A Few Good Moms: Can you handle the truth about training for the Ironmom?

The opportunities to sculpt and strengthen are endless when you have children.
The opportunities to sculpt and strengthen are endless when you have children. Getty Images/iStockphoto

The mom wipes the sweat from her brow and then squats to lift the toddler to her hip. She begins to walk quickly through the parking lot, dodging cars and grocery carts and other obstacles like a contestant on American Ninja Warrior.

You want the truth about the physical side of motherhood? I think you can handle it.

Most moms recognize that parenthood has a substantial physical component. Your body changes with pregnancy. Giving birth is the most remarkable physical feat many of us will ever experience.

Unsurprisingly, caring for infants and chasing after young children requires a certain amount of stamina. But even knowing all of this, you still may be startled by the physical demands of this job. Every day can feel like a series of endurance challenges.

It starts with newborns. Truly, there is nothing sweeter than a sleeping baby nestled on your chest. You know what isn’t as sweet? Trucking around with a diaper bag so weighted down with stuff it looks like you are running away from home.

You want to feel the burn of some intense circuit training? Pack the car to go on a vacation with a baby. After breaking down, hauling, and lifting your pack-n-play, jogging stroller, and baby swing into the car you’ll feel like you just did nine rounds in the ring. Amazingly, the smaller a kid is, the bigger his stuff – tiny babies yield the most massive workouts.

Of course, when discussing baby workouts I would be remiss if I didn’t give a nod to the bicep curl machine/car seat that accompanies every excursion with an infant, from the grocery store, to restaurants, to sibling pick-ups at the preschool. After a few months you hardly notice that extra twenty pounds hanging out in the crook of your arm.

And speaking of car seats, ever try to buckle someone into one who does not want to go in?

Bent in half in the backseat into positions that rival the most strenuous yoga workouts, you find yourself bottoms up in some wayward dog pose. Your hands frantically fly to finish buckling before your kid busts out and makes a break for freedom.

In the event of an escape you get to stretch your sprinting muscles . . . Usain Bolt has nothing on the mom racing to intercept a child darting towards a busy street.

Wrestling with a squirmy baby on the changing table, maneuvering someone in and out of the high chair, splashing around the pre-bedtime bath, squatting and lifting and jumping and reaching . . . the opportunities to sculpt and strengthen are endless when you have children.

People often say that having kids keeps you young, but I don’t think that translates into a physical fountain of youth.

Most parents I know are pretty worn out a lot of the time. What I think that statement really means is that being a parent keeps you young at heart. Which is a pretty cool thing, as it turns out.

Even though the physical demands of parenting may be challenging, all of that hard work underscores the dedication and affection parents feel for their kids.

And when it comes to being in the best shape in your life, the truth is, exercising the heart muscle is the most effective work out there – because nothing in the world is stronger than a mother’s love.

Want to get a better handle on the physical side of motherhood? Step it up a notch with these mother/baby workouts from The Charlotte Observer, go the opposite direction straight to the spa with some luxurious recommendations for moms from USA Today, and check out the physical side to mothering a teen with this scene from The Middle.