The first time I tried to stick to a post pregnancy fitness routine, it ended abruptly with a visit to the emergency room and a confirmed concussion. I was a few days into the new workout program and gaining momentum, but one dangerous, ill-advised round of peak-a-boo with my one year old daughter put me on the couch for nine days. My head injury healed, but my fitness progress stalled.
I took another stab at it when my husband was out of town for a week. It was terrible planning on my part to think that I could begin something new while my co-parent was absent. I tried exercising in my living room after wrestling my toddler to bed each evening. I gave up within four days.
For the third attempt, I was determined to get it right. I found a program called 30 Days of Yoga on YouTube. The instructor was engaging and taught at the right level of difficulty for me. My sister-in-law and I made a pact to help each other adhere to the 30 day plan.
Using my daughter’s construction paper, I created a poster to chart my progress, which I proudly taped to our refrigerator. Every day that I completed the challenge earned a tally mark, and I envisioned my sun-salutations growing more powerful and my downward dogs stretching further toward triumph.
I was the embodiment of self-discipline. I was more determined than my toddler carefully stacking blocks. I was more focused than my husband watching Game of Thrones on Sunday nights. At fifteen days into my 30 day challenge, I could see the finish line. But then, a little bit at a time, life derailed my victory.
First, I traveled to Ohio to stay with my adorable four year old niece while her parents welcomed a new baby into the world. Then my dear husband was out of town again. Next, my crazy toddler suddenly decided that one nap per day was sufficient. Then, during a quick hair appointment, I swear I got whiplash. The excuses piled up, and my motivation to continue the yoga challenge did the flying splits right out the door. The poster, still on my refrigerator, mocks me to this day.
Like Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw, staring hopelessly out her bedroom window, I couldn’t help but wonder: “How’s a mom supposed to work out when everything’s working against her?”
Maybe the answer is more caffeine. Maybe it’s a gym with childcare. Maybe it’s a bigger, more elaborate poster.
Or maybe I should promise to keep going and to get back into the pose, even if life shakes me out of it for a few weeks. So, I promise to try again, picking up where I left off in my 30 Days of Yoga. I promise to breathe in kindness and exhale self-doubt. I promise to lift my heart toward health and stand strong like a mountain with both feet firmly planted and my gaze straight ahead. The next excuse is out there, waiting to block my path, but I will be ready this time. If I fall out of a pose, I will find my way back. No judgement. No competition. Just yoga and a former fitness failure.