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  • I Trained for My First Obstacle Course Race to Help Overcome My Postpartum Depression

    A mom shares how she managed to train for an obstacle course racing and motherhood.
    by Patty de Belen .
I Trained for My First Obstacle Course Race to Help Overcome My Postpartum Depression
PHOTO BY courtesy of Patty de Belen
  • Before I became pregnant, I was going to the gym four to five times a week so that I can surf with my partner during the weekends. Having polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), it was the ultimate surprise (but the greatest blessing) when I found out I was pregnant. I was in my early 30s, and this was my first pregnancy. My ob-gyn required I take it easy on the exercise.

    It took me a while to get back in shape. After giving birth via Caesarian delivery, I suffered from postpartum depression. But I survived it, and it was actually my psychiatrist who suggested that I start working out again as part of my therapy. I decided to train for one of the most challenging types of racing: obstacle course racing.

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    How to manage training for obstacle course racing and motherhood

    My biggest concern was how to manage training and mommyhood because obstacle course racing takes a lot of time and effort to qualify. I tried my luck looking for a suitable nanny (I went through 10!), but no one lasted long enough. While I had my own loyal yaya whom I consider my son’s grandma to help out, it was tough for her to take care of a hyperactive little boy. But I managed with the right support and careful planning. Here are some essential tips I learned along the way.

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    1. It’s all in the mind

    This was the first advice from my coach, Geru Astorias, a certified Fitness and Spartan GX instructor from Fitness First Platinum Alabang. He stressed that your body will follow whatever your mind says. It became my mantra since then, and I also apply it in other aspects of my life beyond training.

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    2. I stuck to my training plan and made my child my motivation.

    You need a plan when you don’t have enough time and effort. Coach Geru increased my endurance and taught me techniques, but he would also use my son to get me going.

    When I’m about to give up on specific exercises, he would ask me to imagine my son’s face waiting at the finish line with a beaming smile and pride on his face. The thought made training so much worthwhile.

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    3. Having a routine for your child makes time management easier.

    At the time I was training, my son was going through one as well for his sleep. I was grateful for the chance to sleep train him with the help of Babes of Bliss’ Gabrielle Weil when he was 7 months old. The sleep training helped my son sleep in his own room, and I used it as an opportunity as my uninterrupted training time. I’m not against co-sleeping but teaching my child how to sleep independently helped me manage my schedule as well.

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    4. Proper nutrition during training helps not just you but your child as well.

    The hardest hurdle during training season was going on a specific diet. I obtained a meal plan from Coach Gib Osbert Ang of OzCustomizedTraining since I was quite over my ideal body weight. We started with a low-carbohydrate diet and shifted to his customized, healthy ketogenic plan. His meal plan made me lose 12 pounds in a month and just before race day!

    I used to prepare food for my son with whatever was in the fridge until I discovered my son will emulate my eating habits. He likes to try the food I eat when we eat together. Now it’s not hard for me to have him eat vegetables and fish since I started following my meal plan.

    5. Don’t feel guilty for spending time away from your child — training is your “me” time!

    Some of the fellow moms of toddlers I’ve talked to who wanted to try a fitness regimen said they eventually shied away because of how much time it took. I used to think that too until my best friend told me a piece of insightful advice: making yourself better makes you a happier person, so happy mom=happy child.

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    Training has helped me get out of my comfort zone and meet new friends. I go home happy, and my son can sense that.

    6. Let Daddy have their quality time together.

    Since I spend most Saturday’s training, my partner can take care of my son since he has his weekends off. Not only do I get my time off from being a mom six days a week, but they also get to bond even if mom isn’t around.

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    While my son is indeed a “mommy’s boy” through and through, I noticed that having their time alone together has strengthened their relationship. It also taught my partner to grow as a dad — he became a more nurturing parent out of it.

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    7. Incorporate workouts with your child.

    Being a mom is already a strenuous job that requires a lot of physical abilities. A great bonus from training is the strength I get from chasing my hyperactive son and carrying him for long periods without my back aching.

    Training doesn’t need to be limited to the gym. I take my son with me to run in the afternoon around the park whenever the weather permits, and it’s useful for him since he gets to explore. For his first run, it took us an hour just to finish 750 meters, but now he can run the same course in 14 minutes! I’ll be the happiest mom if we could race together in the future.

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    Training for obstacle course racing didn’t just have physical benefits, but it also empowered to be healthy and independent. It ’doesn’t have to be a “fitness program.” Take a dance class, but make it a part of your lifestyle. It will help your child embody the same lifestyle in the future.

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    Patty de Belen is a mom to 2-year old Justin while managing a boutique social media advertising company, with her partner Jeff. She is training to get her Spartan Trifecta medal in 2020.

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