Thought Collection: Is Intensity A Limited Resource?

May 6, 2013

Something I’ve been pondering for a while – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Since having a baby, I am really lacking the energy for high intensity exercise. I can walk till my legs ache, and I enjoy short runs, yoga and weight lifting. I have no trouble motivating myself to work out. But I can’t stand the thought of getting really out of breath in an athletic conditioning class or running a 10K race as fast as I can.

So I’ve been wondering…You know how there are studies that suggest willpower might be a limited resource capable of depletion? I’m wondering if the same is true of exercise potential – is it possible that some change since having a baby is draining some part of me that would otherwise be excited to do some high intensity exercise? I’m sure there are some of you with full-time jobs, 5 kids AND a crazy workout schedule full of sweat, so it’s definitely something others can do.

I can’t decide if there is something hormonal or physical going on or if I’ve just gotten lazy! I’m sleeping well again – 8-9 hours, mostly uninterrupted, so I can’t blame it on fatigue anymore. It could quite possibly be related to breastfeeding – I could see how the body would discourage high intensity exercise to preserve stores for feeding a child. Or maybe it’s just a sign that I’m out of shape?

Have those of you who have had kids felt a similar drop in workout intensity? Or, have any of you gone from a harder workout schedule to lower intensity and seen improvements in your life?

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{ 117 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meredith May 6, 2013 at 7:56 am

I am right there with you! Before having my baby, I did triathlons and ran a marathon. I had my baby last May, and am still breastfeeding him. I did run a half marathon in March but for the most part, I have no desire to go out and run hard intervals or really push it in a work out. I have been walking lots, and also don’t mind that. Just really not into the high intensity stuff. I wonder if it could be related to motherhood/breastfeeding?

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2 Farah May 6, 2013 at 7:58 am

Hi Kath,

This is a great topic. I don’t have any kids, but I wonder if it’s more related to “priorities’ and the question of whether you gain any satisfaction from wanting to do higher intensity exercise anymore. I think many of us get an endorphin high from high intensity workouts – a sense of accomplishment and maybe fulfillment. But motherhood brings with it a whole new sense of accomplishment and fulfillment (much more rewarding I’m sure!!) – and maybe doing high-intensity workouts for that feeling of accomplishment no longer seems necessary? There’s nothing wrong with feeling this way – and maybe as Mazen gets older, you might get into higher intensity workouts again. But I would say just do what you enjoy! And cherish your time with Mazen right now!

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3 KathEats May 6, 2013 at 8:02 am

That’s a really interesting point!

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4 Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) May 6, 2013 at 3:28 pm

I agree. I think Farah has a great point!

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5 Katie May 6, 2013 at 8:36 am

Wow, I don’t have kids either, but Farah I think you’re onto something. Also, I think maybe your body is just telling you what it needs….It doesn’t need to be pushed to crazy limits. It just needs a moderate workout right now.

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6 Laura Lea @ Beanie Bumbles May 6, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Whoa. I think you hit the nail on the head. Going through the same thing, sans baby. I think I just stopped needing that intensity. Too many other more important things that satisfy that need. Thanks for your comment!

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7 mundy May 6, 2013 at 9:55 am

definitely lower intensity

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8 Ellie@Fit for the Soul May 6, 2013 at 12:18 pm

I think you’re onto something there, Farah!
And Kath, not only do priorities seem to change in some ways, but I think that the fact that you love to spend time with Mazen and do the simple things in life like walk, hike, etc., is a great and healthy way to go about it. At least for now until you get more motivation… In the end, I think that your way of doing fitness is so healthy because we were all meant to enjoy those simple things that you do everyday in the outdoors, rather than actually BEING in a gym. I mean, they didn’t really go to gyms like we do 1000’s of years ago, right (unless they were rich or were olympians)? They just stayed fit by doing everyday chores and errands , but with no vehicles. :D

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9 Ashli - But What About Protein? May 6, 2013 at 5:14 pm

You make an excellent point, Farah! I don’t have kids, but I’ve definitely found that as I’ve gotten older, my desire for extremely high intensity workouts have dropped slightly, in favor of yoga, walking and weight lifting. I still do enjoy high intensity workouts, but I find I get just as much out of something like yoga, but in a different way – for me, there are more benefits to yoga than just the physical side of things, which have become exponentially more important to me than they were when I was in my early 20’s.

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10 jen May 7, 2013 at 8:29 am

Couldn’t agree more with Farah. And for me it seems this isn’t limited to exercise. After baby I pour so much of myself into mothering that I find I have less intensity for lots of things, including work and hobbies. I still get my work done and I still do spend some time on hobbies, but I just don’t get as “invested” or “into” them as I used to. It’s so much easier to just leave a problem at work now instead of bringing it home with me and spending hours ruminating about it.

I keep thinking it’s just a matter of only having so much self to go around. When my kids are old enough that I have more self to spare, I imagine I’ll get more intense about other stuff again. I don’t have any idea when that will be, and for the meantime I’m just trying to soak up and enjoy this new phase of life.

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11 robin May 6, 2013 at 8:00 am

I would hardly call it lazy. I think it sounds like your body reserving energy to do all you do thru out your busy day with baby. Most likely all that will change once Mazen is bigger but for right now he is very dependent on you for his every need. Dont be too hard on yourself:)

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12 Grace May 6, 2013 at 8:01 am

I’ve had the exact opposite experience: I’ve got a 17 month old girl who has never slept through the night, we still nurse on demand, I work 40+ hours a week out of the house, and I work out just as much (or more intensely) than I did before I got pregnant. Honestly, I think it’s all mental willpower. Now I know I have a very limited window to work out (my lunch hour during the workweek and occasionally on the weekend) so I really want to push myself as much as possible in that small time frame. Plus I know I feel better physically when I get a good work out (especially since I can’t get extra sleep to feel better). I may not want to do it every day, but I just make myself, and then always feel better for it afterwards!

I know a lot of other people that do intense workouts post-baby – I’m always inspired by hungryrunnergirl’s half-marathon (and a PR at that!) at something like 10 weeks postpartum! SUCH a huge inspiration when I need to get to the gym.

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13 Ali @ Peaches and Football May 6, 2013 at 8:03 am

I think this is normal Kath. From other friends who have gone through this same thing, it’s not new to you. I don’t think your willpower is depleting – I think you’re busy with the baby and that does take a lot of energy (even mental energy counts). Plus, you’re still breastfeeding which burns a lot of calories as well. You’re staying active and there’s no reason to concentrate on 10Ks and such now. Just listen to your body, do what feels good, and honestly, I’m betting you’ll be back running 10ks sooner than you think!

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14 Sara Palacios May 6, 2013 at 8:03 am

You know, I have the same problem. My little boy turns a year this month and although I exercise frequently and I walk constantly, I can’t seem to do anything too strenuous. Another odd thing that I’ve noticed too is that I have this bizarre new anxiety that something will happen to me while out on a long run. For instance, before pregnancy, I would run a few miles everyday and think nothing of it, now whenever I set off too far, I literally think that I am going to pass out. Now, I am not working out nearly as hard as I used to, but I think anytime my heart rate goes up I automatically think that something bad is going to happen. I have heard from numerous gal pals that anxiety is common post childbirth but I never thought it would be like this. I constantly have to tell myself to get out of my head. Silly, huh? But yes, to answer your question, I feel the same way.

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15 KathEats May 6, 2013 at 8:20 am

I definitely have a new fear of being gone too long. I think it’s related to breastfeeding and knowing that I’m the only one who can feed him if he gets really hungry (we have some milk in the freezer, but it’s not as accessible, I suppose). The first 30 minutes I’m out of the house I feel all free and then it’s all downhill and I start to worry and want to get home sooner. I don’t see any long run training in my future for this reason alone :)

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16 Katie May 6, 2013 at 8:07 am

It’s funny you should post this- I have felt the exact same way since having Josie (10 months old). I’ll walk all day, do short weight sets, some yoga and (slowly) run a couple miles but anything too intense has me feeling seriously unmotivated. I am also breastfeeding and I think that might part of it. It effects so much! Perhaps too it’s our bodies way of telling us to slow down and enjoy our babies? ;)

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17 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats May 6, 2013 at 8:14 am

This is an interesting topic. I mean, I’ve never had a baby, but personally I find I go through phases with high intensity versus lower intensity exercise. Sometimes you just don’t want to, and that’s okay. Your workouts should be things you love and enjoy, and maybe having a baby has made you shift your focus on what’s important to you and what you want to invest your energy in.

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18 Williamsburg Baby May 6, 2013 at 8:30 am

I think my motivation is just totally out the window! An hour walk (with him) seems like nothing, but a half an hour run or the equivalent seems totally unappealing. And he’s sleeping through the night and I am no longer breastfeeding, so no biological excuses there. I think it’s maybe just that babies take up a lot of psychic energy; especially now that Axel is pulling up and climbing everything, watching him feels like a physical act.

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19 Carly @ Snack Therapy May 6, 2013 at 8:36 am

I’d bet that it’s a psychological thing! I don’t have kids and I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but maybe it has to do with the fact that you just don’t feel the need to workout intensely because Mazen is your #1 priority, so intense workouts just seem necessary!

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20 Hannah @ Sprints & Scones May 7, 2013 at 6:51 am

Interestingly enough, during the olympics I read an article that said women are better athletes post-pregnancy. Because if the intense pressure on your lungs and heart, your body is now better equipt for some strenuous work. they cited s few female runners who came back much faster/stronger.

That being said, I think you body may gave just found a new form of satisfaction, which is better than any 10k. I’ve never bad a baby, but I wouldn’t worry about it. Enjoy Mazen and if you ever swing back towards intense workouts, you will be incredible:)

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21 The Many Thoughts of a Reader May 6, 2013 at 8:36 am

I think in my case that I want to use my time differently. Nap time or bed time = me time. And I want to catch up reading books, newspapers, researching new studies related to my job and catching up with friends on fb, blogs/twitter. That means I’d like to sneak quick enjoyable workouts into the time I’m with my daughter which usually equals a quick walk outside. Some days I want higher intensity but I also don’t want to be toooo sore to lift/play with her.

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22 Ella May 6, 2013 at 3:03 pm

This was a big thing for me too, especially when I wasn’t getting great sleep with a little baby. I HATE to be too sore to lift my 28 lb 15 month old and carry him around as I do all day. We moms are always squatting, bending, doing weird movements too… so being sore just sucks. You have to be so ON whenever your child is awake that a high intensity workout rarely feels like a break to me. It just feels like more of the same intense day. It’s too much mental effort in my opinion. Also, there are many mornings when I have to get up extra early because the kid randomly wakes up early, and there’s no way for me to make up that extra sleep unless I go to bed at 7:30 pm. I used to love high intensity workouts. I imagine someday when it feels less nonstop intense to be with my kids (maybe when they’re in school), then I will hanker for high intensity workouts again. I look forward to it.

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23 Shephalli May 6, 2013 at 8:37 am

I thought I was the only one! Our baby is now 6+ months old and I feel great if I can do 10 push ups a day! That is 10 push ups only :( The only thing I can actually do is play tennis – I guess because it’s a fun sport and does not seem like exercise.

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24 Eve May 6, 2013 at 8:40 am

Yay!! I love this topic, I love this post.
You finally sound human and relatable on the topic of motherhood and exercise…doesn’t it feel great?
I am not BF my little one, but I find that two hours is my hard stop for intense exercise. After that, I start thinking of my baby and don’t have any energy left (or I am too distracted to get the most out of my workout after that two hour mark).
You are a mom now and priorities are shifting, plus it is likely a combination of being lazy (which is normal and okay sometimes, you are taking care of a baby FULLTIME so ease up on yourself), being out of shape (it took 9 months to put on the weight, lose some degree of fitness), and all the other factors of being a busy wife, mom, and blogger.
As long as you are healthy and happy, it really doesn’t matter. Who cares about 10ks right now? What do you have to prove (unless it is something that is self-fulfilling to you)? Cut loose and just enjoy yourself. Enjoy the running in the moment, enjoy being a mom to young and beautiful baby, enjoy the small slices of exercise you get and look at it as a bonus for now. Hungryrunnergirl is an inspiration, but her lifestyle is not realistic for me. I love long distance running, but I don’t want my baby to spend so much time in a jogging stroller (and I don’t want to train on the treadmill while my baby naps. I want to eat a quiet lunch and catch up on Mad Men).
Thanks for the great post.

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25 robin May 6, 2013 at 11:10 am

Well said.

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26 Frances May 6, 2013 at 8:42 am

Really glad you brought this topic up: I’m in the same boat! It took me four months to gain the courage to do a high intensity class at the gym, and it just about killed me (HA!)…and it has taken me five months to do a semi-long (ish) run. I think a lot of it for me has to do with breastfeeding; my energy levels are drained most days after a full day of work coupled with pumping/feeding. I’m like you, I love to walk and walk and walk, especially with baby, but I don’t like the idea any longer of being gone from her during a class @ the gym. In terms of running, since it is something we can all do as a family, it may become more appealing, but I suspect it will take me months of work before it becomes enjoyable, since I’ve been out of the routine for so long.

(AND, I have to say, I’m already so hungry due to breastfeeding, when I add in an intense workout, I’m even more hungry, which is not helping in the weight loss department, so that demotivates me a bit too.)

I’m not sure it’s motivation and I know it’s not the lazy factor (especially for you!), but it probably really is related to the hard work it takes to feed a baby from your own resources then the fact that we don’t want to be away from them. Also, I was thinking that maybe my body is still really tired from pregnancy, labor/delivery, the first weeks of ZERO sleep, and now breastfeeding… perhaps our intense workouts will come back after baby hits 1 year. Everyone I talk to says I need to give it a year, let my body heal, and embrace where I am today after giving birth. It’s hard to do some days because I want to feel normal again, especially when it comes to my workouts.

I think what is important at this point is that I keep moving and try to honor my body…15+ extra lbs, big boobs, and all. :)

Great topic, Kath! Thanks for posing this question…

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27 Christianne May 6, 2013 at 8:43 am

I was super motivated after both babies (now 6 and 8) because I wanted my old body back ASAP. So I went balls to the wall. However, I do go through phases where I want to dial it down and it’s all I can do to get up at 5:00 am and just do SOMETHING. Definitely not something to worry about. I would imagine the urge to go all out will come back and if it doesn’t there’s nothing wrong with that either.

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28 Marie May 6, 2013 at 8:47 am

Great topic. I agree. I have a 17 month old and I feel the same way — 17 months later. I get plenty of sleep but I feel tired — I think it is from juggling so much. I personal answer to your question is that mentally having so much more to think about is exhausting.

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29 Lisa May 6, 2013 at 8:48 am

Dr Dean Ornish discusses that while the benefits of exercise are great, that there is most benefit gained from moderate exercise. I think humans were meant to move but I also dont believe hard cvore training is better….and maybe worse…for overall health. I say listen to your body.

Sorry for typos! Hard to type on my phone!

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30 Anna May 6, 2013 at 8:51 am

I feel the same way. I love love love walking when I used to casually run and do spinning 4-5x week. Having 2 babies my time and abilities have changed. I love taking walks with them and definitely struggle with wanting to do hard physical exhertion in general.

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31 Lindsay May 6, 2013 at 8:56 am

One thing you might want to check out is your thyroid levels. The thyroid can significantly influence your energy levels and if it is not functioning to its fullest (hypothyroidism), it can leave you feeling lethargic. Big life changes such as puberty, having a baby and menopause are known to affect the thyroid. It’s a quick/simple blood test and might be worth checking into.

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32 Emily May 6, 2013 at 3:30 pm

I second this. Very true.

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33 Nina @ Too Hottie For That Body May 6, 2013 at 9:00 am

I found after having my second that I had to force myself to do high intensity workouts. Once I got over that initial hump I started to prefer them because they took less time. I find with any thing that requires motivation I have to fake it til I make in order to get the ball rolling.

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34 Celeste May 6, 2013 at 9:02 am

Personally, I was very unmotivated until about 3-4 months. Then I realized I was going to have to buy new clothes or shape up, and became very motivated to work out. Baby could be left for an hour for me to do classes a couple of times a week in the childcare area of my gym, and other days daddy could take over for a thirty minute run through the neighborhood. Personally, it was a matter of willpower and a desire to put my pregnancy body behind me (not to say that my body isn’t MUCH different than it was before). I’ve never been a marathoner or anything, just enjoy a few body pump like classes or Zumba and simple jogs. Also, I breastfed exclusively until 6 months, then continued to breastfed until he was 16 months. I never experienced drops in supply and baby would only take a bottle sporadically. Once he was eating solid foods, I’d nurse him before I left, and daddy could try solid foods if he got hungry or as a last resort defrost some of our breastmilk supply from the freezer.

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35 Alyssa @ Road to RD May 6, 2013 at 9:08 am

I definitely don’t think it’s because you’ve gotten lazy! You’re probably on the right track with thinking that you’re reserving energy for the baby. I’m sure with time you’ll find yourself back to your old exercise ways! And if not, the most important thing is that you’re happy and healthy.

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36 Cassie May 6, 2013 at 9:09 am

Since having my little girl 8 weeks ago, I still have a drive to workout. I got back to Crossfit the day after I was cleared at my 6 week (c section) and have since worked out most days, wether it’s Crossfit or a 3 mile run. It’s harder to motivate myself for sure; especially since the only classes I can make are at 5 am, and since I’m still getting back into the groove of things, it’s discouraging when I don’t have the endurance or strength, but i have to get to such an early class (to be fair though she only wakes up once in the night , usually around 4 to 5 so I’m already up). ‘

I have noticed that months of being “careful” of how hard I push myself during workouts (I ddi Crossfit beyond my 40th week!) makes me more careful and i automatically slow down when I’m out of breathe, where as before i would have pushed through . I think you r interested have probably shifted, and some of it may be laziness due to lack of motivation. Exercise doesn’t define you the way it probably used too, couple that with not really pushing yourself for beyond a year, probably attributes to your apathy towards intense workouts.

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37 Liz @ Tip Top Shape May 6, 2013 at 9:15 am

I don’t have children so I can’t offer you a “real” answer, but the breastfeeding theory seems legitimate. Also, it may just be that your priorities have shifted. You may not want to take the time away from your son to go and do those really intense workouts or to train for a marathon. Or…I could be completely wrong!

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38 Sydney May 6, 2013 at 9:17 am

Very interesting topic! I think it could definitely be hormonal, but I think every woman and every child is different. I feel like I’m experiencing the polar opposite of you. My little girl was born a few weeks after M, and I’m more motivated to be active than I ever have been. Before I got pregnant, I was totally in that “I just want to take it easy” mindset. Now I just ran my first half-marathon and will be doing my first triathlon this weekend. But now I wish I had done all that stuff before the baby came along (like you did!) because time is just so scarce! I say enjoy the low intensity stuff & enjoy being a mama :) You are doing a fabulous job!

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39 Regina May 6, 2013 at 9:17 am

I think I’m in the minority here. I ran a lot, practiced yoga and dabbled in weight training before having my 8.5 month old son. I ran, swam and yoga-ed throughout my pregnancy, including the day I went into labor. After having Jackson, I actually become MORE motivated to do high intensity workouts. Starting at 3 weeks post-partum my husband and I trained for our first half marathon. For the past 2 months, after finishing the half, I’ve done a spin class twice a week, run with my husband 1-2 times a week (3 miles at a time while we’re in between halves) kickboxing once a week and body pump once a week with another day of dabbling in the weight room or playing around with a workout DVD at home. Before I started working out more intensely I was exhausted. All. The. Time. My son was waking up 3 times a night so that didn’t help. But I found getting to the gym and sweating it out always left me feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to take on the day (and caring for an EXTREMELY active baby). I feel more motivated to kick my butt and sweat it out after having him not because I want the scale to read a certain number (for once in my life I don’t care what it says) or my body to look a certain way (I’m proud of that mama pouch that made my happy, healthy, perfect little boy) but because I want to be a good role model for my son. I want to embody what I hope to teach him in life, to take time for yourself, to be active, to be healthy so that he grows up doing the same things. Not from preaching but because that’s how he’ll learn life is supposed to be. And the stronger I become through working out the more energy and strength I have to chase him around, play with him for hours on end and ultimately be the best mama I can be for him. As a side effect, I’ve of course lost a few pounds and toned a bit more but those are just bonuses. At the end of the day I do it because it makes me a better version of myself, it makes me happier and more energetic and it makes me a better mommy.

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40 Grace May 6, 2013 at 9:59 am

I love the point you make here! I feel the same way – I’m MUCH more motivated to work out, eat healthy, etc. to be a role model for my daughter. Not that I expect myself to be superwoman, but I know that the best way children learn is through watching and following your example. When I want to be lazy and slack off (not just in exercise, but for life in general) I think “is this what I want to model for my daughter?” And to be honest, I don’t care at all about being thin or fitting into some societal expectation of how my body should look (I’m definitely NOT model thin, ha!) – I just want to be in shape to run after my little girl all day.

And I also found that high intensity exercise helps a TON with the fatigue of sleepless nights. To be honest, my toddler is still up nursing 1-3 times a night, but I feel like I have more energy and can get more done in comparison to say, 5 years ago, when I was in my mid-20’s (and getting 8-9 hours of sleep a night) but not working out due to an injury. Kath, I bet if you force yourself over that mental hump and get back into the habit of regular exercise you’ll find that you’ll have a lot more energy in general.

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41 KathEats May 6, 2013 at 11:08 am

I have plenty of general life energy… I just don’t want to spend any of it on hard workouts

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42 Karen May 6, 2013 at 9:34 am

With both of my girls, I had no desire for high intensity exercise until I was done breastfeeding. Like you, I was active, but I just had no desire to push myself. Once they were weaned, then I was willing to work out a lot harder.

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43 Silvia @ skinny jeans food May 6, 2013 at 9:36 am

Intensity workout are not just physically absorbing, but also require to dive in completely mentally and emotionally and maybe it is a fear of not wanting to ‘abandon’ your child while focusing fully on something else (and potentially being too exhausted afterwards to care for him). It might be an irrational fear, but a fear nevertheless.

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44 Sara R. May 6, 2013 at 9:38 am

I found that as soon as I stopped breastfeeding (both times) I got a surge of energy back. I was amazed that it didn’t matter whether I was breastfeeding full-time or just once or twice a day when my babies were older and working on weaning; if I was breastfeeding at all, my body was in a different mode and the energy just wasn’t there. Also, it takes a long time to recover from all that missed sleep! I suspect your energy for high-intensity workouts will come back eventually!

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45 Kaitlyn May 6, 2013 at 9:43 am

There has been lots of research on how a woman’s VO2 max (your bodies maximum capacity to carry oxygen) increases after birth, thus increasing their aerobic capacity and athletic ability. Here is an interesting article from Competitor last year: http://running.competitor.com/2012/11/training/can-women-come-back-faster-after-pregnancy_61244 and another study, but rather dated: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1758289. In my experience, life changes can cause different priorities for me. Maybe intense exercise is not a priority for you right now—being a Mom and good wife is.

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46 Karen May 6, 2013 at 9:46 am

I’m gonna take an uneducated, intuitive guess given what I know about your usual temperament and recent life changes and say it’s likely a combination of factors: hormonal/breastfeeding/bodily needs and the normal shifting of life priorities/energy allotment. Given that you still desire plenty of movement every day while successfully and maintaining an energetic work schedule and caring for your baby 24/7, I seriously doubt that you are dealing with a medical condition – though it probably wouldn’t hurt to discuss with your M.D. on your next visit. A blood test would likely rule out any physical condition requiring treatment. In the interim, I would just roll with it – you can never go wrong by listening to your body. Ask yourself: what’s the point in pushing yourself through a hard workout if it doesn’t appeal to you? You’re hardly a slouch – you’re maintaining strength and aerobic conditioning and fueling yourself with endorphins — so you are reaping the physical/mental benefits of exercise regardless of the workout intensity. (In fact, there’s been a lot of research pointing to moderate intensity exercise as being superior to high intensity – much easier on your bones and joints for sure.) Maybe this signals a long term or permanent change for you, maybe not. In the grand scheme of life, it doesn’t much matter. I think it’s easy to get wrapped up in our competitive culture, but the challenge is to resist following what is expected and promoted by our fitness/thinness obsessed society and do what feels right for you at this juncture in your life…evolving is a positive thing, as is following your own path.

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47 Lauren May 7, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Well said, Karen. Kath, I had my daughter almost 15 months ago and while I love to go for walks and bike rides with her, that is really all I do, and I am more toned and weigh less than I did pre-baby, even when I taught cycle classes and worked out intensely. I am still breastfeeding, so I think that contributes, plus, she has always been heavy=weightlifting :) I am just so content and so happy just being active with her, that I’m just rolling with it. :)

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48 stephanie May 6, 2013 at 10:02 am

I couldn’t agree more. When I have tough weeks at work, I totally phone it in at the gym. I think willpower is like a gas tank- if you’re burning through all of it in one area of your life, you’re going to be less intense in others.

Case in point: I’m going through a tough breakup. I know some people find heartache motivating, but I just find it stressful. As such, dragging myself to the gym just feels like one more thing to do that I don’t want to do, and I don’t have the focus to really push myself.

It sucks, but I think to some extent, this has to work itself out. You either have to focus on lowering the intensity in other areas of your life (such as by digging yourself out of the sad breakup hole), wait for it to pass (like a busy week at work), or embrace a new lifestyle that might not include intense workouts (like new mommyhood)!

You are doing so great!

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49 Joelle (on a pink typewriter) May 12, 2013 at 3:55 pm

To your point about heartbreak, I went through a horrendous break-up a year ago, and for a good couple of months, my body just felt soooo heavy; I’m a runner and very active, but at that time couldn’t propel myself to run because I just felt so drained. I needed to sort through my emotions first and felt that the only thing I really could mentally motivate myself to do/crave was taking long walks.

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50 Jane @ Not Plain So Jane May 6, 2013 at 10:06 am

I’m 24 and single so can’t exactly relate but maybe your priorities have just shifted. You seem like a highly motivated person in every other aspect of your life so I don’t think it’s being lazy! If having intense workouts was a priority for you, I suspect you would add intense workouts back in your schedule.

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51 Jennifer May 6, 2013 at 10:17 am

So many good points made by the previous commenters! I will only add that once my breastfeeding leveled off to four feedings a day (at about 8-9 months), I got the motivation for high intensity exercise back.

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52 Heather May 6, 2013 at 10:25 am

I just think it takes time. In my case, I think it took a whole year to “recover” from being pregnant, giving birth, extended periods of sleep depreviation (even when they seem long in rear view, I think your body still hasn’t recovered) and nursing. Around my kiddo’s first birthday, I started craving that “butt kicking” workout again. My son is 18 months now and I pushed him 10 miles in the jogging stroller yesterday – I ran a PR in a 10 miler a few weeks ago – I’m “back” … I feel like myself. But it took a LOONG time.

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53 Tara May 6, 2013 at 10:26 am

This is an interesting topic. After my first baby, it took about a year before I really stepped back into high intensity workouts. At that time I still had some baby weight to lose, so I was very motivated. Plus he’d been sleeping through the night for several months, so I was well rested. I just had my second baby 3 and a half months ago and, after I got the all clear from my doctor to resume regular workouts, it took me about a week to figure out that I have no desire/energy/motivation for high intensity workouts. I am BF-ing and I do think that impacts it. I would have to time my workouts perfectly to not interfere with feeding sessions and with two kids that is really hard to accomplish. I still love walking and have been doing much more of that than anything else. I’m slowly working in some shorter runs, but only 2 to 3 times a week and no more than 30 minutes. I’m just taking it easy on myself and my body at this point. Plus running after an active 2 year old could be considered its own high intensity workout!! ; )

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54 Amanda Cowan May 6, 2013 at 10:58 am

Perhaps you need to find something else that might motivate you. I was always ok to jump on the treadmill or elliptical at the gym to break my sweat. But recently, in the past two-three months I am just not interested in that and found myself using it to catch up on TV, which meant a sub-par workout. So checking out some of the classes they offer at my gym, I’m now doing Zumba a couple times a week as well as a conditioning class that gets my heart rate up.

But of course, the fact that you are breastfeeding could possibly be the main culprit. I still might encourage you to try something new and see if anything else gets you excited to move. Does that make sense?

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55 Ashley May 6, 2013 at 11:04 am

Hey Kath! First time commenter here, but I have been reading for years. I want to start off by saying how amazingly adorable Mazen is. Because of your BERF posts I made my own babyfood this weekend, a little late as my son Cameron just turned 10 months old but nonetheless he seemed to like it more than the store bought food and our grocery bill was much less!

As for exercising, I was a huge runner before I got pregnant, I would bust out 10 miles like it was my job on the weekends and 5 miles every morning before work and be excited to do it. Now that my son is 10 months old my exercising regimens have drastically changed. I did not breast feed so do not have that reason to blame on my lack of drive! I was just happy to get my pre-baby body back and realized that I can maintain it running 3 miles for a workout combined with 15 – 20 mins of interval weight workouts. These shortened workouts allow me to stay in shape and feel good about myself along with maintaining me being a full time working mommy. I squeeze my workouts in during my work day so that way when I pick my son up every evening from daycare I have the whole evening to make up for lost time :)

So I’m gonna go with its not being out of shape or lazy but a change in priorities and having more fun ways to spend my free time with my family!

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56 Emily @ Life on Food May 6, 2013 at 11:21 am

I would guess this is more of a priority shift. I haven’t had a baby so I cannot chime in on that aspect but I do not my capacity to push myself in all areas wax and weans over time depending on where I am at in life socially and professionally.

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57 Carrie May 6, 2013 at 11:27 am

I’m still breastfeeding too, but I hear once you stop you have a whole new sense of “getting your energy back”. There is any impact to having low estrogen/hormone levels equivalent to being post-menopausal.

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58 Laurie May 6, 2013 at 11:32 am

I have 4 children and it took my body a full year to recover from each birth (granted, mine were all C sections) but I would think that with breast feeding and all of the physical demands on your body with a little one, you are doing GREAT!!! I do think that one big secret that really helped me was that I made sure that I lost all of my baby weight with each pregnancy so that never built up. I am small (5’4″ 115 lbs) and I could usually get back to my normal weight within the year after birth. I am 52 years old now and am working out much more strenuously now than I did when my kids were little. I hike a big mountain each day and it’s the only exercise I really get since I am no longer running around chasing little kids. Just think how heavy Mazen is and how much you are lifting all day long! So, listen to your body and it will guide you. You are definitely NOT a lazy person, Kath!! You are AWESOME! :)

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59 TC May 6, 2013 at 11:32 am

I have never had a baby and I have always hated “high intensity” workouts that last longer than, say, 7-10 minutes. I much prefer long walks, hiking, riding my bike, and yoga. The only times I find that I want something high intensity is when I’m experiencing an endorphin-rush from some other stimulus. I think this idea that you’d feel “lazy” if you’re not doing HI comes from the same place where our culture makes us feel “lazy” if we’re not being busy, busy busy! all the time.

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60 christy May 6, 2013 at 11:47 am

It is the opposite for me. I have gotten faster and fitter with each kid. I think it’s because I have limited time to work out, so I go as hard as I can during the time I have.

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61 Amanda M. May 6, 2013 at 12:58 pm

I’m the same way. Having a baby was a real wake-up call for me. It was the first time I wasn’t able to shed weight just by changing up my diet, and I felt sluggish and tired with the extra pounds on me. I started working out a couple times a week with a personal trainer, who totally kicks my butt, and am in better shape now than before I had a baby. I have more energy too. But it’s worth mentioning I didn’t find the motivation to really start pushing myself until almost a year after the baby was born — up until then it just didn’t feel right.

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62 Lea May 6, 2013 at 12:13 pm

After 2 kids, high intensity jumping and pounding on my body is just so awful. It feels like I take longer to recover from such exercise and it just doesn’t feel “right”.

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63 Kristen May 6, 2013 at 12:30 pm

I sometimes wonder if we need MORE than 9 months to recover from childbirth, hormones, breastfeeding, etc. My daughter is 21 months and I am JUST NOW starting to crave high intensity workouts (I breastfed for 13 months). I recently wrote a “note to self” on this topic to stash away for when we have another baby. It’s so hard not to set our expectations too high – expecting to be the same woman we were pre-baby in every way. I’m learning (slowly, at times!) to embrace each season of exercise, whether it be a low-impact walking, playing with my daughter season, or a competitive, all-out workout season. Much like your squiggly line effect, I just think it all balances out. Great post! Thank you for sharing these thoughts!

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64 Amelia @Eating Made Easy May 6, 2013 at 12:30 pm

I am with you on this, Kath. I found this got better after I finished breastfeeding (partly because breasts return to normal size and feel)…which for me was at 21 months. Now I finally feel like pumping up the volume a bit – though not quite the same as before. My body just feels a little different now!

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65 Lucy May 6, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I hit my early 30s and everything’s changed. A former good runner, I now walk daily. Small, short, very very low intensity (read a magazine) simple walks to reflect and find some calm in an otherwise flustered mind and day.

I do no at-home videos (jumping is not something I’m capable of) and I don’t belong to a gym (no money). So every odd day I might do a few (on knees) pushups and …that’s about it :)

Don’t compare whatever you do. Comparing is the worse thing I can do and something I must fight with daily!

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66 colleen May 6, 2013 at 1:15 pm

I agree with most of the others, you have a baby now and is your main focus. You are hardly lazy! If anything you are above and beyond most women.

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67 Amy May 6, 2013 at 1:27 pm

I would think it’s more related to changing interests and priorities. Don’t over think it! Just do what you like. :-)

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68 Erin May 6, 2013 at 1:32 pm

I’m definitely experiencing the same thing. And I agree with others, I think mine is priority and breastfeeding related. Despite getting 8+ hours of uninterrupted sleep, I still can’t fathom high intensity workouts. I work full time, so I refuse to work out while my 10 month old is awake. So that means I work out at night, when my energy is lowest. (I tried getting up before baby, but going for a run before she nurses is uh, well, uncomfortable).
At this point I am just going to keep on walking and light jogging, and hope I get my energy back when I am done breastfeeding!

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69 KathEats May 6, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Yeah I hear you on the early run… Running before morning nursing session would be literally impossible!

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70 megan May 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Breast feeding – seriously drains lots of energy especially over months of it. You’re providing nutrition, and being a mom, (and a blogger of this awesome blog), that’s a lot, but anyways…

I can tell such a difference in my energy since I weaned my daughter a few weeks ago, when she hit 13 months old. Don’t underestimate how hard your body is still working to provide nutrition to your baby. As he gets older, I bet you find you have more energy/desire to push yourself in work outs, I really think it takes so much out of us mommies, particularly that first year.

I love this kind of thing on your blog!

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71 Tory May 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm

I’ve been experiencing the same sort of thing, butI don’t have a baby. I’ve had very little motivation for anything super intense; I’m all about long walks, some weight lifting, occasionally pilates. Maybe it’s just a natural change that occurs in people, and your time just happened to coincide with having a baby? Or maybe we’re all just experiencing a lazy period at the same time :)

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72 J May 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Listen to Farah, what a nugget of wisdom there!
I have two babies and work out harder than ever in my life, but I gain a sense of rejuvenation from my work outs that counter balances the depletion I feel in my duties as a mother. For me, exercise is actually emotional.
Sounds like you’re satisfied with the balance in your life right now, so just go with it and be grateful! Everything has a season.

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73 Anna W May 6, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Within a week after weaning (12 months) I noticed my endurance and intensity return to “normal” – I had all the same questions. For me it was totally related to bf.

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74 Sarah May 6, 2013 at 3:18 pm

I felt the same way when I was breastfeeding and even for a good while after I stopped. Having a little one is tiring too–both emotionally and physically!

It will come back in time. I’ve run PRs since my daughter was born and I am more fit than ever before (new max weights for me on almost all my strength training). My daughter just turned six.

I don’t always exercise at high-intensity these days because of priorities but my body is definitely capable again!

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75 Kristen May 6, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Boy do I know that feeling! After I had my son a year and a half ago, I could only handle low-intensity exercise until he was eating solids and nursing less. But even then my energy was SO MUCH LOWER! I felt ashamed of myself sometimes, afraid I was being lazy. But after I weaned him right before his first birthday, my energy levels definitely increased. Having a toddler still means I have less energy to expend on myself than before. But since weaning, I can handle a high-intensity workout more often and with more enjoyment than before. It’s definitely not laziness. It’s just those crazy nursing hormones (plus being a mommy in general)

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76 Maria Tadic May 6, 2013 at 4:16 pm

I’m not sure about the whole baby thing, but we just reviewed a study that followed women and their exercise patterns. Low intensity, medium and high and how it effected their BMR. It found that the medium intensity exercisers had the highest. Low intensity was slightly raised, but the high intensity was the lowest. They speculated that it was just too hard for the body and the body holds onto weight and decrease your BMR to preserve itself. It was a really interesting study. So don’t worry too much! Seems like moderate is the way to go!

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77 KathEats May 6, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Thanks for sharing that!

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78 Danielle May 6, 2013 at 5:04 pm

I like seeing portraits of people who live a long time, or learning about cultures that have high rates of longevity. It seems like for many of these people, the rule of thumb is ‘staying active’, which needn’t be sweat-drenching or lung-draining – but rather, that there is frequent movement incorporated into the day.

The ‘Blue Zones’ are really interesting, too: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/happiest-places/blue-zones/

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79 KathEats May 6, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Great point!

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80 Randy May 6, 2013 at 5:20 pm

I think that whatever works the best for you is probably what you should be doing. During our lives, we change and what was once our normal routine changes into something else and back and forth at times.

My guess is that you get much more exercise than you give yourself credit for. Having an active small child in itself is a huge activity as well as all of the other things that you mix in during your average days.

My physical therapist told me that a simple, lower intensity exercise, simple plan was the best. She was not talking about professional athletes but just average adults that want to keep in shape.

In her opinon, doing a few simple exercises and stretching each day as well as mixing in walks, bicycle riding and swimming was the best for most adults.

I know there are varying opinions on this subject out there however I think that for me anyway, her plan makes the most sense and is a lower impact plan.

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81 Mara May 6, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Unrelated question for you Kath. I picked up some Twin Oaks Italian herb tofu, can you offer a couple of suggestions on how to eat it. Do you have a favorite way to prepare it? Thank you.

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82 KathEats May 6, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Roasted in the oven! 400* for maybe 40 minutes or so. smother on a little olive oil before?

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83 Sarah May 6, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Running was definitely harder and i was more injury prone while breastfeeding. I was frequently dehydrated during races, so that was part of the problem. When he is weened, you may feel like upping the intensity. I did.

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84 Jenna May 6, 2013 at 6:52 pm

I was just wondering the same thing today! I tried to do a higher intensity run, and now afterwards I feel completely devoid of any energy (and not in a good post-workout way). I am nursing my 4 month old twins and I definitely think it’s related to that. Because I have the motivation to work out and it feels good to do moderate exercise, but it seems like my body just can’t handle high intensity right now. Thanks for your post!

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85 KathEats May 6, 2013 at 7:57 pm

TWINS! I can’t imagine nursing two : )

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86 Marissa May 6, 2013 at 8:21 pm

i’m sure other peeps have said this, but i’m thinking one of 2 things….breastfeeding for sure is taxing on the body and also i would think, whether it’s conscious or subconscious, that your priorities completely change after having a little one. maybe your bod is just telling you not to expend the energy on intense exercise, and instead use it to play with m or go on a walk with him, etc. i’m convinced that the body is super smart and usually steers us in the right direction.

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87 katie May 6, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Great topic, Kath. I’m right there with you. I went from several session a day before the baby was born (Sept 7) to now a couple of sessions a week (maybe). As for the intensity….ha! I much prefer leisurely walks now. I find much more enjoyment in reversing the stroller seat so we can chat during our walk, stopping to look at flowers and whatnot along the way. I just don’t have the same passion for high insensity as I did before. I don’t know if it’s because my sleep is chunked into small bits (typically: 2 hours, 3, hrs, 2 hours) or because I’d rather be chatty than winded. :) One thing I’ve really felt over this last 8 months is a preference for being at home, playing together. It has always felt like I’m taking up precious together time (awake time, that is) when we go out for a walk (over an hour) or a run. And the thought of using up a nap session….well, HA! :) This too shall pass????

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88 Christa May 6, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Maybe it is none of the above. Maybe its just your body and minds way of saying its is time to try something new? I felt and feel the same way with my almost one year old. I was working out but bored by it and the intensity level just didn’t feel right. I took a weight training class and I am sharing a personal trainer with my friend. It is one hour a week of new moves and I am forced to work harder and sweat and it is awesome and motivating and I love it. I feel refreshed and ready to go back to my son when it is over.

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89 Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin May 6, 2013 at 8:43 pm

I can seriously relate to this. For the past few months I’ve just had no energy to do high intensity workouts, so I’ve switched to lots of walking, other low intensity cardio, and easy strength training. On the rare days that I try to do something harder, I get so fatigued and have to quit part way through. So I went to my doctor to get some blood work done and found out that my iron stores and hemoglobin were low, so I was put on 150 mg of elemental iron per day. I’m not sure if this is the case for you though!

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90 Danielle May 6, 2013 at 9:41 pm

I was also low on iron and got tested a few months back. Taking a supplement has made all the different in my energy!

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91 Judy May 6, 2013 at 8:59 pm

I have three kids – ages 14, 11, and 9 – and work full time including a good bit of travel. I started running seriously (other than a year on the track team in high school) after my oldest was big enough to sit in a jogging stroller, and I’ve only increased my intensity since being done having babies – most recently completing my third Tough Mudder. I agree with the readers above who say that the intensity and more regular exercise is needed in order to keep the weight off and stay trim – something I found to be increasingly challenging once I hit 30, and then 35, and then 40…

I will also say that, while I breastfed my oldest for 16 months and my second for 14 months, by 9 months with #3 (and I had admittedly had a much tougher time with #2 and #3, including having to pump between sessions, take fenugreek supplements, eliminate several categories of food from my diet, and supplement with formula), by the time she was 9 months old I just wanted my body back after having been pregnant or nursing for 4 of the prior 5 years of my life. I think that’s when the intensity really started to pick up. So give it time and your body will tell you when it’s ready – or you’ll decide when you need something new and/or to kick it up a notch!

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92 Alexa May 6, 2013 at 9:11 pm

I was told that nursing is the equivalent of burning the calories you would burn running seven miles a day, so you’re already so active Kath! Your body’s resources are being used in other ways I think, and also, I’ve noticed my priories changed, like Farrah said above. Yes, I take satisfaction in my accomplishments like races, and love the endorphins that come from exercise, but I’m just not willing to give up my time as much that I do have with my son for exercise, especially when I’m working full time. I know it’s still important to take me time, but I can’t do it everyday.

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93 Stephanie May 6, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Combination of priorities and your body needing its energy for other things. I think as a mom of a young kiddo, when you have a window of time, it’s like I can accomplish A. the dishes, B. a shower, C. work, or D. a workout. And sometimes you just want to opt for E. Nothing! and have some time to yourself to just veg. Don’t underestimate how much energy you expend taking care of your little guy, including the 500 calories per day you burn breastfeeding. I notice with my daughter, now 3, I almost never stop moving. I might not be doing high intense workouts daily, but I do low intensity activity from the moment she wakes to the moment she goes to bed.

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94 Danielle May 6, 2013 at 9:41 pm

I was suffering from and am now recovering from adrenal fatigue and hormonal imbalances. I noticed a big difference in my desire and ability to do HIIT workouts for about 6-8 months. Now that I’m on the ‘road to recovery’ I have much more energy and enthusiasm to do higher intensity! I think it’s normal to have a change in exercise habits as your body changes. Looking back I should have ‘given in’ to what my body asking! But like others commented above loved the endorphins from HIIT workouts.

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95 Allie May 7, 2013 at 1:01 am

I honestly don’t think there is any one “right” answer here. I have a 7 y.o. and while I was unable to run for the last 10 weeks of my pregnancy I was really excited to get back to it 2 weeks post-partum. And honestly, my motivation has been high since then. For 7 years. Running is my social outlet, my stress reliever, my time for me. I can take an hour a day for myself (when my kiddo was little it was during nap, then after he went to bed, then before he woke in the morning for preschool and now while he is at school…I have altered my schedule as his needs have changed) and I reap the benefits of an effective, sweat producing workout all day long. Even the very discipline that it takes to get myself out the door on days when I don’t want to do it in that moment is a benefit! And once I have had that “me” time I am more awake and alert and more present for my child. So that is my experience! But I say the most important thing is to make sure you get SOME form of vigorous exercise in, take some time for yourself and set a great example of prioritizing your mental and physical health for your kiddo! And don’t feel guilty about whether it is intense “enough” or anything…do what works for you and love yourself for doing it! The only wrong answers are doing nothing or not feeling good about what you are doing!

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96 Rach May 7, 2013 at 5:42 am

I had a similar issue when I had my baby, took me nearly a year to get back to being able to train hard. Keep pushing on and you’ll get there :)

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97 mary May 7, 2013 at 6:12 am

Hi kath, I can guarantee that you will run again, its just very early days for you with a new baby. I have 3 kids and it wasnt till my first was one year that I felt keen to run again and I think that was mainly because of breast feeding. I also hoped to have another soon enough and so I had no great motive to take up any serious running. Now my youngest is 3 and I’m back running and enjoying it more than I ever have. Fitting it into my schedule can be a challenge however. I think u are doing amazingly well abd I’d like to thank for this wonderful blog which has been a great inspiration for as regards getting back on track health and diet wise. Keep up the good work!

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98 Shana May 7, 2013 at 6:18 am

Let me preface this by saying I am not a mother. However, I just started a VERY high intensity job and have seen a decline in wanting to do high intensity workouts. Some obs (including being a mother) demand constant physical activity and massive amounts of brain power. I personally believe that all the energy you expend leaves little left over for high intensity workouts. I’m not saying its the rule-some people seem to have enough energy for both but I think some bodies just require different, more rejuvenating forms of exercise as opposed to super high intensity training. Essentially, I think you could condition your body to meet the demands of both-if you choose that in the future!

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99 Denise May 7, 2013 at 7:22 am

I sense a hidden (or maybe not so hidden) “should” statement there. “I should be doing high intensity exercise” but why? Do you think it is superior to a lower impact, moderate workout? Are you afraid you are going to miss out on something if you go the moderate way? It is similar to eating the same food over and over again, you eventually end up getting sick of doing the samw thing. I do noy have kids yet but I got that exercise fatigue a month before my wedding. I had been training with a trainer for a year and he was kicking my butt with circuit cardio weight training. It had felt amazing and I thought I could train like that forever until a month before my wedding. Suddenly I couldn’ t bring myself to go anymore. All I wanted was to take walks. If you are not drained and you don’ t think there is an underlying medical condition, listen to your body and intui tu on.

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100 Denise May 7, 2013 at 7:27 am

*intuition. Sorry for the typos, I am on public transit and have difficulty writing and checking what I write on my phone.

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101 sarah May 7, 2013 at 7:33 am

Just curious, since I am pregnant now, about 18 weeks, and still running regularly: do you think it would have been easier post-baby to start running again if you had pushed yourself more to run longer into your pregnancy? I understand it didn’t feel great to you, and often it doesn’t for me (lots of pulling feelings, etc.) but my doc said it’s supposed to feel a little different and it’s okay to run through it. I wonder if you would do that differently in your next pregnancy given how you feel now?

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102 KathEats May 7, 2013 at 7:40 am

I’m not sure? Running pregnant was soooo uncomfortable. Running now is fine – I just am slower than I used to be. So I’m not sure if speed is what has changed. I still love running short distances (5Ks) and do them a few times a week.

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103 Kieran May 7, 2013 at 7:35 am

Kath, have you ever done a post on estrogen dominance in women and how eating soy products makes it worse? I love tofu, but sadly I have to avoid it, soy milk, and veggie burgers because I already produce so much estrogen (versus progesterone). I think a lot of women gravitate to those products without realizing the possible negative side effects if they are already estrogen dominant. In other words, soy-based products aren’t automatically “good for everyone.”

Also, regarding this post and the high intensity workouts that you’re not feeling particularly keen on at the moment, I wondered if you’ve had a blood panel done recently–I’d be curious to know what your iron levels are. I’m not a doctor, but I always think anemia when I hear about a change in a woman’s energy levels. I know you said you have plenty of general life energy, but maybe all that extra O2 you have to take in during the high intensity workout isn’t getting to the cells as it should? Crazy hypothesis, but ever since I actually diagnosed my friend’s husband’s brain tumor, I’m the Doctah at Home. At least to friends and family (grin).

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104 jen May 7, 2013 at 8:55 am

Also wanted to add that I do think priorities are a big factor here, for me at least. I don’t feel guilty spending time away from my toddler to exercise, but I just enjoy my time with her so much and want to savor all that I can because already I feel like it’s flying through my fingers and she’ll be off to college before I know it. Exercise doesn’t hold a candle to that for me, and as long as I’m fit enough to live a happy, active life, I figure other stuff can wait until I’m ready to spend a little more time on pursuits for myself (and cry that my little girl’s all grown up :) ).

I do have nap time & bedtime, but I choose to spend them on relaxing with hubby or catching up on reading, and mostly doing housework and food prep so that I can put healthy food on the table and don’t have to worry about it later when I could be enjoying family time. Those happen to be the things that feel good for me right now. I’m also 31 weeks pregnant with #2 (#1 is 22 months now), so I may just be feeling low energy after being pregnant or breastfeeding most of the last 3 years.

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105 Becca May 7, 2013 at 9:07 am

Hi Kath, I guess I’m kind of late to the game on this one, but I thought I’d add my two cents! I don’t have kids but for a long time I basically only did high intensity workouts. I was short on time, they worked, and they felt great. But then some things changed with my schedule and I finally had time to train for a long race and I started running slow but for longer distances. Other things were going on in my life that required a lot of will power and I started to change my workout goals from high intensity training to just get to the gym/get any movement in (since I felt like high intensity training required too much will power and thus I would just skip the gym instead of going and getting any movement in). As a result, the intensity really left my workouts even though I was exercising regularly and getting faster at long runs, I wasn’t working out the way I used to. Recently, I’ve been trying to add the intensity back in but for some reason it now “scares” me. In order to counteract this, I a) try to expect way less of myself than what I used to when I was working out that way all the time, b) try to limit my high intensity workouts to 2x a week for 30 minutes max, and c) try to flesh out my exercise routine with other pursuits such as weight lifting and yoga, things I used to do with much less frequency than when I was working out at higher intensities.

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106 Mallory May 7, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Hey Kath. I’m also a little late on commenting here but I thought this was an interesting post (although, I don’t have kids and won’t for a while). Maybe this was stated already, but have you considered all the extra calories you are burning on a regular basis (this isn’t just including the breastfeeding)? You are constantly holding, carrying, playing with, the list goes on, Mazen, so each day you are expending a certain number of extra calories you normally wouldn’t be. Over time, the extra energy you expend adds up. Over the course of a week, I bet the number of total calories you burn while just caring for M alone adds up to a couple of high intensity workouts!

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107 Rebecca May 7, 2013 at 7:50 pm

I agree with many of the previous posters who said it’s a matter of priorities. BUT, I think an important question for you to answer for yourself is “Do I want to get back to high-intensity workouts, 10K runs, etc?” If you do, then you will make the time for them. If you don’t, that’s great too. Simple. And I do speak from experience as a mom of 3 kids under 6 who works outside the house full time :)

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108 Helen May 8, 2013 at 6:19 am

I just wanted to add, that as a mother of two, I found that even though my body felt fairly recovered postpartum, and I was exercising and all, it wasn’t until about a year after birth that I suddenly realised I was feeling a new sense of spring. One year on, I suddenly sort of woke up and felt much more “normal” and old-self-ish. It was hard to put a finger on, but suddenly I regained my old kind of energy. I’ve talked to people about this, and they often have similar experiences. I think doctors advise that you take at least a year between pregnancies for this very reason – babies born closer together don’t thrive as well because your body has not properly restored. It’s subtle and gradual but your body is still recovering and replenishing.

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109 KathEats May 8, 2013 at 7:31 am

It seems the one year mark is a very common experience even in the comments here. I’m over halfway there!

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110 Katie May 8, 2013 at 10:45 am

What an awesome (and perfectly timed!) post! I’m going through this same issue…..my son will be 1 year old next week, so hopefully my motivation kicks back in. For me it’s not so much the energy I’m lacking, it’s the DESIRE for a hardcore work out. I followed a 9 week training plan to the T for a 15K, and on some of those workout days I literally wanted to cry bc I didn’t want to do it….but I did it, every single workout. Even now, when I don’t want to work out and I try and do the “just do it for 5 minutes” trick, I spend those first 5 minutes thinking about how I wish I was doing ANYTHING else. I’ve definitely lowered my intensity, and I’m trying to keep the mindset that as long as I’m working out at least 4 days a week, I should be happy. It’s a huge struggle to find balance btwn pushing myself to get my pre-baby shape back (my weight is the same, but the tummy pooch remains!) and giving myself a break. The mental exhaustion that so many people reference above has got to be part of the factor – I’m so glad this was brought up! I’ll reference this post if I ever decide to have #2. Love this discussion, lots of insight from your fabulous readers :)

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111 Addie May 8, 2013 at 12:26 pm

As a mama with 5 littles under 8, and nursing the 9m old, I didn’t have time to read the comments, so I may be repeating what everyone else said…but I think that my desire to really push myself subsided when babies came along, for two reasons…1) my “high” comes from being a good Mom…a fit and healthy Mom…not one that can rock a marathon and mountain climb. 2) also the fact that my body may feel good exercising, but pushing myself to the max leaves little left over for those surprise marathon nights of nursing, or a sick child, or just keeping the house clean and food on the table. I can do what it takes to remain healthy, fit and strong…but don’t ask my body to take more than it can, thereby short changing my husband and children.

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112 Trisha May 8, 2013 at 3:05 pm

I do not have a baby, but I am feeling the same way about workouts. I used to be full out all the time with my workouts! These days sometimes just driving to the gym is exhausting. For me I believe it’s a combo of getting older and hormones. Working out that hard in the past definitely damaged my hormones, which i’m still trying to recover from. Plus I find that if I work out too hard one day, I’m whooped for several days after. It just wears me out. So, I’ve found that my body just doesn’t like going to that crazy intensity anymore. It’s just so damaging to my body now. Although, mentally it’s SO beneficial … It’s a tough crossroads to be at. Remembering your PRIOR self with where you’re at now. I struggle. All I can say is to just be where you are now, do what you enjoy, as long as you are moving and exercising that’s what is important. There is no manual that says you HAVE to do HIIT!

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113 Kris May 8, 2013 at 9:42 pm

I think we all have needs for different intensity of exercise depending on many factors. Fact is it waxes and wanes for most of us. I’m doing high intensity right now, but like Trisha, I’m older now and the high intensity really takes the energy out of me, rather than energizing me. Do what you like and feels good, and as long as you keep moving don’t sweat how intense the exercise is. And can I say wow — I can’t imagine getting 8-9 hours of sleep. I’d love anything over 5 or 6 hours!

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114 Liz May 9, 2013 at 2:06 pm

I would guess it is probably a season of life. It took until my 2nd baby was about 3 before I felt that desire to get our there and really push myself and to make the sacrifices needed to train hard. Consider this your season of ‘rest’ and enjoy it! The great thing about most endurance exercise is that you have many years ahead, 35+ is a very competitive age group and I find my body much stronger at 36 than it was at 26!

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115 Tammy May 10, 2013 at 5:30 pm

If anything I would feel blessed that this isn’t a priority for you. I have been listening to a lot of health and wellness podcasts and one commonality is that high intensity exercise should be kept to the absolute minimum (under 15 minutes) and Only about 2-3 x week with a lot of walking. I was diagnosed with stage 2 adrenal fatigue so I have cut back on HIIT training and long distance running to try and restore balance.

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116 Alex @ Raw Recovery May 10, 2013 at 8:51 pm

My thought is that maybe this is just a time in your life when you don’t need to be intense. Another word for it might be “a phase.” I don’t have kids and I’m still in my early-ish twenties, but I had a few months when I did a lot of high intensity (at least for me) workouts and then hit a wall and got really drained, mentally and physically. I decided to experiment with not making myself feel bad or guilty for not being able to push myself as much as I once did. The result was more emotional strength and I let my body tell me when it was ready to be pushed and how much. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but that’s my 2 cents.

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117 Joelle (on a pink typewriter) May 12, 2013 at 4:00 pm

What an interesting post! I don’t have any kids yet, but I was literally just thinking about this myself, as I’ve noticed in the last year that I have far less energy or interest in working out hard like I used to. Sometimes I’ll start out with good intentions to really so a high intensity workout, but usually that dies out and I’m over it, wanting the workout to be over already. For me, I think it comes from issues w my job – sitting in a cubicle 8 hours a day for 5 days a week in a job i’m not so jazzed about – and I have a hunch it mentally drains me which is bleeding into the rest of my life.. anyways, just my two cents. :)

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