Hi there Carrots ‘N’ Cake readers!
My name is Ashley and I write over at My Food ‘N’ Fitness Diaries, a blog that shares my every day life adventures in food, fitness, mommyhood, and everything in between. Carrots ‘N’ Cake is one of the first healthy living blogs I stumbled upon a few years back, and it’s continued to be one of my favorites, so I am honored to be writing here today!
I wanted to chat with you guys about how my view of exercise has changed since having a baby. It’s funny (actually pretty crazy) how your perspective seems to suddenly change about SO many things after your little bundle of joy enters the world. Exercise was one of those things for me.
Exercise has always been a huge part of my life. I was very involved in sports growing up, and I eventually developed a passion for nutrition and fitness in my college years. Unfortunately, that passion turned into an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise, and I ended up getting a little too caught up in counting calories and over-exercising. Truth be told, it was for vanity reasons. I wanted to be the thinnest, skinniest girl, and I had this irrational fear of getting “fat”. Basically, I was dieting and exercising for all the wrong reasons. Fast forward a few years, I was out of college and married to the man of my dreams. Fortunately, I let go of some of the silly restrictions I placed on food, but the over-exercise was still there. I was aiming for a dumb number on the scale for no reason other than to have the thrill of reaching that number. Occasionally I did strength workouts, but it was mostly cardio as I was obsessed with burning calories. Kind of ironic considering I now know that strength training actually causes you to burn more calories in the long run!
Fast forward a few more years, and my husband and I started talking about the possibility of children in our near future. I was not having a regular menstrual cycle and came to find out that I had hypothalamic amenorrhea. This opened my eyes to how unhealthy my lifestyle, my workout routine, and my eating habits had been. I completely switched gears, and realized I needed to heal my body by resting it and nourishing it. I gained about 10-15 pounds in the process and found myself with a body that I had never known before. I was a little more squishy, my hips were rounder, and my face was fuller. But you know what? I was about a million times happier. I was able to enjoy life rather than be consumed by every morsel I was putting in my mouth and every calorie burned.
In August 2012, my husband and I found out we were expecting our first baby. We couldn’t be more thrilled! I had never felt more content and at peace in my life. Even through the sleepless nights, poop explosions, breastfeeding struggles, and spit up everywhere, this little boy gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined. Life would never be the same, but in the absolute best way possible.
To be honest, I thought I would struggle with my postpartum body. The perfectionist in me was scared of saggy and loose skin, and I worried that I would never have time to workout or eat right again. (Such silly and irrational thoughts, mind you!) But in actuality, I experienced the exact opposite feelings. I couldn’t have been more proud of my body, squishy-ness and all. It created and provided a home for this miracle baby who was the best little thing that ever happened to us.
I view exercise a little (actually, a LOT) differently now. It’s not about looking perfect or having six pack abs anymore. (Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take ’em if they happen, but it’s no longer a priority for me.) Exercise is about enjoyment, “me” time, keeping myself healthy to see my little boy grow into a man, and being a positive role model to my child(ren).
My perspective has completely changed, and with that change has come a renewed sense of happiness.
Have a wonderful day, my (new) Carrots ‘N’ Cake friends!