"Keep It Simple": A Fitness Mantra For Moms
I’m tired of hearing moms complain about motherhood. I’m not saying I’ve never done it, but just because I’m a hypocrite doesn’t make me wrong. I hear it all the time: in the grocery store, at the post office, on “mommy blogs,” and in the gym. At this time of year especially, as kids head off to school and life is particularly hectic, I think moms need to be reminded of one thing: Motherhood is awesome.
That applies to everything. Being a mom gives you an excuse to play, read fairy tales, dress up, try new recipes, dig in the dirt, be loud, and have fun. It gives you the opportunity to crawl, squat, bend over, and run after your toddler on a regular basis. For me, motherhood has been an endless well of potential for improvement– but only if I see it as an opportunity, rather than a burden.
Nevertheless, being a mom is a challenge, and it’s easy to fall into bad habits. Too often we use our motherhood as an excuse for devolution, rather than a reason to step it up a notch. Take this snippet from an article about a recent study on maternal health:
Quick, easily prepared foods are often high in fat and calories. Beyond endangering their own health, parents who choose these foods for themselves may end up serving them to their children, perpetuating a cycle of unhealthy eating, the study found.
For Sheri Lee Schearer, 34, a South Jersey mom, the study results reflect her life with a 5-month-old son. Before motherhood, when she worked as a paralegal, she had time to make a spinach salad or go out for one. Now, as a stay-at-home mom, she grabs whatever is easiest and quickest.
"I often find that his needs come before mine," she said. "Do I get to the gym? No. Do I eat always healthy? No.
Moms, when we find ourselves thinking this way, we need to take a step back and think. The “unselfish” tone of this statement is a disguise. Our children do have needs: they need us to be healthy, and they need us to be strong, because they learn from example. Obviously, giving them junk food is not satisfying. It might quiet them our children for a bit, but it’s not what they need.
And what about the gym? Another excuse. You don’t have to go the gym to stay in shape. I know as a mom that sometimes getting to the gym just isn’t feasible. The secret to staying fit as a mother is not frequent gym trips. It’s not Bosu balls, treadmills, or any other piece of fitness equipment. It’s not even the common phrase you might hear, “Make fitness fun,” because let’s face it – it’s not always fun. The real secret to fitness as a mom is this: Keep it simple.
Pushups, squats, mountain climbers, pull ups, jumping, running, climbing, crawling – these exercises are not beneath us. They may be all we can do when things get crazy. I would suggest that, instead of mourning the fact that you can’t make it to the gym because your children require your presence at home, you make three purchases for yourself and use them every day to stay in shape as a mom:
- A Pull Up Bar: Install one in your garage or another stable place. Practice every day and journal your improvement.
- A 25lb. Kettlebell: Swing it, press it, squat with it, and watch it “burn away baby fat.” Your children will think you’re really tough. My daughter calls it the “warrior bell.”
- A Jump Rope: For use when you’re feeling stressed, bored, or overwhelmed. Just ten minutes is all you need. Teach your kids “Miss Mary Mack” while you’re at it (or have them teach you!)
These three pieces of equipment, combined with bodyweight exercises, may seem simple and boring, but I guarantee that they will work in a pinch. You might even find yourself enjoying these simple exercises more than a trip to the gym. For those days when you have a a little more time for a workout, here’s a very simple sequence to do by yourself or even with your little ones. It doesn’t require anything except a jump rope:
Warm Up: Primal Move warmup video (Your kids will get a kick out of this)
3 minutes of jumping rope
Cool Down: Relax in child’s pose and breathe deeply while your toddler crawls all over you.
Motherhood is a great opportunity to bring out your creative side. It requires flexibility and a lot of dedication, both to your child's wellness and your own. When I find myself whining about mom stuff, I drop and give myself 20. I always feel better when I'm done, and my kids are somehow happier too.
Feel free to share your own secret workouts and other tips in the comments.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.