By: Women’s Fitness Philippines

Here is a single mom who, despite her hustling schedule and difficult times, continues to stand for herself and her child. A beautiful story about motherhood, fitness, and life in between.

When people say moms are superheroes, they’re technically correct. Between managing the household, keeping a career, and on top of that staying fit; what else can they not do?

One of these supermoms is Patty de Belen. Professionally, Patty used to work in public relations and licensing agencies in California and New York; she came back home to the Philippines for family. Currently, she is a Managing Director for a public utility bus company that provides transportation services in Metro Manila – a family business where she spent days growing up. Her family has been in this industry for 40 years and as the business grew, her skills and experience also multiplied. She now monitors overall operations and resources, sets strategic decisions, and organizes suppliers for the company.

Her family also took part in her love for sports. She and her mom would swim in the open water almost every weekend during her childhood. She enjoyed being in the water which led to her being on the swim team during her elementary days and joining the scuba club in high school. She also found a love for water board sports and goes regularly to the gym for strength and conditioning. She was a hobbyist paddleboarder and surfer and went every weekend to surf in spots in the Philippines until she got pregnant with her first-born son, Justin.

Having previously been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome—a condition that can be attributed to infertility—and being in her early thirties, finding out that she was already 6 weeks pregnant was a huge surprise. Given the circumstances, her OB-GYN recommended she stop surfing, halt weekend trips, and minimized workouts.

“Even with the surprise pregnancy, being a mother aligned my goals and made me strive to be better in everything I do.”

On Fear and Compassion

Some of the uncommon changes her pregnancy brought have been her mood and emotions. She thought being a mom in her 30’s will be more manageable until pressure hits her; she has been diagnosed with postpartum depression.

During the first few months after Justin was born, she was putting herself under a lot of pressure. She is unknowingly turning miserable inside out: wanting to do everything by herself, unhealthy comparisons to other moms especially her own, prolonging breastfeed because others can do it for years, not going out of the house for months, and wanting to address each of her newborn’s concern as she perceived it to be her sole responsibility as a mom.

She lost so much weight that was unhealthy for her build because of breastfeeding and pumping alongside crying multiple times a day for feeling like a total failure. We can only imagine how tough those times are for her. Just like what most of us will do in unusual situations we turn to what’s familiar.

I sought advice from a person who I thought I can trust but that person told me that going to a shrink is admitting that I’m “crazy.” That highly demotivated me from it. However, months passed and I finally considered that option – whether or not I have the approval of others.

It’s when she bravely considered seeking professional help things start looking up.

Getting help was one of the best decisions that I made. The psychoanalysis of my psychiatrist tremendously helped in starting to get myself back together. She also encouraged me to start easing back to the things I used to do pre-pregnancy which led me to sign back up to my gym membership.

It is remarkable to see mothers stop playing a victim of life’s roadblocks. Patty embraced her innate ability to recover and get back on her feet, not only for herself but most importantly for her son. A true testament that mothers radiate selfless love.

Fear and compassion are both powerful motivators.

On Decision-making

Patty has a talent for showing empathy and compassion -a pivotal aspect of being a mother. Whereas other moms would be hesitant in introducing their child to new methods, Patty recognizes her son’s need to discover his capabilities as early as 7-month-old. Putting faith in her son, she hired a sleep coach for Justin. After some research and signing in programs from sleeping coaches in the US, she found Gabrielle of Babes of Bliss. Gabrielle’s holistic approach in sleep coaching turned Justin from a baby who needs to be carried to sleep, to him sleeping in his room. Patty knows that it is not enough to put an arm around her son; she also believes in her son’s capabilities for personal growth which in turn empowered her tremendously as a mother.

While Justin is taking a nap, Patty uses this time for herself. Another challenging part after pregnancy is making time for fitness. She only went back to the gym after Justin was a year old – the only time Patty felt Justin can be taken care of by other people.

I didn’t really concentrate on being active religiously, so I decided to sign up for a Spartan Race to motivate myself to be consistent. From starting with 20-minute walks with Justin, I can now run 5 kilometers every day under 30 minutes. Fitness showed me as a way to grow for myself and even for others.

When you decide with compassion, love, and care, you make better choices.

On Women Empowerment

On empowering moms to get fit. Take it from Patty.

 People, especially fellow moms, have this misconception that fitness consumes a lot of time and energy. While there’s some truth to it, the best advice I got in dealing with this is from my current coach: focus on training smart rather than on training hard. That insight really helped me in allocating time for accomplishing what I need to do in a day. A 30-minute walk for a day for 5 times a week is already hitting the recommended physical activity to maximize health benefits

Patty’s been training for obstacle course racing (OCR) for 3 years and triathlons for 2. On top of joining OCRs, running, swimming, and triathlon competitions, she is also the team manager for the Athlete’s Bite Triathlon Team. Athlete’s Bite aims to make healthy food more approachable to those who prepare for races or even to those who generally strive to eat healthier. 

Currently, she is a Managing Director for a public utility bus company that provides transportation services in Metro Manila – a family business where she spent days growing up. Her family has been in this industry for 40 years and as the business grew, her skills and experience also multiplied. She now monitors overall operations and resources, sets strategic decisions, and organizes suppliers for the company. 

Regardless of the pace, time, and endless discovery that motherhood entails, Patty continues to choose to grow courageously. Being a mother has brought notable changes in Patty’s life, but she doesn’t let that stop her.  

At Women’s Fitness PH, we are inspired by every mother’s strength, passion, and most of all their unconditional love for their children.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas, mamitas, mommies, nanays, mudras!  Mahal po namin kayo!

Getting To Know THE SELF

4 Questions you can ask yourself and reflect on.

Patty answers for herself.

What’s the difference between your day before compared to during the pandemic?

“The biggest difference between life before and during the pandemic is that it allowed me to do things on my own. Before the pandemic, it was easier to train because of having a team. The pandemic taught me to train at my own pace and time. While it’s definitely more challenging for it especially with the minimal equipment, I had to be creative and that was rewarding already.”

“He’s my DJ while I’m on my bike trainer, my assistant in lifting weights (and for fun, the actual weight), and my buddy whenever I have a virtual group workout session. It also allowed Justin to see what I do more rather than just him witnessing it selectively. “

How do you stay physically, mentally, and emotionally fit? 

“One attribute about training and fitness is that it goes beyond the physical. It’s true what Elle Woods in Legally Blonde said about endorphins—it makes you happy! I don’t approach it as accomplishing a single goal; it’s also a way to be fit in all aspects.”

How did you cope? Do you continue to cope? 

“Having a great support group also helped me to cope when things feel like it’s not going according to plan. I used to be scared of telling people my weaknesses coming from that person who disregarded my post-partum depression, so I felt I should keep my issues to myself. But when I reached out to people and didn’t judge anything I said, it made me feel so much better and told myself that I am capable. Having someone to listen has a tremendous impact already.”

It’s already hard to stay fit as it is. Motherhood is already physically exhausting as it is. Juggling motherhood, career, and personal time, why do you still pursue physical fitness and sports? What keeps you going? 

“Truth be told, physical fitness gave me so much more than what I initially expected. I only started to get back on it because I had a huge weight gain from the medication for postpartum depression. But when I decided to train for competitions, it gave me a hobby that I can possibly pass on to Justin.”

“And I re-learned a lot of factors from it such as discipline, time management, camaraderie, and even empathy. It’s very humbling to meet people who share the same passion from all walks of life. I used to depend on food or alcohol as a way to habitually de-stress, but through sports, it taught me that those are not the only way for it.”

“If Justin can see how I’m enjoying being physically active, there’s a huge chance that he’ll pick it up and stray away from vices by choice. Plus, it’s a way for us to bond while having fun in the process.”

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