Women of Adventure
Work, life, sport … you can balance it all
Professional stand-up paddle boarder Jenny Kalmbach has earned several sporting titles over the years. In December 2017, she earned her most esteemed title yet — mom. Here’s her advice on finding balance in life and sport.
With Jenny Kalmbach
What’s one aspect of motherhood that parenting books and advice from friends did not prepare you for?
I heard from a lot of friends that as a new mom you can’t find enough time in the day to get everything done, and now I see exactly what they mean. It’s all about shifting priorities and, of course, multitasking. I’ve also learned to let the little things go, so if you come over, my house might not be as tidy as it used to be.
What’s been the biggest challenge to you after becoming a mom — fitness or otherwise?
The biggest challenge has been making time for myself to work out. I love being with Dylan, so it’s easy to skip a workout to spend time with him, but I know it’s important for me to stay active, so I try to do something every day, even if it’s just a brisk walk with him.
How did your own childhood influence your approach to raising Dylan?
Growing up in Costa Rica was such an incredible experience. We grew up playing outside and spending the majority of our time in nature. I want Dylan to have a similar experience, so we make sure to take him out on walks and to the beach. I look forward to letting him roam around outdoors once he is old enough, and, of course, I can’t wait to take him surfing!
How are you preparing Dylan to love the water and be safe?
He’s our little water baby. We started giving him baths as soon as we were able, and I made sure to take him in the shower, too, so that he would get used to water being on his face. When he was 6 weeks old, we took him in the pool and dunked him under, and he was just so mellow. We are planning to start teaching him the infant swim self-rescue technique, because while we want him to enjoy the water as much as we do, safety is the priority.
Did you have to adjust your nutrition after becoming a breastfeeding mom?
My diet has stayed the same, but I’m more aware of eating often and not skipping meals. I aim to get enough protein and stay hydrated. I was worried about my milk supply, so I stocked up on food that is supposed to help: oats, leafy greens, almonds, etc. The first few weeks I was starving all the time, so I kept snacks close to where I would nurse him and made sure I had snacks with me when we were out and about.
Any nutritious snack or quick meal ideas you could share with new moms?
Oatmeal! I lived off of oatmeal the first few weeks, and I still have it every morning. It’s healthy and easy to make. I add raisins, nutmeg and a little maple syrup to sweeten it.
How soon were you back on the paddle board, on the bike or in the water after having Dylan?
It took me awhile to get back on my paddle board, but I started biking at 6 weeks postpartum. I wanted to make sure I gave my body enough time to heal and recover, so I didn’t want to go back too soon. I started with short walks and then incorporated important postpartum strength exercises. Swimming is also a great postpartum exercise, once the doctor clears you to go back in the water.
Can you give some examples of how you listened to cues from your body and adjusted your workouts after baby?
I’ve seen a lot of women jump right back into intense training programs and workouts and then deal with long-term injuries, so I wanted to make sure to listen to my body. If an exercise didn’t feel good, I stopped. I remember going for a short walk with my mom the first week after Dylan was born, and I kept having to stop to sit down, so I knew I needed more time resting and less time on my feet. Even 4 months after giving birth, I still modified my workouts. Instead of planks, I do an exercise called dead bug. I’m doing a lot of squats and other exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor, and I’m still doing pushups on my knees to avoid putting too much pressure on my core.
What’s going to be your comeback race for 2018?
At first, I was going to do an Olympic-distance triathlon at the end of March, but once Dylan was born, I realized that was way too soon. So now I have set my sights on the Pacific Paddle Games in October. The race is a shorter distance surf race, so I won’t have to put in such long hours. I can do shorter, more intense intervals and practice in the surf, which is even more fun.
What are you doing now to prepare for that race?
I’m just starting to build up my strength and endurance. I’m doing easy swims and bike rides and strength training 1 to 3 days a week. I will start into a structured training program in the next few months, but right now I just want to take my time and not rush into it.
What advice would you give to other women who want to try paddle boarding?
The best way to start is to get a lesson. There are a few key tips that really help beginners, like keeping your eyes on the horizon and not looking down at your board. It also helps to have the right equipment, so if you’re starting out, make sure to get the biggest board for stability. As far as attire goes, I say wear what you’re comfortable in, but make sure to be sun safe. Wear sunscreen and a hat.
If there’s one message you could share with new moms who are struggling to get back to their pre-baby level of fitness or sport, what would it be?
Don’t stress about it, and just enjoy being with your baby. They grow so fast, and they are only that little once, so make the most of it. It also takes 10 months to grow a human inside of you, so it’s OK if it takes a little bit of time to get back to where you were. I think the worst thing someone can do is jump back in too soon and risk an injury.