Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My (almost) Year in Review

As I approach the celebration of the one year anniversary of my first child's birth, I am contemplative. So much has changed, not much is the same. I am a little teary over how fast my sweet baby is growing but every age and stage is so much fun and I am so excited to watch him grow and develop. But I want to take a moment to reflect on the changes within me over the past year. There are too many to write I am sure of it. But here are a few.

So I run now. Yeah, hard for me to believe as well. If you would have told me that I would find enjoyment in this exercise a year and half ago, I would have laughed in your face. Now, when I say "enjoyment" I don't mean that I enjoy running in all regards. Specifically, I loathe the first 10 minutes or so of the act. I don't know how I find the strength to run past that period, but somehow I have. What I do enjoy is the feeling after the run is complete, the way my clothes fit afterwards, and my general psychological well-being throughout the day. I slightly enjoy the feeling after the first 10 minutes of running, only slightly. Those people who say they get a runner's high, well I don't know what in God's name they speak of. Maybe that is because I haven't run more than 35 minutes straight. Who knows. I don't think I will ever love any form of exercise that much as to get high off of it. I exercise because it makes me feel good afterwards, it makes me sleep better, it increases my endurance, and mostly, because it makes me healthier. That is the overall goal, to stick around as long as possible and spend as much time as possible with my family.

Now, I have always exercised ever since my senior year of high school (which is now more than 10 years ago, tear). I have had periods where I am consistent and stick with a program but overall, I exercise when I felt I needed to shed some pounds. My mentality changed in the summer of 2010 when I was unemployed and looked to P90X as a distraction. I started to feel incredibly strong and that feeling was better than watching the numbers drop on the scale (although that was certainly a good feeling as well). I was losing weight and feeling great and them BAM, I got pregnant. I had not reached my goal weight but who cares when you are going to be a momma!?! I managed to exercise until one week before I had Mark (my OB ordered me to stop). I did cardio and weights and it really helped me feel more comfortable. I did gain 32 pounds, more than I should have though not as bad as it could have been considering I deprived myself of nothing (food wise).  After my c-section, it was weeks before I could walk upright let alone think about exercising. However, I did the best calorie burner available- breast feeding! I lost 20 pounds within the first 2 months. Hallelujah! It took months before I could power/speed walk and being the throws of adjusting to parental life, it just didn't happen with any consistency. Knowing I needed to shed the rest of the baby weight (and then some), I joined weight watchers in January. I started increasing my exercise and would do jog/walk combination approximately 4-5 times per week. I was losing but it was Sllllooooowwww. At the end of April, I decided to try the Couch to 5K app and I couldn't be happier with the results. I am now working in weight training with the running and I feel myself getting stronger every day. That is a feeling that I love. I often ask myself why I think I can run now when I could NEVER do it before? The only change in my life (albeit a huge change) was having Mark. I don't think I really changed physically after having a baby. Well certainly not stronger, maybe weakened by the c-section. No, the change is mental. I view pain and discomfort in a completely different way. My tolerance for uncomfortable things has shifted and I view the entire concept drastically different. I know that like parenting, you have to be incredibly tough and oftentimes perform in a way that is less than pleasant. I also know that every parenting moment is not always "enjoyable," although at the end of the day, the overall experience is definitely such. Clearly, parenting is harder than exercising and obviously the rewards are greater, ten fold. But the truth is that walking through that door and parenting to the best of my ability has given me strength I didn't know I had. And that, is how I get past the first 10 minutes.

So here I am, one year after giving birth and I weigh less than I did before I got pregnant! YAY!!!! I was back in my pre-preggo jeans (which every woman knows is kind of a big deal) in 9 months and back to my pre-preggo weight in 10 months. To date, I have lost 38 pounds since having Mark. Now, I know that Mark weighed 8 pounds and then there are the other incidentals. But regardless, there was a lot of other stuff that wasn't just the baby and the incidentals. It feels so good to be rid of all that extra weight!

As I mentioned before, I have exclusively breastfed Mark since birth and we are still going strong. Not one drop of formula ever touched his perfect little lips, or any juice for that matter. I am extremely grateful that I was able to breastfeed for as long as I have. That is not to say it was always easy. The first few months were really hard. Seriously. I got a couple cases of clogged ducts, one case of mastitis, and I had oversupply issues. Even without those, breastfeeding is not easy at all initially. However, it is one of my finest accomplishments. My body has given my son life for over 22 months. That is powerful knowledge. I look at my body completely different now and am awed by its strength.

I know this post suggests that my biggest change in the past year has been physical. That is a misnomer. In reality, I am most changed in my heart. I am now a mother, which next to being a wife, is my most important role. I did not know I could love someone so much, from the moment I first laid eyes on him. I also didn't understand that this unconditional love grows deeper every day. I am a stronger and better person today because of my son. He has taught me so much about life and love that I will never be able to thank him enough. He makes me want to be a better person. Motherhood is fraught with challenges and is completely overwhelming at times but it gives meaning and purpose to this much-too-short journey of life. I can say without any doubts that it will be my greatest accomplishment and legacy in this earthly life.