Monthly Archives: June 2011

Giveaway: Be happy in the (this) saddle

Friend or foe?

There is a special freedom found only on a bike. It’s one of those rare thrills we feel at every age and ability. Whether it’s your first wobbly ride off training wheels or your umpteenth century (100 mile) ride of the season, cycling makes us feel independent, strong and happy.

Except when it doesn’t.

For some of us, particularly women, climbing onto the saddle causes more than just a little discomfort “down there.” And until you find a saddle that fits just right (and take off your panties!), biking will never make you feel like a kid again. Instead, it will make you feel like you’ve just had one—right there on the bike.

I have vivid memories of a long ride with my husband back when were first married that resulted in him winning the Heisman Award for a good week. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I pushed through the pain, fleshy one minute and boney the next. Didn’t matter how I sat, I was uncomfortable. Not strong. Not happy.

I went through a few saddles before I fell in love (or should I say, my crotch fell in love) with the Terry Butterfly Ti saddle. It’s lightweight and designed just for “her” by folks who specialize in ladies cycling. The guys like it too since it eliminates the Heisman phenomena–at least as it relates to the bike, anyway. (Come on, riding really shouldn’t be a pre-coital excuse!).

Having saddle issues? Got that “not so fresh feeling”? Just want to try something new? I wanna hear from Hot (Sweaty) Mamas like you about why you like to ride, or about your favorite two-wheeled adventure. I’ll draw one winner from the entrants here and at http://seemomsweat.blogspot.com and post the winner on Friday. Good luck!

–Laurie

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Running in Circles

My friend Greg once told me he likes to draw an imaginary circle around himself and every person with whom he has a relationship—his wife, kids, friends, co-workers (you get the idea). As often as he remembers, he takes a little inventory of his life to make sure he’s keeping all the right stuff inside each of those circles. He reminded me that everything we do within a given circle has the potential to strengthen the relationship therein. And sometimes when we leave things out of certain circles we ultimately make them weaker.

Thinking about this made me realize how important health and fitness are to my overall wellbeing, not just my physical health. How they’ve helped me establish and deepen a number of relationships in my life. When my husband and I met, we shared a passion for the outdoors and a passion for running; and each year our marriage grows through some shared physical activity including these things (i.e., running the Grand Canyon, sailing trips, camping).

Many of my closest friends are also running partners, riding buddies or fellow gym rats. Those that don’t share my passion at least appear enthusiastic about my goals and accomplishments. And it’s okay if they’re just faking interest, to share a circle with me means to share my interests no matter what. And I share the things that make them tick, too (even when I don’t find them interesting).

I’ve had a couple of friendships that haven’t fared so well over the years; there have been times I’ve let fitness get in the way of a relationship by simply not sharing it with someone else. Greg got me thinking that maybe I can use my passion for fitness as a means to rekindle those old friendships, repair relationships that might need tending to or strengthen an already strong bond with a loved one. It even works with people who don’t quite “get it,” who don’t understand that it’s fun to work up a good stinky, sweat.

I can keep circles intact by sharing what it feels like to be me, and that doesn’t necessarily mean running a marathon (though it’s always nice to have some company). There are plenty of other options—a short walk with an aging parent, a leisurely bike ride with my kids, a lake swim with a friend who usually hits the beach for a tan. If fitness is a big part of your life, find some way to share it with those people who are most important to you. Let it bring you together instead of tear you apart.

We all know that good relationships can be the best, most challenging endurance events out there. And as a mom, having a good support network is a sanity saver. So when you think the finish line is in sight, loop back and keep going. Sometimes running (or walking, biking, swimming, etc.) in circles can be a very good thing.

An active lifestyle keeps me physically and mentally fit, better able to handle the demands of motherhood. How about you? Does fitness keep you strong in more ways than one?

–Laurie

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Good News for Fidgeters

I come from a long line of fidgeters. I call my mom “Go Go Gertie,” because she never stops. I realized after a visit from my grandmother last summer that she has same the inability to be idle. I had to beg her to please sit down like a proper guest. She couldn’t. But who am I to talk?
You might already be familiar with my love for my Polar Activity Monitor, the handy watch/accelerometer that translates movement into exercise time, even categorizing it into “vigorous+,” “vigorous,” and “moderate” activity.” One reason I like it so much is because it provides positive feedback on my fidgeting. Most normal days for me, not including my workout, include at least an additional 20 to 30 minutes of moderate activity according to my PAM. It’s a rare day that I fall below the recommended 10,000 steps. Yes, the four kids help. But so does being genetically prone to fidgeting.
And while I like that immediate gratification I get from looking at my watch, I got news recently from the post, “Fidgeting your Way to Fitness,” in Tara Parker Pope’s Well Blog, that makes me even more smug. She reports findings from a Canadian study of volunteers who didn’t meet the current recommended activity guidelines of 30 minutes or more of moderate activity most days of the week. The results suggest that fidgeting, which we already know can help with weight loss, just might improve our fitness level too. She says:

“But those who moved the most, and especially those few who occasionally moved briskly, did have significantly higher cardiorespiratory fitness than those who moved the least. They weren’t exercising. They may have been hurrying to catch the bus during the occasional, brief moderate-intensity spurt, but even that was enough, it seems, to bump up VO2 max and, potentially, reduce risks of health problems.”

So for those who thought they needed to medicate their adult version of hyperactivity, don’t. And on those days when the kids want this and then want that and you’re fetching and swapping and wiping and reaching and walking from the car to the house a dozen times because you need one more thing, don’t get frustrated, know that a mom’s activities of daily living DO pay off.

You might think this news made me more obsessive about wearing my Polar Activity Monitor (which is impossible because you can’t get more obsessive when you’re already wearing it 24 hours a day). Instead I was able to back off from it a little, which is to say I don’t wear it for my “real” workouts. My Polar Heart Rate Monitor needs to reign over my training, a more functional piece of equipment to make improvements in fitness goals. But when I’m not working out… well, yeah, I strap that PAM right back on because I can’t wait to see what kind of “bonus workout” I’ll get for the day.
It’s also nice to know that during those periods of “temporary imbalance” when other priorities need more of your attention, that any movement–not just that accomplished in your workout clothes–adds up like a good savings account. Especially as moms, when there’s always more to do than is humanly possible in a day, “Non Exercise Physical Activity” should count, even if for no other reason than to give ourselves a well needed break every now and then. I don’t mean a physical break (we’re fidgeting too much for that), but a mental one from feeling as if you can never get it all done.
Are you a born fidgeter?

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Adapting to Summer

The last day of school is Thursday and I’m working to avoid hearing, “I’m bored!” this summer.  I have spent a small fortune signing up my kids for several “affordable” programs (multiplied by 3 or 4, not so much).

The girls will stay in swim lessons and then there’s a basketball camp for the twins, t-ball for my 6-year-old, and I better sign The Boy up for something soon, too. I’ve got all the kids in a gardening camp, which I love because they’ll learn how to prepare food from the garden (let someone else tell them to eat vegetables) and even share their bounty with the local food shelf. I’m trying to figure out how to do that plus get them to a new kids running program at Life Time on the same day. I’ve already scheduled a few playdates at the house to see friends and we’ll probably do vacation bible school and, oh yeah, there’s a dance camp in August.

That’s all great, except… what about mom? She needs some playdates with her running and cycling pals. I’d like to go to triathlon training camp for grown ups. Mom wants to do the free yoga class in the park on Friday mornings. I’ve got to find a way to keep swimming.

I feel as if I’ve spent the last nine months nailing down a great fitness routine, arranged around their school and activity schedule. Now, with summer here, I have to start all over again. When will mama sweat?!

Deep breath.

I think I co-wrote a book about this.

Make time, take time, share time, snare time. Oh yeah.

That’s how it’s done.

Tuesday and Thursday mornings I’ll get a bike ride and track workout in, respectively, before anyone knows I’m gone. Make time.

Kids will visit the child center while I go to masters swim class and my niece, nephew and neighborhood sitter can cover for me while I meet friends for an afternoon ride, run, or both. Take time.

I know one of my daughters would love to go to that outdoor yoga class as much as I would. My twins are signed up for a kids triathlon and we could do a little riding and running together. Share time.

My response to “I’m bored” might have to be capturing the offender for use in a spontaneous “Training for Motherhood” workout. I think that’s an excellent variation of a “time out.” Plus, while I’m shuttling kids to various camps and programs, certainly I’ll find a way to sneak in a workout while I wait. Snare time.

Finding fitness in the chaos of motherhood is a challenge in any season (of the year or of life). I’m sure I’ll be in a groove by the end of summer and will need to adapt again come fall. And that’s the secret behind all the secrets to life as fit mom: adapt.

How are you adapting this summer?

Kara

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