Finding the time to workout

How do you have time to workout? Hmm. I need a minute to think about this, but here goes: First I made a decision to follow a plan, then I gave something else up and made time. I committed to do it no matter what, and showed up for that plan everyday. What does that look like in the day of a life of a mom of three?

If I’m working:

-I’m giving up staying up to watch tv and going to bed by 9 so I can workout by 5 and be done before my kids are up.

-I’m giving up my social hour at lunch to walk or walking with a coworker and having a brown bag lunch that’s healthy

-I’m meal prepping and taking hikes with my family on the weekends or running/biking with my kids

If I’m staying at home:

-I’m working out when my kids, use sensory bins, have daddy time or watch a pbs show

-I’m prelogging food or planning meals so I don’t stress/mindlessly eat

-I’m making my time a priority, even if there’s a mountwashmore of clothes that need to be done so I deal

I remember hearing, “I never lost the babyweight after she was born,” from a mom when I was growing up. I remember thinking how awful to lose your fitness. I had this misconception at the time and it was only by seeing moms that worked out later in life that dispelled that notion that it would happen to me, too.

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As I grew up, I played soccer and other sports. In high school, my soccer coach told us all he wished for us an active lifestyle into adulthood. Well, it stuck. This one person said he cared about this element of my life and it made a difference.

Let’s face it, who can afford not to work out? The risks of cardiac disease, type 2 diabetes, and a host of other lifestyle illnesses are so much higher when fitness and nutrition are off. When pregnant, many people are given the suggestion to “eat for two” and that after having kids it’s just “too busy” to fit in good eating habits or daily exercise.

A little bit about my background: I worked on my fitness and nutrition starting in college after I discovered regular milk and cookies are prohibitive of fitness freshman year.

In my twenties, I found tracking with a food log and working out at a gym (I used Bally fitness and a YMCA), was perfect. I even used a personal trainer for a few months. When I moved to the Hudson Valley in my late twenties, I started training for half marathons and a marathon to fundraise for the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society. A few months after that marathon I got injured training for a half marathon and my physical therapist asked me why I wasn’t doing strength training. At that point, I refocused and once again began a more wholistic approach to my fitness. My husband and I would hike and he took me to his gym when we were dating, along with doing long training runs and races together.

After I had my first baby, I promised myself I would practice self care. I wanted to be able to keep up with my children for a long time, and I was an older mother. I wanted to live a long life. When I discovered I had Celiac Disease and that my risks were higher for certain health issues, it became clear that I would have to be as serious as my Dad has been my whole life about nutrition and exercise.

I grew up with parents that had been born and raised in California. My Dad received the UC Berkeley nutrition newsletter (and still does!) . My grandmother baked her own seven seed bread from scratch back before it was popular (and I ate it as a young child). Having family that cared about healthy lifestyle made an impression on me. I wanted to give my children the lessons I had learned about self-care.

It takes a plan, and following your plan. And it also takes a plan for when you go off your plan. Something like: be gentle with yourself and get back to it the next meal/workout day. Also, it helps if you have a plan for meals/workouts when you are either out of town/on vacation or eating out.

I believe that you CAN do anything you set your mind to do. We all have choices from a given set of circumstances. Serving in the military is difficult, living in a war-torn country is difficult, seeing a loved one battle a terminal illness is difficult. Choosing to workout and eat well is…well, not difficult if you use that perspective.

I want to be helpful in this world, during my life and I don’t want my children to think I care more about the temporary pleasures of the candy and doughnut, or my excuses, than seeing them graduate or get married and have children. I didn’t want to be facing a health crisis when I had babies to care for. I didn’t want my spouse lose interest because I had forgotten to care for myself. So I’ve stuck with my commitment to self care, even on those days when I don’t feel like it, or I don’t get much sleep, or we’re travelling, or… you get the drift! So that’s it in a nutshell.

For details on my strategies for workouts with kids, for those of you that want to 1) stay healthy and live a long life 2) fit into your favorite pre-pregnancy clothes 3) get back into your hobby that makes you ‘you’ not just your child’s ‘mom’ (not that there’s anything wrong with that):

  • When I had 1 child: I ran and used a free weights strength training routine my husband organized for me when my son napped. Then I got a gym membership with daycare and trained for a long distance swim event and added swim training and weights to my routine. I also started logging my food intake with Myfitness Pal. When I went back to work full time, I modified for my schedule.
  • When I had 2 children: (Firstly, I walked during my pregnancy) I started doing Beach Body’s T25 workouts from home. I would set my 2-3 year old up with a sensory bin, (my baby at the time would nap and my toddler did well with independent play), or toys and I would workout next to him at home for 25 minutes 6 days a week. Later, I was working full-time I rowed and ran. Then, a year later, I found Kayla Itsine’s Bikini Body Guide and incorporated the resistance training. I had immediate results and liked the control I had over the workouts (not needing a TV). Once I started using the SWEAT app, it was revolutionary for me. I didn’t need much to work out initially in terms of equipment. If I couldn’t manage to get it done while my kids were awake, I would wait until my husband could watch them and then I would work out at night or first thing when I got up at 5am.
  • When I had 3 children: this became trickier. I had a baby nap schedule, a 3-4 year old, and a school-age boy to juggle, so it took a strong desire to get it done. But that’s the same thing throughout that has made everything happen – making a decision to do it. In the summer months, I workout usually only if my husband is home or the baby is napping and the kids are next to me (aka outside by the swings). Eventually I discovered that a 30 minute PBS program wouldn’t do irreparable harm, and I could work out and my children could be entertained and safe for that amount of time, while I got a good stress-busting workout in. If it’s the school year, I work out when baby naps or again at night/before the kids are all up.

In any case, it may seem overwhelming when you’re managing young children, but your health is important. I was told at a pivotal moment, that if I took care of myself, I was also taking care of my children. It’s true, plus you’re giving a healthy diet and modeling good lifestyle choices for them. That message resonated with me and since then, I have felt that practicing self-care is the best way to stay available and healthy for my children. So, for 30-40 minutes a day, I commit to that exercise time so that I am not a statistic. 

Having three children, was the most challenging and stressful adjustment for me but having experience making exercise a priority two other times, straight away at six weeks postpartum, I knew I could do it. I began with the Postpartum workouts by Kelsey Wells and then got back into Kayla’s BBG program.

I find myself managing better by starting with self-care every day. Right now Kayla’s SWEAT program is perfect. I can improve, get stronger and leaner at home. Where I live that means I am saving on drive time while keeping a baby on a nursing/nap schedule and all the other multitasking that goes with having multiple children (um… Laundry?!). Eventually when my youngest is more independent I would like to do PWR or BBG Stronger at a gym, but for now having the SWEAT app truly makes working out at home easier with 3 kids under 7 years old. Anyway, if you’ve this far, I hope you found some of it helpful. I will be happy if this information helps one mother!

Do you workout? Do you have an eating plan? What do you want to be doing in five years?

john pavlovitz

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