Once you become a parent – your time, interests and responsibilities begin to shift from taking care of yourself to caring for another life as well. It can be a difficult transition to adjust your lifestyle, to adapt to this new responsibility, and usually – fitness takes the backseat. That is totally understandable. No matter what ages your children are, your routine is bound to face many setbacks and changes, that’s life. If we are not changing, we are not growing; sometimes you just have to roll with it. Being a wife and a mother to 3 toddlers, I managed to lose 80 lbs. and through this process, I have learned a lot. This is simply a list of the top 5 strategies that I use to maintain a fitness regimen:
1. Set realistic expectations:
First, recognize your starting point. If you are unsure, or just starting out, one way you can take note of your fitness level is to walk/run outside, or hit the gym; notice how long it takes you to get winded, or tired. After having two babies and getting minimal exercise throughout my pregnancies, I got the urge to begin exercising again! I started by going on morning walks and doing yoga. This was helpful so that I could get my body used to moving regularly. I noticed progress and felt happier, healthier, and more confident. Eventually after giving birth to my 3rd child, I joined a gym to participate in group classes. Now, 3 years later, that is all I do in the gym. I even enjoy doing two classes back-to-back when given the opportunity.
It was a gradual process with little baby steps. Making slight changes over time make a lasting difference! So, do not get discouraged if you feel like you are too far from where you want to be, and don’t rush. With effort and patience, you will one day be surprised at how far you have come. As a parent, your time is dedicated to shaping that little life, or lives, that you and your partner created. Try not to worry about having limited time. Just take note of where you are, get started, and watch yourself progress!
2. Eat a balanced diet:
When you eat properly, your body will respond with increased energy and mental clarity. Also, it will make exercising easier! Avoid eating out and enjoy using your kitchen. Not only will this save you money, but your kids will enjoy the comfort of a home, and home-cooked meal. This will bring you tons of positive energy. You will find more confidence in knowing the food you are putting in your body is good for you and your family. Also, as a little bonus, you will find confidence in your ability to create. Giving your body proper fuel will motivate you to move more and enjoy the moments you get to veer off and treat yourself!
3. Play with your children:
I know. It sounds too simple, because it is! Get up and run, jump, dance and play outside with them. Take them to the park and don’t just sit there on your phone. Get up and PLAY. Sure, it’s a great work out, but more importantly, your kids will be filled with joy to have their favorite person in the world playing with them. The joy it brings you and your kids will motivate and inspire you. This will keep you on track because not only are you moving your body, but you are nourishing your spirit and building a relationship with your kids. It feels good. If your kids are at the age where they are too cool to play with their parents, invite them to jog or walk with you instead. There is always a way!
4. Challenge yourself:
Once you get into a groove, recognize it is important to continually learn and try new things. Having a routine is important, but monotony is detrimental to growth. Apply this mentality to your fitness regimen and mix it up! You may feel uncomfortable at first, but the results are beneficial. One way to look at it is to avoid solely focusing on your long-term goal. Set up mini challenges through the process and you will find motivation in accomplishing them. You will also be reminded why you started this journey. Plus, as a parent, your time is limited and your daily life tends to be hectic and busy. Making small goals for yourself can help limit any anxiety or worry that you may endure. So, when setting these challenges, it is a good idea to make sure it is something manageable for you. A few ideas are waking up early for the gym 3 days a week for a month, a 30-day yoga challenge, or going on a walk every day after dinner as a family. Pick something, set a reasonable time frame, and commit to completing it.
Don’t put so much pressure on yourself, listen to your body. Being a parent requires many demands. Without proper rest, you have a greater chance of facing the feeling of burn out. Pushing yourself too much can send your results back, so be aware of that. After some time, you will have a better understanding of the signals your body is sending you when it needs to rest. The weeks can be filled with work and household obligations, the weekends are often packed with play, travel, and family time. Giving your body adequate rest will make it easier for your immune system to keep up with your fitness lifestyle and parenting responsibilities.
I hope this list will help any parent who may be finding it difficult to keep up with a fitness routine, or get started. Eat healthy, keep learning and move your body – it’s all about balance. By implementing these strategies, you will notice changes. Each positive change you make for yourself, the better off you and your loved ones will be. Just remember to be patient and enjoy the process!