I’m not ashamed to admit that my twentieth high school reunion is around the corner. Old friends have been coming out of the woodworks for months now—an email here, a text there—exchanging updates and plans about the big weekend. Hard to believe how much has happened since we were just turning eighteen and on the brink of so many life changing adventures. Who did we think we would become all those years ago? Who have we grown into today? There’s a lot of suspense—more so than when I attended our tenth.
So I was struck recently when I heard from a woman my age who was also planning to step back into her past. And Wendy Brady wanted to make an entrance.
“I want to hear my classmates whisper, there’s no way she has four kids,” she told The Well Mom.
Thanks to hard work, that was the reaction she got when she bumped into old boyfriends and childhood buddies this past July at the big event in Ft. Lauderdale.
“My best friend and I had been talking about this reunion for months now—what to wear, getting in shape, who’s going, who’s going to look good. It’s totally childish, but it’s kind of fun. And it definitely kept me focused when I felt like getting off the treadmill early,” Brady says.
The Tampa mother of four children ages, fifteen, thirteen, eleven, and nine, was always active as a kid. But it wasn’t until she became a mom, that she got serious about fitness. Today, she’s ten pounds lighter than she was two decades ago. This after putting on sixty pounds while she was pregnant with her first child.
“I’ve gone through fitness phases … from jogging and aerobics classes, to more involved fitness like training for triathlons,” explains the advertising exec who also recently launched Haute Lunch, LLC, a chic line of lunch tote bags.
Even through the phases of staying at home, then working full-time and now starting her own business, thirty-eight-year-old Brady has made time for exercise. It wasn’t easy to get back into shape after each pregnancy.
“The first time I went out for a jog after my fourth child was born, I recall being so disappointed in myself because I could barely jog for a 1/4 mile,” she says. “As I walked back home, I made a goal that the next day I would try again … but go really, really slow so I could make 1/4 mile without stopping. I ran really slow—but I made it to my 1/4 mile mark and walked backed home feeling great because I had accomplished what I set out to do.”
These days, you’ll find her working up a sweat during lunch hour at the YMCA next to her office. Five days a week, she runs 2.5 miles on the treadmill then speeds through a circuit of weights, abdominal exercises, lunges, and push-ups.
“I try to show my kids that exercise is an excellent daily habit, as important as brushing your teeth. It’s just part of my regular routine. They’re proud that I can run pretty fast, I can chase them down at second base in a game of wiffle ball, or do cart-wheels with them across the yard. I love being able to kid-stuff with my kids—it’s priceless and it’s what staying in shape is really all about,” she says.
Sensible eating throughout the day is also a priority for this busy mom.
“My theory about food selection is if you need a degree in chemistry to understand the ingredients, it’s probably not good for you. So I generally avoid diet drinks, fast food, frozen entrees—any kind of overly processed foods,” she told me.
Brady starts her day with steel-cut oatmeal with milk and a cup of green tea, then a piece of fruit mid-morning. After she hits the gym, she has a sandwich on whole grain bread and a late afternoon snack of fruit and crackers. Dinner is generally some form of sautéed chicken, a green vegetable, and a starch (noodles, red potatoes, or rice).
While she did ramp up her workouts in preparation for the reunion and got motivated by a shopping trip for a new bikini to wear on the trip back to her hometown, she says it’s been consistency and realistic goal-setting that have kept her slim all these years.
Her advice to fellow moms struggling with extra pounds:
“Set small goals for yourself that are attainable—and before you know it, you’ll have gone farther than you ever imagined,” she says.
Photo courtesy of The Well Mom