Exercise is a mood enhancer and an energy booster, which should be reason enough to lace up those kicks and hit the road running. Most women however, feel too tired to even think about it. When you are a multi-tasking mami it does take a certain amount of creativity and good time management skills to weave exercise into your daily routine. It’s not easy, but it is possible.
Who am I to tell you this? A former certified fitness instructor, a lifetime runner and, above all, a busy mami who’s always managed to exercise all while dealing with work, pregnancy, post-partum, child-rearing, commuting and just life. It’s a challenge, for sure, but it can be done. Here’s how:
SET REALISTIC GOALS
- Keep in mind that an all-or-nothing approach is a surefire road to failure. If you’ve been a couch potato, don’t tell yourself that from now on you need to do a daily two-hour workout. Settle for 15 minutes every other day, and gradually build on that.
- Do it now. Postponing the start of an exercise regime is a way of fooling yourself into thinking you’re doing something about your health and fitness, when you really aren’t. As with any other type of goal, a little action now is better than no action later.
- Choose an activity that you enjoy. Why run if you prefer to swim or join a Zumba class? Just because your best friend is a runner doesn’t mean it’s the right sport for you.
- Make it easy on yourself. If the sport or exercise of your choice involves taking two buses across town after work or hauling a ton of gear back and forth, how likely are you to stick to it?
- Be adaptable. I’m a runner, but when I became pregnant I switched to swimming the first time around, and to walking (pushing my eldest in her stroller), during the second pregnancy. When my first-born was in daycare I went to the gym while my baby napped in her seat by my side. Later I switched to biking in the evening while both children enjoyed the scenery from the bike-trailer behind me.
MAKE THE TIME
Being fit may improve your health, strengthen your immune system and stabilize your mood. So how come it’s not a priority? You can make the time, if you rearrange your schedule a bit and prioritize.
- Be an early bird.Getting up even earlier may seem like torture, but after you’re done with your routine, even if it’s just 20 minutes, you will feel renewed, invigorated, and ready to tackle tantrums, spills and spit ups.
- Replace some activities. Make a list of all the things you need to do, for example: work, grocery shop, commute, activities with the kids, cook, and so on. Make another list of the things you like to do in your free time, such as watch TV, surf the Internet, or talk on the phone. Replace a few of those things with exercise, even if it’s jumping rope or doing the Wii Fit routine in your living room.
- Make it a family affair.Include your kids in your exercise routine. Doing sit-ups with your baby propped up on your legs while you make funny faces at her works just fine. I would know! When you’re a mami you need to accept that—at least for a while—you may not be able to enjoy the perfect workout. Your muscles, however, don’t know if you’re lifting dumbbells or your own kid, so use her weight to your advantage and make exercising fun for both of you!
- Find a buddy.Team up with a friend and watch each other’s kids while one of you goes to the gym or, better yet, hire a sitter together and be exercise buddies. Being accountable to someone else increases your odds of sticking to your routine.
EXERCISE AS A FAMILY
If you can’t get away from the family to exercise, bring them with you! When your kids are older, you can all practice sports together. Just remember to take it easy and don’t expect to make good time or a great score. Do it for the fun of it. Children who exercise with their parents are more likely to stay fit as adults.
- Rollerblading or rollerskating is fun for all ages. Whether you do it at an empty parking lot or a skating rink, make sure you all wear adequate protection, especially wrist guards and a helmet.
- Biking is a great family sport if you live in an area where there are biking trails.
- Hiking along trails or off the beaten path is also fun for all. Make it an adventure.
- Racquetball, tennis, volleyball, basketball, and badminton are great team sports. If you’re not into learning the game, just do it for the fitness benefit and to bond with your children.
Whatever you choose to do for exercise, remember that consistency over time is key. Nothing beats a moderate routine done regularly over the years for a lifetime of fitness and health.