As a mother of two, it often feels impossible to keep up with a workout regimen. When my kids were young, I surrendered for many years to an almost nonexistent exercise routine, replacing my much beloved fitness classes with stroller pushing, diaper changing, and toddler chasing. I clung to the belief that once my children were older, I could reclaim my day and restore consistency to my workout schedule.
After I had my daughter, I carried an extra 40 pounds. I initially tried to exercise by myself at home, but when I couldn’t perform the most basic Pilates moves because of my size, I grew despondent. I kept asking, “Will I ever get back to my pre-baby weight?” The more I struggled to become my “old self,” the more frustrated I became.
Once my daughter was 6 months old and the initial shock of parenthood had passed, I took a moment to gain clarity on what I really wanted from exercise. I made a choice to stop trying to get “back” to a version of myself that no longer existed.
I bought a top-of-the-line jogging stroller and began to run with my daughter, twice a week, breathing in the fresh air and cleansing my mind. Running made me feel renewed, recharged. It was only then that the pounds finally began to melt away.
I used to work out to look good. I loved being in the club of the über-fit who embraced exercise as a paramount priority and reaped the aesthetic rewards. But once I become a mother, working out became a means to achieve a much-needed mental cleansing. It helps me develop long-lasting energy to support my family, and an opportunity to set an example for my kids, to teach them that fitness is so much more than fitting into your pre-baby jeans.
Don’t let getting “back” to your old self become an all-consuming ordeal. The more you take care of yourself and love the present you, the more energy and focus you can offer your kids, and the more clearly they will see the beauty and radiance of who you are right now.
Here are some rules I've followed on this journey:
1. If you can’t do 60 minutes, six minutes is just fine.
As a mother, stealing away for 60 minutes (plus the time it takes to get to and from your favorite class) often isn’t realistic. Chisel your workouts down into bite-size bits. Jump on YouTube and find clips from your favorite fitness star, pop in a DVD and do a small section of the workout, or roll out your mat and do 10 minutes of yoga before bed. These mini-workouts will keep your joints moving and blood flowing, helping you feel refreshed and strong.
2. Make a weekly date — with your workout buddy, not your spouse.
Commit to going to a weekly class, rain or shine. Let your significant other hang out with the kids and enlist another mom who needs those few hours of “kid-free” time as much as you. You’ll have a blast talking to a real adult, you’ll laugh over mommy war stories, and you'll return from your workout rejuvenated and relaxed!
3. Ask for support in the form of self-care.
Maintaining a healthy body and mind is not just about jumping around at the gym. It’s about sensing when you may need a candlelit bubble bath, a massage, or even a simple mani-pedi. So when your loved ones ask what they can do for you, tell them you’d love them to take care of your kids for a few hours so you can take care of YOU. Don’t feel guilty. We all need to recharge our batteries.
Our bodies are miracles — strong, resilient, and capable of creating another life! Give yours the credit it deserves and, even though it might not look quite like it did in your twenties, offer your body those invaluable moments of movement, self-love, and self-care it needs to carry you through the profound journey of motherhood.