From Bar to Barre: Balancing Aging, Parenthood, Work Schedules and a Consistent Exercise Routine

Living in NYC definitely has it’s perks. One in particular is the amount of walking that is required. Most of my time living here I have been able to get away without going to the gym regularly because my daily commute was my gym.  The walking always seemed to be enough and a run or class here or there was just an extra bonus. I have also been able to eat whatever I want (within reason) and spent many evenings out at bars with friends enjoying my fair share of adult beverages.

At my company holiday party 2 years ago, a co-worker made a comment to me that at the time I blew off. After returning to the table with a full plate of second helpings of everything at the buffet she said, “Wow Val! I remember when I could eat like that. Then I hit my 30s.” This was two months before my 30th birthday, so naturally my reply was, “Well then, I better take advantage of the two months I have left.”

I really didn’t take what she said seriously though, and I thought, It’ll be different for me. I was kind of right. Nothing really changed when I turned thirty. Thirty-one on the other hand was another story. Not long after my 31st birthday I realized that Winter had taken it’s toll on my body, and I accepted that I could no longer eat or drink whatever I wanted and still survive on just walking.

Not only am I a binge runner, but I am a binge exerciser in general. It’s always easier to get going during the summer when it’s not freezing or pitch black outside when I have to leave the apartment for a class.  If I am able to get a good routine in place, I can go weeks working out 3, 4, even 5 days a week. I always feel amazing when I can stick to a regular exercise plan, but it seems that after awhile I always go back to making excuses for why I can’t get my butt moving.

Having a kid definitely does not make sticking to an exercise routine any easier. The guilt that comes with leaving all the getting ready and commuting responsibilities with Tyson so that I can take a morning barre class or evening yoga class is sometimes too much to handle. Especially during the Rangers season when his schedule is so busy.

However, after Memorial Day, with the unofficial start of summer upon us, I decided I had to get over the guilt and figure something out. Running on my lunch break everyday was not motivating enough, but I had taken a couple barre classes last summer and really enjoyed them. So I went to Tyson with a routine I thought was fair and hoped that we could make it work. For the past six weeks this has been my workout schedule:

Monday: 30-40 minute Lunch Break Run
Tuesday: 55 minute Core Barre Class
Wednesday: 55 minute Total Barre Class and 30 minute Swim Class with Qwynn
Thursday: 55 minute Barre Assets Class or 60 minute Yoga Class
Friday: 30-40 minute Lunch Break Run

I’m not perfect every week (summer is busy!), but I usually get at least three of the days in. It definitely takes sacrifices from all parties involved. On Tuesday I work the 10 AM shift, and drop Qwynn off as soon as school opens at 8 AM to make it to my 8:30 AM barre class. This makes it possible for Tyson and I to still commute together, but it also makes all of our days much longer, leaving the house by 7 AM and not getting home until close to 7:30 PM.  Tyson very generously commutes with Qwynn by himself on Wednesday mornings and I meet him at the YMCA for Qwynn’s 9 AM swim class after my 7:30 AM Barre class. On Thursday evenings he commutes again by himself to allow me to take my evening yoga class.

I am definitely nervous about Fall and Winter coming because it means colder weather, less sunlight and new and busier schedules. I am really hoping that my new found love for barre (seriously you should try it if you haven’t yet) will keep me motivated to continue going to class even when it is dark, cold and there is half a foot of snow on the ground.

As hard as it is to manage all of our schedules and to get myself up earlier than I technically have to get up in the morning, I never regret doing it. Even the times I have had one too many glasses of wine the night before 😉 and just want to stay in bed curled up next to Tyson, I remind myself how much better I’ll feel if I sweat it out. And I always do. No matter what, I always feel better when I say yes to a workout.

 

Valerie Anne

The Perfect Run

IMG_7181Hi. My name is Valerie Christensen and I am a binge runner.

What does this mean exactly? It means that my running is not routine by a long shot. I will go most of the winter without running at all because I despise treadmills and always prefer to run outside. There might be an unseasonably warm day here or there that I’ll take advantage of, but that is it. However, as soon as Spring brings the warmer weather, my itch to run is so great that I will run for days and days in a row. For a little while. The next week I might only run one day. Then I will skip two weeks. Then I will run three days in a row. Then I will skip another week. Then I will only run once a week for three weeks. Then I will run four days in one week. Then three days the next week. Then zero days the following week. And on and on I ride this running roller coaster until winter comes again and the cycle starts over.

Everytime I run though, it is an extreme high for me and I often wonder why I wait so long to run the next time. Especially when I have runs like I did today. Today, I had The Perfect Run.

IMG_9004I am extremely blessed to work where I do. My school is right on the Hudson River which gives me immediate access to the park that stretches for miles along it. I am also fortunate enough to work for a company that facilitates and encourages physical activity. Plus, since we deal with drool, spit-up and poop all day (ewwww!), my coworkers and my babies aren’t offended if I spend the rest of the day smelling like sweat. I try and take advantage of all these things by running on my lunch break as often as I can.

Today, it was 68 degrees. Not too hot and not too cold. Today, it was the perfect temperature.

No matter what the temperature is though, if the sun is out I am usually dying before I get 10 feet into my run and shade is often hard to come by. Today, the sky was perfectly overcast.

Sometimes the strong winds off the river give me relief on those extra sunny days, but often they become so brutal that I feel like I’m going to blow away. Today, there was the perfect light breeze.

It started sprinkling ever so lightly, which made me a little nervous as I feared for a downpour (something I’ve unfortunately been caught in before). Today, the sprinkles stayed just that, sprinkles, and it was perfectly refreshing.

With everything in bloom, the sights and smells were so wonderful it was almost a sensory overload. The bright green, newly sprouted trees, and all the pink, purple, orange and yellow flowers were blooming and beautiful. The smell of the flowers was even more amazing. I loved it. It was perfect.

I was trying to decide how far to run. I hadn’t drank a lot of water that morning which was my only concern about pushing myself. I usually run up the bike path and then back down along the river.  I got to where I’ve been turning around lately and told myself—It’s perfect out here. You can go further. Just keep going. So, I gave myself a goal to make it to Pier 25. It was a run I did often last summer when I was at the peak of my binge running. I told myself I could do it today. If you get too tired on the way back you can slow down or stop, but you have to try.

I thought about giving up and turning around at every opening I came too. I tried to convince myself that I had run enough. But I kept telling myself—You’ve made it this far. You can go farther. Just keep going. And I did. I made it to Pier 25.

As I expected, the way back was not easy. It was actually extremely tough. I was regretting eating so soon before I ran. I was wishing I had drank more water before I started. But I kept telling myself it didn’t matter. It was the perfect day for a run and I was going to make this the perfect run. I told myself I wasn’t going to stop until I got back to where I started. And I did. I kept running until I got to the exact place I began. I had finished the most perfect run on the most perfect day and everything in that moment was perfect.

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“The Perfect Post-Run Red Face

 

Valerie Anne