You know that exercise is good for you.
Studies show it makes you think kind thoughts about yourself, puts you in an awesome mood, helps you feel less stressed, and gives you more energy.
But I don’t need to tell you that. You know this. And you know – especially as a mom – how important all these positive benefits are.
But according to some research, only 56% of women exercise once a week or more.
Add to that the fact that 43% of women say they skip exercise when they’re stressed and you’ve got a whole lotta ladies not benefiting from all the physical, emotional and mental goodies that exercise has to offer.
If you’re one of these women, I get it.
Mom life is crazy busy, super stressful and totally unpredictable.
You have 532 things to do that seem so much more important than hitting the gym (and you have all sorts of wobbly bits that didn’t used to be there so putting on tight workout clothes can make you feel uncomfortable about your body).
So what can you do?
You know you should exercise. You know you want to exercise. You know you can get all sorts of great benefits from exercise. So how can you make sure you actually get at least 2 or 3 workouts in a week?
You take a page out of the Fit Mama Manual.
Okay so I don’t have a real Fit Mama Manual for you. But if I did this simple tip would be somewhere between the chapter about rehabbing your core and pelvic floor before you take up running again and the chapter on eating more than just the scraps that your kiddo drops on the floor.
I’ve adopted this strategy in my own life and it’s honestly made an even bigger impact than I was expecting.
It all came about after Avery dropped from two naps a day to one. There was about a month where I only got 2 or 3 workouts in. In the entire month. Usually I like to get at least 3 workouts in a week.
Exercise is my favourite de-stressing tool so when I’m not exercising, the stress can pile up and overwhelm me a lot easier. When I’m not getting regular workouts in I just feel off (unless I’m intentionally resting).
The thing was, I was so used to putting her down for her morning nap and going for a workout that trying to switch to a new routine was hard. I just wasn’t making a conscious effort of working out consistently.
I’d try to workout with her playing around me, but 8 times out of 10 she’d need me for one reason or another (for what felt like) at least 50 times while I was trying to workout so I would just end up saying “Screw it!” and not actually get a decent workout in.
After a month or so of trying (and failing) to workout with her up and (hopefully) playing I realized my plan just wasn’t working. I needed a more predictable workout schedule. Not just “Let’s see if I can get a workout in today.” Because that obviously wasn’t happening.
I decided my best chance of getting at least 3 workouts in a week was by waking up early and doing the workout before Avery got up.
Now before you say “Really, Jen? That’s the magical solution? I’ve heard this before. I know I could just get up early and do it.” waking up early to exercise isn’t actually the tip I have for you.
Of course it’s part of the equation. But the real key is this…
The fittest mamas not only wake up early to get a workout in before the chaos ensues.
They prepare for their workout the night before.
It sounds so simple – and it is – but it’s like that old saying by Jim Rohn, “Either you run the day, or the day runs you”.
And when I adopted this strategy in my own life, not only did I become more consistent with getting my own workouts in, but I found that my entire day was so much better. I felt better – including feeling better about myself and my body. I was happier. I was more patient with my munchkin and a kinder wife to my hubs.
Which is really not super surprising – especially since I meditate for 10ish minutes after my workouts in the morning too (I use the Headspace app. Love it!).
And – as we’ve already discussed – exercise is a cocktail for creating deliciously positive results, and meditation can actually rewire your brain to make you happier too.
Knowing this makes it easier for me to get up and get my workout in – because I know and have felt the positive benefits of exercise.
And I make it ridiculously easy for myself to actually get up and get my workout done. How?
Since I know I’m going to workout every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I plan for it the night before. I literally get everything ready. Everything.
:: I decide the exact workout I’m going to do that morning (and jot it down on a piece of paper if I need to) so I’m not sitting there going, “Okay, what move should I do next?” It’s all written down and ready for me to just go, go, go.
:: I lay out all the equipment I’ll need for my workout so I’m not wasting time finding the goods.
:: I fill my water bottle up and leave it downstairs where I’m gonna workout, along with a banana to eat before I get going.
:: My phone gets plugged in alongside my water bottle and banana and I make sure my headphones are there too so I can easily start my meditation after my workout is done.
:: Because I usually listen to podcasts while I workout (yes, I’m a total nerd) I also choose what podcast episode I want to listen to during my workout and have it cued up and ready to go.
:: The last thing to do before I hop on in to get some shut-eye is set my workout clothes bedside my bed so I can just throw them on in the morning and head downstairs.
:: Then I set my alarm for when I want to wake up and hit the hay. (I usually set it for about an hour before Avery typically gets up. Also, my hubby and I have a deal that he takes care of her until my workout and meditation time is done if she does happen to get up earlier).
This may seem like a ridiculous amount of preparation but the truth is my morning routine runs so much more smoothly now when I get ready for my workout the night before.
And it only takes about 5 or so minutes to get everything set up.
Before I started doing this, when I was trying to workout after Avery was up, it’d take me 5x longer to get my workout done because she’d need a toy, or cuddles, or snacks, or a Lego tower built for her in the middle of my squat set.
Then when I started getting up early but hadn’t yet gotten everything ready the night before it would take me at least 2x longer to get the workout done because I’d need to grab my workout clothes out of the drawer, fill up my water bottle, grab a banana, pick a podcast I wanted to listen to, decide what workout I wanted to do…
Now – because I get everything ready the night before – I can literally just go right into my workout and get everything done (meditation included) in 40 minutes or less (instead of an hour or more). It’s a much more streamlined process.
And days that start that way just seem to flow better.
I’m honestly considering waking up earlier everyday of the week – even if I don’t get a workout in. Because I can meditate and get a bit of work done before anyone else is up.
It just feels so good to start the day on my own terms, instead of being jolted awake by the, “Mama! Mama! MAMA! Come get me!” wails coming from the baby monitor.
Will I always be perfect with this routine?
Of course not.
There are always random reasons why routines and habits get derailed.
The key – for me – is that I know this works and makes me feel awesome. So whenever life gets in the way and this routine is derailed for a while, I will, at some point, probably come back to this because it’s what feels good for me.
I’ll remind myself how awesome I feel when I do this and it’ll make it easier for me to jump back into it.
Why can’t you just do your workout after baby is in bed?
You absolutely can.
The question is – will you?
I used to love working out at night. My hubster and I would often hit the gym after dinner. But that was before we had an energetic little poop machine to take care of.
Most evenings, by the time Avery is in bed, I’m looking forward to some chill time or I have some work I want to get done. So working out at night is just not on my radar anymore.
And there’s another reason working out at night may not be the best option for you – other than the fact you just want to relax.
It has to do with your willpower.
Fun fact: Because willpower is actually like a muscle, you can run out of it after a long day of trying to make healthy choices. It’s like when you’re doing a ton of glute bridges. Eventually your booty muscles are gonna howl, “Enough!” and you’ll collapse on the floor because the muscles are so fatigued you actually can’t even get them to work properly anymore.
Willpower is the same.
At the end of a long, tiring day (which is probably 87%+ of your days as a mama) your willpower is done. Finished. Out of service. So trying to convince yourself to get a workout in is probably just not gonna happen.
So, for me, relying on my exhausted willpower muscle at the end of the day doesn’t seem like the best option. I’d rather just get up early and get it done before I have 52 excuses not to do it at all.
Sure I don’t get an extra hour or so of sleep when I get up early to workout. But I set an alarm on my phone for 9pm the night before to nudge me to get in bed, read a bit and go to sleep so I get enough shut-eye to feel rested when I do wake up early.
There are and will always be 500 things that seem so much more important to get done instead of exercising. Work. Grocery shopping. Dealing with finances. Cleaning. Laundry. Picking up the same toy for the 2,145th time.
But how you feel, and how you feel about your body are such important pieces of being one happy woman, mama and wife.
Giving yourself the best chance possible of getting a good, uninterrupted workout in before the kiddo(s) wakes up by preparing for it the night before can be an important routine builder in your life.
You don’t have to start with 3, or even 2 days a week. Start with one day. One day where you know you’ll wake up early, get a workout in, maybe do some meditation, maybe even have some bonus time for a cup of coffee or lemon water before anyone else is up.
Your day is run by Boss Baby right now so having an hour or two to focus on you – and only you – can feel really indulging and beautiful.
Give it a try.
Send me an email if you do, or write a comment below and let us know how it goes. I’d love to hear from you.
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Because you deserve to feel ridiculously good. Not just so you can be a better mama. Not just so you can be a better wife. So you can feel incredible for you.
Have a great day and I’ll catch up with you soon.