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$300 loan.
A baby blanket and exercise equipment are pictured on the floor.

In my pre-baby life, I exercised regularly. I easily fit strength and cardio workouts into my schedule most days of the week; I almost always made it to my favorite yoga class; I played in a weekly sand volleyball league; I trained for two half-marathons and several smaller events.

These days, I’m lucky to squeeze in 15 minutes of any activity: I desperately miss exercising consistently.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore my daughter and love being a mom. I’m just struggling to find a balance that allows me to satisfactorily live the values most important to me, including being as healthy and fit as I can be.

So when I read this passage from Laurie Kocanda and Kara Douglass Thom’s new book, Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom, I was comforted in the fact that I’m not alone in the struggle to fit fitness in:

Now that you’re a mother — with nothing left to imagination — you know there will be days when workouts will need to be squeezed in between feedings, when you may get interrupted during a kickboxing class to change a poopy diaper, when yoga will be preempted by Little League, and even times, yes, when you simply will be too exhausted to move another step.

These are universal dilemmas for fit moms everywhere. Some days these issues are little hiccups in our day; other times we feel like the groove is gone and lost forever. But you can be committed to both motherhood and fitness. Sure, the more you want to work out, the more planning it will take on the front end. That planning requires you to stay true to yourself and what is important to you.

Ah, that planning piece. Before having a little person in my life, I could head out for a run or go to the gym without a moment’s notice. Now there are naps, feedings and childcare to consider, on top of the preparation it takes just to get out of the house: Do I have my shoes, her bottle? How about Sophie the Giraffe, her very favorite toy that we can’t leave home without?

On the few instances that I have taken the time to plan, it’s been worth every ounce of effort. Case in point: I recently made it to a beloved yoga class at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I’d been trying to get to the class for weeks, but something always came up (at least in my mind!). This time, I asked my mother-in-law to watch MK; I packed both our bags the night before; I got up early enough that we didn’t have to rush out of the house. I arrived to class with enough time to settle in and chat with the other women.

Then, for an hour and 15 minutes, I moved into poses and breathed in ways that I hadn’t in months. At one point I pushed myself to a physical edge; at the end of the practice, I relaxed fully into shivasana. When it was all said and done, I left feeling strong, open and light. I felt like my old self on my way to pick up my baby girl.

It was a reminder of how important it is to make the time for me, even if it does take a little more front-end effort. It also made me realize that while I may not be able to get in as many workouts as I once did — at least not quite yet — there are still relatively quick and easy ways to experience the physical and psychological benefits of exercise:

  • Do a 20-minute yoga or Pilates video while MK naps
  • Take MK with me on walks or jogs, either in the front carrier or jogging stroller
  • Now that it’s light out later, go for a run AFTER MK goes to bed
  • Do squats, planks, pushups, jumping jacks, kettlebell swings or whatever fits the mood first thing in the morning
  • Do a 15-minute yoga sequence before bed
  • Use the exercise bands to create an at-home strength workout
  • Keep a stack of workouts that I can do at home next to my equipment so I can grab and do them when there’s time

The list could go on. . . . What are your strategies for fitting fitness in to your busy schedule?

Related Reading

New Baby, New Body” (September 2007)
Bye-Bye, Baby Weight” (September 2004)
Where Fitness Fits In” (Jan/Feb 2007)

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