This weekend, while standing in checkout line at the supermarket, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my failure (so far) to stick to my healthy New Year’s resolution to get back in some semblance of shape. Even my favorite guilty pleasure, US WEEKLY, featured Trista of Bachelorette fame beaming from the cover with a perfect, size 2 beach body – complete with ripped abs – a mere 5 months after her baby’s birth. Meanwhile, my three-year old poked my tummy last night and asked if I had another baby in there. I really do want to get back on the right fitness track, but between work and home, needy colleagues and kids, my “exercise time” gets whittled down to nothing. What is the secret to getting regular exercise if you’re a working mom?
Believe us, we feel your pain. If only juggling a thousand responsibilities a day resulted in 6-pack abs! One thing we do know is that trying to measure your own “success” by another person’s yardstick is a recipe for failure. In that spirit, here are a few tips that are designed to help working moms get moving in the New Year. And for all of you working moms who have figured out the secret recipe for carving out exercise time, please share your thoughts with other Mommy Track'd readers.
- Don’t comparison shop. Here’s a definite recipe for giving up before you start: comparing yourself to millionaire celebrities who work twelve weeks out of the year and whose job it is to look beautiful. You, on the other hand, are living the life of a real woman with other concerns than how your body looks in a bikini. Setting an unrealistic goal that you will inevitably fail to meet tends to have a depressing effect on motivation. Rather than setting an external benchmark or even a static goal, instead define your ideal end state first as a positive state of mind (being happily fit vs. six-pack abs) and then as an acceptable range of weight and fitness goals. Then sticking to your plan will be much easier.
- Shift your perspective. The first thing you need to do is stop looking for the kind of openings in your schedule you used to have before you had children. There is really no such thing as a 1 ½ hour window to workout and shower/change when you’re juggling a career and a young family. Instead, you need to figure out ways to incorporate more exercise into your daily routine. Turn playtime with the kids into an aerobic exercise with a game of chase or by cranking some tunes and dancing with them. Additionally, look for ways to double-down on time windows you’re already using to run errands and skip the car. For example, turn a 20 minute trip to the supermarket into a 40 minute rount-trip walk to the local store using your child’s stroller to carry the bags.
- The body feeds the mind. When you work up a good sweat, you often find peace of mind. But how can you possibly do that in a week filled with responsibilities? Answer: you probably can’t. But it is possible to do at least once on the weekend. Many moms have found that first thing Saturday morning is the best time. You might even see if dad can take the kids to an outing that you can join them at later so that your after-workout shower at home puts the finishing touches on your state of pure relaxation—then buy another copy of US WEEKLY and get your strength workout ripping it to shreds.
Don’t forget - all of you working moms, please post your thoughts or issues about staying on the right fitness track with other Mommy Track'd readers.