Whether you’re a new mum, toddler mum or mum of teens, you’ll know that the better you feel, the better mum you can be.
And what better way to feel positive, strong and body-confident than working out? From the endorphin rush of pushing yourself to your limits, to the high of conquering your fitness fears, to the simple peace of putting on your headphones and blocking out the world, there is nothing quite like a great workout to put a smile on your dial.
But life can often get the way. If you’re juggling school run, day care, extracurricular sports and your own work, your gym bag can lay untouched for days… or even weeks. So here’s my Top Five Tips to Fitting Fitness In. I hope they add a little motivation to kick the winter blues now that the mornings are getting colder. And perfect timing for Mother’s Day, to remind yourself that the best investment you can make in your family is investing in YOU.
1. Prep for success – meal prep, that is!
Every Sunday is meal prep day in my house, and I do a top-up prep on Wednesdays. It’s the day we grocery shop, plan our meals for the week – including kids’ lunchboxes – and cook ahead to make those hectic mornings and fly-through-the-door weeknights run so much more smoothly.
I bulk-make recipes that can be portioned in advance (spaghetti, curry, Mexican rice and individual serves of chicken are all on high rotation in my fridge), bake clean treats for snacks so we’re prepared if cravings strike, and write out our menu for the week so we never fall prey to the ‘what’s for dinner’ mindset (which often leads to takeout!).
And the added bonus? There’s no food wastage when you plan your menu before you shop. With a family of six, shopping healthily on a budget is a priority for us – I stretch every dollar and ensure I’m nourishing my tribe.
2. Have a plan
If you wander into the gym without a clear plan, chances are you’ll do a half-hearted workout (or worse, convince yourself not to even go!). Know exactly what you’ll be training and when. Have a clear plan and you’ll maximise every minute of your workout. I follow a structured program so that every workout is mapped out in advance – from the day’s exercises, to the sets and reps. There’s no opportunity for cheating and I can monitor my progress week by week – which provides added motivation for that next session!
3. Book it in
You never miss a dentist appointment, you run your mornings military-style to get the kids to school on time, so treat your fitness with the same focus. Block out time in your diary in advance and treat it like a meeting with your boss – don’t dare cancel! I get up and out before my kids even open their eyes in the morning because that’s what works for our family, but if a mid-morning session works for you, or you prefer to train at night to shake off the day, do it.
We have a family diary with all our appointments, training sessions and commitments blocked in advance – five minutes on the weekend sets you up for the week. Try it this weekend!
4. Do what you love
Weight training is my thing, cardio is not. So I don’t spend hours running or riding – I focus on the activities I love to do. If you find your ‘thing’, fitting it in will never be a problem. It’s like that saying, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Translate that to fitness and you’ll never dread a workout or find yourself putting it off.
Get yourself a great playlist, find a space that you love – whether that’s the gym, the pool or the paths around our national parks – and commit to investing your time in that ‘thing’ that fuels your fire and renews your energy. Your body, and your family, will thank you for it.
5. Involve the kids
Sometimes, the best laid plans still go pear-shaped. If 6am is your gym time, but you wake up with a little body in your bed and no chance of leaving the house, surrender to it and simply train with the kids. A quick circuit in the backyard, jumping on the trampoline or a before-school beach walk still ensures you’re getting the blood pumping and role modelling the benefits of being active for your kids.
When you’re juggling kids and fitness goals, flexibility is key. Sometimes a dance party in the loungeroom is as good as it gets. So turn the music up, embrace it and get sweaty. You won’t regret it. And your kids will love it.
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