Fitting in Fitness

Fitting in Fitness

 

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

 

 

By: Amanda Davis

Being a parent is honestly one of the hardest jobs I have ever done.  Throw in a full-time job and life gets crazy busy and very hectic.  My two kids are my whole world and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without those two kiddos of mine.

Looking back at my life 20 years ago.  I often refer to this time as my “BC life” – life before children.  I just graduated from the University of MT and I was heading out to WA state to start my fitness career in Bellingham. I took a position as the Fitness Director and Group Exercise Coordinator for all three Whatcom County YMCA’s.  My days were spend working M-F at the YMCA. On Friday and Saturday nights I took a second job as a cocktail waitress to help pay off my student loans and buy a new car. My car from high school died a week into moving to Bellingham.  Buying a new car wasn’t exactly in my budget and being kid number two out of five children. I knew had to take care of myself.

Life in Bellingham was great.  For the first time I had my very own apartment (no roommates).  I worked a lot of hours at the YMCA it was busy and demanding job.  Even though my job at the YMCA was 50 plus hours a week and my cocktailing job added another 12 hours a week to my work schedule I never struggled to get my workouts in for the day.  I often worked out in the evening to meet people.  Having an apartment by myself was great and all but it was also lonely at times.  Looking back my workouts helped my physical body, but my exercise program was an amazing way to help me shake my homesickness.

Fast forward to 2003, I’m now married and working at Columbia Athletic Clubs as the Fitness Director and Group Exercise Coordinator at the Silver Lake Location.  I still was living my BC Life and I was able to exercise after work.  Often my husband would meet me at work so we could workout together.

In 2006 my daughter Ella was born.  I took 4 months off from work to stay home with Ella.  My workouts to help me lose my “baby weight” were done at home.  My exercise program consisted of walking outside with Ella in a jogging stroller and DVD workouts I could do at home when she was sleeping.  When I went back to work, I found myself wanting to get home right at 5:00 pm to spend time with my new baby girl.  My workouts consisted of the fitness classes I was teaching and lunch time workouts on days I didn’t teach fitness classes.  On the weekends my workout was fun and social. I guess you could say my workout was non-traditional. I decided to take group tennis lessons with my older sister (Claudine) and my husband.   During the hour tennis lesson, we would put our kids (Ella and my two nieces in the club’s drop-in daycare).  We were terrible at tennis, but we had fun together while exercising. Exercising after Ella was born had two purposes for me. First, I wanted to lose my baby weight.  Second, I wanted to have good emotional and mental health for myself and my family.  Being a first-time mommy and full-time employee was hard!

In 2013 my husband and I welcomed baby number two into our lives.  With my son Jase I was able to stay at home for 12 months.  My workouts really changed with baby number two in the house.  Jase was diagnosed with sleep apnea at 6-months-old. Having an infant with sleep apnea means your child doesn’t sleep through the night.  As a matter of fact, Jase would wake up 1-4 times every night.  I was so sleep deprived I could no longer workout while he was sleeping like I did with Ella.  When Jase was sleeping, I was sleeping.  The way I fit exercise into my day was to walk while Ella was at dance class.  I always kept my jogging stroller in the back of my car.  While Ella was in dance class for 45 mins (sometimes she was in there for 90 minutes) I would walk the dance studio parking lot while pushing Jase in the stroller.  In October of 2014 I re-entered the work force.  I started working at NWWC part-time.  I now had to workout with small bits of time here and there.  Walking at work on breaks in between patients.  Walking when Ella was at dance.  Using my elliptical trainer at my house when my husband was home to help watch the kids.  My workouts were not long one-hour sessions, they were small sessions here and there.  By age 3 Jase had surgery to help with his sleep apnea.  He was finally sleeping through the night.  I just survived 3 years of a child waking up 1-4 times a night.  Mom WIN!

By 2016 I was a full-time mom to two kids (now ages 3 and 10) and working full-time at NWWC.  Ella is now dancing for a competition team and playing piano.  Jase is also dancing.  My husband is now working a full-time job and has started up a small business (machine shop) with his brother.

A typical day for me:

  • Wake up and get myself ready for work
  • Get Ella up and going
  • Get Jase up and going
  • Make the kids breakfast
  • Make lunches for Ella and myself
  • Drive Ella to school
  • Take Jase to daycare
  • Get to work and start seeing patients (work 8:30 am – 5:00 pm)
  • Ella has an after-school nanny to get her from school and take her to dance
  • Pick-up Jase from daycare
  • Get Ella from dance (dinner break)
  • Make dinner
  • Check homework
  • Take Ella back to dance
  • Head home to give Jase a bath
  • My husband gets Ella from dance at 9 pm (he just worked 7:00 am -5:00 pm at his regular job then worked at his machine shop from 5:00 pm -8:00 pm)
  • Get Ella to bed
  • Get myself to bed

I know this is a schedule most working mom’s face daily.  My workouts were suffering. I was only getting workouts in on the weekends.  Not what I was hoping for.  I felt like my weekdays were shot.  How in the world was I going to exercise?  Well, I had to have an honest with myself.  I had to look closely look at my days.  I needed to set myself up to be successful  and not set myself up to fail.

 

 

 

 

 

These are the questions I had to ask myself:

  • Do you have the time to get to the gym?
  • How many hours a week am I willing to dedicate to my health?
  • Can you exercise after work?
  • Can you exercise on the weekends?
  • Can you exercise at home?
  • Can you exercise before work?
  • Take a good look at you time in a week. Add up the number of hours you work + commute time to work + 8 hours a night of sleep + 2-3 hours a night of family time. Take that number of hours and subtract it from 120.  How many hours a week are you left with?
  • Now look at the weekend. How many hours are you committed to (kids activities, house hold chores, grocery shopping, and family-time).  Take those hours and subtract it from 48.  How many hours on the weekend are you left with?

After I sat down and answered these questions I realized my time to exercise was early in the morning while everyone was still sleeping, late evening after everyone went to bed and weekends. I know late night workouts are not good for me.  I’m the type of person after a workout I get all hyped up and then I can’t sleep.  It was beginning to look like early mornings and weekend mornings were my days to get exercise in.

I’ve always been the person that doesn’t hit the snooze bar when the alarm goes off.  I’m a let’s get up and let’s get going type of person in the morning (yeah I know I’m that annoying morning person).  I’m used to getting up at 6:00 am.  However, 4:45 am?  OMG!  That’s early people.

My next step was how to become a successful early morning exerciser.  I started with my bed time.  In 2016 my bed time was 11:00 pm.  If I stayed with that bed time I would only be getting 5 hours and 45 minutes of sleep at night. My plan was to get to bed sooner.  I started with 15 minute increments to start to get myself to bed by 10:00 pm.  Getting to bed sooner went smoothly.  To start waking up earlier I went with the same approach (fingers crossed).

Now that I have changed my sleep schedule I needed to get myself organized.  Before I go to bed I make sure the following items are all in the right place.  I put my workout clothes and shoes in the bathroom, put a water bottle in the fridge, place a new sweat towel on the elliptical trainer, and place the TV remote next to the elliptical trainer.  Yes, I organized my workout items but really what I just did was eliminate all excuses I could use to not get up and workout in the morning.

Trust me there are those days when I hear the rain hitting the window and know it’s going to be really cold exercising in the basement and all I want to do is stay snuggled up in my cozy warm bed.  That’s when you have to have that conversation with yourself – “What’s really going to make me feel better for the rest of the day, one extra hour of sleep or one hour of exercise?“

 

 

 

.  I’m not a perfect Pinterest mom.  My house is not spotless.  Nor does it look like a house fresh off a photo shoot of Better Homes and Garden.  However, I am that mom that can keep up with a busy 13 year old dancer and a crazy 6 year old football player.  The thing is this sometimes as working parents we need to hear from another working parent “it’s okay to take care of you”.  Don’t think that one hour of exercise a day is being selfish and that you are taking time away from your kids.  Think about this way instead – you are being thoughtful.  You are going to be the active parent you want to be for your kids.  You are adding time to your life by adding in regular exercise into your life.  Taking time to care for yourself will give you more time to be with your family.  I made a promise to myself – My health (physical and mental) was worth 4-6 hours a week.  Because the thing is this…when I take time for my health not only does my personal health get better but my relationships with my kids, husband, co-workers, family, and friends all become healthier too.

JoAnn’s Bariatric Success

JoAnn’s Bariatric Success

JoAnn had a sleeve gastrectomy at NWWC in October 2017.

What is the best part about this journey?

How great I feel about myself! My blood pressure is down. I feel ten years younger. My sleep apnea is better. I am off acid reflux medicine. I can walk up and down stairs without huffing and puffing. My ankles and knees don’t hurt anymore. I can fold my arms across my chest and cross my legs easily. Sex is better!! So much better. I can drive my car more comfortably since my belly doesn’t hit the steering wheel. I can paint my toes again. I can use any bath towel in the house; before I had to use those giant bath towels and we only had a couple. I can scratch any part of my back by myself. Since I am not stressing about my weight and appearance anymore, I can use my brain energy to think of other more creative things. I literally have more time to think and focus.

I feel amazing. I have so much energy. I feel like “JoAnn” again.

What has been the hardest part?

The hardest part of my journey was making the decision to do it. I had taken every pill and done every fad diet. When I tried so many times to lose weight and was unsuccessful, I blamed myself. I thought I just hadn’t tried hard enough, I wasn’t strong enough, I had no will power, and I was destined to spend the rest of my life with obesity. I thought if that if I couldn’t do it myself, then surgery would be like a cop-out, like cheating. I thought people would judge me. I thought, “Wow, this is SO drastic. They will be cutting one of my organs and it’s permanent.” I was worried about how painful it would be… would it really work… can I take time off work… how much will this cost me… there are so many appointments… My excuses went on and on.

Getting the support from my family and friends was scary. I thought they would all make fun of me or tell me I was copping out or taking the easy way out. But they backed me and that was comforting. They said, “If you decide to do this, we support you 100%.” I wish I would have done it 10 years earlier. I wasted 10 years because I was so unhappy with myself.

What goals did you set for yourself? Have you made progress towards those goals?

JoAnn gets a wedding day lift from her boys

A few years ago, I wrote my “dream list” in the back of a notebook. I tried to use positive affirmations in hopes that my dreams would come true someday. Well, recently I found that notebook. I had forgotten about this list although I had dreamed of those things often. My “dream list” was:

  • A crimson Ford Explorer
  • The house of my dreams
  • For my twin boys to go to college
  • To be fit and thin again
  • To marry the man of my dreams

As I read the list, a tear came to my eye and I got goosebumps.

  • In my driveway sits a crimson Ford Explorer.
  • We bought the house of our dreams last November. I got the keys on my birthday.
  • My twins are in their 3rd year of college at UW & Western.
  • I lost over 100 pounds and feel better than I have in 20 years.
  • After spending 12 years together, I got married to the love of my life on August 24th

I got everything I dreamed of and didn’t even realize it until I read the list. I am happier than I have ever been in my life. My two older children have great jobs and homes and I am so proud of them as well. Life is GOOD!!! Everything is better. I could go on and on. I need to make a new list!

What advice would you give those who want to pursue weight loss surgery?

JUST DO IT! Making the decision is the hardest part. I listened to a lot of testimonials before doing this. When they got too negative, I would turn them off. I was terrified. But why be ashamed to help yourself? Why not get surgery to help your heart, your breathing, your health? Once you decide to do it, just think positively and do everything your doctor tells you to do. You will be brand new again!

I was sitting in the waiting room one day and had almost reached my goal weight. A lady in the waiting room asked me, “Why are you here?” I told her that I had had surgery. She said, “You don’t look like you were ever fat. I’m too afraid to do the surgery so I’m getting a diet plan.” I told her, “Just do it. It’s the best thing I did. You’ve tried everything. It’s not a cop-out.”

I see people and I know how they feel. I wish they could feel as good as me right now. There’s a lovely person inside there that’s suffering. I just want to help them. It’s so worth it.

A Bariatric-Friendly Thanksgiving

A Bariatric-Friendly Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is arguably the biggest food holiday in this country. People are encouraged to eat to the point of needing to sleep. How do you enjoy the holiday after surgery when your relationship with food has changed?

First of all, food doesn’t need to be everything. Enjoy time with family and friends with non-food activities. Participate in a “turkey trot” walk or jog. Turn up the music and dance with your kids, grandkids, nieces, or nephews. Pull out the board games. Watch old family videos. There are lots of ways to spend your day without the focus on food. But eventually, you will be seated around the table for the big meal.

Turkey – Enjoy this protein-based food! Each ounce of turkey has 7 grams of protein and even the dark meat is relatively low in fat. The dark meat (legs, wings, and thighs) is more moist than the light meat so you may tolerate the dark meat best. Keep the skin on the turkey while it’s cooking to lock in the moisture. If you deep-fry or pan-fry your turkey, avoid eating the skin soaks up the oil and may feel too greasy for your stomach.

Gravy – Gravy is a condiment. Just like salad dressings, you can put some on the side and dip each bite of turkey into it. If you are sensitive to high-fat foods, gravy will likely be too rich for your stomach. Trader Joe’s makes boxed turkey gravy that is low in fat and still has good flavor.

Potatoes – The nutrition profile really changes based on how your potatoes are prepared – mashed, baked, roasted, twice-baked. Potatoes are a starchy vegetable and they contain many nutrients in their skins. Sweet potatoes are very high in vitamin A, which is how they get their orange color, but they are still a starchy vegetable. Because of their dense, starchy texture, they may feel heavy in your stomach. You can slim down mashed potatoes by using skim milk or plain Greek yogurt to add creaminess in place of butter or cream. You can also swap cauliflower in place of potatoes for a dish lower in calories and carbohydrates that feels lighter on your stomach.

Stuffing – This staple of the Thanksgiving plate might not feel good in your stomach since it is bread-based. Bread products tend to swell up in the stomach and make you feel uncomfortably full. You can try a small amount of the real deal or experiment with reducing the bread and adding more vegetables. Eggplant, butternut squash, mushrooms, and chickpeas can add bulk to a stuffing in place of bread.

Green Beans – The casserole version with cream of mushroom soup and fried onions will likely be too rich for your stomach. How about roasting your green beans and topping with good quality Parmesan cheese? Or sautéing with some garlic and olive oil? These are great cooking methods for any Thanksgiving vegetable including Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and carrots.

Dessert – Sweet foods can be as problematic for the stomach as high-fat foods. They can cause dumping syndrome in extreme cases, or nausea in more mild cases. For many people, a couple small bites are all they need to feel satisfied with sweets after surgery. If that’s your situation, have some of the real deal and savor each small bite. If you are looking for a slightly larger quantity, there are lots of bariatric-friendly dessert ideas, including protein shake ice cream, sugar-free pudding “cheesecakes”, and protein balls.

My favorite bariatric food resource is The World According to Eggface blog: http://theworldaccordingtoeggface.blogspot.com . Shelly has been blogging about delicious bariatric-friendly recipes for 13 years. Use the ‘Search’ function to find Thanksgiving recipes that will delight everyone at your table, whether or not they’ve had surgery. Happy Thanksgiving!

Ken’s Bariatric Success

Ken’s Bariatric Success

Ken had a sleeve gastrectomy at NWWC in July 2018.

What is the best part about this journey?

The best part of this journey was the reward for following through with all the advice. When I came in in February 2018 and spoke to Dr. Chock, she told me, “You’re going to need to make a lot of changes and it’s not going to be easy. It’s not a magic pill or a magic bullet but it will be worth it.”

After that, I quit smoking and drinking alcohol. I used to make craft beer and it was something I really enjoyed. Quitting all of that was a feat that seemed almost impossible. It was somebody’s Everest or somebody’s 4.0 at the end of grad school or a moon landing. All of those insurmountable changes… it has taught me that I can do anything.

What has been the hardest part?

I had a serious complication two weeks after surgery. I had a clot and was readmitted back in Alaska. It was scary but it really taught me how fragile everything was. That was the linchpin that got me fully committing myself to everything. I was walking laps every hour and was working out for 7 days in the hospital. I begged the nurses to allow me to exercise and they let a friend bring me a dumbbell.

The hardest part of the entire journey was relearning and coping with my stressors. I was a really bad stress eater. Three months post-op, I caught myself stress eating and I got full to the point that I threw up. I thought, “I can’t do this. This whole time I’ve been stress eating and it has got to stop.”  I spoke with my boss and my wife and I quit my job and decided to go back to school. I’m now finishing my Bachelor’s degree to become a teacher.

I had to reinvent myself. I realized I couldn’t stress eat anymore. You could say that I made the right choice in the “choose your own adventure” book of life. The choice that I made that has resulted in a path that is going to end way further down the line with a longer life.

What goals did you set for yourself? Have you made progress towards those goals?

Ken competing in the Northern Fitness Games CrossFit Competition

I had always wanted to become a firefighter. When I was finally able to pass the fitness test, I felt that I had made it to the moon.  I am now a carded basic firefighter and wildland firefighter.

My activity level is where I’d always dreamed it would be. I’ve surpassed my fitness level from when I was in the Marines. I run 7 miles every Sunday. I can do a GORUCK hike with 50 pounds on my back.  I can go to CrossFit and I’m actually good at it. While I have to make a few modifications, my fitness level and strength is through the roof. I used to make fun of CrossFit and I think deep down inside, it’s because I wasn’t good at it.  Now that I can do it, it has changed my tune. These are things I wasn’t able to do before.

My next step is the Boston Marathon. I’m doing a walking marathon next March in New Mexico. I’m hoping to climb Mount Hood in the next 4 years and Denali in next 10 years.

I ended up becoming a personal trainer. I work with people who have gone to the local bariatric facility here in Alaska. I went through surgery. I know what it’s like. I can help these folks.

I’ve hit my goal weight and have been maintaining for over 5 months.

What advice would you give those who want to pursue weight loss surgery?

I’m a goal-oriented person. It’s what keeps me going. Make a goal and keep it. Start small and go larger. You’re not getting any better just sitting there complaining. If you get up and do something, you are better than you were the day before. It might not be noticeable at first but the results compound themselves.

Listen to the providers. Listen to what they have to say. They are not people with letters at the end of their name without good reason. I can tell you that Dr. Chock is an angel as far as I’m concerned. All the staff, everybody I’ve dealt with, are angels. From talking to Christine once per month to my appointments with Ginny to working with Dr. Chock, they know what they’re doing and they do it well. I know I did the hard work but the quality of care that I received was like none other.

Fitting in Fitness

Fitting in Fitness

A few years ago, I made a promise to myself: My physical and mental health is worth 4-6 hours a week. When I take time for my health, not only does my personal health get better but my relationships with my kids, husband, co-workers, family, and friends become healthier too. But I’ll admit that being a parent is one of the hardest jobs I have ever done. Throw in a full-time job and life gets very hectic. How do you possibly fit in time for fitness?

My exercise routine has changed drastically over the years. Twenty years ago, in my BC life (life before children), I never struggled to get my workouts in, even working 60+ hours per week. I often worked out in the evening to meet people. Having just moved from Montana to Washington, my exercise program was an amazing way to help me shake my homesickness. Fast forward to 2003, I’m married and working at Columbia Athletic Clubs. I was still living my BC life and I was able to exercise after work. Often my husband would meet me so we could exercise together.

In 2006, my daughter, Ella, was born. During my 4-month leave, my exercise program consisted of walking outside with Ella in a jogging stroller and DVD workouts I could do while she was sleeping. When I went back to work, I found myself wanting to get home right at 5pm to spend time with my new baby girl instead of doing a workout. On the days I wasn’t teaching fitness classes, I worked out during lunch. On the weekends, my workouts were fun and social. I took group tennis lessons with my sister and we put our kids in the club’s daycare. We were terrible at tennis but we had fun together while exercising.

In 2013, my husband and I welcomed baby number two. With my son, Jase, I was able to stay at home for 12 months but my workouts really changed. Jase was diagnosed with sleep apnea when he was 6 months old and he would wake up 1-4 times every night. I was so sleep deprived I could no longer work out while he was sleeping like I did with Ella. When Jase was sleeping, I was sleeping. The way I fit exercise into my day was to walk while Ella was at dance class. I always kept my jogging stroller in the back of my car. While Ella was in dance class for 45 to 90 minutes, I would walk the dance studio parking lot with Jase in the stroller.

In October of 2014, I joined NWWC part-time. I now had to work out with small bits of time such as walking at work between patients, walking when Ella was at dance, and using my elliptical trainer at home when my husband could watch the kids. My workouts were not one hour sessions; they were small sessions here and there. By age 3, Jase had surgery for his sleep apnea and could finally sleep through the night. I had survived 3 years of waking up 1-4 times a night. Mom WIN!

By 2016, I was a full-time mom to 3- and 10-year-olds and working full-time at NWWC. My kids had activities and my husband was working his full-time job plus had started a small business. My workouts were suffering. I felt like my weekdays were shot and I was only getting workouts in on the weekends. How in the world was I going to exercise? I had to have an honest conversation with myself, look closely look at my days, and set myself up to be successful.

I asked myself:

  • Can you exercise after work? Before work? On the weekends? At home? At the gym?
  • How many hours do you have during the weekdays? I started with 120 hours and subtracted the number of hours I worked, commuted, slept, managed household chores, and spent with family.
  • How many hours do you have on the weekends? I started with 48 hours and subtracted the hours I had committed to kids’ activities, household chores & errands, and family time.
  • How many hours per week are you willing to dedicate to your health?

I realized my windows of time were early in the morning, late evening, and weekends. I knew late night workouts were not good for me because I get hyped up and then I can’t sleep. It was beginning to look like early mornings and weekend mornings were my days to get exercise in.

I’m that annoying morning person that doesn’t hit the snooze bar when the alarm goes off. I’m used to getting up at 6:00am. But 4:45am? OMG! That’s early, people. To become a successful early morning exerciser, I had to start with my bedtime. I had been going to bed at 11:00pm but that would give me less than 6 hours of sleep. With 15 minute increments, I changed my bedtime to 10:00pm.

I also needed to get myself organized. Before I went to bed, I put my workout clothes and shoes in the bathroom, put a water bottle in the fridge, placed a sweat towel on the elliptical trainer, and placed the TV remote next to the elliptical trainer. I eliminated all excuses I could use to not get up and work out in the morning.  

I’m not a perfect Pinterest mom and my house is not spotless. I am a mom that can keep up with a busy 13-year-old dancer and a crazy 6-year-old football player. Don’t think that one hour of exercise a day is being selfish and taking time away from your kids. You are actually adding time to your life by becoming a regular exerciser. You are going to be the active parent you want to be for your kids. Taking time to care for yourself will give you more time to be with your family.