Vanity or Insanity?

April 7, 2010 at 6:18 am | Posted in Little O, running, the 'burbs | 7 Comments
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Gretchen Rubin writes often of exercising for the sake of sanity, not vanity. This is a noble goal, and I’m sure most of us feel better with endorphins racing through our body after a run, but let’s be honest: most of us likely exercise for at least a degree vanity. I simply cannot force myself to eat salads and fruit all day long. I don’t eat a lot of meat, and my husband will not eat fish: ergo, we have pasta for dinner almost nightly. I also like sugar. I need to exercise to keep my clothes fitting properly.

Exercising immediately after having a baby is not fun. There is a lot of relaxin still coursing through your body, so after a three-mile run, if you’re not winded from a few weeks or months of laying off the cardio (or having modified it down several notches), your hips feel loose and kind of achy. I have found, with both of my children, that nursing — far from helping me shed the pounds quickly, as celebrities are so quick to claim nursing does for them — makes me retain a bit of weight. I’d like to think it’s biological and that my body needs this weight to produce enough milk. But it may also be that jogging with three sports bras is not all that comfortable, and so my running is less enthusiastic than it might otherwise be. I’m an impatient, instant-gratification-expecting person, however, and I want my old jeans to fit now. Not in four or six or eight months when I stop nursing. It’s time to get drastic.

Regular readers might recall that for the past two years I’ve run half marathons with my law school friends: the Great Bay Half in 2008, which I ran about nine months after having Little Buggy, and the Run to Remember in Boston last May, which I ran four weeks pregnant with Little O. In a burst of energy I signed up to run the Run to Remember again this May with Ellen, although only after warning her that I would be running with only the expectation of finishing — no thoughts as to time or even trying to run it without walking breaks.

Run to Remember, 2009. Don’t we look like we’re having fun?

I love training for races. It forces me to get out and run three or four times a week. I love the feeling of completing an eight- or ten-mile training run, but I’m not the sort of person who would ever run such distances without “having” to, without a goal at the end. This year may prove a bit more difficult: not only did I have a baby two months ago and am perhaps not physically totally ready, but my energy levels are low from getting up once or twice a night. In addition, now that I’m in the ‘burbs, I no longer have the gorgeous esplanade along which to take four, six, or ten mile loops. Ellen and I will have to make a concerted effort to meet from our respective suburbs to train together.

Hopefully, all of these challenges will make completing the race that much sweeter. And, to be completely frank, hopefully my jeans will fit perfectly by then, as well.


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  1. Very inspirational. You’ll need to remind me of this when I’m on leave. I’m going to join a gym about a mile away post-baby that has a pool and see if I like swimming since I haven’t been able to get back into running in years (I always had an issue with my ahem cleavage while running – and it’s only gotten worse).

  2. How fun! Good for you. The Captain just talked me into running the Army Ten Miler – the week we get back from our honeymoon. I might tie a veil to my hat and scrawl “Runaway Bride” on my shirt.

  3. I run for my vanity, mostly. Whenever I do run, which is 3-5 days a week, I absolutely feel more sane. The moment I step on teh treadmill and can see the reflection of my huffing and puffing in the connected TV, I feel good. Great. I think “remember this feeling — healthy, sane, ready to face the world — tomorrow when you cant get out of bed.” THen tomorrow, when i cant get out of bed, I try to remember but its hard through the cloud of fatigue and the promise of 30 more minutes of sleep. But when I remember that I’m going to a yummy, but caloric dinner, this evening. That usually jolts me up and to the gym. So I guess when I head to the gym, I’m going for vanity, but the reason I sometimes love the gym is for my sanity. Or something.

    • No, this makes total sense! You do it for the vanity, and then when you are done you realize that you also did it for the sanity. I have to say, however, that the former is more likely to get me out of bed. Sadly. I’m going to try your “remember this feeling” technique!

  4. Popping in from Lindsey’s blog! I have to say, you have my admiration! It really took me a while to get “back in the exercise swing-of-things” after having a baby.

    And those celebrities who claim nursing, solely, is responsible for their weight loss? Liars! Liars, I say!

    By the way, have you seen the recent pictures of Gisele Bundchen? Skinny already. I hate her.

    • Thanks for the visit! All those pictures of Giselle (the constant bombardment, especially here in Boston!) are almost enough to make me wish the Patriots would trade Tom Brady…although I also seem to recall reading that she ate only salad while pregnant. Who would want to do that?!

  5. Can we say vanity and sanity? The nice thing is we can kill 2 important birds with one stone. I can relate to your post, I ran the NYC marathon after having my older son in march. There is no way I would’ve done that running so soon if not for him and seems you’re doing the same. The accountability of a training schedule gets most people out of the 30 min run rut. Kudos to you for signing up for the race, for validating vanity and inspiring us in the process.

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