Wes has been bragging about all of his success with exercise and eating right, so I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and share my story, too. By the way, if you think Wes’ blogs can be long sometimes…just you wait for this one! I have Rizzo genes, which means all of my stories are 3x as long as they need to be. Still reading? Oh, good! Enjoy…
First, I should give you a little background on my experiences with exercise. As a kid and through high school I was very athletic; I swam, played soccer and ran track. I never really thought about sports as being exercise. They were just fun/competitive activities that I enjoyed doing. When I went to college, I played one season of club soccer for my school and that was it. I was more interested in the other aspects of college (no, not studying) than I was continuing my athletic “career”. Unfortunately, I had no concept of the value of exercise, and the results of that were apparent by the increase of my jeans size in the many years to follow.
Right after college I joined Gold’s Gym in Tyson's Corner. Over the next 8 years, I would intermittently work out at various Gold’s Gyms (Tyson’s, Sterling, Ashburn, Fairfax, and Falls Church). I would go to the gym off and on for all of those 8 years. The “off times” normally fell between September and June and the “on times” normally fell during July and August. My time at the gym taught me a few things:
1) I really like to exercise in the mornings. The earlier the better for me!
2) I really like participating in group exercise classes. I LOVED the Les Mills classes offered at Gold’s. My favorites were Body Pump, Body Flow and Body Attack; although I think I’ve dabbled in pretty much every class Gold’s offers!
3) I love reading books on my Kindle while running on the treadmill. Reading while running really distracts me from the out-of-breathness that happens as a result of running.
Although, I enjoyed what the gym had to offer me, I was really good at finding excuses to skip my workout. I needed to catch up on sleep (if it was in the morning), I was too tired from work (if it was in the afternoon), I needed to do work or housework (if it was on the weekend). I seemed to work harder at making excuses than I did actually, you know, working out.
Fast forward to August 2013-May 2014; when I was pregnant with Cece. I had heard and read that while pregnant it was safe to exercise as much as you did prior to being pregnant. Since my level of exercise had been fairly inconsistent, I was pretty lax about it while I was pregnant with Cece. For one thing, I started having trouble sleeping about half way through my pregnancy, which meant I didn’t want to wake up early to go to the gym (a.k.a. I wouldn’t be going at all). Secondly, I got really swollen around 30 weeks and was told to limit my activity outside of my daily activity at work.
Fast forward again to November 2014; when Cece was 6 months old, I had Mondays off from work and I was getting a little bored of just walking around the neighborhood as exercise. I used an app (I forget the name), but it would give me a daily update on milestones and other things that might be happening with Cece at her particular age. Around November 2014, on one particular day, the app suggested I check out a mom’s group. It listed Stroller Strides as a suggested group to check out. Now, at this point, I had been going on hour long walks with Cece daily. This was partly for exercise and partly to get her to nap since she would only nap in the stroller. I looked up Stroller Strides on the internet and found out that it is a class offered through Fit4Mom that it a “stroller-based fitness program designed for mom’s that focuses on a total body workout that incorporates power walking, strength, toning, songs and activities.” That sounded right up my alley. I was getting a lot of walking in, but I was missing the strength training that I would get from doing Body Pump at the gym. I decided to try out a free class and then I was hooked!
I did Stroller Strides exclusively (Mondays, Saturdays, and the occasional school holiday/snow day) from November-June. Over the summer I went as much as possible since I had more free time. I absolutely love the classes and so does Cece! She gets a real kick out of us doing burpees, which happens quite frequently! She also loves the playgroup afterwards. Back when I first started, Cece was barely crawling. There were a lot of other older kids (1-2 years old) who were walking and running already. She wanted to run with them so much!! Now, she can get out on the playground with the best of them! Not only did Cece get a lot out of the Stroller Strides classes, but so did I. I got great exercise, but I also got to chat with other moms who were in my same stage or beyond. I got to learn from them and share stories with them. I feel like I’ve made some friends through this group and now that I can’t go as much I really miss it!
At the end of August 2015, I decided I needed to ramp up my exercise routine. Stroller Strides is a fabulous workout, but I wanted to add some more intensity. I decided to join a free group called Mom’s Run This Town because they have a Herndon/Reston group that does runs from the caboose in downtown Herndon, which is 5 min. from my house. They often do 3-4 mile runs on Monday and Wednesday mornings around 5:00 am, which is perfect for my early bird workout schedule. I started running with them a little bit at the end of the summer, but was a little intimidated by the fact that many of them were training for the Marine Corps Marathon in October. I decided to do a couple of runs with them, but then I started running more on my own until they were back to running more reasonable (for me) mileage. Now that it’s so dark in the early morning, it’s really nice to be able to run with this group.
Around the same time, I thought I would try out another class offered by Fit4Mom called Body Back. Yes, the name says it all, this class is intended for mom’s who would like to get their “body back” from before they were pregnant. This class is a mom only class (a.k.a. no kids/strollers involved) and it’s a HIIT class (High Intensity Interval Training). Each session runs for 8 weeks, 2 HIIT classes per week. It also involves writing in a food journal, baseline assessments, etc. I signed up for a 7-class pass that would allow me to attend 7 classes since Wes was going to be out of town a bunch in September and October and I would have to miss a lot of classes anyway. The session I chose to attend met from 5:30-6:30 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. When I got home from my first class Wes said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this sweaty after working out.” It’s true. This class was the real deal! I fell in love instantly!! When the next session started in late October, I joined right away. I just finished my first full session and made some great gains (lost 8 pounds, lost 3 inches in my waist and 4 inches in my hips, can do a 1:21 minute plank, etc.). The women I work out with are so motivating and my instructor, Kim, is always such a great cheerleader! I will be signing up for the January session as soon as it’s available!
Alright, I’m not sure who’s actually still reading this, but I guess I’ll finish up now by talking about how my exercise habits have changed in the past year. Since I started working out with Fit4Mom I have learned that I really need and want to work out with a group of people who I can talk with and commiserate with. I always knew I liked working out in a group, but at the gym I didn’t actually know anyone. I would just show up if I felt like it, but if I didn’t show up no one would know. Now, I have to sign up to attend class and if I don’t show up, then people I know in real life will wonder where I am. That alone is motivating to get me to the classes. Besides that, though, the classes are so varied and fun that I would never actually want to miss a class. I always look forward to days when I get to attend either Stroller Strides or Body Back. I truly love it!
Another benefit I’ve gained from my experience with Fit4Mom is making friendships outside of our exercise classes. I have joined a second book club that was started by one of my Stroller Strides friends; I am doing a Turkey Trot and (possibly) the Cherry Blossom 10 miler with some of my Body Back friends. Cece and I have even met up for play dates with some of my friends from Stroller Strides!
I’m not sure who is actually still reading this post, but I’ll finish up by talking about our November No Excuses Challenge. Each week in November we have to do 20, 40, 60, 80 and 100 reps of a certain exercise. This week was pushups. While planning for and writing this blog, I was doing my 100 pushups (in intervals of 10)….ALL ON MY TOES!!! I used to think that I would always do pushups on my knees and I was ok with that. Now, it’s not an option under 15 pushups in a row.
Here are the before and after pictures. The before is the day we took Cece home in May 2014. The after is Halloween 2015.