Sunday, January 11, 2015

Busy Mom Tips for Fitness

Let's be honest. Working out as a Mom is HARD. It's not like we possess the ability to get up and go whenever we please. A few weeks ago my in laws had my 2 older kids for much of the day and overnight, and had my youngest for about 5 hours. It was....strange. The house was quiet and I had FREEDOM! If I wanted to shower I could just go shower. If I wanted to workout I could just get up and go. Such an odd concept for me. My oldest is 5, it's been a long time since I have been able to make decisions that aren't based on other people's schedule. Suffice to say, maintaining a consistent workout schedule is a challenge. There are kids to bathe, dress, feed, play with, messes to deal with, meals to cook, lunches to make. And at the end of the day, once the kids are in bed, is there really any energy to expend on a workout? I have 3 kids, aged 5, 3, and 5 months. I get that it's hard. I get there are other things you'd rather be doing. So here are some tips that I've used to help me ensure fitness is still a part of my life, without interfering with time with my kids:

1. Schedule it
Treat your fitness regime as you would a meeting with your doctor or chiropractor and schedule it! Mark it into a calendar, make sure you have plans for childcare if need be, and prepare the day accordingly. Scheduling your workouts sends a message to yourself and those around you that your health is important and won't be overlooked.

2. Choose your success time
Do you have the most energy first thing in the morning, or would you rather workout at night once the house is quiet? For me, my time is first thing in the morning before anyone is awake. I wake up feeling good and know my workouts are the best at that time. My energy is great and I find that emotionally, I am much better at handling overwhelm and chaos when I have started the day with a solid workout. If I scheduled every workout at night, I would fail. Every now and then I can muster up the energy to lift, but I know that in order to achieve my goals, the majority of my workouts need to be in the morning, when I function best. Experiment for a bit and find the time that works best in your life

3. Keep it short
I don't know about you, but I have found that since I have become a Mom, everything is high speed. I do everything as fast as I can because I have lots to fit in. If I knew I had 90 minutes of working out to do, it wouldn't happen so much. One of the questions I get often is how long my workouts are. And I usually come back with, "it depends." If I am just doing weights, I can get a really good workout in 30-40 minutes. Sometimes my cardio is 45 minutes, sometimes my cardio is 10 minutes, it depends on the intensity. I learned the word "superset" very early into my fitness journey. A superset is completing one exercise after another, without rest. I superset most of my exercises now. It's quicker and has the added bonus of being effective at building and strengthening muscle. I learned HIIT cardio, or Tabata, which are interval types of cardio, really amazing at conditioning the cardio system, and also...you guessed it....short. You don't need to log hours in the gym to see gains, you just have to make sure that what you are doing has purpose

4. Realistic Expectations
Don't set yourself up for failure. Although I do believe in setting big goals, I also believe in feeling out new changes before diving in, especially when you have a family and other priorities. Don't commit to 6 days of 2 hour workouts. Maybe start out with 3 days of 40 minute sessions and go from there. You don't want to feel defeated or overwhelmed right off that bat, those feelings aren't likely going to lead you to success

5. Use a workable model
By workable model I mean one that is flexible. I fill out a monthly calendar with my workouts but am always open to changing it. If my kids are sick and I didn't sleep much the night before, I might skip that day's workout and switch around my rest days. If I am feeling run down I might forgo that workout altogether and not bother trying to make it up. With kids come many unpredictable variables. While scheduling is always a bonus to a balanced life, it also needs to be workable to allow for those unexpected things that are bound to come up

6. Do something you enjoy
One of my very highest values is time with my children. I LOVE that I am able to be with them every day, available to get them to and from school, to be home with them when they're sick, available for all their appointments, able to cook their meals and do fun things with them. Since becoming a Mom I have found myself limiting activities and people that don't make me happy. I choose to fill my world with joy and passion. If you are going to be away from your family to workout, you need to make sure it's enjoyable. Otherwise you are going to resent that time, which could otherwise be seen as valuable time to recharge and pamper yourself. Choose activities that fill up your cup rather than empty it. You will come out of that workout feeling energized, strong, fulfilled and balanced, ready to be fully available and engaged for your children. Do you enjoy cycling? Running? Lifting weights? Sign up for a new fitness class at your local gym. Register for a mud race to try something new. Invite a friend to play tennis. Be creative and get moving.

7. Enjoy the journey
I see this far too often. People want a quick fix. If I were selling a pill that could give you energy, tighten your abs and burn fat, I'd be rolling in money. But I'm not. I am selling lifestyle changes, and with that, comes resistance. People keep their eye on the result and completely fail to appreciate the journey and the small victories along the way. Keeping your focus on the final outcome doesn't allow you the space to value the changes you are making or the progress that is occurring and can be frustrating and defeating, leading to giving up. While it is important to always have your main goal at the forefront of your mind, you shouldn't place more value on that than the journey. So enjoy it, celebrate it and be open to all you are learning along the way

I hope that helps. This image helps me deal with day-to-day life - reminding myself that balance is always a work in progress, and there are times your focus must shift, putting everything else out of balance. Taking care of yourself makes this process much more manageable and enjoyable so please don't forget about you!


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