I had my plan set out a few days ahead of time. I had gone to the grocery store and picked up everything on my healthy meal planning list, I had bought a sports bra that actually fit, and I had set my alarm.
For 5 (holy flipping cow, that’s early) a.m. I knew that if I could get my work out in early before the kids woke up that I wouldn’t be dreading it the rest of the day. Then all I would have to worry about was sticking to my meal plan and trying to drink enough water.
After months of standing in front of the mirror and not being happy with what I saw or how I felt, I was finally going to get healthy. I wanted to feel better when I went shopping, I wanted to be more confident in the bedroom, and in general, I just desperately wanted to feel better. This was it. This was going to be my time. And nothing was going to stop me.
(does any of this sound familiar to anyone else?)
After grabbing my water and getting warmed up, I put on my head phones and stepped up onto the treadmill. After my first few minutes of running, a tiny figure emerged from the darkness of the hallway, making my run come to a halt. Seriously? She woke up? But how? Never mind, I can still do this. I kept my positive thinking going.
“Hi Mommy, I’m awake!” Her little smile was so proud, almost as if to say, “I woke up just so I could be with you!” Heaven forbid I ever be alone in my house. “Your running is really loud,” she said. Yes child, I know. I sound like an elephant thudding through the living room.
I stepped off the treadmill and gave my girl a hug. I got her situated on the couch with a cup of water and some breakfast and turned on a cartoon. “Mommy is just going to run for a little bit, OK honey. You just sit here and watch your show.”
Back to running on the treadmill I went, this time my head phones off and I tried to be a little lighter on my feet so I wouldn’t be so loud. Not two minutes later I heard the baby’s cries from the nursery. Really? Really. How are TWO of my three kids up an hour early?
I went and picked up the baby from his crib and got him settled with his blankie on the couch alongside of his big sister. I set up the baby gate around the treadmill, just in case he got any ideas of trying to come and see what Mommy was doing. OK, now I will be able to finish my run. It’s been interrupted twice, but I can still do this.
Once again, back to the treadmill I went. I was a few minutes in when I felt it. What the frick? You’ve got to be kidding me, I thought to myself. I walked into the bathroom to find that a certain something had arrived… a week early. Which also meant bloating and cramps and fatigue. And it also meant the cravings of cake. Give. Me. All. The. Cake. Could the start of my healthy lifestyle start out any worse?
Well, I guess there’s always next week to try and start again, I thought to myself. Another week to put something off that I knew I so desperately wanted… Something I knew I NEEDED. And another week of finding myself defeated, frustrated, chubby, unhappy, and wondering if it was even worth it to try again. Because something, something, was always holding me back.
One of the things that I love about women, and mamas in particular, is that we are resilient when things don’t go as planned. Not only do we carry and birth tiny human beings, but the emotional strength that we possess carries us physically well past the birthing process. It’s what keeps us going day after day, night after weary night. And dang it, we are strong! It allows us to rock babies all night long, to go back to work after maternity leave even when our hearts aren’t quite yet ready, to keep up with the laundry and cooking and cleaning, to sit with babies on our laps and read books and stack blocks day after day… and it allows us to get up at 5a.m. or during nap time or after all of the kids have gone to bed and try to do something that makes us better than we were the day before. Even if it’s just three days a week. Or one. Our resilience allows us to choose water instead of pop during the week, to say “no” to the extra helping of lasagna, and to put ourselves out there for 30 minutes of elephant thudding steps on the treadmill, despite the odds always seeming to be against us.
Our resilience let’s us say, “We can still do this! Even if I feel defeated!” Even if it doesn’t look perfect. Even if it’s full of interruptions and slip ups and days that we just can’t get our junk together. It’s a part of who we are. To do things that are hard with the very best of what we’ve got and for it to be OK if being healthy isn’t all or nothing. To give our all even when things don’t go as planned. Being resilient and strong starts with the heart. And mamas, if anyone’s got heart, it’s us.
We can do this, ladies. We can still do this, friend. And it doesn’t have to be perfect. But it is gonna be Mama Strong.