your fitness level you can enjoy the benefits of movement too. We all start somewhere. I’ll leave my whole journey into running for another time, but one thing I know is that you can do it- and you can enjoy it too!
During pregnancy I gained 50 pounds and developed preeclampsia, making even the slightest bit of exercise unfathomable. Per doctor’s request I went on bedrest and twiddled my thumbs. I patiently waited until my baby boy arrived, but also counted down the days that I could get back to moving my body like I once had. I missed the endorphins, the boost of energy, the zen like state and the overall happiness that running gave me. To put it simply, I felt blah.
Of course, as a new mama I envisioned jumping right back into a few miles early in the morning- my old habit- as soon as I was cleared by the doctor. After all, I had run marathons. I should easily be able to bust out a few miles, right? Wrong.
After that six week appointment I laced my running shoes up, eager to burn some calories and feel those endorphins. I got in a quarter of a mile. Let me repeat that, a quarter of a mile. I huffed and puffed, gasping for air. My body struggled.
Why am I telling you this? I want you to understand that I’m just like you. I struggle. I feel uncomfortable. I want to quit. But rather than throwing in the towel and giving up completely I walked for a few minutes and gave it another try. I repeated this run-then-walk method several times. I did it again the next day and the next. Until I ran a half marathon and then a 50 mile race, both within 9 months postpartum. Yes, 50 miles. I like running THAT much.
What changed from those first postpartum workouts that led me to accomplish these goals?
Each time I ran, it got easier. Every time I went for a run I could go a little further or a little faster. It was a little more comfortable. Suddenly I realized I was capable of going further than I ever thought possible, which is pretty darn cool. It made me so grateful for my body, my health and the opportunity each day gives us.
As it got easier, a few different things started happening. First off, the magical runners high got better. Each hour I carved out to run left me returning to the house in the best possible mood ever. I couldn’t wait to hug my little boy and selflessly take care of him. I gladly changed his poopy diapers. I laughed as he spit up all over me. I soaked it all in. By taking time for myself I could return home the best version of myself, less anxious than ever and prepared to take on any challenge-or diaper-thrown my way. Being selfish for an hour helped me be selfless the rest of the day. I found that by taking care of myself, I could better take care of my family. It’s like when the flight attendants always say you need to put your oxygen mask on before you help others. Man, is that the truth.
Not only did I find myself in a zen-like euphoric state with a smile plastered over my face, but my energy levels shot through the roof. I’m not a scientist. I don’t know how it works, but somehow by expending so much energy moving my body, I magically returned home with a full tank. Running makes me feel alive.
Of course running also helped me lose the weight I gained during pregnancy. This helped with my self-esteem because, let’s be honest, gaining weight is mentally difficult. I was down in the dumps, unhappy with how I looked. I was so proud of what my body had accomplished, but I didn’t like what it had done to my appearance.
You see, since becoming a mama, my life is more chaotic and hectic than ever. In the beginning there were nights I barely slept, lots of googling and a never ending to-do list. Yet, through all of this, taking the time to run helps me in this new role. It gives me the chance to clear my head and ultimately handle the stress and reality of new motherhood. Whenever I’m stressed and feel like something is too difficult, whether it’s on my run or in the house with my 9 month old, I remind myself, it’s just one foot in front of the other.
But it’s not just about me. I’m setting an example to my child that exercise is important. I want him to grow up knowing that exercise is fun. Setting goals and making time to pursue those goals is an important life lesson that I hope he learns. The fact that it makes mama happy is just a bonus.
Danielle Hines is a native to the Quad City area, born and raised in Eldridge, Iowa. She still calls Eldridge home with her husband Jake and son Harrison, 10 months old. Danielle received her Bachelors in Public Relations and Strategic Communication from Saint Ambrose University and also has a Masters in Business Administration from South Eastern Oklahoma State University. She works in the Quad Cities in the Finance and Banking industry. She is passionate about living an active lifestyle and personal growth. Most recently she became an ultra marathoner, running 50 miles along the Hennepin Canal. She loves exploring and finding new hiking trails and scenery with her family.