I have always identified as an athlete. Always.
Even after I finished playing university-level hockey, I still worked out just as hard… if not harder. I did a half-marathon. I ran throughout my first pregnancy, literally right to my due date. I continued working out and running throughout my pregnancy with the twins and was still running three to five km’s several times a week at a pretty good pace, up until 34 weeks with them.
Maybe my true “athlete” days were long gone, but I had yet to truly admit it.
It was always interesting to me to hear about professional athletes retiring, because of age or injuries, etc. and how shattering that loss of identity can be. I know I wasn’t a professional athlete or anything, but sports, and hockey in particular, were what I had poured all of my efforts into for as long as I could remember. After I finished university, I certainly felt the sting.
I never really expected to feel it again, at least not in the same way, but after having kids, and the twins in particular, it hit me even harder. I was not an athlete anymore. I could barely even consider myself an “active” person anymore, and that was not OK!
With one kid I really didn’t feel like my life changed that drastically at all. I kept playing hockey, baseball, field hockey, golf, and kept up with running. I still felt like I had plenty of family time, me time, and alone time with my husband. My sense of self was intact.
Three kids was such a game changer. I have a few other former-competitive athlete friends who I know are in the same boat. We just can’t understand how we got so deconditioned. I mean, sure there are a lot of barriers, but (I know for me) there are also a lot of excuses.
For the first year after having the twins I was in survival mode. I was exhausted and exclusively nursing twins was draining. I dropped probably about 15 lbs below my pre-pregnancy weight by the time they were about three-months-old, and I was always so tired. I was struggling to even fuel myself appropriately. I remember thinking through that whole year that it would be almost negligent to exercise… that it would drain every ounce of energy I had left.
After doing very limited activity (for me) for so long it was tough to get motivated. And even though I knew I needed to get my butt back in shape, more excuses mounted… I was back to work; I didn’t have time; I didn’t have the energy to work out at the end of the day; I sure as hell was not getting up before the children; I needed someone to watch the kids… and so on, and so on… How the hell do people stay in shape?
In the last year or so, my husband has started working out a lot, and I actually can’t imagine how he is getting up before work to exercise.
My sleep is so coveted, and something that I often run way short on (as toddlers still end up on my side of the bed several times a week). Morning workouts are just not an option. Once the kids are in bed, I have always been way too exhausted to do much of anything except grab a cup of tea and plunk down on the couch to unwind, but in the past few months I’ve actually been taking advantage of this time to work out.
I’m not really sure where my new-found energy has come from, but it’s been three years since the twins were born, and I’m finally starting to feel like myself again.
I’ve started to get back into actually playing sports, working out, and running more. It’s funny, all of the barriers and excuses feel much the same… the time, the energy, kids’ schedules, and the balance of me time vs. family time, etc., but there is an undisputed solace in the prospect of regaining a lost piece of myself.
I’m really hoping that stage is the only stage of motherhood where I lose myself so deeply and completely; or hoping that at the very least I might now have the awareness to not let it happen again.
For now, I feel like I’m over the hump, and the three little faces, so eager to join mommy in her activities, is more motivation than I could ever conjure myself.