Kayla Scally, one of our nurse practitioners in the Weight Center, recently had her second child. With a growing family, she has found creative and fun ways to keep herself, and her whole family, moving. What did you do for exercise before becoming a mom?
As boring as this sounds, I walked! I’ve never been much of a runner, but I’ve always liked walking, especially outdoors! After work, I looked forward to lacing up my walking shoes and taking a brisk 30+ minute “power walk.” For me, walking is relaxing and energizing at the same time. I get lost in my thoughts during solo walks, and I like the social aspect of walking with family and friends. Now that I think about it, I think the best (and most productive!) conversations I’ve had with my husband have been during our walks together!
What is the biggest challenge with exercise in this stage of your life?
Before becoming a mom, I had more free time and a lot less responsibility! I was self-focused and now I’m family-focused. So, I think the biggest challenge with exercise in this stage of my life is finding things that I can do alongside my two boys, who are almost 3 years old and 6 months old. Going for a 30-minute “power walk” is certainly out of the question with my toddler. When he was younger, I could take him with me in our jogging stroller, but now he is at an age where he wants to be free to explore the world and he doesn’t want to sit still!
How has your mindset about exercise changed after becoming a mom?
My mindset about exercise before becoming a mom was that it was something I needed to do to stay in shape. Now, I consider exercise as something that I want to do to remain healthy for myself and my family. I also know the benefits of exercise and I know that kids who grow up exercising regularly are more apt to exercise as an adult, so I want to foster this habit starting at a young age … and I think the best way to accomplish this is to lead by example.
Now that you have two small boys, how do you make sure you get enough exercise?
Honestly, I still struggle to make sure that I get enough exercise, but I’m trying! I am lucky that I have a supportive husband who will watch our boys if I wanted to make time to exercise on my own, but if I do, I feel like I’m missing out on time that I could be spending with my family. So I’m not going on as many long, brisk walks as I’d like to right now, but instead, I’m trying to incorporate physical activity into play time with my kids.
On nice days after work, our family plays outside with a ball or we ride bikes/scooters up and down the street. I’ll take my 3-year-old on nature walks around our property because he’s fascinated by bugs and rocks. I might run laps around the backyard, often pretending to be a bear chasing my son (he screams and laughs when I finally catch him!). Sometimes I’ll run around with my arms stretched wide pretending to be an airplane – and of course my son will join me. We’ll make up stories about the destinations we’re flying to, and there’s certainly always a little turbulence to add to the excitement! Sometimes I stretch or do some core strengthening exercises while my son is doing self-play in the same room. My husband is an avid kite surfer, so I will go for a walk with the boys while he’s out on the water. We have a pond in our back yard so we’ll take my oldest son out on canoe rides. When the water freezes, we ice skate on the pond. I watch my 6-month-old son at home on Mondays so I still go on “power walks” with him in the jogging stroller as often as I can. Sometimes I walk to a nearby grocery store and back instead of taking the car. I also take brisk walks during my lunch, either outside around the perimeter of the hospital or, in unfavorable weather, around the hospital hallways and up/down the stairs, and I park farther away from the hospital so I get in a 10-minute walk to and from my office.
What is your biggest takeaway about exercise in this stage of your life?
My biggest takeaway about exercise at this stage in my life is that doing some sort or physical activity – no matter what it is – is better than doing nothing at all! Exercise doesn’t have to be a 30-minute walk or time spent at a gym. Sure, my neighbors probably think I’m silly running in circles in our back yard pretending to be an airplane or a grizzly bear, BUT I’m getting in some cardio AND making memories with my children! At this stage in my life, that’s what is most important to me.
This blog post originally appeared in Keep Moving, a weekly blog written by Janet Huehls, MA, RCEP, CHWC, CYT, a registered clinical exercise physiologist and a certified health and wellness coach with the UMass Memorial Weight Center.