By Dorothy Bliskey
At 32, Jenny Smedema of Randolph is a busy mom with three little ones – daughter Stella is 4, Sam is 2, and baby Scarlet is just 6 months old. In spite of what can sometimes be a bustling household, Jenny finds time to exercise daily. In fact, with her last baby she exercised throughout the pregnancy.
The kids keep her hopping, literally. “Sometimes they want to exercise with me,” Jenny said, noting she also works out at a local fitness center and goes for runs when at home. “I exercise six days a week,” she said.
In addition to caring for her three little tykes and working 20 hours a week as a social worker, Jenny carves out time to go to the gym. Her fitness routine takes place mostly when her husband John is home to watch the kids during early morning hours or evenings.
Jenny’s exercise regime takes her to A & B Fitness Concepts in Randolph four days each week. On Monday she spends 45 minutes in a toning, tightening and strengthening class. Tuesdays she burns “extreme” calories in a 30-minute fast and fun “Fat Burn Boot Camp” workout. On Wednesdays she spends 45 minutes in a group cycling (“Spin”) class. Fridays finds Jenny in another “Boot Camp” workout for 45 minutes. On Thursdays and Saturdays she is at home, but hits the pavement for a 20-30 minute run.
“Sundays I take a break,” Jenny said, noting she also enjoys going on family bike rides and walks. “With the cold winter weather, I often skip the outdoor runs and instead get on the treadmill, elliptical, or rowing machine at the fitness center.”
Sometimes Jenny will opt to exercise with her little ones in the comfort of home. “I love hearing my four-year-old say to me, ‘Mom, can we exercise together?’ It makes me feel like I’m doing my job — teaching her how to be a healthy individual. I hope it continues throughout her lifetime. Plus, I’m spending time with her,” Jenny said. “We do jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups and have dance parties where we just turn on music and dance, dance, dance!”
Jenny wasn’t always into fitness. Her attempts were sporadic.
“I would go for a walk — maybe once or twice a week,” she said. “I’d exercise, then stop for some reason. I never liked to exercise or participate in sports in school.”
Although she says she was skinny in high school at a height of 5’10” and a weight of 135, things changed. Twice she has hovered close to 200 pounds. “I got near that weight in college and again after I had my first child,” she said. Now she maintains a healthy weight of 159 and feels fit.
Jenny gained 40 to 50 pounds with each pregnancy but managed to get the weight off with her newly evolving exercise routine – one she began gradually after the birth of her first child in 2009. “I started walking outdoors and using an elliptical machine in the basement. After having my second child two years later, I started running regularly.”
To add more punch to her home-based workouts and to kick off the New Year two years ago, Jenny joined a group exercise class. “My friend Amber began teaching an exercise strengthening class at our church,” Jenny said. “That’s when I started noticing changes to my body. I was losing inches and went down clothes sizes.”
Six months later she was pregnant with her third child.
While she took it a bit easier, she exercised routinely throughout her third pregnancy.
“I felt healthier and better during this last pregnancy,” Jenny said. “The delivery was easier too.”
Eating habits and food choices improved as Jenny acquired a new taste for fitness.
Although pizza and ice cream in moderation are treats the family likes once in a while, Jenny concentrates on providing healthy, whole grain, organic foods, smaller portions and wiser food choices. Her husband John and the kids enjoy the meals she prepares.
“One of my favorites is Jenny’s lasagna with turkey meat,” John said, admitting he likes some things she wouldn’t think of consuming such as cheeseburgers and bacon. But he is proud of his wife and knows the entire family is eating better. “The house is stocked with healthy food so I find myself eating healthier — even when I’m not trying to,” John said. “We don’t have as much red meat as we used to. Now we eat more chicken, turkey and fish. She won’t buy junk food.”
Taking time out of the day to exercise is important – no matter how busy you are – is Jenny’s philosophy. “Scratch the idea that your weight or clothing size should be a certain number” is another piece of advice Jenny has for others.
“It’s not about the number,” she says. “I weigh 159, but at 5’ 10” that is a good weight. It’s not really about how many pounds you weigh – it’s about getting more fit and eating healthier.”
“I’ve heard so many mothers say they just don’t have time to exercise because they feel bad leaving their kids. But it’s okay to take time for yourself,” Jenny concludes. “It can help you deal with stress, it will give you more energy – and it will make you a better parent.”
“I am proud of Jenny in so many ways,” John said. “She’s setting an extremely good example for the kids and me.”