Fitness in the world of mommyhood

SpokesLet me be honest with you – I am terrible at fitness. I have been for as long as I can remember. I hated gym class in public & high school. I have had gym memberships on more than one occasion and actually gone to the gym twice at most, each time. I decided to take up running and did it once (after buying pricey running shoes!) There is a distinct lack of fitness regimen in my life.

It’s not that I’m in terrible shape; I’m not. Neither am I in good shape. I have weirdness in my left knee & hip that makes it hard to crouch or climb stairs at times. I can’t run unless my life depends on it. I get winded if I climb a lot of stairs. And if you go by general standards of female shape and body, I have more weight on me than is ideal. I suppose that makes me just about average.

It’s in my nature, however, to compare myself to everyone around me. I compare myself when I’m riding my bike to the people who ride past me effortlessly on the uphill, and feel like I’m falling short. I follow it up with reasons why I’m not – at least I’m ON my bike, and I’m doing a near 15k ride each way to get to and from work, up and down mountains and bridges, and hey, I haven’t actually been bike commuting in two years and they’re doing it way more often, and some of them are crazy roadies and I’ll never keep up with them even if I want to. But all of these thoughts come after the fact, and while they help, the initial feeling of losing some sort of competition in my head (stupid competitive head) is not really a good one.

I’ve been realizing for the past year or two (not including pregnancy time) that I am quite simply thinner in my mind than I actually am. I think you’re supposed to feel the opposite, according to what all the magazines say anyhow, but that’s not for me. I assume I’m pretty slim, and then see a photo of myself and think “holy crap I’m SO much bigger than I think I am!” On top of that, I’m realizing that in my general age group among the other women at work (and I work with a lot of women) I’m on the larger scale. It is very unsettling to think you’re one size and realize that you’re not – even when you think you’re thin.

Earlier in the spring I signed up to do core conditioning clinics with a group of women, specifically designed to condition you for mountain biking. I actually rather enjoyed it, and stuck with it I think because it was a class format that a friend was also taking, and I had paid to go to the class, which commits me to going on two levels. You might think that paying for a gym membership would provide the same commitment, but it really doesn’t. At any rate, this wasn’t about weight loss, it was about strengthening and conditioning. And it was good, but I haven’t lost weight.

I considered a mommy boot camp type thing, and even signed up for one, but it was cancelled before it even began. After that I realized that a boot camp is probably not for me anyway – I don’t like exercising, and turning it into some sort of military training thing just bothers me on so many levels.

Those conditioning clinics are still happening, but with the car purchase we’re not in any place for me to rejoin them. It’s possible in a few months we’ll work out how to fit it in, but right now it’s not an option. So I’ve decided in the meantime that my only real option for cardio fitness is the biking to and from work, which I restarted doing this week.

On Monday I rode to work, then went downtown on my bike at lunchtime, then back to work, and then did a partial ride home (combined with transit.) It felt good, and I was exhausted. Yesterday I took transit as usual. Today I rode again, this time managing to go both to and from work. It felt great, and wasn’t as hard as on Monday. It’s amazing how fast you acclimatize to that kind of exertion.

My ride isn’t really a short one. I measured it out once on google maps, and it came to about 14.5 km one way. There is uphill and downhill in both directions, although it’s slightly more downhill on the way there, and thus slightly more uphill on the way home. It takes me just under an hour to do the ride at the moment – probably about 45 – 50 minutes.

This means I’m doing an hour and a half of cardio on a bike every time I ride. I have no idea if this will help me lose weight. I’m not entirely certain that losing weight is what I want to do – people keep telling me I look like I’ve lost weight, but I haven’t actually lost a pound in about 6 months now. My shape has definitely changed since before the pregnancy, and I’m down to my pre-pregnancy weight without really having to work at it (probably because of breastfeeding, but who knows).

So without cash to join a class, I’m hoping that my riding to and from work can be some sort of fitness regimen. If I lose weight, that would be awesome. If I tone up and look better, that would also rock. If I lose a size, that would be nice too. But really, what I want is to be able to play with Lyra and keep up with her at least a bit. She’s an active little monkey, and I don’t want to be a couch potato for her life. The biking will help, I just hope it’s enough. I don’t have the money (or, to be honest, want to spare any more time away from Lyra) to get a personal trainer or join hardcore classes. Plus, I don’t wanna.

Except that part of my brain that’s comparing me to everyone else and saying I fall short. I’ll just continue telling that part to shut the hell up.

Weekends of excitement

The summer is basically over now. While officially I know that summer doesn’t end until the 21st of September, in my mind it’s always over when Labour Day weekend is done – I still live in my head in a world where the school year reigns supreme. Luckily for me, this will work well since I have a child, who will be on a school year schedule in a few short years.

We ended the summer well with a trip to Vancouver island – biking in Cumberland and at Mount Washington with the Muddbunnies riding club, of which I’m a member. I only made it out to one ride with them all summer, but that’s just how things worked out this year. At least I got to go on the biking trip with them all. It was spouse-friendly, so Adam and Lyra came along and we rode with Bunnies and some of their boys.

The first day was a road trip to the island with Steve and Susan. We caught an early afternoon ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo after loading up the car (and going through hoops to get our bikes over to the island in addition to ourselves, but that’s just a frustrating complication that got dealt with effectively.) It was gorgeous and hot and sunny, and the ferry ride was nice. Lyra spent a lot of time holding our hands and walking.

That’s right, walking. She’s started to let go and stumble drunkenly towards us if we’re within a few feet of her. She’s done a few good faceplants into the carpet. She’s also insistent, now, that she be allowed to walk whenever she likes – and she’s moved from holding us with both hands to holding on with one hand. She also likes to walk up and down stairs, although she isn’t particularly good at it yet. She now has some lovely little brown and pink shoes, since the Robeez aren’t going to work when the rains come.

Lyra’s first steps were on the biking trip, which is pretty awesome. Her first words were also on the trip – she said nana (in reference to a banana, specifically) and she pointed at the bike in one of her storybooks and said “Bike!” I think it’s pretty fitting that she said bike on a bike trip.

That was over a week ago, and now she basically says bike in reference to nearly everything, in addition to bikes. She points at fish and says bike. She points at a rock and says bike. Too funny.

Adam’s mom Tyna is visiting now. Chances are good Lyra will take more independent steps while she’s here. That should be nice.

Oh yeah, and I finally got around to posting my bike up on the Buy & Sell on the mountain biking forum page. If you know any Vancouver area folks looking for a good all mountain type bike, share this link with them. If I sell that bike, I can buy a bike rack and go out with my other newer bike. Hooray for biking!!

Exciting times at Brazza Coffee & Gelato

Adam’s mother is visiting us. I picked her up today at the airport, and we went to grab a late lunch at Brazza, the coffee shop near my apartment. We were just thinking about packing up to leave (or possibly get Gelato) and I was walking around the shop with Lyra. She enjoys walking.

I was looking out the window when I noticed a car about to pull out running in to the parked car behind it. As I watched, the driver realized that she had hit the car behind her and pulled forward quickly. Unfortunately, she then hit the car in front of her. She switched back into reverse quickly, and ran into the car behind her again. Then things got weird.

The driver switched back into drive and basically put her foot to the floor. She accelerated fast enough that her car ran into the little convertible in front of her a second time, this time hard enough to push it forward and out of her way. The convertible smashed into the car parked in front of it, and then rolled back into its own parking space as the car that was causing all the commotion was no longer in its way.

Post-accident outside BrazzaIt wasn’t in the way because she had driven up on the the sidewalk, still gunning the engine, and smashed into the patio at the Yaas Bazaar. I can’t really say how long she was there, wedged into the patio, but the entire time she was still pushing her foot to the floor on the gas pedal. A cloud of smoke and the smell of burning rubber was intense, and I started to worry that she would back up again and smash through the window of Brazza. I picked Lyra up and went towards the back of the shop, which was starting to fill up with smoke.

Someone got worried that the car was going to explode and told everyone to go out the back door, so we did, (but seriously, cars don’t explode except in the movies, unless something happens to light the gas tank on fire.)

Once the car had stopped and the engine was off, I went back through to the front of the store to see the aftermath. And boy howdy was it something else. She managed to take out three cars besides her own, plus a bike rack. If Kate (coffee shop staffer) had been working, her bike would have been wrecked, since the rack was wedged between the car and the Yaas Bazaar patio.

Fortunately there was no one sitting on the patio itself. The people sitting outside Brazza narrowly avoided getting hit, and it was also fortunate that no one was walking on that section of sidewalk at that moment. As it turned out, no one was hurt, although the driver was definitely in shock.

If we had decided to leave a minute earlier, we could have been on the sidewalk when it happened. Crazy to think of.

Since I saw the whole thing from inside Brazza, I went up to the police officer and wrote up a witness report. I also pulled out the point & shoot digital camera that I had on me at the time and snapped a few pictures.

It certainly made for an exciting afternoon. I wish I had my real camera with me rather than the point and shoot, but what can you do? Carrying the baby bag around means I don’t get the carry the big camera as much anymore. But at least I got something.

Post-accident outside Brazza