Breastfeeding Bonding, Finding Time for Fitness & How to Win “Hot (Sweaty) Mamas”

When Roy was three months old, I decided to go to New York for the annual ASJA writers’ conference to throw a book idea past a few agents. I booked a ticket that had me in the city for the minimum amount of time necessary to accomplish this and meet with a few of my editors—literally 24 hours. I stockpiled enough milk and also lugged my pump with me, to keep my production up.

You know what’s not fun? Pumping in a LaGuardia bathroom. Even less fun? Pumping in the hotel’s public bathroom. At least the airport bathroom was busy and loud and anonymous. This bathroom was silent. The wheeze of that damn pump bounced off the clean tile walls, creating an all too vivid picture as to exactly what was going on in my cramped little stall: Me sitting on the loo in ill-fitting work clothes; amid suitcase, computer bag and purse; shirt hiked up; pump balancing on knees; with clear-plastic funnels machine-milking both of my oversized post-pregnancy boobs. I know. Super sexy. But I was not staying at the hotel, so. Had to be done.

The undignified experience behind me, I was chatting with a colleague in the hotel hallway when a women I’d never met suddenly grabbed my arm and looked me in the eyes. “I recognize your shoes,” she said quietly. “Do you want my room key?”

I could’ve cried. That woman turned out to be Kara Thom, a fellow Minnesotan, fellow writer and fellow mom. I humbly accepted her offer, and we’ve since stayed in touch. (In fact, it’s a wonder we didn’t already know each other, as we run in the same writerly circles here in the Twin Cities.) How beyond sweet of her to seek out my blue peep-toe wedges and offer that much needed bit of comfort and privacy.

Given the way we met, it came as no surprise to me that Kara’s latest effort is all about helping fellow moms. It’s called Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom (Andrews McMeel, 2011), which she co-authored with another Minnesota writer, Laurie Kocanda. The book is all about finding time for fitness, whether you’re a new or longtime exerciser or mom. And it comes from the perfect place—from working women with multiple kids who manage, sometimes quite creatively, to make fitness a priority. These ladies truly do understand what we’re all up against. A brief taste:

Being fit before having children doesn’t necessarily give you the upper hand. Whether you were on bed rest, lifting no more than the remote control, or ran on the day you gave birth is irrelevant. Maybe someone else carried your baby. It doesn’t matter. Nine months come and go, but raising children takes eighteen years or more. Any mom who wants to get the sweat out of her system is left with the same dilemma: How do I get my workout in now?

Often, the perceived solution is based on preconceptions and misconceptions we acquired before having children. For instance: Work out when the baby naps. In a perfect world you would start that exercise DVD and turn on the baby monitor. In the imperfect world, where most of us live, ten minutes later the monitor is lighting up and you haven’t even hit your stride.

This book aims to help you break through such real-life obstacles in ways that benefit your whole family.

Interested? Buy the book, or enter to win your own copy of Hot (Sweaty) Mamas by commenting below by the end of the day next Friday, December 9th. Tell me why you could use it, or the most bizarre place you’ve ever pumped. Whatever you feel like sharing.

The fine print: Anonymous comments and those without a valid email address will be disqualified. The winner will be chosen at random, then contacted via email. If I don’t hear from a winner within five days, a new one will be chosen. Please enter/comment only once. Good luck!

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  1. by Eve

    On December 2, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    When I saw the title of your post on FB, I had to come read immediately. Even if I don’t win, I will buy this book. I still have not “found the time” to get back in shape. Between living in the country, farm chores, and EBF, I can’t seem to do it. Now that my kid eats solids I should have more time, right? This is the one thing that gets me down, almost everyday. I miss working out.

    Oh, and to make you feel better. I got really good at driving and pumping. I had to pump in a number of hospital bathrooms, as I visit almost every hospital in our state. After I was pumping in a bathroom that was under construction, which I didn’t know until the construction workers moved the ceiling tiles,I decided my car was better.

  2. by Kate Buckner

    On December 2, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    I am a Mother of two wonderful boy and have found it very hard to get back into shape. I was never much into excersizing, but am very interested in getting in running. My older son Aidan ran cross country this year in school and I would love to run with him. I want to be healthy and slim again, not only for me, but for my family.

    Thanks Berit for you story.

  3. by Melodee

    On December 2, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    I have a pretty good pumping story. I’m from Joplin, MO (the town that had the devestating tornado in May) and had my baby at the end of April. The day after the horrible tornado, we had another bad storm during which we lost our power as did my brother and sister in law who also had a newborn. So, we all had to stay with my in laws who still had power. There were 10 of us in one house with both myself and my sister in law pumping. It was a comedy of errors with both of us trying to find privacy to pump with all of those people including 2 other small children in one house. It was pretty stressful at the time, but we’re sure laughing about it now!

  4. by Allyson

    On December 3, 2011 at 8:41 am

    I am a soon-to-be first-time mom. I have wondered how a fitness routine can be included with all of the feedings, diaper changes, laundry, lack of sleep, and host of yet unknown newborn demands. I am definitely going to check this book out.

  5. by anti jen

    On December 4, 2011 at 9:53 am

    This gave me chills:

    “I recognize your shoes,” she said quietly. “Do you want my room key?”

    Love Kara, and this book does indeed rock! I own my own copy, in fact!

  6. by dk kassel

    On December 4, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    i loved breastfeeding but slowly began to loathe pumping over the 20 months. the pump, the cones, the noises, the baggies… the worst occasion that i can think of was during a catering job. there was a large wedding reception happening in the backyard, and all the bathrooms were in high demand. so on a sweaty summer day i had to sit in my car, on a public city street, pumping with a towel draped over my torso. egad.

  7. by Amanda

    On December 5, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    I just became a Mom of. And was an avid runner. I’m trying to muster up the energy and time to get back into running condition for a 15k race in March. I would love any and all advice one squeezing in workouts.

  8. by Brandee

    On December 5, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    I could SO use this book. I have PCOS and have been struggling with my weight for years. I busted my butt to lose 10 lbs and that was what finally allowed me to get pregnant. Then I was determined to be active my whole pregnancy but was put on bed rest around 20 weeks. Once my son (now 2 years old) was born I ended up staying home with him which did give me a little more time to work out but I recently went back to work and I feel like I have ZERO time now for workouts. Sure could use a few pointers. =)

  9. by Kara Thom

    On December 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Loved being part of your blog Berit, thank you! My pep talk for all you mamas and mamas-to-be: You ARE worth it. Be as good to your body as you are to your children!

  10. by Berit Thorkelson

    On December 6, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Yay, Kara! Thanks for chiming in. And for your general awesomeness. Loving all the stories & reasons & book interest.

  11. by Eve

    On December 7, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Great encouragement, Kara! I have a note on my laptop that says, “how much do you care about yourself?” I usually look at this and sigh, and then try to go for a run over my lunch hour. I used to use this time to go nurse my boy at his daycare. It’s been an appropriate replacement!

  12. by Naomi Hupton

    On December 7, 2011 at 10:00 am

    I NEED this book. 3 young kids, no time, and I’m about to turn 40. I must get in the best shape of my life to face that milestone head on! :)

  13. by Jessica

    On December 7, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Interested in the book’s tips. Currently do squats while brushing my teeth and we both have tummy time. that’s about it.

  14. by Jenna

    On December 7, 2011 at 11:44 am

    I was very much so into working out before I got pregnant, but through the crazy amount of both morning sickness and fatigue I lost my stride. Got in my groove for a few weeks, then was put on bedrest for two months before I gave birth. I too had a plan for getting my body back; we joined a gym that had a daycare, bought a jogging stroller and stocked up on DVDs now they are all collecting dust as I choose to spend time with my beautiful baby girl. But I realize too that its a fine balance between getting my body lback and being healthy for her,between making the time for myself and having enough time with my family. Ironically enough, I write this as im pumping at work. Oy, there just aren’t enough hours in the day!