It’s a truth universally acknowledged that when a television show takes a turn for the worst (et tu Game of Thrones?); SCOTUS decides in favor of absconding our liberties one by one; and school is just around the corner, a girl must turn to three stress-relievers: exercise, ice cream, and a great book. Think it sounds silly? Think again. Research supports this, and you will too, if you give it a try.
Exercise, Even With Baby In Tow
Recently my endlessly curious editor Ben Domenech sent all the female writers at The Federalist a link to a story about moms who exercise with their strollers. “I didn’t know this was a thing,” he said. It is and you know why? Two words: Postpartum body. Sure, there are those women, like one of my best friends that I kinda hate (you know who you are!) who practically waltz out of the delivery room in a mini skirt and tube top lookin’ like it ain’t no thing. But for the rest of us who schlep to our minivans in three-sizes-too-big yoga pants and with faces that look like a giant marshmallow, we need a remedy. And we need it fast. Trust us concerned onlookers, we know we’re fat! We hate it too! And yes, we want to look like our old, slim selves again faster than you do.
While gyms provide adequate space for exercise and ample opportunities for chatting, many people can’t afford a membership of $100 or more per month, or they would rather not separate from their newborn babes. For this, I highly recommend taking a stroller class, where a mom can plop baby in a stroller, get her heart pumping for a good 30 minutes, then head home for nap time. It’s a great outdoor activity, perfect for spring, summer and even fall weather.
If you don’t care to exercise in a group setting — I confess as a closet introvert, it’s not really my jam — stick that kid in the stroller, shove those earbuds in, and head out for a jog. Runkeeper will track your mileage, your baby will enjoy the sunshine and the movement (my kids always fell asleep! Holla!), and you will burn extra calories from pushing that stroller. If you want to mix in some strength training to firm up those arms, pull over every quarter- or half-mile, put the brakes on the stroller, and do 30 sit ups and 15 push ups. (Here’s a specific guide.) By the time you’re done, your endorphins will be soaring, and the baby will need nap. Win! Do this three to five days a week and studies show you’ll sleep more restfully, have a better attitude, and fit back into those skinny jeans in no time. Win again!
But It’s Not All About Pain And Discipline
The best way to slim down again after having a baby, pending there are no complicated hormonal or medical issues to deal with, is to eat clean and get moving. In fact, experts say the ratio of eating well to exercise is 80/20. You know the saying, “You can’t out exercise a bad diet”? I have found this to be true both personally and amongst my friends. That said, an occasional splurge is fun, rewarding, and sometimes just darn well necessary.
While I no longer live by my great-grandfather’s adage, “Life is uncertain; eat dessert first,” I still wish I could, and sometimes I indulge. Because it’s rare, I make sure my treat is a real treat. None of this fat-free, sugar-free, processed, homogenized Cool Whip, pudding or Jell-O stuff. Ice cream, my friends, is where it’s at. With only a few weeks left of summer, there’s no time like the present. I exercise, many times, so I don’t feel bad about eating ice cream. Twisted? Maybe. Satisfying? Absolutely.
I’m a sucker for local ice cream spots that create great-tasting ice cream from real cream and whole ingredients. One of my favorites has key lime made with homemade graham cracker crust and real key limes. Nothing says summer like the cool, tangy taste of key lime ice cream, amirite? If I can’t get to a local spot or don’t feel like spending $20 on all my kids (sorry guys!), I keep one pint of something delicious on hand in the freezer. The very best store-bought brand in my opinion is Talenti. It’s sold at most supermarkets and — spoiler alert! — it’s not actually ice cream, but gelato. Gelato is Italy’s version of ice cream, and it’s made with more milk, less cream and eggs, or sometimes no eggs at all. It’s got a smooth velvety texture that makes you forget the pain of your earlier stroller run. Talenti comes in flavors like Sea Salt Caramel, Southern Butter Pecan, and my personal favorite — Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip. Need I say more?
At Day’s End, A Book Is A Good Friend
If you’re looking back on summer and cringing you didn’t get everything done on your summer fun list, pick up a book and kick your feet back at the pool one more time. You can squeeze out the last drops of saltwater and summer breeze with these quick water-themed reads that will challenge and enthrall, just in time before school starts.
Some of you are literary wonkettes: you won’t read a book unless it’s a bit of a challenge. To you, I raise my ice cream spoon and clink, “Book nerds unite!” Still, in the summer, I have a hard time getting to Anna Karenina, as fantastic as it is. But if you still want to read something that’s slightly ambitious yet short, To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf is great for the literary enthusiast. Known for it’s stream-of-consciousness observations rather than compelling plot, the book is set in Scotland and was one of the many works, which made Woolf renowned.
For a bit of an easier read, yet something that feels like summer, I recommend two novels: The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond and On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. The former was released a few years ago and can be categorized as a “literary thriller” about a young girl who goes missing on a San Francisco beach while under the watch of her soon-to-be stepmom. It’s fast-paced and tugs on a mother’s heartstrings, yet with a beachy vibe.
On Chesil Beach also came out a couple years ago and, as a novella, is quick to read, yet the subject is absorbing and covers the complexities of marital expectations. You can almost feel the sand between your toes of the beach in England in July where it’s set, and you’ll both squirm and be astounded at the embarrassing and profound issues one couple confronts in only 166 pages. It’s British author Ian McEwan at his finest (is he ever not?).
If you’re like us, the summer got off to a rocky start, what with television shows getting all uncomfortably raucous and SCOTUS disappointing us like a thunderstorm on the 4th of July. Yet I swear to you on my cleanly licked ice cream spoon, if you get your babies and get moving, indulge in something delicious sparingly, and engage your mind on an absorbing, beach read, you can say goodbye to summer with a smile on your face and fit into last year’s argyle sweater.