I'm not going to present myself as a committed fitness guru, and I won't deceive you by implying that I exclusively eat vegan, non-GMO, healthy foods everyday. On the contrary, I'm writing this with a handful of jellybeans on the table to my right. My diet is healthy and well-balanced in general, and being in my best shape is important to me, but I have learned to set realistic expectations.
I have been in decent shape all of my life, mainly because I had hobbies that were physically strenuous. Rollerblading, playing basketball, running track, and snowboarding in the winter helped me to maintain an athletic build as a child and teen. In my late teens and twenties, I lived in the city and walked absolutely everywhere- often in high heels.
Even while pregnant, I was on the move- constantly up and down concrete stairs and traveling up and down Broadway while on lunch breaks. Truly, I was not concerned with weight much and I don't bother with scales often even today. A telltale sign for me is "How do my clothes fit?" Having a baby throws you for a total loop, inside, outside, emotionally, and socially. When my baby was ten months old, I went to work at a tailor shop on a United States Coast Guard base. Their state-of-the-art gym building was available for my use, so I took full advantage and my body was transformed into pre-pregnancy shape once again.
Then... SCREECH!!!!! I had another child, was no longer working outside of the home, and I was left in worse physical shape than the first time around. Furthermore, a gym membership was out of the question. Competent babysitters were few and far between, and money was tight, so I had to get creative for my workout routine. I know there are other women out there in that same boat, and that is why I put together this blog post! I want to inspire and encourage you to create exercise opportunities for yourself in any season, with children of any age.
Lately, I've been feeling less motivated and my commitment level is dangerously low, so I created a list of ideas meant to inspire myself to get up and do it! Hopefully, I will gain a few accountability partners who will cheerlead me in the comments, and I will also be asking what YOU are adding into your daily routines. If you feel trapped because you have children climbing all over you and can't get to your local fitness center, take a look at this realistic chart and think of what you could implement right now. Spring=Green, Summer=Yellow, Fall=Orange, Winter=Blue
In case you have not noticed, babies & children can really throw off one's personal plans. If you're dressed in workout clothing and ready to do some floor exercises, it will be that moment when your child needs assistance in the bathroom.
Even a baby can sense when something un-baby-related is in the works, because when Mommy steps up onto the treadmill, the baby will forget being content in the swing and will begin fussing for no apparent reason.
That may sound rather paranoid, but it is definitely the case in my house, and I used to be highly frustrated because I felt I could never get anything done! Whether it was working on my home-based business, cooking, cleaning the bathroom, getting a shower, switching out kids clothing for the next size- NO amount of planning ahead, distractions, or pleading would ever buy me enough time to finish a task like that.
When I was about one step away from insanity, I questioned whether it was humanly possible for caretakers of young children to be time-efficient and productive. Then I came up with a plan, and so far it has been working like a charm...
Wait until they are sleeping, or make them a part of it.
Sidebar: showers are preferable while they are sleeping, as is most business-related work, but naps are a thing of the past and they only sleep so long at night.
MOTHERS OF NEWBORNS: A word of caution: You should not exercise before your doctor gives you clearance, at your six week checkup. Walking and stretches were awesome for me in the beginning, but I (stitches and all) was not ready for serious exercise until my baby was a few months old. Even at that point, I would advise that you pay attention to how your body feels and start slow. Helene Byrne, founder of BeFit-Mom, has offered a few safe suggestions. “After an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, women can start pelvic floor exercises, special postnatal abdominal isolations, gentle stretching, and fitness walking with the baby in either a front pack or stroller as soon as she feels ready,” Byrne says. All pregnancies and recoveries are not equal. Since the recovery time for a C-section is longer, I would strongly advise women not to exercise until they are fully healed and have had follow-up appointments with the doctor.
There are exercises you can actually do with your baby, aside from the ideas on my chart (above). A personal trainer in NYC named Stefan Aschan has come up with exercises you can do using your infant's weight to actually enhance your workout. Read more about it here.
Now, the second part- which is no less important but not my topic of choice- is DIET. Diet and exercise go hand in hand, and I thank God that one inspires the other. When I'm doing sit-ups, it's a great time to reflect on what I've been eating and when my abs start to scream, I downright resent the dessert I ate. My motivation to eat healthier is #1 I want to be healthy/beautiful inside & out, and #2 I want my workouts to feel easier and show me quick results. But diet on it's own is a no-no in my book. I believe that STRENGTH is hugely important when you have children. Eating less or eating cleaner will surely help you to lose weight, but you don't want to lose muscle in that! Try juggling a baby, a toddler, stroller, diaper bag, etc... you get the idea. So don't lose your muscles- you're going to need those. I am obsessed with finding healthy, delicious meals and snacks for my kids and for myself. I've started to pin recipes on Pinterest, so follow our board and you are welcome to send us your pins.
Meanwhile, I hope this was useful to you. Please share my chart and help other mommies take control of how they look and feel in a realistic, non-stressful way. Making your kids part of it is key, and you're also teaching them by example how to exercise and take care of their bodies. Good job, mommas! If you have any ideas that I didn't mention, or want to talk about what works in your family, leave a comment and share.