Oliver Rossi / Getty Images
I am not one for diets and fitness crazes. First of all, food is delicious. Letting someone who whipped up a new fad with lots of rules run my life means I’d get less of that delicious food. No, thanks. Secondly, there is plenty of yum out there that can be eaten in health-conscious quantities, keeping the joy in my life without making my doctor give me the stink-eye at my annual physical. And finally, all those rules take time to learn and effort to cook. If I barely have time to pee, I definitely don’t have time to pick up an unpaid part-time job as my own dietician, chef, and personal trainer.
Staying active has always been a lifestyle choice for me. I feel my best when I’m strong, able to carry my kids when they need me to or keep up with them while playing together. I have tried gym memberships, but the expense and logistical of ever getting there made them impractical. Keeping fit at home in the windows I could find or create ended up being the best way for me to keep my mom bod strong and healthy throughout the years. Here’s how I do it.
Mini Morning Routines
I may not have it in me to wake up two hours before everyone else to make a run to the gym, but I can sneak in a little something. Knowing my own tendencies, I swapped out a gym membership for a workout equipment budget. After research and comparison shopping, over the years I added an elliptical machine, spin bike, punching bag, and free weights to a corner of the basement. Some mornings I take my coffee down there, doing interval training until the kids wake up and hunt me down, which is usually 10-20 minutes.
Set a Timer
Whether at home with the kids on a particularly inactive day, or working my at-home desk job, a kitchen timer is a huge help in getting me moving. I set it for forty-five minutes, then hop out of my seat and go when it tells me to. Jog down the basement stairs, stopping at the bottom to do a round of jumping jacks, burpees, and ab work, then back up the stairs to repeat this cycle two more times. Reset the alarm once you’re back in your seat to keep this up throughout the day.
Look at Waiting Time as Strengthening Time
Waiting for the shower to warm up? Do push-ups against the sink counter. Waiting for coffee to brew? Do some lunges around the kitchen. Waiting for commercial break to be over? Do sit-ups until it is. Instead of tapping your feet and doing nothing, tap into your creativity and do something that will work that body of yours.
Keep a kid-appropriate song list at the ready, so when you need to get moving you can pump up the jams and increase that heart rate. For slow tunes, scoop up your kid and dance them around the kitchen in your arms, holding in your core while you sing along. To really get the sillies out, pick something fast for a few minutes of frenzied dancing. Either way, you’re getting a workout in while bonding with your brood.
Make Good Use of Your Bathroom Breaks
Taking care of yourself means drinking a lot of water. Take advantage of all those extra trips to the powder room by doing heel raises, squats, and side bends each time you’re done washing your hands. (Bonus points for keeping light hand weights in there to add come oomph to those side bends!)
Find Fitness While Shlepping Your Kids Around
Kids at the park? Get up on your feet and chase them around the jungle gym. Waiting for the soccer game to start? Climb up and down the bleachers a few times or run a lap around the track. Is there a long walk from the lot to the ballet studio? Carry a kid in an impromptu piggyback ride. Wherever you may be, there’s likely a way to get your heart rate up or muscles working instead of plopping down on a bench.
Think to Yourself: What Would The Kids Do?
Is it prime time for a pillow fight? Are there muddy puddles in a warm summer rain to jump in? Do you want to build a snowman? How lonely does the neighbor’s trampoline look right now? Playtime is often active, so think like a kid and go have fun for a few minutes!
Add Yoga to Your Own Bedtime Routine
The kids get ten books, extra tucks, two cups of water, and twenty kisses before they’re done for the night. Why can’t you create your own routine? Every night before I hit the hay, I do a series of Sun Salutations. Not only do they center my mind and stretch me out, but they strengthen me with a plank in the middle, followed by a Chaturanga Dandasana—essentially a slow dropping down from plank to a lower “push-up” position, working every muscle in the process.
Once you add up these quick bursts of activity throughout the day, you get a bigger picture of better health and the kind of strong mom bod that helps you keep up with your kids. What could be better than that?