The crescent moon yoga pose stretches arms and side abdominals… Image: Licensed under Creative Commons by Jessmyintyre
By Karen Hendricks
One of the most challenging things nearly all moms face: finding time to exercise. Why is it, that we are all so busy, yet struggle to make time to stay fit and healthy?
It’s hard… I get it! I think the main reason most moms don’t exercise often enough is because we put our family first and ourselves last. Nearly two years ago, when I made radical changes to my professional life, jumping “off the merry-go-round” of 60 hour workweeks meant a commitment to becoming healthier in mind, body and spirit, for my health as well as our overall family’s health. Trimming and toning my professional life translated into the need to trim and tone my body as well. Today, I am happy to say that I am 15 lbs lighter and feeling much healthier, thanks to a (mostly) whole foods diet and regular exercise routine. And because I’m taking better care of myself, I’m better equipped to take care of my family.
Here are 5 tips that I slowly introduced into my daily routines that I hope can help you accomplish your fitness goals too:
1. Walk as often as you can. Think about opportunities throughout your daily routine when you can lace up your sneakers and walk. My town now has a walking path so I will often walk into town for errands rather than drive. Also, while my children are at various sports practices, rather than driving home, I will more often stay at the fields and walk during that time period. It’s a great opportunity to show your children that you enjoy exercise as much as they do. Other benefits: you might learn more about your children’s sports of choice, you will definitely save on gas money driving back and forth to practices by staying put, it’s also a chance to enjoy music—bring along your iPod and ear buds, or you might forge new friendships with other moms by walking together.
2. Define your “wheels” in a new way. Biking is another great way to get around! Along the same lines as walking your regular routes (above), think about your routines and see if you can replace even just one car trip per week with your bike. For example, I have a grocery store just a mile from my home. On those occasions when I only need a handful of items (and they can easily fit into a backpack), I bike to the store and “kill two birds with one stone.” And a little extra weight on the back adds to the workout on the bike ride home! Biking with your family is another great option—you’ll be staying in shape and enjoying family time together.
3. Sign up for a class or join a fitness center. If you make this commitment, you’re more likely to follow through… because you’ll have a set schedule to hold you accountable and because you’ll want to “get your money’s worth.” Quite often, gyms and fitness centers offer special introductory rates. A few years ago, when my daughters were both enrolled in dance classes, I took a pilates class that ran simultaneously—that made it easy to fit into our family routine. I absolutely loved it! Pilates focuses on strengthening your core—your abs and back—through quality movement (not quantity) and proper breathing technique. After trying Jazzercise, Zumba and other more aerobic classes, I found that pilates provided a much more peaceful, refreshed frame of mind, as well as the toning and strengthening my body needed. Another benefit to pilates: It builds long, lean muscles which are more flexible, rather than bulky muscles produced by weight-bearing exercises. Once you have taken classes by a licensed Pilates instructor and have learned most of the essential exercises, you can truly continue on your own at home by devising your own routine or by using DVDs. I located a few beginners’ YouTube clips if you’d like to give it a whirl:
Beginner Pilates Workout – an introductory workout especially helpful if you’ve never done pilates before.
How to Get a Pilates Body in 10 Minutes – a short pilates routine to use when you’re tight on time. Yet, it hits every major muscle group!
Stretchhhhhh…. Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
4. Yay for yoga! Many people confuse pilates with yoga, and it’s true that there are similarities. Pilates is defined as “physical conditioning involving low-impact exercises and stretches” while yoga is “a series of postures and breathing exercises practice to achieve control of the body and mind; a school of Hindu philosophy with physical and mental disciplines.” (Dictionary.com) If you take yoga classes, you may need to shop around for a yogi that suits your needs as a leader. Several friends of mine have enjoyed the physical aspects but have clashed with instructors’ religious beliefs. I did not have this issue; my pilates teacher would often switch between the two and mix things up during class. She used yoga primarily as a way to focus, center and truly “listen” to your breathing and meditate before and/or after the hard work of the pilates exercises. The benefits of yoga go far beyond exercise—yoga is said to heal aches and pains, boost immunity and keep illness away, improve sleeping habits and much more. Click here to read “38 Ways Yoga Keeps You Fit.”
5. Step it up! This winter’s miserable, cold weather made it nearly impossible to get outdoors to walk or bike on a regular basis. Feeling “cooped up” indoors, I discovered an easy way to fit exercise right into my morning routine without freezing to death: step aerobics. Again, using a multi-tasking approach, I have found that “stepping” is a great way to start the day when combined with the distraction/enrichment of watching the morning news (I’m partial to the Today Show). I started out with simple step routines for about 20 minutes and gradually increased to 30 and 45 minutes. I keep a water bottle close by, and by the end, I feel energized plus I’m prepped on the news of the day.
Steps do not need to be complicated; you can simply step up and down, across and backwards, or side to side across the step. However if you’d like to graduate to more complicated patterns, there are some great ideas on YouTube, or again, take a step aerobics class at your local gym, and then develop your own routines.
Jamie and Tracey of Breathe Repeat
A few more resources:
Click here for “Breathe Repeat,” a blog website focused on all things yoga. This is a great resource I subscribed to, after taking yoga classes from Tracey and Jamie at a conference in New York.
Our blogger Jen shares her advice and inspiration to moms who want to train and run a 5K – Click here for her helpful post.
Stretching throughout the day is a wonderful stress reliever! Click here for our blogger Jennifer’s post “Brain Strain: What We Can Upload to Unload.”
Wishing you all the best with your workouts! Feel free to share your tips, advice and ideas below. What works for you? 🙂