Liz Dawson: Accredited Exercise Physiologist: Pilates Instructor: Mum: Ex-control Freak
I am 35 and for as long as I can remember I have wanted to have a family. Growing up I wanted to be just like my mum, a stay at home mum, married with 3 kids. The plan was and being a control freak, there was always a plan, to be married by 24 and kids at 26, 28 and 30. I distinctly remember saying in my teenage years that if I wasn’t married by 30 ‘I will die’. Funnily enough as life goes, my 25th birthday rolled around, I had just started my second degree in Human Movements and was as single as can be. My 35 year-old self thinks that doesn’t sound so bad, to be void of all responsibility. If only I had that perspective at the time. The years kept rolling by and friends were getting married and having babies. But while I was failing at relationships, I was excelling at work as I embarked on I my own little ‘business baby’ Kids Heart Pilates and her bigger sister Northside Allied Health. So, despite the lack of control in the situation, it actually all worked out pretty well, albeit excelling in completely different areas to what I had planned. I was happy all the same… then finally at 32, I met my soulmate, we married at 34 and one year later we were blessed with a child.
Now that I have endured a pregnancy and entered into motherhood, I am again learning that life is not always controllable, especially when it comes to newborn babies!! Being an exercise fanatic and business woman who plans everything from diet, exercise, goals, sleep, holidays, EVERYTHING, I now have zero control and ability to plan anything. I aspired to be one of those #fitspo pregnancy people and posted my exercise videos along the way, but truth be told…it really ain’t so glossy (haha nor were my exercise videos for that matter). Below is my trimester breakdown and advice to other control freak perfectionists embarking on mortherhood.
For a large part of my life I was a triathlete, so the term ‘tri’ used to hold such a different meaning…it couldn’t be further from the meaning or reality of trimester 1. Instead of slogging it out in the pool, on the bike and running I was slogging it out just surviving and working. I felt average at best. On the Pregnancy Rita Scale it wasn’t that bad and those that really suffer will want to kill me as I only felt horrendous for 4 weeks, the rest was just mildly unbearable. But let’s just say exercising albeit necessary to feel better and ensure a healthy pregnancy was definitely NOT top of my list of things to do. As for maintaining a healthy diet, this also went to the wayside. For the first 6 weeks I was fairly inactive; feeling exhausted and horrendous. Walking with a side of gentle yoga/stretches was about my limit. This was when it occurred to me that control was going out the window, most likely never to return. Usually if I have a big weekend of indulging, I would offset it with some extra exercise sessions to balance it out, perhaps some high intensity cardio or some weights. Usually keeping in pretty good shape, I really felt the ‘tri-1’ change, particularly in my butt as I outgrew my clothes. I gained pretty much half of my total weight in that first trimester. There was no room for control or perfectionism at all. HOT TIP : Keep it simple. A walk is awesome and will make you feel better.
As widely suggested/promised by well-wishes, tri 2 saw a huge improvement, as I felt my energy returned and I began to accept my changing shape. I really didn’t show much until 6-7 months due to my insanely long body but the changes in posture were still significant meaning I had to be careful with what I was doing. I was very tight through my back and found the best thing for it was stretching and yoga along with my two walks a day. Given the nature of my business, I was keen to share my workouts, so fortunately by this point I had regained some motivation and felt somewhat creative… as this aspect of business can be fairly consuming for the reward you feel in return… HOT TIP : Make the most of this time, keep moving, regular and light stretching or yoga is essential for the changing posture and can prevent needing a weekly massage. I only had two massages throughout the 9 months which saved me a heap of cash.
I was very fortunate that my good physically health continued into trimester 3 but mentally I started to struggle. My anxiety coincided with starting antenatal classes, which I wouldn’t recommend for anyone predisposed to anxiety or chronic health issues like stroke. I started to hear and worry about all the things that could go wrong with me and the baby. This is when exercise really helped as I practiced my breathing and knew that I was doing myself a favour in preparing for labour. HOT TIP : exercise can be training for labour. Keep moving!! If you have maintained fitness, a few hills on your walk won’t hurt, be careful it doesn’t kick start labour though. Breathing and meditation was great for me too.
Well any control I thought I had lost in pregnancy has well and truly gone now. It’s a new kind of tired and as I race to the finish line I find myself even more time poor. Fortunately, I have recovered very quickly and am starting to do more and more however finding the time between feeding, changing, caring, adoring my baby, is my new challenge. HOT TIP : patience is the key, and walk during the morning sleep or when bub is cranky as they go straight to sleep #winning try not to cry that you are missing a nap opportunity though.
So all things considered, pregnancy was not really too hard and in reflection it was the preparation required for the challenges and lack of control you face as your embark on motherhood.