By: Coach Kaitlyn Bauer
These tips come with love and no bullsh*t. Love from a fellow mom who has gone from fit to fat to fit again with two kids in between and all the wonderful craziness that comes with motherhood. I’ve been there. I’ve had those days/months of zero motivation, self-deprecating thoughts, excuses up the wazoo (some were legit, I swear!), every size clothing hanging in the closet because my sizes changed so much throughout the year, no balance, no time to myself. My wish for you is that you embrace all the perfect imperfections of a “fit life” while raising your family. That if you’re feeling like “okay it’s time to get it together,” you are justified in making your health and fitness a priority, but it may not look like what you pictured for awhile, and that’s okay!
- DESIGN THE TIME (hint: something has to give)
I say design, because generally that’s what needs to happen verses “finding” the time. None of us have a free perfectly, shiny, sparkly “hour” that’s been waiting for us to find and scream “there you are little bugger!! Where have you been?!”
To incorporate anything new into our schedules we have to DESIGN space for it, and sometimes that means something else may not be perfect as a trade off. For example, my son has basketball practice on weeknights at 5pm. Well, there goes family dinner. Or even a home cooked dinner for that matter. Usually we are picking up Subway or Chick-fil-A on the way and me and my youngest son sit on the dirty gymnasium floor eating and watching big brother. Ideal #momgoals? Of course not, but you make it work because my son being on this team is important.
Look at your day. When can you carve out 30-60 minutes… even just 20 minutes for a high intensity workout? Is it super early in the morning before everyone is awake? Is it while kids are at school? Is it in the evening when you get off work or during lunch hour? (Does this have to be every single day? No! But we will talk about that later. )
But, find 3-4 days a week where you can CREATE time for yourself. Maybe the dishwasher doesn’t get unloaded, a pile of laundry doesn’t get folded, maybe you sacrifice your binge-watching of Handmaid’s Tale for this hour that will serve you better. Maybe you have to plan ahead more, prep things for the day, kids, and family to to free up some workout time.
Personally, my training takes me away from some house chores a bit, but I either hustle harder later in the day on them, or to be honest, I settle for less than an immaculate house and play major catch up on weekends (bleh)- but that’s worth it to me! For most of us who don’t have hired help, personal chefs, cleaning crew, something will have to give to make this work. Decide what that is, and find peace with it. It’ll become the new crazy normal, just like we make everything else work somehow!
- EXPECTATIONS – trash em’!
I cannot think of a more applicable situation for that philosophy than a mom with young children trying to establish a workout routine. The one thing I can tell you to be 100% true, is the majority of your workouts will not be ideal. Not ideal in as many ways as possible : not ideal length, not ideal intensity, not ideal location, equipment, or sometimes they won’t even happen!
I’ve had countless workouts cut short or never happen because my kids (ages 7 and 4) won’t sit any longer. I’ve had to stop in the middle of my CrossFit workouts to adjust iPad settings, break up fights, wipe butts in the bathroom, and open snacks. I love when I’m in the middle of a grueling workout on the brink of death, and my kids ask me to “watch” or “Mom! Look! Look Mom!” at their Transformer figurine do a flip in the air for the 800th time. Or my two favorites: 1) One of my kids pooped in the gym toilet, used THE ENTIRE ROLL OF TOILET PAPER and clogged the toilet so bad a plumber had to come the next day and use a bazooka-style gun to unclog it. 2) I had just set up all my equipment for my workout when my other son walked out onto the floor right in front of my friend jumping rope and projectile vomited. So that was a fun clean up and non-existent workout day.
I’m sure you see my point. Sh*t happens. As long as you’re a human being alive on earth, not every workout will be ideal. It won’t always be like this. Priorities and schedules change during the year or years. Things may not be ideal workout conditions now, but take what you can get, lay the foundation, build the resiliency , the habits, and when windows of opportunity to do more arise (because they will) you’re ready to seize them. Know they’ll happen and plan for those imperfect sessions, ride them like a speed bump and keep on keepin’ on. Yesterday’s blip has nothing to do with today’s efforts! As much as your kids and husband benefit from a healthy and fit mom, they also need you to be happy and not grumpy that your workout didn’t go as planned.
- MAKE IT COUNT
You don’t have to have a PhD in exercise physiology or have a certification in personal training to learn the basics of a good workout. People love to debate on which is superior: steady state cardio (example: the elliptical for 45 minutes) versus high intensity interval training (aka HIIT, or short but very intense high effort workouts).
The answer is : it depends. It depends on your goals, your preferences, and your available time. If you’re new to working out, or coming back from considerable time off, the truth is you’ll benefit from EITHER so it doesn’t really matter, just get moving with whatever is more appealing! A good place to start is 3 days a week. Over time, add in additional days as you figure it out and your body begins to adapt.
My first baby was a challenging little guy so leaving the house gave me anxiety when he was an infant. The thought of going to a gym and dealing with childcare was a hard no, or hearing him cry for 20 minutes in the stroller while I attempted to run outside was like “yaahhhh, I think I rather just be fat.” So, what did I do? I ordered myself a used version of Beachbody’s Insanity DVD pack. I did those workouts in my living room, sweating all over my carpet while my son napped. Was it like, so super fun and Instagram glamorous? Hardly. But, I did get a great workout, they kicked my butt! Those videos are of the HIIT variety and between 15-40 minutes long.
There are TONS of programs available now that you just do what they tell you to do, no thinking required! Find what works for you and sounds FUN! If you like running, take the babes in the running stroller. Design a HIIT workout (Google search that sh*t!) to do at the park while the kids play (yes, I’ve been that mom at the park…no shame!) But, MAKE IT COUNT with your best effort, avoiding just going through the motions. Be intentional with those precious minutes. To get the adaptation, you must provide enough stimulus to provoke the body to adapt!
I hope sharing some personal experience and thoughts helps you. I know people say all the time “it’s all about the journey” and we roll our eyes like “ooooookkayyyyy enough Pollyana B.S.”, but I can attest to this! I went from Insanity videos in my living room, to training for my first marathon with my running stroller and baby, to joining a HIIT gym and working out at a 5am class regularly, to training competitive CrossFit, and now I train AND coach CrossFit while being a nutrition coach. It’s been YEARS in the making, a slow progression, not perfect, but an adventure with ups and downs and plenty of setbacks! Do what you love for yourself, and those that you love will benefit from it, too!