Friday, June 26, 2015

The Importance of Being Motile

Walking has always been my exercise of choice; in addition to being good for the body, it’s great for the mind. When I was a teenager, my mom and I spent many memorable hours walking briskly along the beach in my seaside hometown of Strand, enjoying the view of Table Mountain across the bay and peroxide-blond surfers close to shore.

By the time I was pregnant with my second child, I was living half-way around the globe, in Seattle, a short distance from a beautiful glacial lake looped by a 3-mile path. As soon as my energy returned after a washed-out first trimester, I grabbed every opportunity to loop the lake. When my due date came and went, I started walking around the lake multiple times. One drizzly Saturday afternoon I galloped around the lake three times, kicking up fall leaves and willing labor to finally start! It didn’t do the trick, but it did feel wonderful to move my pregnant body.

In the run-up to my first son’s birth, I was living in Colorado and spending two hours on the road each day, traveling to and from work. It was too dark and cold to walk after work, and too icy over weekends. I found an excellent pregnancy exercise DVD – Leisa Hart's Fitmama: Prenatal and Postnatal Workouts – and, as the torn and scrappy cover of the DVD attests, I cha-chad happily through her amazing salsa dance routine over and over again, enjoying the pleasant buzz of endorphins – nature’s reward for moving your body.

I still loop the lake whenever I can. Yesterday I ran into a young teacher friend at the lake with her two-month-old daughter. She and a friend were pushing their strollers round the lake, laughing and chatting away. And it all felt so familiar. In Colorado, I was swooped up by a group of young moms who motored their strollers around a 1-hour neighborhood loop three times a week, sending prairie dogs diving for cover. In Seattle, I made new parent friends to push strollers with around the lake or up and down the Fremont ship canal. And these walking friends kept me grounded and sane during the foggy, sleep-deprived weeks and months of early motherhood. We learned so much from each other, we shared the highs and the lows, and we found great comfort in knowing that we were not alone. And while those days have passed – we've long since traded in our strollers for other kinds of wheels – these friends remain my village.

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