In a local Facebook mom’s group, a friend asked how people find the time to work out, expressing frustration about life getting in the way. I was really excited to share my thoughts, so I wrote a novel. Ha.
That said, I have been asked the same question about 10 times in the past six months by different people, so I wanted to share it here in case other friends find it helpful. Here it is!
I’ve found a good groove over the last 6 months. I have a whole buncha thoughts to share, in no particular order. Hopefully at least one will be somewhat helpful. I know everyone’s situation is different. I have one child age 2y10m, a couple cats, a part time job, a husband who is supportive of my efforts, I live in a small city, and am recovering from a health condition that can sometimes affect my energy levels. So obviously, you and I have different situations and so take what I say with as many grains of salt as you need grin emoticon.
1. In the wintertime, I worked out at a gym. I chose this gym specifically because the daycare was highly recommended by a friend. I feel incredibly comfortable with the daycare there. Asher took some time to adjust to it, so in the beginning I only left him there for half an hour at a time. A HUGE factor in my success was the fact that this gym allows you to bring a snack/meal for your child. I understand many gyms don’t do that. In my opinion, if you are going the “gym membership” route, it’s worth it to find a gym where you can pack food for your child. It makes a big difference not having to schedule your workouts around mealtimes.
2. I NEVER short my sleep to get a workout in. My sleep is shorted enough by my not-great sleeper rooster toddler. I don’t work out at any time when I could be sleeping. Haha. Without proper recovery, training is not effective and can lead to overtraining and burn out.
3. Currently, I lift weights on my porch in the mornings, usually on days I don’t work. I hand Asher a banana and he runs around outside while I do it. Sometimes I get him his breakfast while resting in between sets. It’s not as relaxing as working out WITHOUT Asher would be. Like, I have to drill safety into him “remember, when the barbell is in Mama’s hands, you stand over there. If the barbell is on the floor, you may pass through” and “you may NOT go past the neighbor’s steps.” Etc. But it has it’s pluses too. Such as, we get it all done before the gym daycare opens. We have the day free for other things. My kid gets to see me enjoying physical movement.
4. Some moms I know love jogging strollers. Asher’s babysitter often takes him out in the jogging stroller while her daughter is in preschool. Sometimes Asher naps during her jog. Personally, I don’t love them, but it seems like, for moms who enjoy running, an easy way to work movement into the day.
5. My TOP TOP TOP TOP TIPPY TOP TIP!!!! Find movement that you enjoy doing WHILE YOU ARE DOING IT (not just the affects or afterglow). You know how sometimes you don’t want to do X, and you know that after you do X, you will feel better? In my opinion/experience, there may be a time and place for that……but I think it probably doesn’t work well with parenting small children. We have SO MANY other demands on our time, that regardless of how we feel afterwards, we may not make time for movement if we won’t enjoy it in the moment. I freaking love lifting weights so that’s what I do. I fit it in because I am looking forward to it, and I would be sad to miss out on it, and I am rested enough and fed enough to enjoy it. If you can’t think of any kind of movement that you love to do, that’s fine…..just try something, and if you hate it after a few weeks,be honest with yourself and be willing to try something new. Maybe the only thing you will love about it is the fact that the gym daycare watches your kids for an hour or two while you work out and shower alone! That’s okay…..anything that will really have you looking forward to it smile emoticon.
6. For that matter….don’t let your choice of movement be more influenced by how good a workout you think it is than by how much you enjoy it. Any movement is better than zero. The best movement is the movement that you love to do so much that you will do it consistently. Better to take a 2 mile walk every day for a year than to do Insanity 3 days out of every month and nothing else. See what I mean? (Just using Insanity as an example since you say you like it. I don’t know anything about it one way or the other, but like anything, it only works if you can sustain the energy to keep doing it!).
7. Once I found something I really liked to do, it helps me to follow an online program that some coach created. It saves me the time and energy of planning my training, so I can just do it.
8. Eat enough! It helps your motivation a TON to be carbed up smile emoticon. Nothing wrong with eating a pint of ice cream unless it makes you feel sick…..but I’m guessing you’d rather fill up on healthy stuff to the point where you are not hungry for it? It helps!
9. Personally, I’m skeptical of “challenges” where you follow a really intense program for 30 days / 60 days / 90 days / whatever. If a person can’t even sustain the habit of moving 3 days a week, what makes them think that forcing themselves to do it for 30 days will help them incorporate it into their everyday life better? Again, this is just my personal experience – I know there are people who find them motivating and useful. My question is…..how are they doing in the long term? 3 years? 5 years? How often are they repeating these challenges?
10. I took a different approach this year. I set the goal of weight training 150 times this year (that’s a little less than 3 times per week….to allow for some “shit happens” weeks, because let’s face it, sometimes it does.). I purposely set a more moderate goal with a longer time frame, because I’m trying to create the habits, not make drastic changes that don’t stick. I track my progress on a regular old spreadsheet, not an app or anything like that. Again, just for ease. Ease=good.
11. Sometimes my house looks like shit. My family is okay with that. I’m prioritizing health over a clean home.
12. I know nothing about what it’s like to have 4 kids. So take this with a grain of salt if you need to. However…..I’m guessing that if strength training is your thing, you might be able to get it in while at the playground/baseball field/ER waiting room/school parking lot / parking lot next the car when the toddlers fell asleep and you are just sitting there on Facebook / etc? There are plenty of exercises that use only your bodyweight that work really well.
13. Here are some options for activity – hope you can find one/some that you would enjoy and look forward to!
Skateboarding or rollerblading
Canoeing, rowing, or cross-country skiing
Fast walking, hiking, jogging, or running
House cleaning or yard work
Dancing to music
Playing tag or jumping rope
Cheerleading, gymnastics, or aerobics
Rope, rock, or tree climbing
Running or rowing
Push-ups, pull-ups, or sit-ups
Working out with weights or body weight
Jumping rope, hopping, or skipping
14. I think I recall that you may have some equipment at home already? You may find more time to use it simply by moving the equipment. All my equipment is right by the door, since I use it on the porch. You can move it by the door, or into your back yard, or on your porch, so you can use it while the kids are out playing. That might make all the difference between getting time in, and not having time to go down to the basement.
AHHHHHH that’s a big long novel!!! I hope at least some of it is helpful.