Put down that Oreo

Having a baby does very peculiar things to a woman’s body. Joints become loose, flab appears in places where it seems impossible and aches show up at the most inopportune moments. You create and cherish an amazing little bundle of human, but your body hits the skids.

Not that I was ever in perfect shape or optimal condition, but having a baby nearly made me an invalid. Walking up the stairs in our house was painful, and I often made it to the top with aching knees and shortness of breath. This was not the body that I had before motherhood.     

The first step to recovering my body was to reduce my intake of sugary foods. I was strung out on Golden Oreos and Reese’s Pieces after giving birth because it seemed the easiest and most convenient thing to grab while acclimating myself to being a mom. Instead of giving my healing body the support it needed with good, real food. I stuffed it with fillers and artificial colors. My body didn’t like it and retaliated with pain.

About nine months into my son’s life, I realized that I felt terrible, had gained all the weight I lost immediately after he was born, and found that eating food instead of sweets made me feel better.

I had read but finally realized for myself that sugar creates inflammation in the body, and those aches and pains that had come a couple of months after having my son were a direct result of too many sweets. I challenged myself to a seven-day sugar detox, and this was how I discovered my root problem. Mind you, I will never fully surrender sugar because I’m an addict and I love it. It is important to know this and admit to it.

I confess and I know that while I’ll never eat sugar in the amounts I did after giving birth, I need a cookie every now and again. Don’t judge me.

The second step for me was the reintroduction of exercise. On a semi-regular basis, I do some cardio exercise, a basic weightlifting workout, and most recently I’ve added what I like to call “Hot Ass Yoga” to my repertoire.  

My sister wanted to try yoga; knowing that she is a fitness enthusiast who enjoys tortuous workouts, I steered her in the direction of Vinyasa, or “flow” yoga. I knew that whatever intensity she was seeking, she’d find it in the flow series.  

Somehow she used her birthday as guilt trip and manipulation to rope my mother and me into attending our first Vinyasa class together at 502 Power Yoga in the Highlands. I actually picked the studio when I saw that they offered Vinyasa classes that fit our schedules.

The first class, I went not knowing it was a “hot” yoga class and wore too many clothes. I had not practiced yoga regularly in nearly two years and had a lot of extra post-baby (post-Oreo) girth to hold in during downward dog. I suffered and returned the next week.

So now, six weeks later, I’ve begun a new habit. I don’t know that I’ve lost any weight, but I’ve gained back balance that pregnancy had taken, and flexibility that I had surrendered to sugar and excuses for not exercising.

Each week, I eagerly gather my gear — a yoga mat, water and sometimes a towel — then happily drive across the bridge to sweat through a series of poses in a room that feels like a sauna. I’m confronted with my own neurosis involving walking barefoot on a bare floor with no socks or shoes.

I always leave dripping with sweat and feeling a sense of relaxation and accomplishment at having finished yet another class. I know that what I’m doing increases my chances of avoiding the dreaded medications of middle age. I do not want to deal with hypertension or any other disease associated with being overweight and in poor condition. My doctor made the threat, and I’m not taking it lightly.

Yoga has put me in touch with the person that I’d lost in the moment I realized that I had to share my body with another human being. Class gives me 70 minutes that I can fully own myself and not have to share with my son. 

It is worth the drive from New Albany to the Highlands to challenge myself and reach tiny milestones of fitness that I thought I’d never achieve again.