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25 March 2009


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Sara Harrison

I've been interested to follow this series, having spent much of the last 8-10 months independently inventing what you've been writing about. I'd say that I'm somewhere between a. and c., basic fundamentals and individual athlete. I'm working on getting into shape for . . . well, really, ever. I played some high school sports, but I was bad at them. I'd like to end up being a runner, I think, though I'd also like to be able to swim laps. Haven't started that yet.

Like you, I've made use of our local Y. The child care is a life saver. My oldest is at school and the younger two are happy enough in the child care. I find that the slot just before lunch works best for me. By then, a healthy breakfast is digested and won't turn to lead in my stomach. Afternoon is nap time for the kids, and I'm just not up to going out to exercise by 8 or 9 at night, by the time I've got my dinner settled. My husband is very supportive. I keep hoping he'll get motivated to get regular exercise too, but that's going to have to be his decision. I've got the time slot--11:45 to 1, blocked out for each of the 5 week days. I'm happy to get in 3 or 4 of those. But there's some flex to pick up an extra if I need to catch up, and enough extras for me to drop one if someone is sick, or if I just want to go out to lunch with friends.

I've appreciated your sharing.


I'm "still around" and still really appreciating your thoughts on this topic! I'm seven weeks postpartum and am getting ready to design a new exercise routine.

Here's what my successful workout routine from last year looked like:
Walking a 3-mile route in my neighborhood every weekday with my two toddlers in the jogging stroller. I had planned to run this route eventually (I have been a runner most of my life but had fallen out of shape since an earlier pregnancy), but I got pregnant and decided to stick with the walking. So I suppose I switched from being an individual athlete to staying fit "off-season." :) On rainy days, I settled for a exercise video that I enjoy during my kids' nap--but these days were few and far between (we have wonderful weather here). The whole system worked really well, and I lost 20 pounds in just a few months (before I got pregnant). I continued this same workout through my entire pregnancy (one of the good things about walking!), and I only gained 20 pounds total without limiting my food intake at all.

Like you pointed out in an earlier post, though, walking-with-kids-in-stroller is only a good workout if you have the right number of children at the right ages. I've gone out since giving birth with my newborn in a wrap and my toddlers in their stroller, but it doesn't work well enough to really be a workout. So I'm back to the drawing board.

This time around, I'm going to be running rather than walking (I definitely wan to consider myself an "individual athlete" again), and I'm planning two weekday night runs and one run on Saturday or Sunday morning. My hubby will be watching the kids, and I'll just be sticking in my own neighborhood. I'm anxious to get started.


1. I'm an individual athlete, although I enjoy working out with my husband (since we're doing roughly the same activities, we can talk shop and compare notes as to what's effective). I don't really want to be competing against anything but my own personal record.

2. I do strength training (aka lifting weights).

3. Times vary, but I strive to get in two workouts a week at roughly an hour a pop, one of which is on the weekend. If I can, I work out on both Tuesday and Thursday afternoons; if I miss Tuesday, I know I have Thursday to fall back on.

4. My activities are a variety of strength training exercises designed to work the whole body, not individual muscles. I'm following the program outlined in The New Rules of Lifting for Women, and I'm about halfway through the course.

5. I work out at home. We just invested in new equipment because we realized that for once, we were actually serious about this kind of exercise. And the investment will serve as an incentive on the days that motivation flags. :)

6. On the weekends, my husband and I take turns watching the kids during our workouts. In the afternoons, I put the baby down for his nap and the older children in front of a video. This system is hitting its limitations, and I may have to explore other childcare options soon.


I'm just starting to workout and am trying to work it into being successful. So, that is something I can only comment on a few months in the future.

However, the LAST time I tried working out, here is what it was:

It was 2001. I had 2 kids (now have 6) ages 6 months and 2. A friend and I were working out at the YMCA three times a week. We would do nautilus machines, maybe treadmill and occasionally an aerobics class. After working out we would take our kids out of the childcare and do toddler gymnastics with them. We did this really faithfully for about 9 months and then we fell out of it. It was taking all morning 3x a week (by the time we worked out, showered, picked up our kids from childcare, drove home). It just didn't seem "worth it" anymore.

I did like the changes in my body--looking firm, etc. But I never got to the place where I loved the activity or had an identity in it. I never got to the place where my body missed the workout when I missed one. So, letting it slide was really easy when I got pregnant again, we bought a new house, and had some family illness/death to deal with. That was the most successful I've been at working out since I've had kids.

This time is different. I really want this for the long haul. I'm hoping to figure out how to make an identity out of being fit. So, I will have to report on that in the future.

Maybe a failure can help answer some of your questions? This series is helping me pinpoint why that ended up failing...




I am a runner. I played soccer through high school & college, and then added cross-country my last two years of college. I also lifeguarded and taught swimming lessons in the summers, and swam laps on my own. In grad school, I ran and worked out (free weights) at the campus rec center.

Now, I've got 2.5-year-old twins and a 1-year-old, and I'm hoping to get pregnant again soon.

Right now, I run 4 miles 3-5 times a week at 6:30 a.m. while my husband is at home (usually with baby awake, big girls still asleep). I also, after wanting to since I was pregnant with the twins, (and after being inspired by your blog) finally joined the rec center of the local college so I can use their indoor lap pool. Now I swim 1-2 times a week in addition to the running. On the days I swim, my schedule is the same--the pool opens at 6:30, and I swim then. I factor in travel/changing time so that swimming and running take the same amount of total time in the morning, so our family morning schedule is the same regardless of what I do.

My plan is to up days of swimming and cut back days of running if/when I get pregnant, so that I'm still able to exercise when I'm big-fat-pregnant. I stopped running while I was pregnant with my twins (I gained 85 pounds with that pregnancy!) and never started again until this past summer. Like a previous commenter, I power-walked with the twins in a double stroller while I was pregnant with the baby, but after trying a couple of times after she was born to exercise-walk with her in a sling and the big girls in the stroller... it just wasn't working!

My husband is very proud of my concern for staying in shape, and is happy to facilitate my early-morning exercise. I just run around the neighborhood, and the facility where I swim is a 5-minute drive away. Since I do both first-thing in the morning, I just come home stinky and take a shower at "regular" time... it just means on the days I've exercised, I'm sweaty while I eat breakfast... but no one complains, and it doesn't bother me!

My primary motivation for getting back into running was, admittedly, weight loss--I had plateaued after my last baby at about 40 pounds heavier than my normal weight, and wasn't comfortable with the idea of staying there. I had always been a runner, anyway, and was anxious to re-claim that part of my self. Lastly, it is nice, as a stay-at-home-mom, to have that little while in the morning free from tiny demanding people! I pray the rosary with a knotted-twine rosary while I run (I can throw it into the wash when it gets too sweaty) and say my other morning prayers. I enjoy the sunrise, the still-there moon in the morning, the quiet streets... and since I live in New Orleans, where it's muggy-hot-summer about 13 months a year, I enjoy the (relative) "cool" of the early mornings!

One thing I've not figured out how to do yet is pray the rosary while I'm doing laps... I can't count laps and Ave Marias at the same time. Any suggestions?

Thank you for all your thoughtful posts on this subject.

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