Saturday, April 28, 2012


Earlier this week I got an email from a friend asking for my input on finding time and ways to work out as a mom -- she said she was stumped -- and I spent half an hour typing out this response.  I thought I might as well post it here as well.

It's easy to be stumped by exercise!!  It's a long-term project, certainly.  I was only exercising 30-40 minutes a week when I had my first kid or two, and most days it was hard and I hated it.  I had no desire or opportunity to run at that point, so I don't know if that would be a simpler way to start; I was always embarrassed to be huffing and jiggling in public, so I chose the home video option.  My sister is the opposite, she just can't hack the kids in the way and doesn't have the same motivation at home as she does knowing she's got a class at the gym.  So it's very much an individual thing. 

But, it definitely is worth it, and I've found that twice a week is the minimum to improve a little each time so that it's not hating-hard forever.  I would start a workout (an easy one!) and completely poop out halfway through, at about 15 or 20 minutes, and that was it for the day.  (Another advantage of the home option!)  So, if your hubby can commit to 20 minutes or so on Saturday mornings for you to do a little workout, it might keep you committed as well and isn't a long stretch of time.  (Who knows, it might motivate him to start something as well, exercise tends to have a positive trickle effect.)  Then you can pick one morning in the week when your kids some special toy or you get up extra early or whatever works and you do another 20 minutes.  It is frustrating at first, and little ones will have a learning curve as well figuring out that they'll need to stay out of your way, but after a while of that you'll start to be motivated by how you feel and will get a sense of what works if you want to go longer or add another day.  But really, it took me a year to get to the next level, so it's really just that little consistency that does it overall.

The only other thing I'd mention is variety.  That seems to be one big difference between S. and I, I go for tons of variety and he's very plodding in his choice of exercise from my perspective.  I guess whatever works...but there are certain types of exercise that are more important/effective for your overall health.  Weight-bearing exercise like running or jumping strengthens your bones AND cleans out your lymph system, which is excellent in terms of toxicity and germs.  Weight training tones you up and helps raise your metabolic rate overall, not just right when you exercise.  We've got a simple pull-up bar, but even just push-ups and wall squats and some other basic moves are very helpful.  Lastly, flexibility and graceful-type exercise such as yoga are also really great to include if you can.  They help prevent injury, for one thing, but also give your muscles the right "frame" to grab onto and build as you're getting stronger in other ways.  It's almost like a self-chiropractic type thing, to get all loose and stretchy and let your tendons and bones and muscles settle where they should.  I often try to meditate at the end of a good yoga session.

I've got more info than that, of course, because I've been on this lovely journey for close to 12 years now.  I have some favorite workouts on Netflix, but they're more advanced than when I started; but there are lots of options there, and helpful reviews for each.  It never quite seems to bring them up by genre, but if you search for specific phrases or studio names such as Crunch or 10-Minute Solutions, they'll bring up most of the good workouts.  They range from kickboxing (cute Aussie lady teaching) and disco/hip-hop dancing (Jennifer Galardi) to great fusion cardio/pilates (Ellen Barrett) and regular yoga and pilates (Lara Hudson), depending on how much energy and/or coordination you're bringing to the table that day.

One other option I just thought of is FitDeck.  It's a deck of cards with exercises on them, you can draw them out randomly or put them in an order if you want.  We have the kids' version which have cute names for all the moves, it makes it seem more fun and personalized.  I actually bought them way back as a way to deal with some anger issues in Ian -- I'd assign him a card every time he started to blow up -- but they've been very useful for exercise too.  Check it out online and see if that might be a way you'd like to go.

Happy exercising!

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