February is the love month. But since many countries around the world are still battling the Covid-19 pandemic, couples may spend Valentine’s Day differently, like opting for online or stay-at-home dates.
The Baldozano-Hozjans, however, will celebrate it at home with fitness routines, like HIIT (High-intensity interval training), lifting weights, and core exercises.
“We will put the kids to bed early. We will dress up like we are going out for dinner. I will make a nice dinner for us. Afterwards, a relaxing massage and soaking in together,” Maharlika Baldozano laughs.
Starting them young
Maharlika, 28, a stay-at-home mom, and Canadian husband, Ignac Nick Hozjan, 59, a retired mortgage broker, and their two kids, Kayla, two-and-a-half years old, and 15-month-old Lukas, have spent much of their time at home in Toronto, Canada for over a year now because of the pandemic.
Keeping the kids busy is a challenge during the lockdown. Maharlika lets Kayla assist her in simple tasks like putting clothes in the washing machine and baking. They are also into DIY stuff like arts and crafts, and paintings.
The couple’s fitness regimen also keeps the kids busy and active. They set up a space for fitness and the kids’ play area. They turned their couch and set up a mattress on the floor as a trampoline for the kids.
“ You play the part of a trainer. The fun part is watching them doing exactly what you trained them to do. It’s the cutest thing of all,” Maharlika shares.
The couple is always alert because the kids can be very unpredictable and sometimes tinker with the exercise equipment.
“We allow the kids to stay on the floor for as long as they want. It’s a great way to expose the kids to fitness,” Nick says.
Journey to fitness
In her early 20s, Maharlika, with a 5’4 frame, was overweight and starting to feel unwell. Before it was too late, she started running, hiking, lifting weights, and eating healthier. She also began traveling to many parts of the Philippines. In 2016, she met Nick in one of those travels.
“When I met her, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that she too had an appreciation for fitness and we both believe that being fit is one of the pillars of personal wellness. When we became a couple soon after, personal fitness was an essential part of our shared time together,” Nick says.
They also had gym memberships in countries where they were staying at the moment.
Maharlika became pregnant soon after. Following her doctor’s advice, she worked out throughout her pregnancy. She had a normal delivery, but the first two weeks of recovery were tough due to lack of sleep. She also suffered from sciatica (back pain caused by a problem in the sciatic nerve).
To regain the strength following the pregnancy, she started doing light workouts. She did light cardio and Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. After eight weeks, she was back to her two-hour workout routine, three to four times a week. These include lifting light weights, running on a treadmill, cardio on the elliptical machine, and core exercises.
Maharlika says that she was fitter than ever. But less than a year, they also learned that she was pregnant with Lukas. On the 9th month of her pregnancy, her doctor advised her to eat more because the baby seemed to grow slower than normal.
“With pleasure, I took advantage of the doctor’s advice. I went to buffets twice a week and actually loving the food and overeating with little guilt. I started getting used to excessive eating, diet, and gained weight,” Maharlika laughs.
She gave birth to Lukas in November 2019. Four months after, she felt sluggish. She began indulging in sugary foods resulting in weight gain. Due to hormonal imbalance, she started having mood swings, nausea and irritability.
“I was emotional. Although I was active, I was not doing well with my diet. My sleeping pattern changed because I had to attend to Lukas. I was wondering what was going on, I assessed myself and told my husband what was happening to me. I knew there was something off,” Maharlika shares.
The pandemic and the lockdown contributed to Maharlika’s situation. It was Nick’s support that helped her towards recovery. Maharlika also learned the basics of nutrition.
“I listen to my body. After recovering from a traumatic hormonal imbalance, I try to wake up early and start my day with a 1-2 hour workout. I eat a whole-foods-based complete meal composed of 40 percent carbs, 35 percent protein, and 25 percent fat. Measuring how much carbs, protein, and fats I need daily is the most challenging part. I’m learning every day,” Maharlika explains.
Maharlika’s diet is well-balanced – green leafy vegetables, complex carbohydrates like brown rice, sweet potato and pumpkin, beans, nuts and avocados. Her sources of protein are fish, chicken and eggs, and sometimes protein supplements.
Maharlika says, “I am back to feeling like myself again. I have great energy and in a good mood on most days.”
Strong and happy Pinay moms
To encourage mothers to stay strong, in shape and happy, Maharlika created a Facebook Group called Strong and Happy Pinay Moms in August 2020. The group has 1,400 members and counting.
The group is described as “a safe place and a support group where mothers can freely express their thoughts and share tips in raising kids, being a wife, and the struggles and successes in mothering.”
“I am not a wannabe fitness mom influencer. I am a proud, confident stay-at-home mom who wants to share her journey and I hope to inspire, motivate and support other moms,” Maharlika explains.
The members also conduct Facebook live workouts to encourage each other to do the same despite the different time zones. Most of the members are based in the Philippines.
Don’t “forget” your bodies
Being a mother requires a lot of energy – from house work, taking care of the kids, or working outside the home. Maharlika says that most mothers think there is no need to look better again after giving birth to kids or because they are just staying at home. Others think they don’t have time to exercise because they are busy the whole day.
“We are raised to think to put others first and forget the importance of self-love. We can only take care of others if we start taking care of ourselves. When you are fit and healthy, life is easier when you have a family that relies on you,” Maharlika says.
Maharlika also advises women to check with their doctors on the kinds of exercises they could do to avoid any complications and injury.
On Valentine’s Day, Nick has this message to husbands and partners:
“You must get into shape. Get your wife into it. Staying fit and working out together is an essential activity that will keep you both plugged into each other. In other words, fitness keeps the love alive.”
He adds: “When you get into fitness, your body produces endorphins, the feel-good hormones, and when you feel good, and your wife feels good because you’re both working out and fit, good things happen. Life becomes even sweeter!”