There are so many reasons to exercise from obvious, physical health benefits like burning calories and reducing risks of all sorts of bad medical conditions, to the more subtle such as mental clarity and enjoying a moment to yourself (not to mention the endorphin high.) Whatever your reason, if exercise is important to you, chances are it will be more difficult to come by once you are pregnant and/or have had a child. And let’s be honest, it is not going to be possible to do it every day, but there are things you can do to make sure you are getting at least a few workouts in a week, even during the craziest of mommy weeks.
As someone who values her workouts, mostly so I can enjoy dessert without guilt (okay, less guilt), despite being tired, too busy or having to share workout times with my husband, I am usually able to fit it in. And just to set the stage properly, both my husband and I work full-time so we definitely do not have a lot of extra time waiting to be filled.
These are my tips for fitting in the workout.
1. Set a goal. Whether its a 5K, 10K or marathon, sign yourself up. After having my first child, I was a little loco and signed myself up for a 50K but this time around the postpartum block, its a half-marathon that forces me to get out with my running partner at least once a week for a long run as well as a few weekday runs. It doesn’t matter what the goal is, what matters is that you have one.
2. Find a training partner with a similar goal. For my 50K, I was lucky enough to train with my sister and sister in-law who are both kick-in-the-pants-fun-times running partners. For my upcoming half marathon, I have been training with my good friend. If you do not have anyone in mind to train with, check outwww.active.com, or visit your local running or cycling store and ask about group runs or rides in your area. If you work, check with your co-workers to see if someone might be interested in going on a run or walk or bike ride with you at lunch or before the workday starts. Another option is to join a gym with group exercise classes. It is amazing how many of the same people attend the same classes, week after week, year after year that it almost turns into a community. Exercising with other people is not only so much more enjoyable but it also forces you to make a commitment to meet another person which is much harder to back out on than when exercising alone.
3. Obtain the support of your partner or support network. For me, this is my husband and before I sign up for a race or exercise regime, I make sure he understands the level of training it will entail and that he is willing to pick up the slack it may create in our household. Not such a big deal for a 5K or 10K but a bigger deal for marathon training or runs followed by excessive coffee time with your running partners. Regardless of the distance (or coffee consumption), support is important though because you also want someone encouraging you and reminding you of what you have committed to.
4. Be creative and flexible with how you fit it in. I have worked out at 5am, 6am, 11:30am, 9pm…it just depends on what is going on during the day. While I was still breastfeeding, I found it easiest to workout very early in the morning right after I had fed our daughter and then pumped out any additional milk I was storing. The same logic worked well for a noon workout from work when I would pump and then meet co-workers for a run. Now that our girls are quite active, my husband and I are constantly juggling who can go for a run when.
5. Find workouts you can do from home. I like yoga DVDs, P90X, Jillian Michael’s workouts and using our stationary spin bike we purchased a few years back. I have even resorted to running up and down the stairs and workout videos on youtube such as the 8 minute Abs. All of these give you a back up plan if you are unable to leave the house for a workout.
6. Schedule it. Create a recurring calendar appointment in Outlook or Google Calendar blocking out the time so you do schedule other things on top of that time slot.
7. Last but not least, invest in a good stroller. We love our Burley stroller (luckily a gift from my in-laws because they are a bit pricey) because it can be pushed for walking or running or also pulled behind a bike. It is a little too big for an infant though so when my girls were wee ones, we relied on a more infant-friendly stroller. Since I had a c-section with my first and could not push anything for awhile, my husband pushed the stroller while I walked next to him and our daughter. I didn’t have this same issue with my VBAC and could push a stroller immediately after returning home from the hospital. Find a stroller that works for you so you can spend time with your baby or child while you are working out. I always hated feeling like it was an either or scenario and am a huge fan of multitasking the workout with some baby-explore-the-world-time.
And even with all of these tips, there will still be days when you simply cannot fit a workout in. Don’t get discouraged and just try to fit it in the next day. Even though it is not always convenient (okay, almost never convenient), your body and mind will both thank you for it! It is amazing how quickly your body will respond to even 30 minutes a day.
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