My stress and anxiety were growing. My pants were getting tighter. The numbers on the scale were increasing. I knew I had to do something about it.
I had my first child at 35 — what is called a “geriatric pregnancy.” At the time I was working an incredibly stressful and very demanding job. I would often turn to junk food as my vice, telling myself I was eating for two so it was OK. But the stress was constant, so we’re talking fast food and ice cream every other day.
Post-partum, I lost some of the weight through breastfeeding, but when that stopped I felt like I was back at square one. I didn’t really have the time to join a gym when I was dealing with daycare drop-offs and commuting into the office for work full time.
A year and a half after giving birth, the pandemic hit and I was suddenly working from home and taking care of a toddler. Stuck in our apartment non-stop and eating more junk food, I re-gained any pregnancy weight I had lost — and then some.
When things calmed down a bit and my son returned to daycare, I knew it was time to take charge and make some serious changes. Going to a gym and having to work out with a mask on did not seem like a great fit. And buying large equipment or doing serious cardio workouts was not ideal for our current third-floor apartment situation. But there was always walking and… maybe running?
Growing up, I was never into sports. Nothing about it interested me, and gym was always the class I dreaded. By high school, I was the real-life Daria, throwing my arm out for the volleyball well after it sailed past me. (Except I was actually trying to hit it.) But one of the few exercises I actually did not mind was the 20-minute run in junior high gym class. I wasn’t the fastest, but I was consistent. And it was a solitary sport. Perfect for someone who was often picked last due to less-than-stellar athletic abilities.
I ran a few 5Ks pre-pregnancy and enjoyed it, but juggling motherhood and a full-time job made it difficult to continue participating — until COVID struck and I discovered virtual races.
I signed up for several. The swag was a big incentive. But the races also helped keep me motivated and on track with exercising regularly. Mapping out my mileage required a bit of trial and error. But once I found a route that worked, there was no stopping me. Sure, the lack of a post-race celebration is a downside when you’re doing a virtual run. Yes, I could walk around my apartment wearing a medal and drinking a craft beer, but it’s not quite the same. But I’m hopeful that I will get to run an in-person race sometime in the future. And for now, I’ll use my virtual races as training.