December's Mom of the Month

Congratulations to Ushma Shukla, our 'Mom of the Month' for December!

Ushma has been with us for 3 years and is a dedicated Stroller Strides and Body Back participant who had made HUGE changes in her fitness and body! Ushma says that she is in better shape now than in high school thanks to finding a fitness regimen that is right for her!

Ushma has made great strides in fitness, motherhood, and life, and we are so thankful that she is an integral part of our village!

Join us in congratulating Ushma and read on to get to know her a little better.

Mom of the Month Questions:

Hometown (where you grew up): We moved around a lot when I was a child but are two places that I think of as hometowns: Jackson, MI where I lived until age 7, and Knoxville, TN where I lived from 7th grade through college. I also spent 11 years of my adult life in California which is where I lived before I moved to NC.

Current part of the Triangle that you live in: Apex- the peak of good living!

Education: BS in Biology, MS in Chemistry

Stroller Strides Member since: I did my 1st class 2012; but I became a member in early 2013.

Members of your Family: My wonderful husband Neal and I have two lovely daughters, Ishani and Savita. My parents and in-laws live in TN and I have a brother and a sister, both younger than myself.

Tell us about your children: Ishani is our little dancer and a budding scientist. She is turning 8 this month and is in 2nd grade. Savita will be 4 in January. She is my little singer and workout buddy.

Current/previous Career: I worked as a research biochemist in the pharmaceutical industry. I used to tell people I made drugs for a living. I decided to stay home with my daughter when we moved to NC. Now I use chemistry in the kitchen and for stain removal. :)

What was your childhood ambition? My mother saved a picture I made in kindergarten of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I drew myself at a podium and wrote President of the United States. It makes me laugh now. I think I always wanted to know everything about everything. My curiosity about how the world works is still a huge part of my personality.

What does motherhood mean to you? Motherhood has been simultaneously the most challenging and most rewarding experience of my life. I always wanted kids but I was completely unprepared for how much I would love them. It still catches me by surprise when I brush the hair out of their eyes, or hear the amazing things they say. I was an ambitious career scientist before Ishani was born, and I worked full time until she was 2. My job now as a SAHM is much, much harder. Motherhood means accepting someone else as the center of your life, and being willing to put your own needs second. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

What is the furthest you have been from home? I have travelled to India several times but it felt like home since my grandparents lived there. The furthest I have ever *felt* from home was when I did an exchange trip to Russia in the summer after 12th grade. I lived on a boat on the Volga River for 2 weeks. That trip really had a profound impact on how I look at the world and at myself.

What has Stroller Strides and Body Back done for you (or meant to you)? Stroller strides has been such a wonderful experience for me and for Savita. It is the only fitness regime that I have ever stuck to and its because of the people I have met. Working out with friends outdoors has made all the difference. Through Body back I feel like I have the strength and confidence to run despite the arthritis in my knees. I am also so happy that I have set this example of exercising for Savi. She runs around the house doing mountain climbers and star jumps, and gets mad at me if I exercise without her. I love our village!

What is your favorite exercise? I love to Dance (when no one is watching)

What is your proudest moment? I have had so many proud moments as a mom; it's hard to choose! Recently I felt very proud when my little one said she was thankful for her sister at Thanksgiving. I feel proud of the relationship they have with each other. Ishani choreographed a dance for a contest recently. She patiently taught the dance to Savi, and they performed it together. (When I was able to run the entire 1/2 mile in body back after more than a decade of not running is up there, too.)

What are three of your favorite things (besides your family!)? I love books, being in nature, and writing.

Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us or makes you unique. This is a tough one. Did you know I used to have hair that went almost to my knees? I wore it like that for years.

If we asked your spouse what they think your best qualities are, what would they say? I asked and this is what he said, "Friendly, hard-working, smart, conscientious, and forgiving." It's nice to know he sees me this way!

What advice would you give to moms looking to get back into shape? Don't give up! When you find the activity that's right for you it's easy to get in shape. Stroller strides started for me as a way to get out of the house with Savita. Three years later I am stronger than I have been since I was a teen despite numerous injuries and arthritis. You can do it!

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