This article originally appeared in “Chicago Tribune”

Hi, I’m Nicole and I’m THAT mom. The one who comes to preschool pickup in head-to-toe spandex – yes, sometimes Lululemon – and commandeers sidewalks with my double-running-stroller entourage.

But it’s not what you think. First, I wear spandex because I don’t like real pants – not because I work out every day. Second, I do have an enormously wide stroller, but mostly it’s my refuge for failed naps and two crabby boys. While I do enjoy being active, I also really like food and sleep and downtime.

So who am I really? I’m a personal trainer, writer and mama to a 4-year-old and 20-month-old. On a typical day, you’ll find me racking dumbbells, wiping noses and jotting down story ideas while cooking dinner. I’m on a quest for balance, though I’m still trying to sort out exactly what that means.

I love anything that has to do with movement, especially running, lifting stuff and playing outside in nature. I love helping people move their bodies and making sure they feel great doing it. Movement is what energizes me, keeps me healthy and ultimately makes me a happier person. This is why I move – not for the sake of how my stomach looks in a swimsuit.

I also love to tell stories – stories about parenting, self-care, work-life balance, pelvic floors, constipation … You know, the stuff you talk about with your girlfriends – and maybe even some things you’re afraid to bring up. I plan to use this column as an opportunity to create conversation, break a few rules and help both you and me grow. If you have ideas for anything along these lines you’d like to read about, I’d love to hear them.

As a fitness expert, I want to be a resource to my fellow moms out there. I plan to tackle topics that matter to you, from working out postpartum to running your first 5K to navigating the weight room at the gym. Have a burning question that you’d like answered? Tell me! I want to know what you want to know, so I can try to give you the tools to help. Think of me as your movement advocate, but with compassion, patience and a sense of humor.

The thing is, being a mom is hard. Being a healthy, active, balanced mom is almost impossible, and full of contradictions:

You put your kid in child care so you could go to the gym? You’re selfish.

You haven’t worked out since your child was born? You’re lazy.

You worked out with your kids? You’re crazy.

You woke at 5 a.m. to run (after 5 hours of interrupted sleep) before your kids got up? Congrats, you’re doing great! Until it’s 10 a.m. and you’re on your seventh cup of coffee.

There’s no right way, there’s no easy way, but there are things we can do to make ourselves happy and healthy. To all you selfish, lazy, crazy and exhausted mamas: We’re all in this together. Let’s do it.

Nicole Radziszewski is a freelance columnist. She lives in River Forest and is a certified personal trainer and mother of two. Check Nicole out on Facebook at