You’ve wanted to get fit for months, maybe years. But there are never enough hours in the day for exercise. And now with the kids’ homework and extra-curricular activities competing for your time, you may be thinking now’s not a good time to start either. However, learning to fit exercise into your regular schedule, and then adhering to that schedule, is a big step forward in itself. Today may be as good a time as any to make yourself, and your health, a top priority. You deserve it! Because a happy, healthy mom is a better mom.
Easier said than done, you say? All you need is 30 minutes, three or four days a week as a starting point. You can check out shape.com for exercise programs, expert tips, nutrition information, and an online virtual trainer to help you plan meals and exercise routines, as well as to track your progress. In addition, here are some other tips and ways to help you get started:
- If you can, sign up for a trial membership at a fitness center, and go there at least three times per week. That way if it’s not your cup of tea, you won’t have the guilt. Family-friendly facilities, like your local YMCA, are an excellent way to get the kids involved in fitness too. And, you’ll have access to their childcare services, pool, gym, group fitness classes, personal trainers and racquetball court. You may even meet some other moms there who are trying to achieve the same goals as you.
- If the first option isn’t feasible for you, find a moderate to high-intensity activity you love and do it consistently. Want to try yoga? Here are a few moves you can do with your kids. Walking and running are also both great options. Never run before? That’s okay! Start slow and work your way up. You’ll be amazed at how far you can progress in just a couple of months. You can find some great running tips online. Or pick up an issue of Runner’s World, at newstands. Have a baby at home? Bring her along in the stroller.
- Exercise at a time of the day when you’re happiest and at your highest energy level. Your workouts will be more effective, and you’ll be more motivated to follow through.
- If you don’t want to leave the house, pick up some fitness DVD’s and get moving. Even the half-hour length ones can be very effective if you use them consistently. Mix and match between strength training and cardio, since both are important for weight loss. Some great ones to try: The Firm series and Jillian Michaels’ series. You may want to invest in some weights (about $10/each) to use with the DVDs. Fit tv also offers some good fitness programs. Just don’t give up! You’ll get more and more comfortable with the routines with every use.
- If you’re the type who likes to commiserate with others to stay motivated, recruit a friend to exercise with you, and push each other to stick with your workout schedule.
- Pair exercise with healthy eating. We’ve all been there: Ordering takeout after a crazy day…finishing your kids’ mac-n-cheese and PB&J crusts. It’s an easy trap to fall into. Make a conscious effort to watch what you eat. Stick to fresh produce, whole grains, lots of fiber, nuts, legumes and lean meats. Watch your saturated and trans-fat intake and your sugar intake. Avoid excessive snacking and listen to your body’s signals when you’re full. Most of all, forgive yourself when you screw up, and start again fresh the next day.
- Start slow, and be patient! Set realistic goals, and reward yourself with a new lipstick or another small gift when you reach them. You don’t want to burn yourself out by trying to do too much, too soon. Don’t expect results right away. It takes about 6 weeks to notice the fruits of your labor, but it’s totally worth it in the end.
If taking that first step seems daunting, don’t worry. You can do it. It is possible. You may hit a few stumbling blocks at first, but stick to your guns and your new healthy lifestyle will be like second nature before you know it. And you’ll be amazed by how fabulous you feel. Best of luck!