How many times do you say, “Hold on, I’ll be right there!” when your child needs you and you’re in the middle of something? It could be as mundane as brushing your teeth or as complicated as trying to finish up some work you’ve brought home. At any rate, your time is stretched as thin as you may have been prior to becoming a mom!
As crazy as life gets, however, it’s important to focus on your health. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to be sure to exercise on a regular basis. Exercise has numerous health benefits, according to the Mayo Clinic. In addition to weight control, you can strengthen your heart, improve your mood and energy, and even get better sleep. Plus, if you find the right workout for you, it can also be lots of fun.
Find a gym close to home or on your way home from work. Commit to going on a regular basis; you’ll see results even if you go just three hours a week, says WebMD. Find the best time for you – whether it’s while the kids are in school, on your way home from work or in the evenings after the kids are in bed.
Once you’ve committed to carving out time for yourself to exercise, it’s important to make the most of that precious time. Here are things you should do to ensure you get the most effective workout you can during your workout time.
Dress for Success
Don’t let an uncomfortable sports bra or droopy shorts derail your workout. If you spend your time fussing with your clothes, it takes away from your routine and can also blow your confidence. After all, the gym is full of mirrors, so you want to be sure you look and feel your best. Upgrade your workout wardrobe and be sure that items fit well. Toss anything with stretched-out elastic or items that are so tight they interfere with your breathing.
Make the Most of Waiting Time
What can you do when all the equipment you want to use is occupied? The one thing you certainly don’t want to do is let that ruin your workout time. It helps to come prepared to the gym; bring your own equipment such as resistance bands, a mat, a kettleball or anything else you use on a regular basis. This way, you can still get in some good exercises while waiting for your machine of choice to open up. Find a good spot and start your own circuit routine. At least you’ll be all warmed up for the treadmill!
Ramp it Up
You don’t have a lot of time for yourself, so make the most of it while exercising. That means upping your intensity instead of going for a Sunday stroll. In this way, you can burn more calories and strengthen muscle in a shorter period of time. Try to give 100 percent during a 30-minute period instead of only 75 percent over the course of an hour. After all, getting more done in less time is what moms are used to! Challenge yourself to move quickly from one activity to the next, taking only quick breaks in between exercises.
Do What You Came to Do
You came to the gym to get a great workout, not to take a break from the daily grind. So be sure to commit to that workout routine instead of spending your time chatting on your cell phone, texting friends or taking excessive water breaks. These are things you can do anywhere. If you’re shelling out the bucks for a membership, be sure to make the most of it. If it helps, tell yourself you can have some texting time once your workout is complete. It can be motivating to have something to look forward to.
Speaking of water breaks, make sure that’s what you are drinking. You may think that your body needs sports drinks, but many of these are loaded with sugar and calories. Skip them and stick to good, old-fashioned water. After all, you don’t want to undo the good you’ve done burning off calories in the gym, only to add them right back!
Add Some Muscle to Your Routine
It’s true that cardio burns lots of calories, but adding resistance training to your routine will increase your calorie burn even more. This is because muscle burns more calories that fat, so you’ll have a continuous burn throughout your day, even when you’re not working out. Don’t worry that lifting weights will add bulk; what they add is definition. Other benefits of training with weights include a stronger heart and bones. Be sure to take advantage of those weight machines or free weights.
Avoiding injury is just as important as working those muscle groups. After strength training, take advantage of your gym’s therapy pools and soak those sore muscles. Your body will appreciate it and it is a relaxing way to wind down after your workout.
Bring a Friend
Working out with a friend can be motivating. You’re less likely to skip the gym if you know a friend is waiting for you! Try a little friendly competition to see who can endure the treadmill longest or do the highest number of reps. It’s great to have face time with a friend, which is not always easy when you’re a busy mom. It’s better to get together at a gym that it is to drink too much wine at a girls’ night or to overindulge at your favorite restaurant every week. You’re getting healthy and having fun. It’s a win-win for you both!
With these tips in mind, you’re sure to make the most of your gym time and reap the benefits of exercise, even after you return to your home and parenthood.