I owe my sanity and well being to the YMCA. Lucky for me, two caring moms stopped me to tell me how joining the “Y” had “saved” them, and they urged me to join. They could see that desperate look on my face of being overwhelmed with a one-and-one-half-year-old toddler and a three-month-old baby. With no family on the island, no friends close by, and my husband working 7 days a week, I was being pushed beyond my limits. I often felt like I was totally out of my mind, on the brink of breaking down (particularly because my toddler was going through an extremely aggressive stage). These women talked about the 90 minutes of blissful freedom that the Childwatch program provides (just recently changed to 2 hours). I was convinced and I joined.
Exercise for me is a cathartic experience. In the Zumba class (a Latin dance aerobics), I found myself having so much fun and at the same time so relieved to feel some freedom that I would cry as I danced out my stress. Swimming in the pool gave me the quiet time to myself that I so badly needed. Yoga helped me to breathe out all that I was holding on to and helped me get back to the inner part of myself that can be lost so frequently while dealing with family life. Some days, when I wasn’t feeling energetic, I just laid back on the recumbent bike to read a fashion magazine (imagine that!), or catch up on some reading (which could never happen at home). The YMCA was really my mental saving grace. I would have been insane without it.
That catharsis and the 90 minutes of mental respite, in itself, was literally life-altering, but there were also other invaluable benefits to being a member at the “Y”. For the first time in years, I enjoyed having stimulating adult conversations on topics not related to children. I also made great friendships. The ironic thing was that I didn’t join the “Y” necessarily to lose weight really, but the result of all this exercise helped me go from a postpartum size XL back down to my original size small!
I know for many postpartum moms, the conventional way to lose weight is through exercise. For me, I believe my weight came off not only from exercise, but by finding a way to take care of myself, finding my inner peace and allowing myself to revel in the bliss that I found while working out at the “Y”.
It occurred to me that this article may sound like a commercial for the YMCA, but honestly I am not being paid by them to write this. I just felt it important to share this experience with other moms who may be feeling overwhelmed and alone like I did. Just 90 minutes of exercise and time to myself made me a better mother to my children, and a happier wife. It gave me patience and the capacity to be the kind of mother I wanted to be.
It’s amazing how 90 minutes can change your life.
Image Credit: YMCA Maui