Staying Fit As a New Parent
Charlotte Parent|April 2020
It’s not impossible
By Ely Portillo

Somewhere between the 3 a.m. wakeups, endless diaper changes, and first-time parent anxiety about whether the baby was burping right, I remembered that I was supposed to be working out.

Your days are now dominated by the not-so-simple task of trying to keep a small and often insane-seeming human alive.

It’s easy to lose yourself in parenting and all of its associated worries. You’re tired. Money flies out of your bank account at an alarming rate. Your days are now dominated by the not-so-simple task of trying to keep a small and often insane-seeming human alive. And if you’re like too many of us, you have to be back at work long before you’re ready.

But somehow, within the tornado that parenting feels like, you have to carve out enough space to keep yourself from being crushed. And for me, that involves keeping up a physical fitness routine, however harried it might be.

Let’s back up a bit: I’m not a fitness buff or serious (or non-serious, really) athlete, by any means. You won’t find me in a Crossfit box flipping tires, and the last organized sport I played definitely involved a tee (we’re not talking golf ).

For most of my youth, I would probably have defined my most athletic activity as “walking to the library to get more books.”

That started to change in college. Lifting weights helped me put on about 25 pounds, and I discovered I actually enjoy sweating. After school, I moved to Charlotte, and a new world opened up to me: Hiking and backpacking. I moved from Crowders Mountain to Mount Mitchell to the Appalachian Trail, packing more and more miles under my belt as I ticked off amazing hikes. I got into climbing at Inner Peaks (not a terribly original hobby in the post-Free Solo world, I know), and discovered I wasn’t bad at that, either.

I went on six overnight backpacking trips in the year before our son, Jacob, was born, several of them solo. Being able to hike 20 miles in a day with a full pack, set up camp, find water, and sleep alone in the woods was a source of secret pride for me.

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