Being a New Mom: How Crossfit Keeps Me Sane

Hey friends! Morgan here, wanting you all to know a little something about my life as a new mother, and some advice for navigating the tough times. 

First off, not many things can cause me to feel like an incompetent lazy failure (in all areas of my life, not only motherhood) like trolling social media and seeing what other mother's lives are like. It's a little unsettling how blissfully happy they all seem to be, while glowing with smiles in their spotlessly clean home, and finding time to share all the incredible things they are effortlessly able to accomplish while keeping a new little human alive. Sigh. To all you new moms out there:  The struggle of being a new mom (and dad) is real, and it's OK to say it! 

I know lately we've shared a few photos of me training and hitting a few PR's, but please, by no means take this as a sign that I've got my shit together. These last three months since giving birth have not been all roses and unicorns (and PRs). Our blog is a place for positive, inspiring messages, so we generally opt out of sharing pictures of me at sobbing at 2AM, topless and a week overdue for a shower, with cracked bleeding nipples  because my son is having a hard time breast feeding, or video of my husband and I having some seriously epic arguments over who-knows-what in a sleep deprived haze of pure insanity. Please, rest assured that behind the scenes of the squat PR’s on our She Thrives blog, in "real life" this definitely is happening, and from what I gather when talking honestly with other mothers, is totally normal life with a newborn. 

Me and Atlas when he was brand new!

Me and Atlas when he was brand new!

 My life since having my son Atlas four months ago has by far been the most physically and mentally challenging period in my life, matched with some of the most incredibly overwhelming feelings of love I have ever felt. As all mothers do, I love my son so incredibly deeply that it has cracked open my very soul. I have a whole new kind of love for my husband as well, but I want you all to know that it is completely normal to have your sanity hanging by a very frayed, thin, weak thread. I've never been so sleep deprived and absolutely mentally and physically exhausted in my life!

 So what's keeping me sane, happy, healthy and as sharp as possible right now? Crossfit. For other new mothers it may be light yoga, running, cycling or something else (whatever works for you), but I believe that a physical activity that you enjoy, that also allows you take take time for you is the key to staying mentally (and physically) fit as a new mom.

I had a personal goal of completing ALL Open events this year, and I did it! This is 15.4.

I had a personal goal of completing ALL Open events this year, and I did it! This is 15.4.

Going to the box 3 times per week and hitting a WOD is my only time away from Atlas (besides 16 hours a week in the office, but that’s work) and I absolutely relish it. It’s my social hour, my time to reconnect with my mind and body, and a few hours a week to feel some independence. What I love about CrossFit is that I can scale any WOD to make it appropriate for where I am at on any specific day. Most days I show up looking like a zombie with greasy hair and spit-up stained clothes, just hoping to get my heart rate up a bit, move my aching muscles and get some endorphins pumping through my body.  Other days I’ve managed to feel pretty good, and actually hit a few PR’s; which I credit to focusing on my form while I was pregnant (take note, all you preggo ladies! Form work is good work!). I do still have to scale or substitute quite a few things in order to respect my healing body, like how too many double under cause me to spontaneously, quickly, and completely empty my bladder in front of everyone. It's hard to accept some days, but I have to know that taking the time to heal now is better than having injuries down the road. I’ve had to put my ego aside and do what is best for my body, including listening to my body and adjusting my intensity day to day depending on my energy levels. The last thing I want to do is to deplete myself and send my body into adrenal fatigue again. Been there, done that, don’t want to do it again.

I’ve also had to refocus and identify my intent with CrossFit since having Atlas. For now I am not trying to win any competitions, make it to regionals, or have the fastest time on the whiteboard. I am just training to stay healthy and fit, and to keep my sanity. I feel guilty about the time away from Atlas, but I've learned that mothers cannot give from a depleted source. Just like on an airplane when you are instructed to put your oxygen mask on first before you put your child’s on, I need to take care of myself so that I take care of my son. For me, that is the role of CrossFit in my life for right now. It restores my sanity, gives me confidence, and keeps my body healthy.  

I’m doing my best, and working at what my 100% is right now, today. My advice during this difficult period for any new parent who is trying to maintain a training routine (CrossFit or otherwise), is to focus on rest and recovery as much as possible (take a nap whenever you get the chance!), try to eat well, listen to your body, don’t have any expectations, and identify why you are training right now. It can take some of the burden off and some of the expectations away if you decide that you are training right now just as a way to get out of the house, as opposed to making serious gains. The time will come again in your life where you are able to train hard, make gains, and hit those goals. 

And lastly: Don’t compare yourself to the other mothers that you see on social media, at the gym, or anyone else at all, for that matter! You have no idea what is going on behind the scenes in their lives. As I am now in the new mother club, I am positive that their lives are just as much of a challenge as mine (they just aren’t posting pictures of it and broadcasting it to the world). Try to connect with other mothers at your gym; talk with them, build a connection, get them on your team, ask them how they got through the rough days and listen to tips they may have for getting rest and actually getting into the gym to train.  Being a new mother is truly the hardest thing ever, EVER! But remember that this period of chaos and insanity will pass, and life will get easier.

Find time for relaxation with girlfriends, like going for a walk, getting a pedicure, or just hanging out.

Find time for relaxation with girlfriends, like going for a walk, getting a pedicure, or just hanging out.

For now, find a release that will help you treat your body well, clear your mind and rejuvenate your spirit, and help you feel like you again (Crossfit, walking, yoga, running, whatever!). And always remember to give yourself a break, know that you are enough, are are a great mother, and you're doing your best! 

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