In the days after New Year’s I am always sad to see the lights come down. When the mornings get colder I tend to push walks and runs to the evening hence the term our family uses “Christmas Light Walk”. There is a route on a neighboring block that has in recent years become our first family holiday tradition. We’ve been in our little house on Cottonwood Road for three Christmases now and for each one of them I have been pregnant. These Christmas light walks and runs have offered extra motivation when it has been much needed. The first year was my first experience with the first trimester. The second year I was tired and heavy, just days before my due date. This year I was back in the first trimester and mourning a Christmas without my baby daughter. Pregnancy and the holidays seem to go hand in hand. Loss and the holidays also seem to go hand in hand. As I write this I am only a little over 9 weeks pregnant and though common practice these days is to wait until 12 weeks to disclose I figure what the hell; I know all too well there is no “safe” point in pregnancy.
What brought me to my computer today was the urge to share my recent lack of motivation as it ironically coincides with the start of the New Year, the prime time for fitness resolutions. This personal trainer has been struggling. Hormonally speaking week 9 is the height of the first trimester blues, the anniversary of Eve’s delivery was yesterday, and January is the most depressing month of the year. Contrary to popular belief personal trainers don’t always bounce out of bed raring to go in the morning. Lately peeling would be a more accurate description of extracting my body from the comfort of my covers. To every client who has ever told me they have zero motivation I now more than ever understand you. Getting started is the hardest part but once you begin you will rarely be sorry you did. I will share what has been working for me this January and hope the same may work for you:
-Start Every Day with Movement and Meditation (or at least one of the two): Notice I say “movement” and not exercise. If you are not big on hard-core workouts in the morning find something that you can do. It can be as easy as taking the dog for a stroll or stretching on your bedroom floor. The same goes for meditation, no need for hours of quiet contemplation. On those days I am crunched for time after a morning run I’ll set my phone timer for five minutes of closing my eyes and taking some deep breaths which is enough to set a better tone for the rest of the day. Better yet, try some yoga to get the benefits of both at the same time. Taking some time to get in touch with your body first thing will automatically lead to healthier choices throughout the day.
-Look at the Big Picture: You don’t have to be an athlete to be an active person. Though formal exercise is important to consistently increase one’s overall fitness level and make moving more pleasurable it’s what happens outside the gym matters more. If you spend 1 hour doing a really intense workout then sit on your bum for the remainder of the day much of the benefit is lost. On those days you can’t make it to the gym aim to be more active throughout the rest of your day.
-Exercise Makes Things Better: No it won’t necessarily solve your problem but it can promote more positive feelings, lead to clearer thinking, and increase energy. On those days I feel crappy I know I will feel even crappier if I don’t exercise.
-This Too Shall Pass: Just like everything else in this world our motivation ebbs and flows. Acknowledge when energy is at a low point and find ways to be healthy within that space. One positive change I’ve found during this low point is an increased ability to sleep. I am usually not a great sleeper and when I first found out I was pregnant the fear of getting back on the proverbial horse kept me up many a night. One blessing of first trimester fatigue is that I sleep more than usual. While a big part of me can’t wait to pass that 12 week mark I will miss these extra long sleeps (and even occasional nap!) Low energy activities can be good for you and are always better than trying to lift the mood through mindless snacking. Read to nourish your brain, listen to music to nourish your soul, treat your body to a hot bath…exercise isn’t the only way to increase feelings of good health.
Even though I’ve been dragging myself kicking and screaming into my workouts these past few weeks I have yet to regret a single one. Sometimes when things seem overwhelming exercise can be the one thing that brings a bit of immediate gratification. It isn’t always easy to gather the momentum to get moving but the days we least want to exercise are the days when we need it the most; though winter may seem endless spring will be here soon enough.