These tips come with love and no B.S. from a fellow mom who has gone from fit to fat to fit again with a child in between and all the wonderful craziness that comes with motherhood. I’ve been there. I’ve had those days/months of zero motivation, self-deprecating thoughts, excuses up the wazoo (some were legit, I swear!), every size clothing hanging in the closet because my sizes changed so much throughout the year, no balance, no time to myself. My wish for you is that you embrace all the perfect imperfections of a “fit life” while raising your family. That if you’re feeling like “okay it’s time to get it together,” you are justified in making your health and fitness a priority, but it may not look like what you pictured for awhile, and that’s okay!
- DESIGN THE TIME (hint: something has to give)
I say design, because generally that’s what needs to happen verses “finding” the time. None of us have a free perfectly, shiny, sparkly “hour” that’s been waiting for us to find and scream “there you are little bugger!! Where have you been?!”
To incorporate anything new into our schedules we have to DESIGN space for it, and sometimes that means something else may not be perfect as a trade off. Look at your day. When can you carve out 30-60 minutes… even just 20 minutes for a high intensity workout? Is it super early in the morning before everyone is awake? Is it while kids are at school? Is it in the evening when you get off work or during lunch hour? (Does this have to be every single day? No! But we will talk about that later. )
But, find 3-4 days a week where you can CREATE time for yourself. Maybe the dishwasher doesn’t get unloaded, a pile of laundry doesn’t get folded, maybe you sacrifice your binge-watching of Handmaid’s Tale for this hour that will serve you better. Maybe you have to plan ahead more, prep things for the day, kids, and family to to free up some workout time.
Personally, my training takes me away from some house chores a bit, but I either hustle harder later in the day on them, or to be honest, I settle for less than an immaculate house and play major catch up on weekends (bleh)- but that’s worth it to me! For most of us who don’t have hired help, personal chefs, cleaning crew, something will have to give to make this work. Decide what that is, and find peace with it. It’ll become the new crazy normal, just like we make everything else work somehow!
- EXPECTATIONS – trash em’!
I cannot think of a more applicable situation for that philosophy than a mom with young children trying to establish a workout routine. The one thing I can tell you to be 100% true, is the majority of your workouts will not be ideal. Not ideal in as many ways as possible : not ideal length, not ideal intensity, not ideal location, equipment, or sometimes they won’t even happen!
I’ve had countless workouts cut short or never happen because my daughter won’t sit any longer. I’ve had to stop in the middle of my workouts to adjust iPad settings, break up fights, wipe butts in the bathroom, and open snacks. I love when I’m in the middle of a grueling workout on the brink of death, and my daughter asks me to “watch” or “Mom! Look! Look Mom!” at yet another attempt at a split or a backbend.
I’m sure you see my point. As long as you’re a human being alive on earth, not every workout will be ideal. It won’t always be like this. Priorities and schedules change during the year or years. Things may not be ideal workout conditions now, but take what you can get, lay the foundation, build the resiliency , the habits, and when windows of opportunity to do more arise (because they will) you’re ready to seize them. Know they’ll happen and plan for those imperfect sessions, ride them like a speed bump and keep on keepin’ on. Yesterday’s blip has nothing to do with today’s efforts! As much as your kids and husband benefit from a healthy and fit mom, they also need you to be happy and not grumpy that your workout didn’t go as planned.
- MAKE IT COUNT
You don’t have to have a PhD in exercise physiology or have a certification in personal training to learn the basics of a good workout. People love to debate on which is superior: steady state cardio (example: the elliptical for 45 minutes) versus high intensity interval training (aka HIIT, or short but very intense high effort workouts).
The answer is : it depends. It depends on your goals, your preferences, and your available time. If you’re new to working out, or coming back from considerable time off, the truth is you’ll benefit from EITHER so it doesn’t really matter, just get moving with whatever is more appealing! A good place to start is 3 days a week. Over time, add in additional days as you figure it out and your body begins to adapt.
There are TONS of programs available now that you just do what they tell you to do, no thinking required! Find what works for you and sounds FUN! If you like running, take the kiddos in the running stroller. Design a HIIT workout (Google search it, trust me) to do at the park while the kids play (yes, I’ve been that mom at the park…no shame!) But, MAKE IT COUNT with your best effort, avoiding just going through the motions. Be intentional with those precious minutes. To get the adaptation, you must provide enough stimulus to provoke the body to adapt!
I hope sharing some personal experience and thoughts helps you. I know people say all the time “it’s all about the journey” and we roll our eyes like “ooooookkayyyyy enough Pollyana talk”, but I can attest to this! It’s been YEARS in the making, a slow progression, not perfect, but an adventure with ups and downs and plenty of setbacks! Do what you love for yourself, and those that you love will benefit from it, too!