Today’s post comes to you from Jennifer Schlozman, a former Weight Watchers Leader Ambassador. She lost 40 pounds pre-baby and 82 pounds post-baby. She’s a runner, triathlete and completed her first half marathon this year. With enthusiasm for group workouts and finding fit friends, she considers herself a loser when it comes to weight and a winner when it comes to happiness. Today she shares how makes time for herself and keeps her health and fitness routine a priority, even when faced with the dreaded “mommy guilt.” Amen to that!
To some, the journey to parenthood comes easy: a little fun, a stick, pancakes and Oreos, and a grand entrance. For me, it wasn’t a sprint or a marathon, it was an Ironman. My road to mommyhood was emotional and physically draining. The birth of my son was a day that I will never be able to put into words. I was filled with so many emotions while learning what love really truly is. This day and every day, I am grateful for every diaper change, sleepless night and slow dance with my mister.
One of the things that no new parent book mentions though is what I call mommy guilt. Let’s define this as that feeling new mommies get any time they focus on someone or something other than the baby or they consider being away from the baby at any given moment. Ah yes, mommy guilt.
Before Evan, I was a woman with a plan. I could balance a social life and work with my gym and race schedule. My meals were planned and my food was prepped. I had it all figured out. Then, my days off turned into sleepless nights and most days I couldn’t remember the last time I showered. Welcome to mommyhood! I needed to balance my new reality with normalcy, and I needed to do it quickly. In my routine, eating home-cooked meals with a newborn was lacking the most. Meal planning and food prepping is a necessary evil and in the early days with a baby, it sounded down right ridiculous. How could I possibly take time away from this tiny human to worry about us? But with weight-loss on my mind, I reintroduced my healthy routines.
Going back to basics was a great place to start, so I began searching for familiar recipes that could be made in bulk and would freeze well. Mommyhood began my love affair with Mr. Crock Pot. In between daytime diapers and feedings, I would make a menu of what we were having for the week and a grocery list. I would take one day when my husband was home and do my food prepping. I froze all meals in individual servings to make them easy to reheat and easy to clean up. Everything was labeled; there were no surprises. To this day, I continue to meal plan. It has been and always will be my key to weight-loss success and maintenance.
Then came the workouts. The hardest part about going to the gym is getting there. And the hardest part about getting there with an infant is getting out of the house! I swear I burned more calories loading up the car than I did actually working out! When I was cleared for activity at six weeks postpartum, my excuse for not going to the gym disappeared — particularly because my gym takes infants at six weeks old. I planned my gym time around Evan’s feeding schedule, but it didn’t always work out to my advantage. There were many times when the nursery would come get me because he could not be comforted. But I learned to provide Evan with what he needed, then go back to what I was doing. Because the staff was so great, I had no excuse to not finish what I started each day I went, so I did just that. Some days I would lose motivation, so I found gym buddies to hold me accountable.
As moms, we perform a daily juggling act. We can hold the baby and feed him in one hand and put our mascara on with the other. We can help our husband locate his college baseball cap that he hasn’t worn in years while we’re in the nursery changing a diaper and cleaning urine off the walls. Our families rely on us because we are reliable. But just because we can do it all, doesn’t mean we have to. A healthy baby stems from a healthy mommy, and mental health is just as important as physical. Me time is the most important time for any mommy.
It took me a long time and many guilty tummy aches to recognize I am worthy of it. It doesn’t matter what you do with that me time, just as long as you experience it often. When a family member or close friend offers to come by and stay with the baby for a little while, accept that gesture. Get in your car and drive in silence or blast the radio and sing along. Go for a walk and sit on a bench and just breathe. Make it mindless — don’t make your me time about errands; make it about you. Schedule a pedicure around your spouse’s schedule, sit in the library and enjoy the silence. Run. Don’t feel guilty, just be. Be open, be relaxed, breathe.
In the beginning my me time was short-lived; I couldn’t stand to be away. As time went on, I was able to add more and more time. Technology is amazing, if you’re needed they’ll call. Until then, get to know yourself again.
How do you make me time for you? How have you let go of some of that mom guilt? —Jennifer