It is not easy as a mom to regularly exercise, whether you work or stay at home. Here are my top three tips from how I went, as a mom of four, from rarely exercising or even eating healthy, to taking back control of my health and fitness!
Links in This Episode
- MuTu System for restoring your pelvic floor after having babies
- 6 Exercises for Strong and Sexy Arms and Back
- Louise Hay's book, Mirror Work
- Ask and It is Given, book by Esther and Jerry Hicks
As mamas we are super busy attending to everyone's needs in our household and it can be super tough to fit in a regular exercise routine. We are the CEO's of our households and and have to take care of every need of our children, leaving little time for ourselves. As a mom of four, I was able to go from never being able to stick to a fitness routine or eating healthy to regularly exercising doing things I love, losing some weight and feeling very proud of myself by just changing three things! And they're probably not what you think. Listen to hear my top three tips to fit in exercise as a mom and stick to it!
Hi mamas! Welcome back. I'm excited to talk with you today about fitness and how to fit in it our busy lives! I have just 3 steps for you that have helped me to be able to stick to exercising and actually enjoy it!
So there is no such thing as mom who is not busy. It doesn't matter if you work full-time, part-time, work from home part or full time or stay at home, or you have 10 kids or 1 kid, or 4 kids, or 2, we are all busy. We pour everything we've got into raising our children no matter how many of them we have. We are all IN, emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually.
So fitting things in like exercise and self care can be tough. We've got errands to run, laundry to do, a house to clean, gotta spend time with our kids, help them with homework, got businesses to run, jobs to get to – it is tough to do much for ourselves.
I used to be Super FIT!
So I don't know about you, but before I became a mom, I was very active. I grew up dancing 5 to 6 days a week and performing nearly every month on the weekends through the age of 28 – I was SUPER fit, and loved to be physically active!
When I had my first two children, I was still teaching dance and staying active, but finding time to dedicate to exercise was super hard, as I know all of you mamas can relate to!
So, I kept blaming my lack of exercising and eating well on mom life. This is just how it is and how it’s going to be until they’re all in school. It's just gonna be hard. But still I tried to keep finding the perfect exercise program, switching to buying online programs, dumbbells, buying cute work out clothes and hoping they’d motivate me! Grasping at whatever new shiny thing came along – this will be my miracle!
But they weren't miracles. No amount of pink and purple yoga pants motivated me enough to get my butt to the gym to get a yoga butt! I simply didn’t have the internal motivation. I was still being so hard on myself and wanting something that was impossible. Oh it would last for a couple of weeks, maybe a month if I was lucky, and then fade out. I got so tired of nothing sticking and thought, is it gonna be like this for the rest of my life? I don't think I've got the emotional energy to keep fighting for it.
Everything changed when I changed my mindset first.
1 – Know You are Worthy Enough to Spend Time, Energy & Money On
So this is the first step – and I know this might sound totally cliche, but I’m here to tell you, if you want to be fit again, feel strong, feel and look healthy, feel proud of yourself, keep those promises to yourself, and for it to last your lifetime not just 3 weeks with that new exercise or diet craze, you’ve got to start with treating yourself like the queen that you are. THIS is what makes it stick. You've got to feel worthy enough to spend time, attention and money on yourself.
It's Not Your Husband's Job to Make You Feel Good
It's not our husband's jobs to make us feel good. Ladies, Imma say it again. It is not your husband's job to make you feel good. In fact, if he tells you every single day that you're beautiful but you don't believe it for yourself, the compliments won't make you feel more beautiful. It doesn't make you feel more beautiful because he thinks you're beautiful, well, maybe temporarily. You've got to tell yourself that and believe it for yourself in order for his compliments to stick.
How Do We Learn to Believe in Our Worthiness?
So how? How do we treat ourselves as queens? As worthy and loved? It starts with changing the way we think about ourselves and the way that we talk to ourselves. First, you've got realize that you are valuable, worthy, and loved unconditionally with or without accomplishments. No matter where you've come from or what others have told you about your worth, you are still worthy.
You Were Born Inherently Worthy
There is nothing you have to do, be, earn or have in order to be worthy. So, powerful, right? Not my words, that comes from Abraham Hicks. I'm gonna say it again –
There is nothing you have to do, be, earn or have in order to be worthy. You were born worthy. Think about babies. They are not less worthy of love, joy, relationships and happiness because they are not yet accomplishing as much as adults can. We know they are worthy because they are our children.
So how do we learn to believe in our worthiness and love ourselves again?
Well for me, I poured into myself into reading every self-help book that I could get my hands on. I watched motivational speaker after speaker on YouTube, and even attended some events in person like Dani Johnson's First Steps to Success and I also heard Abraham Hicks. Listening to people who think differently than me began to drastically change the way I thought.
Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life
I wrote down what I love about myself – my eyes, my hair, my toned legs, my cheekbones. And I highly recommend doing this – is there anything about yourself and your body you like? Find something, anything! Your left eyebrow, your ear lobes, your ankles, your lips, the color of your eyes. I used to hate being so fair skinned – I'm basically as fair as Snow White! My skin literally glows in the dark! And that also isn't acceptable in our society. But I've learned to love and embrace that, too. I don't care what society says, I'm gonna rock my bare white legs and know there is nothing wrong with the color of my skin.
I stopped allowing myself to sneer as I walked by a mirror. I really try hard not to jiggle my cellulite or poke at it. I know that sounds ridiculous to say out loud, confessions of a crazy sad mom, but I know you've probably done it, too! We like to pick ourselves apart as if our bodies are separate objects we're buying in the produce aisle! I'd like that perfect round peach, no bruises, no scrapes, perfect peachy color.
There's a great book I recommend for mirror work also, from an amazing spiritual teacher, her name is Louise Hay. Have you heard of her before? She is passed away now, but she was such a beautiful light in this world. She has many wonderful YouTube videos that I recommend. She speaks and writes with such love and a lot of her work was teaching people how to love themselves.
So in her book, Mirror Work, as corny as it sounds, she says to tell yourself in the mirror everyday, “I love you. I really, really love you!” At first, you may not even be able to say it. It might make you cry, or even weep. That's a good thing, though. You'll begin to heal.
Changing My Thoughts Changed My Actions
So as my thoughts and talk towards myself changed, so did my actions, and my behaviors. It is MUCH easier to change a habit when you've changed your mindset, attitude and thoughts about yourself first. SO much easier.
Eating healthy became natural, it wasn’t forced or out of a place to punish myself for having treats. I wanted to eat healthy because it made me feel good, it gave me my power back. I was proud of myself! I stopped following all of these strict diets and although those diets did help me to heal my eczema, I do believe my health issues were more spiritual than anything.
Give Yourself Grace
There's also a grace component here. I began to give myself permission to feel things, and acknowledge when I liked or didn't like something instead of judging myself – feeling like my feelings were wrong and should be different. For instance, I thought I should like going to a gym. Being part of a gym is the way to get in shape, so I'm just gonna make myself love it, darnit! But I didn't love it – it was really hard getting organized enough to go with the kids, worrying about the nursery and if they would be happy, getting everyone dressed and ready to go. It was such a hassle when my kids were young, at least for me. Some moms do great with it and love it! But it wasn't for me at the time but it took a while for me to admit that to myself. I was paying monthly to the gym and never showing up to use the membership!
I highly recommend becoming aware of your feelings – it's okay to not like something everyone says to like. It's okay to admit you hate that food, or diet, or lifestyle. You can craft your own active lifestyle, workout plan and diet.
So my acknowledging what I didn't like and removing the judgement from it, I began to realize what I DO like. I realized I love to be outside and take walks. I love to jump on the trampoline with my kids. I like to workout at home and do what I want to do.
2 – Create Healthy Goals
So the second step I recommend doing in order for exercise to be successful for us is to clear unrealistic expectations and beliefs of what we are think we are supposed to look like. Instead of wanting some unrealistic body shape, come up with goals that are suited to you and the way you want to live your life.
Like, I want to feel good, to have energy, to be strong and to be able to run around with my kids, to be healthy and proud of myself. Not – I want to get into that bikini next summer and have no cellulite and have a perfectly flat belly again. I've had 4 kids and have to be realistic and know that unless I get a tummy tuck and skin removal surgery, my stomach is never going to look like it did before growing 4 kids. I realized – I just need to own it and move on!
It's no secret that we are bombarded with images of what the perfect mom and woman is supposed to look like. I mean, it's bad enough being a woman without kids and feeling like we have to live up to that unrealistic image.
But as a mom? It is much harder. Bounce back after you have those babies! My body has grown 4 children – my belly has been stretched to the MAX, and given birth, and nursed, and gained and lost a ton of weight in the process. I gained at least 50 pounds with each of my kids! And let's say you've adopted or you're a foster mom – you've got mouths to feed and your body feels the emotional weight of raising kids.
Pressure from Society on the Perfect Mom
I don't know about you, but I really felt the pressure of feeling like I'm supposed to look perfect – not too chunky, not too skinny, perky boobs, cute round butt, no cellulite, gorgeous skin, shiny hair, toned but not like a body builder, and still looking FLY in a two piece. And don't you even think about showing the world you're getting older! Oh gosh, how gross! Get rid of those wrinkles, is that an age spot? Zap it! Gray hairs? Nope, not allowed. You may be 67 but you must still look like you're 27.
It sounds ridiculous to even say these things out loud, doesn't it? I don't know about you, but if I'm really honest with myself, I really have had many of those looney thoughts.
Be Careful Not to Blame the Fashion Industry
It's easy to blame the fashion industry, but honestly, it's is not their fault. They are reflecting back to us how we feel. Collectively, we create the fashion industry! Have you noticed how they're showing more plus sized models than ever before? Things are changing for the better because we have been changing how we see our bodies and what we believe about beauty.
The industry starts in our minds, our thoughts. Those are things we can change – our own thoughts and beliefs. So I've really worked on those and made a lot of progress in how I see myself. If all of us do this, just think how we will see all shapes and sizes on the runways, in ads and stores, and it will become the norm! You have a lot more power than you might think.
3 – Focus on Having an Active Lifestyle
So the third thing I recommend is to focus on having an active lifestyle. Maybe even sit down and journal this one out. You might wanna talk with your husband and your kids – have a family meeting. How can you have an active lifestyle as a family? Make sure to do things you all LOVE and think are fun, or this won't stick either.
Does your family love to go for hikes? Is it fun to go to playgrounds? You can workout at the playground or chase your kids and play around instead of sitting on the phone! Two birds with one stone kinda deal. I know my kids like to do yard work with us and it's a great way to spend time together and learn some science. Maybe during the summertime everyone loves to go swimming – this is great mom exercise and enjoyable for everyone! Join an aquatic center during the winter and go together as a family to swim during the winter.
When my kids were young, before they were in school, they loved when I'd turn on an exercise video and they'd do the exercises or yoga class with me.
Move Your Body in Ways that You Love
And now that they're older I'm back to doing what I love which is dancing! I go to ballroom dance classes and private lessons 2-3 times a week and can hardly tell I'm exercising because I'm having so much fun!
I also try to go for walks in my neighborhood several times a week. These are literally therapy for me! I bring my phone and listen to audio books, or my favorite podcasts and totally lose myself in that 30 minutes to an hour. It is bliss and I look forward to my walks, it's not at all something I have to force myself to do.
So, that's why I say, find ways that you LOVE to move your body and it won't be hard to stick to it.
The MuTu Exercise Program
One exercise program that I do highly recommend for mamas, is the MuTu program. It stands for “mummy tummy.” That's how the lovely English say it! But it focuses on exercises that teach you how love and appreciate your body and the amazing way it grew a baby (or 2, or 5) and helps restrengthen your pelvic floor, which gets so stretched out in pregnancy.
For most mamas, our stomach muscles do not go back together, causing what's called a “distasis recti.” This program helps you to close that gap. It's perfect if you pee when you run and jump, are having painful sex, are having low back pain, and have a mommy pooch. I've done her program myself and have a much flatter belly, way stronger core, and pee a lot less when I jump on the trampoline with the kids.
I'll have the link to her program in the show notes below. And I'm super excited to share that I have interviewed Wendy, the founder of MuTu, and she will be on next week's podcast!
How Active Are You When You're Not Exercising?
When we focus on having an active lifestyle, formal exercise becomes less important. I started to pay attention to how much I'm running around the house during the day doing laundry, vacuuming, sweeping, etc and recognized that I was actually pretty active! I was regularly getting my 10,000 steps just in the house!
Do you work outside the home? You can take a walk on your lunch break, or have a standing desk. Take breaks to stretch and walk around the office. Then on the weekends do active things with your kids. I know going to the gym is probably even harder for moms who work outside the home because when you're home, you really want to be with your kids and not separated from them even more while at the gym.
What Happened When I Changed My Mindset
So once I changed my mindset and set healthy goals for me and my family, I was able to find short workouts that I really love and can do while my kids are around. I like that they can see me working out and taking care of myself! These workouts take about 15-20 minutes – either some quick yoga, or lifting weights, or leg exercises. I have the arm workout on my blog, and I'll share the link with you in the show notes below.
So between focusing on having an active lifestyle, short workouts 2-3 times a week, walking when I can, and being aware of my calorie intake (but no special diet), I've been losing some weight!
And here I am a year and a half later still sticking to this. It is a part of my lifestyle now and I feel like I'll be healthy and active the rest of my life.
So to recap, in order to regularly exercise as a mom first you must realize that you are worthy enough to spend time, money and energy on. THIS is the secret sauce. All of the pieces fall into place when we embody this!
The second step is to create healthy goals that get YOU excited. Make sure to include how to want to feel, and not just want you want to look like or some number on a scale.
The third step is to focus on having an active lifestyle. Formal exercise isn't the only way to move your body. Find ways that you love to move and do that, with or without a gym membership.
The secret sauce is your MIND – not your actions. Change your mindset first, and you'll easily be able to fit exercise in as a regular part of your schedule.