Mothers Wisdom - Carly

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Birth & Body Image

It may sound really cliché but being pregnant and going through labor and now nursing has helped me to love my body more than I ever have. Not only for the obvious reason that I grew a human but I learned to trust in what my body can do. I look back at my pre-pregnancy years and see how hard I was on myself and now realize that I was probably hurting my body more than helping.

I spent years exercising really hard and depriving myself. At the time I thought that what I was doing was being very healthy and fit. In reality, it was probably excessive on the exercising side and lacking on the nutrition side. And even though I was working so hard at being in shape and healthy I still had major body image issues. I had a muscular, athletic build and would look at photos of tiny, skinny girls in bikinis and wish I looked like them. No matter how hard I worked to get that look it was never enough for me. Funny thing is when I look back at photos I think, “Wow, I looked great!” Why could I not see and feel that it in the present moment?

During my pregnancy I was hungry all the time, really hungry. At first it was such a strange concept to eat as much as I needed to while growing our little bean. I had a huge craving for carbs and sugar which are two things I typically do not eat a lot of. I really had no choice at times but to give into the cravings. I still would eat nutritious, healthy meals but would not beat myself up if I gave into a craving now and then. I allowed my rigid views on healthy eating to soften a little and although I did not go overboard on junk food I was able to enjoy eating more. Now that I’m nursing I’m even hungrier than I was during pregnancy and I can’t seem to stuff enough food in my face. It’s a balance between getting enough greens, protein and nutrients in my diet and eating enough calories a day necessary to keep me sustained and my milk supply flowing. Bottom line is that I completely understand and promote the importance of healthy, clean eating and at the same time I want to enjoy food and approach my diet with a gentler mindset. Balance.

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As a result of this kind, loving approach towards my body I feel more feminine than I ever have. This softer, maternal side has changed how I approach exercise and my mindset around it. I used to be very competitive and feel quite masculine while engaging in cross-fit, running, mountain biking, snowboarding and lifting. I would tell my husband all the time, “I just want to do what the boys are doing.” I worked so hard to get good at those sports so I could hang with the boys and now after taking some time away from these activities and birthing the sweetest baby girl I have lost my competitive edge. And I am actually ok with it. Lately, I’ve really been enjoying paddle boarding, walking and yoga.

I still have a love affair with mountain biking, I just haven’t built my stamina back up yet. And some things are still shifting and getting back into place down below. The first few months after giving birth I worked with a Pilates instructor to strengthen my pelvic floor. I learned that I have been holding my body wrong for decades and it has resulted in back pain and other problems. When I started strengthening my core properly all of my pain went away. I thought for sure that being pregnant and gaining 28 lbs. would give me lots of lifelong pain and issues and yet it has brought about the most healing and transformation in my body.

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I’m now happy with a leaner frame and some sexy, feminine curves. I plan to maintain this body with large portions of nutritious, delicious food and exercise through activities that allow me to connect to my body while letting my mind go. I’m not insinuating that every woman needs to have a baby to learn to love their body. For me, that was the catalyst that finally broke the vicious cycle of negative body image and intense discipline around food. I do suggest that you find a way to love your body and stop beating it up to accomplish unhealthy goals. Trust in your body and know that it’s perfect just the way it is and that it will enable you to be strong, sexy and feminine if you treat it right.

Written by Carly Moore

Meet Nikki

Photographed by Colin Meagher

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Nikki races in the pro category for Enduro racing. Though she does not race full time, she gets to experience racing and riding with some of the fastest and most talented women racers in this country.

She started racing only four years ago after both her kids were old enough to afford her time to get back in shape and train. She found support and motivation through a local all women's racing team called the Dirty Harlots.  Her first year racing she went all out and signed up for a bunch of races and even did the iconic Downieville Classic All Mountain race.  

Currently she is racing about six enduro's a year, typically April through September. Last year she also started cross-racing in the fall and participated in an eighty mile gravel race in northern California.  She tries to pick races that take her to new places so that not only does she get to race, but she gets to explore a new area on two wheels. 

This summer she raced a 6-day race across southern France called the Trans Provence. They were on our bikes for 7-10 hours a day as they traversed the maritime alps and raced some of the hardest trails she had ever ridden.

What do you do for a living?

I am a Health Inspector for Klickitat/Skamania County. I inspect small public water systems, site development for septic systems, schools and food establishments. 

How has life changed for you since becoming a mother?

In order to accomplish things, I have to have to be very organized, and have a good routine. If I don't plan for the week ahead, food, schedule, activities, etc... it can be stressful on the entire family and we end up eating poorly and watching too many movies. Winging it just doesn't work when you are working full time, raising kids and trying to train to race bikes. It is amazing how after you have kids you realize how precious time is and how much freedom you had before you took the plunge to motherhood.

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Describe your parenting style.

Laid back. I am not into over-scheduling my kids. I think childhood is a time for them to be bored and to spend time doing the things they want to do, not the things I want them to be good at.  I try not to read too many parenting advice columns or blogs and just focus on being present when I am around them and emotionally supportive. They do drive me crazy often, and during those times I am thankful we live in a community where there is lots of great beer.

What is your favorite thing to do to relax with your family in the gorge?

We love to ride our bikes in Post Canyon and up on the 44 Road trails, to play in the river in the summer, and to go on mushroom hunting and berry picking adventures in the forest. We also like to get donuts at Kickstand on a lazy weekend morning.  

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What’s the best advice about motherhood that you have received? 

I know this is controversial because everything motherhood is nowadays, but the best advice I received was teach your kids to sleep. I' m not saying CIO or any particular method, just plain and simple sleep routines. Havingkids that will sleep anywhere has allowed us to travel, sleep just about anywhere and the kids and I maintain a healthy lifestyle that involves getting up early and including exercise in our daily routine. 

Do you have sponsors?

Racing bikes is expensive and I am thankful that I have support from the industry. I am an ambassador for Pivot Cycles and Thomson Bike Products. I also have a bunch of other sponsorship deals I get as a member of the Dirty Harlots race team. Lastly,  my partnerworks in the industry as a photographer so we spend a lot of time doing photo work in exchange for products.  

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What’s your experience raising a family in the gorge been like?

Fantastic! I couldn't ask for a better community. There is nowhere else I would rather be. 

When you are low on time what are some of your go-to family dinner options?

BBQ chicken, rice and veggies,  chili and cornbread, tacos at the Taqueria, or breakfast for dinner.