Thursday, 7 July 2011

Fit Mama

To avoid confusion, I don’t mean “fit” as in “good looking” as the British often use the phrase. I mean fit as in healthy and in shape, although I suppose that is linked to beauty...

What mother has time to exercise regularly, or even to exercise at all? Free time is a valuable commodity as parent. On the rare chance that it crops up, aren’t we more likely to nap or drink wine or read a book than hit the gym? In many cases, probably.

For me, exercise has always been a part of my life. I played soccer for years growing up and was generally sporty (not necessarily good at sport, but just up for it) in school. You may remember that I’m a bit of a runner, in a non-competitive, I do it for my health and head space kind of way. Until LLC came on the scene I was a regular attendee of Pilates. I’m no exercise guru and some weeks I would do nothing, but it was a priority for me and I usually did some type of work out each week.

And that’s just it. Priorities. I’ve quickly learned that parenting only increases the juggling act that is the real adult world and if you are going to stay fit as a mom, exercise usually has to be one of those many priorities. (Unless you are one of those lucky svelte people that can eat like a horse and who has naturally shapely legs.)

But this is not about being thin. This is about exercise to stay feel healthy. Once I get over finding a free space of time and then dragging my booty out the door, I always feel really good for my efforts in the exercise department. I feel more toned.  I've given myself some time out to think of new writing ideas as I jog.  I’m not super fit, but I’m in decent shape and mentally I think the exercise does me good too.

You might be scoffing at me saying you have far too many other things to do to consider exercise, but, if you do want to jump on this bandwagon and are struggling to find the time, here are some of my totally non-expert tips to get started and stay on board.

  • Make exercise a priority, but be realistic about what you can achieve. Don’t go from nothing to attempting 5 work-outs a week. Aim small, doing one or two things a week. And stick with them. There will be a cumulative affect on your fitness.
  • Pick something you enjoy doing. Swimming? Walking? Yoga? Home aerobics dvd? Dancing? Give yourself one slot a week to do this activity, just one slot, and try to stick to it.
  • Stretch before bed. My calves tend to get tight, so I do some calf stretches before bed. I also throw in 15 squats a night. I’m still waiting for glutes of steel, but it’s better than nothing.
  • Walk walk walk and take the stairs. It’s hard to walk quickly with children...I can already see this now that LLC is just toddling. But whether you have the opportunity to push a small baby in a pushchair or walk to the shops, or to the office while without the kids, do it! Save your petrol and your commuting costs. Okay, this takes longer and time is of the essence, but if you can integrate more walking it is an easy way to fit in exercise and let your mind breath a bit too. Or better yet, find a time to do it with friends and chat!
  • Buy a cheap set of weights or a resistance band, look up some exercises online and do a few sets, one or two nights a week. I’m talking 10 minutes here. But if you keep it up, it does make a difference.

And tad da – you are a fit mama! Or at least more fit than you were before. I think it’s worth a try but what do you think? And do you have any tips to add?
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