As parents we know how strong we are. Some of us just carried a baby for nine months. We watched our body shape shift into a beautiful creator of new life and then we delivered that new life into the world. We then care for our new baby at every waking and sleeping moment. Non-stop. 24/7. We are strong and resilient and freaking brave. We are strong inside and out, and because of this, we may want to start working on our muscle gains too. But, um, how in the world do you fit that in as a busy parent?!
A lot of us could be starting fresh in the fitness world after having a baby or want to start back up again after not working out for a long time. I think it is most important to know why you are wanting to exercise and make sure that it’s for more than just weight loss. If all you are aiming for is weight loss, it can be harder to stay consistent and can turn into something toxic.
For me, exercise is not about being a certain size or looking a certain way-- anymore. I LOVE exercise because it is an escape from my stresses, I get an endorphin rush, and I feel stronger both physically and mentally. I genuinely look forward to moving my body. I mean, the benefits of being active are endless: reduce your risk of a heart attack, manage your weight better, have a lower blood cholesterol level, lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers, have lower blood pressure, have stronger bones, stronger muscles, stronger joints, lower risk of developing osteoporosis, reduce stress, improve quality of sleep, and the list goes on and on. I have always been a very active person because of many of these reasons, but there are still times that I find exercising to be hard to fit in my life.
The reasons can be varying on why getting in a workout is hard as a new mama, but here are a few I repeatedly have: I’m tired, I don't know what to do with my kid while I'm exercising, it’s too hot outside, it’s too cold outside, I don’t feel good, I doubt I will get a good workout in if I’m home, or I am just not motivated. What are some reasons you don’t work out?
Before I list some suggestions on how to still get a workout, I want to remind you to listen to your body. Some of the reasons I listed are valid reasons to not exercise. If you’re sick, don’t work out. If you are exhausted with a newborn and you have five seconds of peace, try taking a cat nap instead of working out. Be patient with yourself. If you have an off week, and don't feel like moving your body, cut yourself some slack. Start fresh next week. With that said, here are a few ideas on how to fit your workout in as a mom.
Keep it Short
Your workout doesn't have to be long. I find it too daunting to expect myself to do the same length of workouts I did before having a baby. Most times I don’t have even a full hour to go to the gym or go on a run. Knowing that, it can be easy to say it isn’t even worth it, but it is. Even just a half an hour or twenty minutes can keep you in a routine and keep your body strong. Consistency is key.
Keep it Simple
It's okay to have a simple, basic workout routine. I usually love a strenuous HIIT workout or run that is a few miles long. No pain no gain, ya know. If I don’t feel up to those (or literally can’t do them), it’s easy for me to talk myself out of any workout. I think, “Is it even worth it?” That shouldn’t be the case, though. Walking your dog around the block, squatting before you hop in the shower, or lifting some smaller weights in your kitchen could be just what your body needs and can keep you in the groove of working out.
Wake Up Early
I know, I know, you want to kill me--but hear me out. Early mornings could be the only time of day you can get out in fresh air for a run in total peace. Everyone can be sleeping at home while you have completely devoted you-time. It’s one of my absolute favorite things checking off a huge to do on my list while everyone else is still sleeping. It’s a little bit of an ego boost, honestly. So if you can manage setting that alarm clock 30 minutes earlier, give it a try. You may love the time to yourself each morning.
If your partner is into exercise, trade off exercising when you’re both home. Whether you both have had a full day at work or one of you was home with the kids, it is nice to have some alone time with your thoughts while working out, even for 30 minutes. It may feel like a huge chunk of time taken out of your night together, but if you go to the gym with a purpose and have your exercise planned out already, you won’t waste any time and make it quickly back home.
Find a Program
Different apps and YouTube can help you work out more efficiently and effectively. We have all shown up at the gym and thought, "Well now what?" If you follow a program, they lay out exactly what your workout will be and you will know how long it will take before you even start it. It is also nice to switch things up and introduce your body to new movements. There are some great at-home workouts out there as well.
Be confident in yourself. I know this can be hard. Once you start comparing yourself to others, it's a slippery slope, especially in the fitness world, and especially at the gym. Every body is different, and that truly is a wonderful fact. I have very "strong" thighs that I've compared to every tiny-thighed girl I have ever seen and thought, "Why in the world do I not look like you? I run like crazy, eat right, and still I just don't have your legs!" It wasn't until I realized that my beautiful little girl had my same legs that that's just how I am built, and that I should be proud of them. I have been able to jump higher and run farther because of them, and I am grateful for that.
Morning or Nightly Routine
My daughter needs about an hour to wake up to the world and about an hour to wind down before bed. This could include a little show, coloring, or looking through books. While she is in her wake-up/wind-down mode, I have a solid hour or so that I can get a workout in. I usually look up workouts to follow on YouTube or follow a program I have on an app. Knowing I have this time set aside every day to exercise has made me much more consistent.
Find Fun Workouts
Maybe you hate running and the thought of lifting weights makes you want to cry. Find something that you think is fun. There are all sorts of fun dancing workouts (Zumba is very popular, but because dancing in itself is a sport you can find all types). Barre is fun because it focuses on the toning elements you get from Ballet. So you aren't necessarily dancing, but you are getting all of the conditioning elements from barre work. If a class near you isn't available, look them up online. You could also try yoga. Yoga is great for relaxation, flexibility, and strength. There are many different types and once again you can explore all of those online if a yoga studio is not available to you. Spin and bike riding are also great options, especially if you have knee issues.
Hopefully you can find exercise that is soul filling and makes you feel stronger than ever.
For more life as a parent tips go to babycubby.com.