If there’s one challenge I think most moms face among the many other challenges of parenting, its how to stay motivated to keep fitness a consistent part of an already jam-packed life. When we do find a few free moments, working out is often the last thing we want to do.
One thing I’ve learned in parenting is that fitness is not just key in taking our bodies back, it is unbeatable when it comes to relieving the accumulated day-to-day stress. Still sticking to it can be a real struggle. Here are my tips on how to maintain motivation, even amidst the chaos.
1. Fix Your Inner Dialogue
The biggest part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is fixing your inner dialogue (and that WILL require ongoing maintenance). That means changing how you talk TO and ABOUT yourself. Negative talk and a negative view will negate your efforts and make any health & fitness plan unsustainable. Any time you start thinking things like “I’m fat and out of shape” shut it down with “no. I’m healthier than I’ve been in a long time and steadily getting stronger/faster/fitter/hotter.” In the strain of it, reject “I’m tired…it hurts…I can’t do this…” Envision the results you WILL attain and remind yourself “I’ve got this!”
2. Schedule it!
You and I both know that if you don’t make time, you won’t find time! Schedule other meetings and appointments around it. You’re already booked for that block of time. Be dressed and ready on time! Getting out of those comfy pants in the morning and into those sneakers can really help reset your mindset and get you geared for what you’ve commited to do.
3. Commit to 10
Commit to at least 10 minutes, agreeing with yourself that even when you don’t want to do it at all, you’ll do at least 10 minutes. Odds are high that you won’t just quit by that point, you’ll keep pushing and even if you don’t, you still brought the effort and reinforced making fitness a daily/weekly habit. Trust me. There are days when it’s the last thing I want to do but sometimes I just have to pop that disc in and have it staring me in the face for me to say ug! Alright, alright already…I’ll do it!
4. Find Your Soul Mate Workout
If you hate it, you’ll dread it. I’ve done so many different kinds, yet I keep going back to that TurboFire because it’s fun to me. I love kickboxing and dancing so it’s right up my alley. When I’m wanting to take it slow but get a good sweat, I break out PiYo or Body Beast. (Not trying to promote BeachBody. I don’t sell it. These are just my personal faves.) Some prefer running solo and using the time to escape while some prefer a class setting where others push them to work harder. You’ve got to find this for yourself and when you do, it won’t seem so much like work but something you feel proud to be good and getting better at.
5. Mix It Up
Even when you really love one workout in particular, you still need to mix things up to keep it from getting boring and to maximize your results. Many find that they “plateau” after a long period of doing the same workout. Make sure you shake things up a bit and get a fair share of stretch, strength and cardio work.
Also, don’t miss opportunities to slip movement in throughout the day. It doesn’t have to be all at once. Tell your body it’s time to step up its game by placing more demands on it. It will do what it’s been made it to do.
6. Watch Where You’re Going
Look more at your progress than the distance yet to be traveled. Looking ahead should be with hope, excitement and determination, not with overwhelm. Looking at it in terms of how far you are from where you want to be makes it to easy to ditch the effort. Thinking in terms of how much closer you are to where you want to be is a good motivator to stick to it.
When you say “no. I’ve already lost 10 lbs and I AM NOT going back,” it will help you stay on track and may just give you the boost you need to take each work out to a whole new level.
7. Clear the Closet
Get rid of the clothes you’ve shrunk out of and buy at least one thing you love one size too small. I’ve steadily done this from a 16/18 to a 4/6. Keeping the big clothes “just in case” is the same as giving yourself permission to go back and undo all you’ve worked so hard to achieve! It’s another way of calling your ability to stick to it into question which ABSOLUTELY primes you for failure and self-loathing.
Getting rid of the old is a way of determining you’re not going back there so there’s no point in keeping “the big girl clothes” while buying the new will help with motivation and make you feel ecstatic and really good about yourself when you get to wear it for the first time.
8. Fuel Up
If you want to crush a workout, you’ve got to fuel for it! Under-fueling amidst a workout routine is a key factor in failure. If you don’t have the energy to do it, you will feel like it is an impossible feat. You’ll drag, ache and burnout quicker than a matchstick if you don’t give your body the fuel it needs to power through. While a calorie-deficit will help you lose weight, inadequate caloric-intake prior to a workout may just break you.
Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel source – especially simple ones! Think fresh fruits and smoothies. If you’re in for a long-haul, adding complex carbs (like oats or whole grains) can help you fuel up with sustainable energy. Proteins are harder to break down, taxing more energy for digestion and, consequently, leaving less energy for you to step up and bring it. Fatty foods (even healthy ones), pre-workout, slow the body down even more so than proteins. Simple carbs will provide your body with that quick burst of energy it needs as you step onto the track, into the gym or up to the plate in your own home.
9. Set the Pace
Think about a fitness plan in terms of what you’re establishing not just for yourself but in your kids’ lives as well. Think about the kind of life you want them to live and realize that one of the best things you can do for them is to lead by example. You want them to be healthy. You want them to be strong. And, you sure don’t want them to be afraid to grab the bull by the horns to accomplish their greatest goals in life. Show ’em how it’s done!
My daughter has become my favorite workout buddy and her younger brother has been getting in on the action too. When we go for it, even on the days that its evident to all that we REALLY don’t want to, we teach our kids valuable lessons about what can be accomplished by pushing past the I-don’t-wanna’s and holding tightly to “I CAN AND I WILL!”
Exercise is not just about weight! It will boost their immunity, intellectual capacities and their confidence! Now tell me that in itself isn’t worth it!
10. See the Line Between Self-Sacrifice & Self-Neglect
You’re a mom. I get it. You give and you give and you give. You try to put your family’s needs before your own and because of that, it’s often hard to justify taking time away from their needs to focus on you. Still, there’s a great deception at play here. What we so often fail to realize is that in taking that little extra time and effort to care for ourselves protects our capacity to continue to serve our families at our best. It also helps to relieve them of the future burden of caring for us as they would if we let ourselves go, especially when the consequences eventually render us incapable of taking care of ourselves. That may seem like it’s a long way ahead but you can’t even count those who’ve watched time slip through their fingers only to find themselves later where they’d hoped they’d never be, saying “I wish I’d have taken better care of myself back then.”
11. Know When to Press & When to Rest
When starting a new fitness plan, it can be so tempting to go all in day-in-day-out. We get frustrated and say, “that’s it! I’m nipping this in the bud right now!” While determination is absolutely a good thing, be mindful of what your body can and can’t handle. Here’s the thing – too many people have a tendency to set unrealistic goals only to find themselves soon swimming in regret, frustration and feeling like a failure. There’s an old saying “Slow and steady wins the race.” If you know you can crush it, go for it! But, be careful that you don’t push yourself right into a rapid burnout by trying to climb too high too fast.
You won’t get results without a challenge, so, by all means, challenge yourself. But, if you start feeling overly burdened to the point that you’re thinking about quitting, pull back a bit but keep moving forward. Start with just a few days a week or give yourself some “easy” days where you commit to doing something while feeling like you’re catching a break. As you move forward, you’ll get stronger and find that you have an easier time committing to more intense workouts.
Also, if you’re under the weather and feel like you’re fighting something other than laziness, don’t be afraid to lay back and let your body do what it needs to to get you back up to speed. It’s better to miss one day and be refreshed the next than to overdo it one day and be down the next week.
12. Remember That You’re Awesome & Be Kind to Yourself!
You’ve been through a lot and are in your upswing. Stop beating yourself up every time you have an off day! It’s so easy to miss a day and say “screw it” the rest of the week because you blew your “perfect record.” Instead, let the off-day establish the certainty that you will be right back on your game the next. Fitness isn’t about punishing yourself. It’s about loving yourself and your family enough to take care of your body.
So many people throw in the towel and resign to the slippery slope of just letting the body fall apart as the years tick by. Not you! You’re crushing it! You’re bringin’ it! You’ve got the Healthiest Mom on the Block Award coming your way!