Sometimes you don’t discover that you love something and you’re good at it until a little later in life…like after you’ve had two children! Today on Fit Mama Friday, meet Lexy Streber, a fit mama who started running after her second child was a year old. Mama of two beautiful kids with her husband Jeff – daughter Vivian, 10 years old, and son Gordon, 5 years old – this awesome mother runner can now add marathoner to her list of achievements. I love Lexy’s passion for running and I love her story!
Lexy, thank you so much for being on Fit Mama Friday! I know you haven’t always been a runner, but have you always been fit? What was your fitness story like before you had children?
Well, I am honored to be considered a Fit Mama. I was out-of-shape throughout my teens and into my twenties and was always struggling with my diet and consistent exercise. I managed to keep myself at a healthy weight, but never felt good about myself and it’s still a daily struggle. I’ve been with my husband for 15 years and he has noticed that although my weight has fluctuated from 128 pounds (our wedding) to 200 pounds (9-months-pregnant with my son) and every weight in between, that I’ve never felt happy with my body and have consistently beaten myself up about the fact that I’m not good enough. SO, clearly my struggle has very little to do with the number on the scale. I’ve realized that weight-loss is the secondary benefit of staying active. My real issue is with anxiety and self-esteem. Taking the time to care for myself is nourishing and empowering.
I’m a big proponent of weight loss being a side effect of getting fit, strong and confident. Have you always felt that way – had negative feelings about your body, or low self esteem?
Growing up, I was never taught to value my appearance over my character, but I was always concerned that I was bigger than many other girls my age. And, truth be told, I was! But, it was simply a matter of body type. I still have to remind myself that I’m tall and I have hips – it’s just the way I’m built. Not until my daughter was born did I realize how much shame I felt about my body. I looked at her and knew she was perfect in every way. I loved her chubby little legs and chin rolls and sweet cheeks. Every ounce of her was (and still is!!) precious to me. And, the thought that she would EVER see me being hateful towards myself was heartbreaking. I knew she would grow up watching me and learning from me and she deserves a healthy role model. Becoming a mother forced me to truly question why I disliked my body so much. I remember a scale at the gym in college had a sign on it: “Scales are for fish; don’t weigh your self-esteem.” Powerful statement, but it has taken many years for me to be at peace with whatever number shows up.
It’s easy to know rationally that the scale means very little, but unfortunately it’s often tied in to fitness as if what we weigh is the most important parameter of health. Tell me about your pregnancies – were you active and working out?
I gained 60 pounds with each pregnancy. I was active (lots of walking) and tried to eat consciously (I didn’t eat buckets of ice cream believe it or not!) and I gained 60 pounds!! Both times! And, both kids weighed exactly the same (8lbs 13oz) and were born exactly a week before their dues dates. So I’ve come to terms with the fact that my body has a pregnancy formula 🙂 My doctors weren’t worried; my blood pressure and glucose levels were perfect. I had full-term, healthy pregnancies and natural deliveries. But, I still had to lose 40 pounds post-partum to get back to feeling comfortable. Our daughter was born New York City and we walked everywhere and luckily Viv was a great stroller sleeper. After many walks and lots of salads I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight by her first birthday. With my son it was harder. By the time he was a year I still had 20 pounds to lose. That’s when I started running.
Awesome! Tell me about how you got in to running – why did you start and how quickly did you realize it was something you loved to do?
Well, we live in a very active community. You literally can’t walk out of your front door without seeing a runner, cyclist or CrossFit group. I found a running group and signed up for my first half marathon. The day I joined the group I couldn’t even run a mile. I was really intimidated but determined to stick with the program. And not only because I wanted to lose weight. I was also having trouble with terrible, debilitating anxiety and my doctor told me that rigorous exercise would help. It was the best advice I’ve ever been given. Each week I got stronger and felt so much confidence and pure self-esteem. I was so proud of my body after each mile and often thought about natural childbirth during my grueling hill workouts! I reminded myself that body was strong. And, I was honestly giddy with happiness after each run. Those endorphins are REAL and helped tremendously with my anxiety.
That’s wonderful! What a great doctor to give you that advice and I’m so happy it helped you. And you’re a marathoner, too, is that right?
Yes! With support from my coach, team, family and literally just getting through one mile at a time, I slowly became a runner. When I crossed the finish line after my first half marathon my first thought was: “Yay!! I did it!!” My second thought was, “Next year I’m doing the entire 26.2!” And so I did. I had a goal of 5 hours and I finished in 5 hours, 4 minutes and 7 seconds (marathoners never forget their times!). I still think about that race with pride.
In the next year I hope to run another marathon. I turned 40 this year and I think it’s time to challenge myself again. I run three to four times a week now, but haven’t really trained for a race in over a year. I find it’s easier to train over the summer (with a less rigorous school/activity schedule for the kiddos), very early in the morning. I’m not a morning person but I will get up at 4:30am three times a week to get in my runs, and I never regret it. Programming the coffee maker the night before is key!
Even as a personal trainer, I am still blown away by you fit mamas who get up so incredibly early to get your workouts done! 4:30am I think is my Fit Mama Friday record for earliest workout, so huge kudos, Lexy! Do you do any strength training to complement your running?
Yes, I also get in at least two strength workouts a week in order to protect myself from injury. Yoga is my first choice. The stretching and strength work combined helps me as I tend to get really tight in the hip flexor and IT band area. I also have to work on my core to protect my knees. I’ve learned so much about my body on this journey! I didn’t even know I had a psoas muscle or an IT band until I started running!
That makes me happy! I love a runner who strength trains! What about nutrition? Has that changed for you since you got serious about running and training?
Definitely. I went to see a nutritionist a few years ago and she helped me to understand “conscious eating.” Her approach is completely holistic which makes so much sense to me. I’ve known about the importance of organic foods and toxins since I went away to college, since a few of my friends worked at Whole Foods 🙂 But, I didn’t understand that EVERY body needs something different to achieve optimum health. Some people need meat, others don’t. Some people can tolerate gluten, others can’t. For me, luckily, I only have sensitivities that are easily managed. As soon as I limited dairy, gluten and sugar and increased vegetable consumption my body was so much happier! I sleep better, I run faster, I don’t have the same bloating issues, etc. It’s been a huge change in my life and ultimately has allowed me to feel like I am truly caring for myself. I don’t feel like I am depriving myself at all. I am consciously choosing foods that will feed my body and make me feel strong. As mothers we do this for our children, and I am glad I figured out (finally) how to care for myself.
Yes, that’s such an important point – we take so much time and care to make sure our kids are eating the right way, so it’s great to be able to take that same care and focus on our own needs, too. How has your family reacted to your fit lifestyle – are they supportive of their fit mama?
My family is very supportive and all three of them are always out on the course cheering me on! My husband is an avid cyclist, so we each have a weekend morning that we dedicate to ourselves. My son loves every sport under the sun and my daughter loves to swim and ride her bike on the Austin trails with Dad 🙂 I intend to keep this family active as it brings us so much happiness!
Congratulations on your marathon, Lexy and I look forward to hearing about more of your running achievements! Thanks again for being on Fit Mama Friday this week!
Fit Mama Friday – Fit Dad FridayEvery Friday on Fine Fit Day I feature a Fit Mama or a Fit Dad story of how and why a fit and healthy mama or dad ensures fitness is a priority in her or his life. You’ll read about all kinds of parents and their fitness stories. Some are stay-at-home parents, some are single parents, some juggle more than one job on top of parenthood, but they are all committed to a fit and healthy lifestyle. As you’re getting ready for your weekend, I hope you’re inspired to be active after reading about these kick-ass mamas and dads on Fit Mama Friday – Fit Dad Friday! Do you want to be featured on Fit Mama Friday? Or do you know someone you’d like to see featured? Please contact me for details!