Training Think Tank has built its reputation training athletes or coaching coaches. Our message, desire to improve the adaptation of athletes, the focus of our coaches, our scientific terminology and public perception would all indicate that our niche is in the development solely of athletes. I’ve always been slightly upset by this notion as much of my career has been fighting to help ‘regular people’ find peace, health, and performance with their bodies. I’ve tried to create a deeper more meaningful definition of the word “health” to guide my recommendation to people about how to set their goals. Instead of promoting people’s focus on performance or aesthetics, I hope to help the people we serve find a balance in their movement quality, strength, endurance, confidence, emotional well being, and most importantly, the love they can generate in the relationships of their lives. In an effort to dedicate more time to this demographic, we have a coach dedicated to the advancement of training for moms, 9-5’ers, people who just want to lose a couple pounds, and any other ‘regular people’ goals. We believe that people are sometimes sucked into the social media world, set unrealistic expectations and follow protocols not suited for them that ultimately set them up to feel disappointment, shame, and inadequacy. To combat this, we are pleased to introduce Becky Rogers as a new coach under TTT. Becky has relocated with her husband Adam (also a TTT coach) to Georgia and will be contributing regularly to our blog in the future. Becky has been a collegiate athlete, a competitive CrossFit athlete, and a business owner, but now priority number one has become motherhood. Because I have no thoughts of my own to offer on this topic, I asked her to write a blog to give insight into how a young mom prioritizes training and finds balance with work, motherhood, and maintaining health. I found this honest account extremely funny in highlighting the difficulty of the task, but also offering hope that it is possible. It also reinforced my belief that this group of women needs to be helped by good training principles through someone who can empathize with the difficulty of maintaining balance. It is terrifying to me to think about how many women might be unable to find inner peace in the chaos that follows having children. So many moms lose their health in the process of cultivating health for their babies. Hopefully we can begin to reverse this trend and set a better example for the coming generations. Without further ado…
Training As a Mom
I haven’t needed an alarm clock to wake me up in the mornings for almost 4 years. I know it sounds like I’m bragging - I’m not - because I sleep so well and wake up refreshed - I don’t - but the truth is my morning “alarm” is actually my 11-month-old son. He’s sure to let me know when he’s ready to start his day, whether I’M ready for it or not. Before him, my 3 year old did the job, as both my kids are early morning people.
A typical morning once my “alarm” goes off consists of feeding kids, dressing kids, making preschool lunch, finding the one specific, special toy my 3 year old needs for show and tell, breaking up fights when the little one wants something the big one doesn’t want him to have, putting the little one down on the floor to play so I can finish dressing the big one...and then immediately picking him back up again because he starts crying … on and on for infinity. I think you get the picture. With two kids under the age of 4, I’ve had to let go of a lot of my obsessive, somewhat neurotic, tendencies for things like tidiness, showering every day, being on-time to most places, and having any kind of alone time inside the house. I’m learning to be flexible and go with the flow and not obsess over the one missing dinosaur toy from my son’s collection.
Ok, ok, I’m still looking for that thing but let’s move on….
One thing I am adamant about and determined to maintain is my training routine. Of all the things I’ve adapted to and compromised on since having kids, my training sessions are one of the few things I stubbornly will not give up or push further down the list of importance. It’s my “me” time. I make sure to schedule it with my husband the day before, with a not-so-subtle implication that this is a crucial contributor to my mood and overall disposition for that day. My husband has come to terms with that (mostly) and I (usually) am free of any guilt that I’m not with my kids because I really and truly need this time for myself. Though sometimes it’s hard to not compare myself to the younger, pre-kids me and wish I could spend two hours in the gym instead of a hurried 45-60 minutes!
We all go through different phases in our training life. We get older, priorities change, we have kids, new jobs … the list goes on. My training schedule today is so different than what it was like in college or while I was in grad school, and it’s definitely different than before I had kids. Four years ago, I was able to spend any amount of time at the gym; I did the workout of the day, stayed after to hang out with friends, taught my classes, and maybe worked on clean/snatch technique. After my oldest was born, I knew I had specific weaknesses that needed to be addressed before jumping back into my old training volume, not to mention all the new obstacles to work around, like having to take care of this little person whenever he needed me. I have to take my schedule into consideration and be understanding with myself when I have to miss a workout because my oldest is sick or I have zero energy because the baby was up every hour the previous night. I’m stubborn and will do my best to not let those situations interrupt my training schedule, but sometimes I need an objective voice to remind me that today was just a little bump in the road, not a plummet off a cliff into the ocean. I’ll pick back up where I left off tomorrow.
Juggling all the roles I need to be in life - wife, mother, coach, employee - is a constant learning experience. Usually as soon I think I have everything figured out, something changes. No amount of preparation or scheduling or practice could have prepared me for the difficulty of balancing my personal fitness and health with being a mother. One thing I have realized over time is that taking care of my kids involves me also taking care of myself. In this transition from athlete to mother/athlete I’ve found a few strategies that were necessary in the process. The most important step was reframing my goals into something more realistic. This means taking everything into consideration - time constraints, sleep (or lack thereof), less meal prep and timing, rushed warm ups and cool downs - and creating a more specific and defined list of goals that are doable for where I’m at in this stage of my life. Along with that comes defining a new list of priorities. I’ve had to make peace with the things I’m going to let go, like the laundry that has been sitting for days in need of folding in my laundry room. I focus on learning to function with the temporary sleep deprivation that causes my training intensity to drop, and my recovery capacity to be compromised. Ultimately, I am aiming to become the premier multitask-er. I try to multitask while feeding a baby and reading or watching training videos and even writing programs in my Google Sheets app. Heck, most of this article was written on my iPhone between the hours of 4 and 7am. It’s 6:49 in the morning as I write this, and I’m ok with that.
Being a parent is one huge learning process from the start, and I constantly wonder what is the “right” way. I think one thing we can all agree on is we want to give our kids everything they could ever need in life. As the days turn into months and years, my idea of what that means changes. Being a good mother while also not losing my physical health is not only something I need, it’s something my kids need as well.