Before baby, it was so easy.
While I had a weakness of margaritas and queso, and struggled a bit on always eating healthy, I could always count on my commitment to fitness. Cycling, bootcamp, Barre, Lagree, HIIT, yoga, personal training, 5k training — you name it, I worked out to it. It was not uncommon for me to hit up to 5-6 workouts a week, specifically a plethora of different exercise classes. Many weeks that included waking up for a 5 AM cycling class, or a 6:15 AM personal training session. Morning person I was not, but my dedication to hitting enough workouts every week motivated me out of bed. It also didn’t hurt that I would be charged an excessive “no-show” fee if I slept in.
And then along came my daughter.
I knew it was going to be challenge. I knew the glory days of having all the free time in the world to work out had effectively died. Early morning, lunchtime, right after work, later in the evening – the freedom to choose when to sweat out some calories would be different. But I still found myself every evening, workout-less, and wondering how moms ever find a moment to fit it in? Was this the only time to try, after 7:30 PM, when I always pondered going to sleep myself? There had to be a better way.
30 minutes, or any minutes, matter
Pre-baby, I would have laughed at the idea of working out for only thirty minutes. These days, it is my saving grace. While I used to enthusiastically attend 45-60 minute classes to reach maximum caloric burn, sometimes even two classes back-to-back, it’s not about the quantity anymore. If I can hit 30 minutes with everything I have, I still receive all the workout benefits, but get to return home to my baby quicker. Cycle Bar is a fitness studio in Lafayette that offers an Xpress class–this class delivers a high-intensity and high-calorie burning session in a quick thirty minutes. While the previous me would have scoffed, it is now my daily mantra: “Just find thirty minutes.”
Give up on mornings (or don’t)
While once upon a time, I could easily go to two early morning classes–maybe three if was a good week–there was no way this was happening post living the sleeplife of a newborn. In the beginning, I experienced such little sleep that I needed every available minute to rest. And even after she started sleeping through the night, I couldn’t fathom giving up such precious slumber-time, previously not enjoyed since before labor. The best I could do is make it to a 6:15 AM class, and this was pushing it.
Yet I know many moms with small children who are pure magicians, and this is the best time for them to work out. They don’t break a sweat at the prospect of waking up before dawn, to well, break a sweat. The most important thing is to find what works best for you, and what makes the most sense. As long as you are getting the workout in is a win in my book.
Take advantage of gym daycare service
I personally have not felt comfortable with this option, but there are many gyms that offer this service to members for a small fee. I personally know Red Lerille’s gym offers daycare. For many parents, this is a must and the only way that they are able to fit exercise in the busy schedule of working and taking care of their littles. Make sure to check out your gym and see if this a solution for you.
The digital age of free online videos
We have never lived in such a time where working out classes are at our fingertips – what a time to be alive! By just typing your favorite type of workout into YouTube, you will find an endless list of fitness programs. For those who can’t get away to the fitness studio, this can be your answer for a workout plan. During your babies nap, or after baby is asleep, or maybe while baby is with your spouse outside, simply click play and get moving. I discussed upthread that I finally succumbed to the idea of a thirty minute workout, but even a 15 minute or 20 minute workout can be just enough to get your heart rate increased. Especially if that is all you can get in a day, just plan on making your next workout a more substantial one. A very popular yoga series you may want to check out is Yoga with Adriene.
Leaving baby–and the guilt–at home with my husband
My absolutely wonderful husband made a deal with me earlier this year–he would be willing to pick up our daughter twice a week so I could go to a 30 minute spin class. My first response was to fill elated at the opportunity to have the free time to actually work out after work, after all, it usually is a speed dash to daycare to avoid closing time. But instantly the guilt set in. I have such few hours with her on a weekday. Was this really the best use of my time? Was I being the best mother to my daughter? In short–yes. The needed benefits of a weekly workout routine absolutely attribute to a more productive, healthier, and energetic mother. I think my daughter herself would disapprove of me not taking the time to exercise.
In conclusion, just make it happen.
I needed additional support from my husband, so figure out what that looks like for you. It’s going to be different for each person, but after you realistically make a game plan, treat it like a work appointment. That’s been personally key for me. No matter what, my husband knows that I will need to workout at 5:30 PM every Monday and Wednesday, which means our daughter will need to be picked up from daycare on those days. Sometimes the hardest part is managing our expectations and creating the plan. After that, things become a routine and each week gets easier. Good luck!