A Stranger’s Simple Words Were My Biggest Motivation

When I was pregnant with my son, I was amazed at how quickly my body was changing. I had always been curvy but thin, so I wasn’t surprised that I had a very belly-centered pregnancy. But while I wasn’t gaining a lot of weight in other places, I was definitely expanding. My hips were expanding, my butt was expanding – even my breasts were expanding!

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I didn’t follow a strict diet during my pregnancy. During the first trimester, I was happy if I could consume a few sour patch kids and a protein bar or two throughout the day. If I could manage to keep down some buttered toast on top of that, I considered it an accomplishment. But as the morning sickness faded, a new, never-satisfied hunger took its place. I had never been so hungry in my life. My family was shocked at how much I was consuming because I had always been a small-portion eater. 

When my son was born, that hunger never went away. I was breastfeeding round the clock, and eating whatever I could get my hands on quickly. A week after his birth, I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly my stomach had shrunk, but I was left with a strange new body. I didn’t recognize myself. Everything was a little bit wider, curvier, thicker. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. But during those first few months of motherhood, I didn’t have much time to think about it. 

When my son was a few months old, I realized I was at a standstill. My stomach had shrunk as much as it was going to, but my appetite was as large and demanding as ever. I knew that I had to start seriously thinking about making some changes, but I also knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I hated exercising and I found great comfort in my 3AM bologna sandwiches during nursing sessions. 

My husband suggested that I simply begin walking with the stroller around the lake in our gated community. The initial thought of it was almost as repulsing as giving up my bologna. I have never really liked being outdoors, and it got really hot during the day at that time of year where we lived. But one morning, I was up at the crack of dawn for a nursing session, and I decided to just go for it. It was still dark outside when I slid our son into his carseat, covered him with a blanket and grabbed my iPod. 

There was something kind of special about walking around a lake in the wee hours of the morning and watching the sun rise. It was peaceful, and kind of exhilarating in a small way. I walked one and a half laps that first morning (approximately 1.5 miles), and I was secretly thrilled with my accomplishment. I set an alarm and went out every single morning that week.

The following week, I was just about to finish my third and final lap of the day when an older woman sitting on a bench by the lake greeted me as I approached her. As I was passing her, she motioned for me to pause, stood from her seat and walked over to me and my son. I will never forget what she said to me.

“I have watched you walking with your son every morning for a week. I have watched as you push through every lap and keep going. You’re doing such a great thing – for you and for him. Really, good for you!”

I thanked her, and walked past her, equal parts embarrassed and proud. I kept walking, her words resonating in my head. Before I knew it, I had circled the lake again and waved to her as I passed her once more. I did 3 more laps that day – 6 miles in total– with my personal cheerleader watching me all the while. The next day and all of the days that followed, I looked for her on that bench. And she was there, every morning, watching the sun rise with me as I pushed through lap after lap. 

I never stepped on a scale after my son’s birth, but I began to see changes in my body once again. My legs looked more tone, my pants were getting looser. I was excited about these changes and began to look forward to hearing my alarm go off every morning. 

I eventually quit walking around that lake, as the weather changed and I got busier. And I never did learn that woman’s name. But she was my biggest motivator – when I wanted to quit, this stranger’s words pushed me to go on. We have since moved from that little gated community with the idillic sparkling lake, but I will never forget my post-pregnancy fitness journey, and how one stranger’s words changed the way I viewed exercise, my body and myself forever. 

Check out GET FIT for more great posts during our 2015 GET FIT INITIATIVE!

Photo Credit: Marley Layne’s Closet

 

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Danielle

Danielle is a Pittsburgh native who has been warming her “black and gold” blood in sunny Northern California for the past 6 years. On any given day, you can find her arranging ridiculous photo shoots of her one-year-old son Graeme and cat Gizmo, or working on any one of her 27,000 writing projects. She enjoys daydreaming about becoming a famous actress and starting a handful of different businesses with her husband over glasses of wine in the evenings. Someday, she hopes to travel the country in an RV with her family… but she needs to sell that novel first. You can follow her journeys through her blog With A Red Bird On My Shoulder

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