“Be Strong Not Skinny” and other nauseating fitness slogans are all over Instagram and it feels like all of my Facebook friends have taken up running 5k en masse which will cost me about that much in sponsorship. In short, the world has gone fitness mad seemingly over night. I, on the other hand, feel pretty beaten up by having two pregnancies in fairly close succession, function on very little sleep and have turned into the cookie monster at play groups, devouring platefuls of shortbread to avoid having to chit chat with other parents. I wanted to get back in shape but really do not want to go on a restrictive diet which left only one option, move more. Also, I need the promise of at least one bar of Dairy Milk after their bedtime to see me through.
Last year, I decided to get fit and joined our local gym, I won’t bore you with the reasons why it is important to move more, as I find myself saying 10 times daily to my 3 year old “It just is”. Aside from feeling horrendously unfit, my biggest struggle was sticking at doing something regularly and just for me. Since having children I have found it near enough impossible to maintain anything of my own for any length of time, friends I used to see regularly are a monthly WhatsApp message at best and I think I have the number of a beautician in my phone…somewhere. It really isn’t easy to make time for yourself so here are my 10 tips for sticking to a fitness plan. This blog is fitness related but the tips can apply to any pursuit you want to do for you:
- Just Do It – Nike does have a point, sometimes you just need to get one with it. Another irritatingly accurate slogan is “You will never regret the workout you don’t do.” Even if you go and do nothing but read the subtitles to Corrie from the comfort of the sit down bike, you will do more than if you didn’t go at all. Fact. As a stay at home mum, there will be countless times that you can’t get to the gym so there is probably very little risk of your going too often so when you can, go.
- Play Pretend – For one hour a week I go to a boxing class where I pretend to be Anthony Joshua preparing for a fight. Perhaps not the most obvious choice for a five foot nothing mum of two but this is my fantasy. I get to punch away all of my frustration of being around irrational toddlers all day. Last week my crazy, slightly scary, boxing instructor called me “Robo Mum”. I’ll take that.
- Feel The Fear – I have a fear of stopping, if I don’t go at least 3 times a week I am convinced I will never go again. It isn’t a rational thought but it gets my trainers on. Another mum friend goes to netball because the only thing that motivates her is not wanting to let the team down.
- Tag Out – I go to the gym whenever my husband gets home. He gets time to be at home with the children on his own, without me helicopter co-parenting him and when they are in bed he has time to himself, which is especially important during the World Cup, apparently.
- Get It In The Diary – it’s so easy to let everything be driven by someone else’s schedule, especially if your other half works late. My boxing class is a regular fixture and my husband plans around it. I know it isn’t as “important” as a work event but respecting that as my free time and planning around something that is important to me helps maintain our equal partnership.
- Splash Out – Buy nice work out clothes, get a personal training session, join a nice gym. Do whatever you need to do so it feels like a privilege, not a chore.
- There’s An App For That (probably) – Ideally I would have a personal trainer move into my house because I need someone to tell me what to do. I use a fitness app instead. There are lots available, I use one called SWEAT. It’s a gruelling circuits workout but it’s efficient, I can use it whenever and it is much more affordable than a trainer.
- Muscle Weighs More Than Fat – Don’t be disheartened if you gain weight. I find this one difficult. I used to weigh myself daily so the idea of being ok with putting on weight seems counter intuitive but it is a fact, muscle is heavier so will weigh more. Avoid the scales and go with how your clothes fit and how you feel.
- Catch The Gym Bug – After a workout lovely serotonin endorphins rush around your body putting you in a great mood. Do not go because you need to change anything about yourself. Repeat after me: I am enough. For more on this, check out my guest post on Honest Mum 10 Tips To Stop Feeling Overwhelmed as a stay at home mum.
- Stay Close To Home – The very best piece of parenting advice I have ever received was to make life easier by choosing child care within walking distance to our house. Well, the same is true for your gym. Travel can be the added barrier to demotivate you plus you can warm up on your way on foot. That said, getting out of the house will stop you going stir crazy.
This all comes with the huge caveat, only start working out when you are ready to. Check out Zoe Withers brilliant article Why Body Patience After Pregnancy Is So Important.
What are your tricks for getting regular me time?
If you enjoyed this, check out my blog Parenting Advice From An 80s Dad To His Millennial Daughter.