Exercise. I have a love hate relationship with it. Afterwards I feel amazing, but during, not so much! Sticking to a solid workout plan can be a challenge, especially as a busy mom, yet it is one of the most important things you can do for your body every single day.
Whether you are a working mom or a stay at home mom, finding time to exercise during the day is difficult. Time is not on your side, so you have to make it happen. Ever wished you could magically create just one more hour in the day? That is me, every day.
Through a lot of trial and error over the years, I have discovered some great exercise tips to help busy moms create that extra time to squeeze in a workout!
MY CURRENT WORKOUT PLAN
Being home with a two year old all day long, I often have to change things up to accommodate her attitude. Sometimes she cooperates, sometimes she does not. Morning walks with her in the jogging stroller are one of my favorite ways to exercise. There are a lot of hills where I live so huffing it up and down those with a 30 pound toddler is a pretty good workout. That attitude I was talking about? You can see it for yourself in the picture below. First she insisted on walking without her shoes. Then, after running up a sidewalk barefoot, decided riding would be a better way to travel. She then still refused to wear her boots for the entire walk. It was maybe 40 degrees outside. Since she wasn’t complaining, I chose not to fight that battle!
I have a gym membership, but I don’t take advantage of it nearly as much as I should (especially for the childcare!). I do enjoy several of the cardio classes at my gym, as well as the spinning classes. Yoga is something that I really, really want to like, but just can’t seem to get into. Maybe because I can never shut my brain off. Or maybe because it feels so uncomfortable…Any tips you have for focusing and making it through yoga are greatly appreciated!
Exercising at home using a cardio video or hand weights is another option for me. Although, if I am being completely honest, is sometimes a serious challenge if my toddler is awake. There have been many times I have had to quit midway, or stop multiple times through the workout. Like this morning, she was super cranky because she had been up since 3:30am (which means I basically was as well). Exercise was the LAST thing I wanted to do. But I made myself do it. Bummer for her was that she ran up behind me mid-workout and I accidentally stepped on her. Which led to 10 minutes of tears and snuggling before I could get back to my video. Good news is that 45 minutes into a 30 minute workout, I finally finished.
Currently I try to exercise 5-6 days a week for 30-60 minutes. My end goal is to be doing something active every day of the week. If you are already doing that, you are amazing! I’d love to know your secret for squeezing in that extra day.
CHANGE YOUR MINDSET
I list this as one of my first exercise tips because I think this is absolutely one of the most important keys to your success. For me it finally came down to changing my attitude. I had to stop coming up with excuses for not having enough time to put my health first. My main motivation for working out is that it keeps my body healthy. I always tell myself that I get one body in this lifetime and need to do everything I can to take care of it. That is so much easier said than done, but it really was what I needed to tell myself to get out there and get moving!
FIND A BUDDY
You are more likely to stick with your workout plan if you have a friend. Knowing that someone is counting on me to show up and sweat with them, well, that is enough motivation for me. I’m not one to let my friends down. Exercising with a friend is fun too! You’ll always have someone to talk to and a buddy to push you through your workout even when you want to quit.
For many years a friend and I had a standing date every Wednesday morning at 5:45am. Rain or shine, we braved the elements and walked or ran 2-3 miles. Despite the early hour I actually looked forward to this. M – If you are reading this, we need to start doing that again!!
Okay, so this one may apply only to stay at home mamas or work at home mamas. If you have to go to work, you probably want to shower before you leave. But if not, no judgement here!
Unless I have an early morning appointment, I throw on workout clothes when I first wake up. After the big kids are dropped off at school I make every effort to exercise, whether it is at home, outside, or at the gym. I find that I am much more likely to exercise if I am dressed for the activity. Take a shower and get dressed and it is game over for me.
CUTE WORKOUT CLOTHES
Can I get away with this as a legit exercise tip for busy moms? If I have cute clothes to work out in, that’s a motivator for me too. There are so many great options at different price points (which I will be highlighting in an upcoming post). Some of my favorite places to shop for workout gear are Athleta, Nordstrom (love their Zella line), Nike, Target, and Old Navy. With so many options at different price points, you don’t have to spend a lot to find comfortable and stylish workout gear.
INVOLVE YOUR FAMILY
I’m home with my three kiddos all summer long…I love it, but it definitely makes it difficult to exercise. Often I will try to plan something active for us to do in the morning. I may push my toddler in the stroller while my older kids ride their bikes or scooters. Or, if the entire family is home, one of our favorite things to do is find new hiking trails to explore. We have a backpack for our youngest, but the older two have been hiking on their own with us since about age four. Find something that your family loves doing together whether it is swimming, bike riding, hiking, walking, rock climbing, whatever, and work it into your routine. Sharing this time with your kids also shows them how important (and fun!) taking care of our bodies can be.
TRACK YOUR WORKOUTS
Tracking your workouts can be done in several different ways. Through your Fitbit tracker (or something similar), mobile apps, a journal, or even social media. I know people who post their workouts or track their runs on Facebook. If all of your friends on FB or Instagram know you are tracking your daily exercise, they may help keep you accountable. Supportive comments from friends can also be a great motivator!
Another great exercise tip for busy moms is to plan your workouts each week and write them down using a planner or your phone calendar. I find that when I write down my exercise plan, I am more likely to be successful in completing it each day. I love checking things off my daily to do list, especially exercise!
FIND WHAT WORKS WITH YOUR SCHEDULE
My workout schedule has evolved over the years as I have gone from being kid free, to having kids, to being a working mama, and now a stay at home mama. While I try to exercise around the same time every day, it is not always possible. Here are a few things to think about when scheduling your workouts:
Wake up earlier
I’m not a morning person so I totally get it. This is a rough one. But sometimes it is the only option. Honestly, it stunk getting up to go running at 5:45am. It was not my ideal situation. I probably complained too much about the dark, the weather, or just how darn early it was. But every time I finished I always felt great! The best part about it was that then I had the rest of the day to accomplish other tasks. So set that alarm earlier a couple mornings a week and get moving!
My husband runs almost every work day at lunch. He is lucky to have an onsite facility that provides showers. If your company offers a small gym or locker room facilities, take advantage of it!
Obviously this doesn’t work for everyone. There is no way I could have left at lunch when I was a teacher. If you have a lunch break but don’t have access to showers, you can still get out and go on a brisk walk for 10-20 minutes. A little movement is better than none at all!
I have friends who build in time to exercise on their way home from work. Stopping at the gym or going on a walk may be the last thing you want to do after an exhausting day at the office, but I promise you will feel so much better if you do – even if it is only for 30 minutes!
A few of my friends fit in workouts after their kids go to bed. This is a great option if you are a night owl. Instead of binge watching on Netflix, head to the gym, do an at home cardio video, or go for a run. For those early morning or later evening workouts head lamps and reflective vests are a must, and can be easily found online.
10 MINUTE INCREMENTS
If you are short on time one day, you don’t have to get in all of your daily minutes in one crack. If you only have 10 minutes at lunch – throw on your tennis shoes and go for a brisk walk. You will get out and get moving, and won’t get sweaty enough to require a shower! Then, when you get home from work take the dog on a walk for 20 minutes and you are up to 30 minutes for the day.
SET A GOAL
One year I ran Hood to Coast, which is a relay race starting on Mount Hood and ending at the coast. Teams of 12 run a combined total of 200 miles over the course of almost two days. Each leg is anywhere from 3.5 to almost 8 miles, ranging in difficulty. When I started out training, I couldn’t believe I signed up for this. I mean, who wants to run that much in such a short amount of time? It sounds crazy, but it was an amazing experience! Knowing that I had something to work towards made me stay on course during training. I obviously enjoyed it because I ended up running it again a few years later!
Your goal doesn’t have to be an organized race. It can be to simply start walking or running three times a week. Or you could set a goal to attend a cardio class twice a week at your gym. Figure out something that you will enjoy doing and then write down your goal. Studies show that people who write down their goals accomplish significantly more than those who don’t.
GET HELP/FIND A CHEERING SQUAD
If you have some great friends, use them! Take turns watching each other’s kids while the other works out. Have a friend take your daughter to soccer while you go for a run. Use the daycare at your gym (I don’t do this nearly enough – 2018 goals!), or have your significant other make dinner while you hop on the treadmill.
Have a cheerleader, and be a cheerleader for someone else. Man, it feels so good to have friends in your corner to keep you accountable. People who you can share your successes and failures with while trying to stick to your goals. Find these people who will motivate you, encourage you, and pick you up when you are feeling down or feeling just plain lazy.
INVEST IN TOOLS AT HOME
You don’t have to run out and buy fancy gym equipment. My main home workout tools are a couple pairs of hand weights from Target, a yoga mat, running/walking shoes, and a fitness channel that comes with my cable package. Take advantage of the great outdoors! Go for a run, a walk, hike, or bike ride. Gym memberships are great, but can be costly, so if you don’t have one, don’t let that stop you!
My primary care physician also introduced me to the Scientific 7 Minute Workout, which is a free mobile app that takes you through a high-intensity interval training of 12 exercises. This is great for days when I don’t have a lot of extra time. Even though it is only seven minutes, at least I am doing something. Typically when I have to do this I end up adding time to another workout later in the week.
I hope this post has been helpful and motivating! We are all in different places in our journey to be healthy. The best thing you can do right now is to figure out what might work for you and give it a try! If you need a cheering squad, or more motivation, please let me know! As always, please consult with your doctor if you have any specific health concerns before starting a new workout program.
I would love to hear how YOU get your workouts in during the week!