Getting healthy as a mom is a major challenge. There are a lot of reasons for this. Primarily, there’s the time issue. Also, we tend to do the martyr/nurturer thing of taking care of everyone first. But here’s the deal: you are no good to anyone if you are not healthy. I liken it to the airplane emergency instructions: you’ve got to put your own oxygen mask on first before helping anyone else. You will be a terrible caregiver if you are unconscious due to oxygen deprivation.
Also, and from a more selfish point of view, I want you to consider your empty-nester years. Yes, the day will come that you will have some freedom again (I swear). Don’t you want to be healthy and energetic so you can do all the stuff that got pushed to the back burner while you were in the throes of Halloween costumes and school photo days and birthday cupcakes?
I’ve written about this issue in the past. In a previous installment of Healthy Mommy I tackled the topics of nutrition and supplements.
Today, let’s talk exercise.
This is a crazy challenge. I know. But it is do-able. Here are some ideas and strategies.
1. Accept walking as your primary form of exercise for the early years. It’s pretty easy to strap a kid into a stroller and get your workout in, every day. But don’t just go for any old walk: work it. Power walk. Or, better: do intervals. Pepper your walk with high-intensity bursts of up to 3 minutes, and you’ll burn more calories than you would with a steady pace. Other ways you can boost your walking? Steer your stroller towards a nice hilly route.
2. Go to a gym that has child-minding. Many recreation centres have this too. I saw a patient recently who goes to the gym daily (daily!) with her 6 month-old, drops the babe in child-minding and gets a solid 90 minutes of exercise and me-time. Awesome. If you can do this, you get the dual benefit of mental break from the utter relentlessness of parenting, plus physical benefit of toning that bod.
3. Exercise while your children are around, if you’ve got no other options. Invest in home gym equipment, or even just a couple of exercise DVDs. Let the baby roam around on the carpet while you get your workout in.
4. When your kids get a bit older, do stuff together. If they’re skiing–you ski! If they’re learning to skate–you learn to skate! And so on.
5. Turn on some music and dance at home with your kids. Seriously, in a 10 minute home dance-party you can boost your heart rate nicely. I know you’re thinking 10 minutes is a totally insufficient workout, but here’s why it’s not.
6. At the park/playground, instead of standing around chatting/drinking coffee/staring into space and thinking of how much you’d rather be at the spa…run around, climb the equipment, chase your kid. Call it a playground workout.
7. Take up running. For time invested, this is probably your most efficient workout. Many time-strapped moms turn to this strategy. Husbands and partners tend to get on board and watch the kids if they know you’re “going for a run”. (Why is this, by the way?) I have a friend, a stay-at-home mom, who became a regular runner shortly after becoming a mom. When I asked her about it, she said it came down to this: spend even more time with the kids, or take up running. She took up running.
8. My current fave: online yoga classes. See what I’m talking about here.
If you’re still not convinced, and your main argument is that you don’t have enough time, this is what you need to do: go to the library or bookstore and get the book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. Here’s my summary of this awesome, time-management bible.
Good luck. You can do it!