Having the cutest baby girl join our family has been the sweetest and busiest addition. When friends ask me how things have changed since I had Avery the first thing that comes to mind is how much TIME babies require. I completely forgot the huge change in routine that happens. The hour long feeding/burping/changing sessions that are on repeat 7 times in a day. The laundry loads have tripled. It takes twice as long to leave the house. And like every mom of a new baby, you learn to plow through your days and make this new chaotic routine become a happy norm.
Now that we’re 9 weeks deep into this chaotic-turning-predictable routine, I’m feeling a bit more motivated to make fitness a regular part of our days. Sticking with an exercise routine can be a struggle for anyone. I think most people can relate to feeling that after a day full of appointments, household chores, school and work, maintaining friendships & spouse dates, church responsibilities, and keeping an entire slew of little kids entertained & loved… what possible time is left in the day?! The idea of squeezing in a heart-pumping workout seems nearly impossible. I’d like to share with you some tips that have helped me stay motivated to the commitment of being healthy with such little time to spare.
MY FAVORITE 10 HABITS TO SQUEEZE EXERCISE IN!
- PLAN THE WEEK OUT ON PAPER. I quickly realized that I was not going to exercise if I didn’t have a general plan written down on paper. Especially now that my baby is needing to feed every few hours, I have the time frame already written down when we’re available to leave the house. By scheduling an exercise activity I’ll know when I need to have the kids and myself dressed, fed, and out the door.
- MAKE IT A FRIEND MEETUP. This is my favorite way of finding joy in exercising! I have found so much strength when I surround myself with women who want to help me keep fitness a priority. There’s a lot of vulnerability in sharing goals with a friend who understands you. There’s a village out there feeling exactly how you are feeling and wanting more. They’re wanting your accountability and encouragement just as much as you’ll need theirs. I LOVE knowing that another mom will be counting on me to show up for myself every morning. The only way I stuck with keeping active during this last pregnancy was from my gym friends who helped keep me focused and dedicated when all I wanted to do was stay home in bed. I’m so grateful for that! Having people cheer you on makes you at least 20% stronger. 😉
- DECIDE HOW YOU’LL SWEAT. This is the only way I get the absolute best workout in. Before a workout, I need to write out on paper what my plan will be. If I have the exercises and reps already planned then I can bang out a great workout without letting my heart rate drop too low from wasting time figuring out what exercise I want to do next. My energy stays high when I don’t need to figure out what’s coming next. Write out a game plan and you’ll get it done.
- FIND WORKOUT CLOTHES YOU LOVE AND CAN FEEL CONFIDENT WEARING. New workout clothes bring a new attitude. I always feel way more excited to get dolled up for an upcoming date with the hubs when I have a new outfit to wear! Similarly, a great set of workout clothes is the perfect reward for a few weeks of dedicated exercising. Things I specifically look for is a good support and coverage in bras, pants that can pass the squat test (let’s just all say no to thin and sheer material around the booty, ok?!), and breathable material in a top. I absolutely adore Senita Athletics! My outfit is all Senita and I really love each piece. Even better, the owners are 2 sisters who are also mothers to little darlings. Bonus feature: a pocket for my phone so I can quit dropping it from always having my hands full with kiddos and bags. It’s genius, really.
- EAT A HEALTHY BREAKFAST. This is a big one for me. When I start the day out right with an energy filled breakfast then I’m most likely to make other healthy choices that day. Plan your breakfast’s making sure to have a balanced meal. Keep track of what foods either drain your energy or boost it. You may need only a light snack to feel your best during a workout or you may need to eat a bigger meal 2 hours before exercising. Try both and you’ll quickly see what foods and amounts you need to exercise comfortably.
- DRINK WATER FIRST. Here’s another habit of mine that I always, always do every morning. It’s easy and I love to drink sodas and eat food. More drinking? Count me in. The key for me to be consistent with this is to fill up a huge tumbler (with straw) full of water right before going to bed. When my alarm clock goes off in the morning (the baby monitor ;-)) I can feed her while chugging my 32oz of water before I do anything else. Also, being the slightest dehydrated can dramatically reduce your energy output. The days where you felt as if you were dragging might’ve been caused by being a little dehydrated. Drink up!
- TRY GROUP FITNESS. There’s nothing like being in a room full of people where the energy is high and hearts are pumping. This is one of my favorite ways to get a sweat-dropping workout squeezed in less than an hour. It’s the reason I began teaching group fitness classes! I work so much faster in classes than if I worked out on my own. It might be a bit nerve-racking to walk into a large fitness room without knowing anyone. If I’m in a new gym, I’ll always introduce myself to the instructor to ask her to keep an eye on me because I won’t know what the heck I’m doing. I’ll also find a buddy to work out next to because getting to know the people in classes has provided some of my favorite friendships!
- CREATE A PLAYLIST YOU CAN JAM TO. No joke, this is a favorite of mine. The other day I decided to bring it old school with Brittany Spears and Nelly. Quietly throwing out the lyrics to Country Grammer from middle school always makes me pick up the pace during a run. Or Jay-Z’s famous rap brings me back to the days where I still had energy even in my sleep. Music is phenomenal. Use it! A rotating playlist full of your favorite funky songs is great motivation to get that heart rate up in such a fun way.
- INCLUDE YOUR KIDS. Days won’t always play out in your favor to get to the gym or to that favorite group class. Include your kids in a fun workout at home! Children love to move and they especially love to mimic you. When I’m at home, my older 3 love to jump right in and squat just as I’m squatting. It’s such a great way to bond with your kids. Not only this but it will teach them that their mama values her health. I’ve learned that children can be our biggest excuse to not work out OR our biggest reason to work out. When your kids see the importance of you valuing yourself they will grow to value themselves.
- REMEMBER WHY YOU STARTED. Dig deep down and decide what your number 1 reason for committing to stay active really is. It could be to boost your mental clarity and energy, sleep better, build strong bones, look good and feel good, maintain a healthy body fat percentage, or to simply feel strong and push through the goals you set. If you can nail down exactly what your reason is for committing to exercise then you won’t struggle to do it when you ask yourself , “Is exercising really worth it since I ‘m low on time?”. This is an investment into your health and happiness and nothing should consistently drown it out. You won’t be perfect at it and that’s okay! I know I’m not! Finding what drives you will help you maintain your focus in whatever type of fitness you love. All of these things will help you be a happier and more fulfilled woman and mother!
(Here’s a raw photo of my post-partum belly. Even though I’ve lost most of the baby weight I will always have my loose, flabby, stretched out, belly. Right now it hangs over my pants. I’m sure it’ll tighten up a bit more in it’s own time through healing. After my other pregnancies I’m sure I struggled with my body image. I’m sure that I felt embarrassed to be in swimsuits and intimate with my hubs. But after this last pregnancy, not once have I felt any of that. Crazy, right? Maybe I’ve felt a whole lot of extra grace towards myself. Maybe it’s knowing that I can eventually get exactly where I want to be with keeping active. This body grew my 4 beautiful babies. My belly shares my life’s story of being a mother and this is exactly what needed to happen to bring them here. I can’t resent that. I feel the intense and heart-wrenching love that I have for them when I recognize what I’ve sacrificed to be their mama. And it will forever be an honor to have the stretched out skin from a womb that carried all of my babies.)