Step 1: Get Rid of the Guilt!
“Show me a woman without guilt and I’ll show you a man!”
– Marie Wilson, Founder of the White House Project (excerpted from Lean In)
We all feel it. How can we possibly work all day, then pick up little Lulu from day care only to bring her to another day care at the gym? I understand, I do, but little Lulu and YOU will be much better off if you get your workout in. It’s not like you’re doing it everyday and you can kick your own a** very nicely in 45 minutes and then spend the rest of the night snuggling with Lulu. Besides, if Lulu is under the age of 5, she won’t remember a thing…although she will see that you’re a fit, strong, disciplined woman!
Step 2: Just Freakin’ Do It!
Make excuses for how you can squeeze your workout in, not the other way around. It’s best to do it first thing in the morning so as the day progresses it doesn’t slip away, but not everyone has that luxury. However, if you’re determined to get/stay fit, you CAN wake-up early and do a great workout either running outside (with a headlamp & reflective clothing!), on a treadmill or in your living room. And you do not need weights to effectively train. Do the following for 30 seconds each (no rest in between, only after you’ve completed one round) and repeat as many times as you can squeeze in:
Holding plank or up/up down/down arm planks
Step 3: Utilize the Gym Daycare or Bribe Your Friends
If you have access and means & your kids are old enough, the gym daycare is obviously the best bet. Another emerging trend is having a “fit date” instead of a “play date”. Pick a house where your kids and your friends kids can gather safely, then take turns working out! Either get out of the kid-filled house and go for a run or find another room to get a quick workout in and then switch! Sure you won’t have much time to chat with your friend, but when all the kids get together do you really have time to do that anyway?
Step 4: Find Something You Like To Do
The number on question I’m asked is: “What is the “best” exercise to do to lose weight?” The answer is: “The one you’re going to DO!” Choose something you enjoy or at least like a little bit and you’re more likely to do it on a regular basis and follow step 1 (Get Rid of the Guilt)!
Step 5: If You Can’t Beat ‘Em…
Ah yes, the ol’ bring the kids with you to get some exercise. You know from the start that this will not be the most quality workout (depending on the age of your kids!) but it’s a workout none the less. I know moms who run laps around the soccer field at their kids practice or games just to get a run in. If you do this then you have to get over the “everyone is looking at me” thing. Yes, everyone is looking at you and thinking how awesome you are! Other good options are outdoor tracks, school playgrounds or fields (as these are usually fenced in and may ease your mind a bit) or your very own backyard! Some of the toughest workouts I’ve ever done were running while pushing the twins in the double stroller! No need to have a double but if you have a child who will sit in a running stroller – get to it!
Step 6: Eat Off Your Kids Plate
I’m sure you’ve heard (as I have) many moms lament “It’s not helping my weight loss to constantly be eating off my kid’s plate”. Why is your kid eating so much crap? You should be able to eat off your kid’s plate without worry. If they’re older and are already used to eating a lot of high sugar or high salt foods you should try to wean them off now. It won’t be easy but neither is childhood obesity. If they’re not eating healthy then start slow with a few fruits and vegetables. Perhaps make a game of it or sometimes a reward system works too. It should go without saying that the reward should not be food based! Think stickers, small toys or fun places they enjoy going.
Step 7: Use the Buddy System
This works well for Step 3 (Utilize the Gym Daycare or Bribe Your Friends) but also for making “fit dates” sans children. Numerous studies have shown that you are more likely to stick with exercise if you have a friend(s) to do it with. It’s much harder to call/text/FB/tweet a friend to say you’re not showing up for your planned workout then it is to just roll over and bail on yourself. Call a friend and set a sweat date! You’ll get the added bonus of therapy…assuming you can talk during your workout!
Step 8: Set Attainable Goals
Be honest with yourself about how much you can take on. Women play so many different and important roles that we often don’t take the time we need to care for ourselves, however, there’s no negotiating around certain responsibilities. Don’t set yourself up to fail! If you’re new to exercise or are coming off maternity leave just set small daily or weekly goals. It always helps to write these down! Get some post-it notes and write motivational messages and then post them where they can be seen – bathroom mirrors, refrigerators, etc. These will serve as “gentle” reminders to spend some time kicking your own ass…which brings us to step 9.
Step 9: Make an Appointment to Kick Your Own Ass
That’s right. You wouldn’t miss a doctor appointment for one of your kids, right? Make exercise an appointment in your calendar and then KEEP IT! Even if you start out with two days a week, it’s better then zero days. Book it!
Step 10: Be OK with Where You Are
Throughout our fitness journey there are going to be bad days. There are going to be set- backs and failures and injuries. BFD. It happens to the best of us. Just brush yourself off and move on! Also, try not to compare yourself to anyone else. We all know our own demons. Focus on wrestling your own to the ground and be proud of what YOU have accomplished.
Step 11: If You Have A Partner – Use Them!
Take it from a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM!) whose husband owns his own business and works 24/7 – he needs to share the kid care! I often feel guilty pushing the kids onto him so I can get in a much needed weekend run or bike before a race but hey, they’re half his and he needs to step up to the plate and support me too. If author Sheryl Sandberg taught me anything from Lean In it’s to “make your partner a real partner”. Ok so she’s a Harvard grad and CEO of Facebook and I’m a SAHM. What’s your point?
Step 12: Reward Yourself!
This is ultimately why we all do what we do. Whether it’s to live a better, longer, healthier life or to have more ice cream – it’s all about the reward! When it comes to fitness, try to make the rewards non-food based (see step 6: Eat Off Your Kids Plate) like new workout clothes or that handbag you’ve been eyeing. I recently read an incentive plan that Olympic medalist runner Kara Goucher suggested: Give yourself a dollar for every mile you run (or hour you spend at the gym!) and then buy yourself something each month with the money you’ve saved. Now get out there and start making some money!
**Please share with me how YOU squeeze your workouts in and if you need a training buddy, I’m available!