9 Kids. . . Charlie, Mary Kate, Thomas, Peter, Annie, Grace, John, C.C. and Sam. I’m Whitney Hetzel – their Mom. Over the 23 years that I’ve been having babies, chasing toddlers, stressing about teenagers, missing my college students and now worrying about my kids who are out of college and on to jobs (one flying jets at Oceana Naval Air Station in VA), several things have always remained constants in my life: my faith, my family and health and fitness.
Like all moms, I’m busy. A wife, mother, homeschooler, and writer… my life can be stressful. It moves fast. It is filled with much joy, and many challenges, as well. I love my kids. I love my husband. I love my life. To live my life to its fullest – as a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter and a friend – I have to keep two things front and center: I have to keep focused on my faith and I have to keep physically fit. I have to pray. I have to exercise regularly. I have to get enough rest. I have to eat right. I have to know when to push hard and when to back off. I have to practice moderation and balance. When I get these things right, everything seems to run a little more smoothly. I have more patience and a better outlook on things. When I don’t…well, it isn’t pretty. I try to get these things right…but it doesn’t always happen.
Since 9 Kid Fitness is about how to stay fit as a busy mom, I’ll tell you a bit about my fitness background. I’ve always enjoyed working out. Over the years, how I exercise has evolved, but fitness has always been a part of my life. I grew up in Hinsdale, Illinois. I have two sisters, Elizabeth and Susan (my twin). Growing up, Susan and I swam, played tennis and ran. I ran through my college years to stay fit. During my twenties I got more serious about running. At times I over did things. I got injured. I learned about backing off. I ran before, during and after pregnancies. I did some cycling and competed in a few triathlons. In my thirties I started mixing in more strength training. I kept running before, during and after my pregnancies. I still over did things once and awhile, but less than I did during my twenties. I ran a couple of marathons. Didn’t break any records but was happy with solid efforts (3:21 PR).
As I entered my forties I ran smarter. I still ran before, during and after my last pregnancy at the age of 42. But, running has evolved from my primary form of exercise to my primary form of social exercise. I run with friends. I run with my husband, James. I run with my kids. We bought two dogs after I was bit while running. The point was to run with them. It never really amounted to much running though, so I don’t run with my dogs. I now do more strength training. I started taking barre classes. I eat better (well, sometimes). I stretch (a little) and I’m trying to work on my posture and on my balance.
I’ve learned a lot over the years. I’ve learned about what works and what doesn’t work. I’ve learned about the things that everyone talks about – cardio, strength, flexibility. I’ve also learned about the things that no one wants to talk about – such as pelvic floor issues like incontinence (the dirty little secret of the mommy world). I’m not an exercise physiologist. I’m not a physical therapist. I’m not even a certified personal trainer. What I am is a mother of 9 kids who has figured out how to make fitness a priority in what is an incredibly busy life. Through all the craziness, fitness has been my friend, my ally and my secret weapon. I continue to make it a priority. I have to. And I love it.
I want to learn from you. I hope 9 Kid Fitness can develop into a community of people encouraging each other to reach higher levels of fitness. I hope that we can become healthier and happier together.
Let’s begin the journey. Remember, if I can do it, you can do it.