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No more gym

Burnout is a huge problem among missionaries and intercultural workers. There are the big stressors, like medical or security issues, and then there’s the low level constant stress: not understanding the language or social interactions, not knowing how to get around or the best place to shop, etc.

A big part of our CMS training has been helping us to think about stress relief: developing an arsenal of coping mechanisms. There are the things I do to relax (watch DVDs, cooking, reading, etc.) and then there are the things I do to let off steam – aerobic classes. There’s nothing like pushing the body to clear the mind! But that might not work in Tanzania.

Apparently there is a gym in Dodoma, but it’s mainly just for weights and it’s not really appropriate for women to go. That’s OK: women can play sport and I’ve also got a stack of aerobic DVDs that I can do at home.

But even the best laid plans need to be flexible. I haven’t been to the gym in about a year. I was sick for almost 9 months. And now, I discover, sustaining another life with my own body is quite a bit of work and if I don’t rest, Elliot doesn’t eat! So the exertion of high impact aerobics or perhaps even team sport is out of the question, at least for the next few months. Despite hopes that I would return, I’m about to cancel my gym membership here.

I’ve heard other mums talk about this – that high level fitness just isn’t that achievable in their childbearing years. Even once that pesky relaxin gets out of their system and their risk of injury decreases, there may be less than a year before they fall pregnant again. But knowing that this is normal doesn’t change the fact that I need some outlet for stress, given the context that we’re going to. For now, walking with a 6.5kg baby will have to do.

What are your suggestions? How do you work off steam?

Categories: Tanzania Written by Tamie

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Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

4 replies

  1. Yes, it’s oh so true. But I think you’ve worked it out. Walking is probably the best way to do it, especially if you can pop bubs in a pram (if you choose to have one in Tanzania). If you find a team sports that you can join it could also be a goer. I went back to netball after 6 months and it was so good for my physical and mental health! It worked because he was sleeping through and I could just leave him at home with Greg and not worry too much about him needing me in the same way that he did during the day. I found the gym was a little more difficult because I was always trying to fit it in betweens Isaac’s sleeps, etc. Team sports was also great to get be back in with other women, especially ones with whom I just wanted to share life and Jesus.

  2. Are you carrying your little one when walking Tamie? Are you planning to babywear in Tanzania like the locals? What an opportunity to learn a good back carry that will go the distance… I’ve back-carried one of my twins a few times in a woven wrap, but lack the confidence to keep them on my back for any length of time when they are this young. Would be great to be surrounded by women who do it all the time to instil confidence and help one master the technique.

  3. Hey Michelle

    Yep, can’t really have a pram in Dodoma (the roads are too rough) so we haven’t got one here either. So far I’m just wearing him on the front as per the instructions of some of my Sudanese mothers in Melbourne. I’ll see what happens when I get to Tz!

  4. Yay for babywearing. I’ve only just been able to get back to exercise in the last couple of months. All I could handle for the first while was modified yoga. I didn’t expect that! Eventually, being active *with* Elliot might be another thing to do. I’ve noticed that mums of babies that are crawling/walking all of a sudden become very active. Even just the constant carrying, putting down and lifting of bubs. :-)
    I do use a pram, but I notice when I just wear Joey, I don’t schlep too much stuff around. Although it is harder now that there’s food to carry around!
    Too right about the breastfeeding, rest is completely essential! Much love to you all.

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