You know how important your body is to your mothering; your body has been with you through all important phases of motherhood. Your body has a central role in your mothering—hugging, holding, carrying, cuddling, chasing, tousling…every day we use our bodies to connect ourselves to our children. But even after our kids have become adults, we should continue to strive for good health and strong bodies.
Taking care of our physical body is a way to demonstrate—to ourselves and our families—that Mama values herself. Regular exercise can change the way you feel, waking up your muscles to life while simultaneously feeling spent. Regular exercise can change your body, making you strong and healthy. Regular exercise can open your mind, giving you time and space to think.
But I also know that not everyone feels drawn to regular exercise. For many women, exercise is work. It is drudgery. It is something that falls to the bottom of the list—despite all of the clear evidence that exercise is critical to good health—because it’s just no fun. When our lives are busy and filled with meeting other people’s needs, trying to find the time for something that is no fun just doesn’t happen. Is this you? If so, I truly think the key is finding the form of exercise you love. If you look forward to it, the ‘work’ goes away and it becomes something you crave and enjoy. And like most things in life, part of the fun is searching for that one activity that really gets you excited.
Or are you the woman who knows how important exercise is and really enjoys it when you find the time for it, but the way your mom life works right now, it’s just not happening?
Either way, you’re not alone.
How do we make it happen? Here’s the good news: it doesn’t have to be a huge time investment. Recent studies show that cardiovascular exercise done in as short as 10 minute sessions can positively affect your health. Think about your daily life. I know you’re busy, but certainly you can find 10 minutes to invest in yourself—while the pasta is cooking you can do countertop pushups alternating with jumping jacks or while the kids are playing happily in the bathtub you can do squats or lunges next to them. No fancy equipment is required. Moving your body is what this is about. The more you start looking for ways to insert exercise into your day, the more options you’re going to find.
When forming an exercise habit, think of what motivates you. If you are a social person, you’re likely to be more successful with the structure, accountability, and camaraderie of a group class. If you crave time for yourself, walking, running, or cycling are all excellent solo endeavors. If you’re someone who likes clear, objective goals and is motivated by data, weightlifting may be for you. And if you’re motivated by competition, there’s everything from soccer teams to roller derby that could work for you.
To increase your chances of long-term success, treat your body like any other priority—schedule your workout time. Write it down. Check it off when you’ve completed it. When you get into the habit of planning for your exercise, you’ll be more likely to adhere to your workouts.
I’m hoping you’ll find that your 10 minutes once a day will turn into 10 minutes twice or even three times a day. I think soon your three-times-a-week exercise goal will turn into a four-times-a-week reality. When you experience better sleep and the endorphin release from exercise, I believe you’ll start to carve out the time to treat your mama body right.
(Stay tuned for practical ideas for all stages of motherhood coming on Thursday!)