Posted on April 27, 2015
Making Time for Fitness
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Let me say from the start, I am not a super-motivated, super-fit person. In fact anyone who knows me in real life knows that I am not really qualified to write about fitness at all! I am qualified to write about how a normal, low-motivation exerciser can try to fit exercise and fitness into their day as a busy mum, though.
How I got to where I am now
When my son was born 13 years ago, after we got through the initial no sleep stage, I would do a postnatal Pilates exercise video a few times a week, while he had his nap. I walked him in his pram through the city park we lived next to at the time, and my husband and I went for longer walks with him at the weekend.
After our daughters were born, and my son was at toddler group, then playgroup, nursery and eventually school, I would be walking in and out of the town we lived in at least a couple of times a day. It was about a mile each way, and my husband had our car at work, so I was getting a reasonable amount of walking in each day, just by doing our normal daily routine.
Enter homeschooling. The children got plenty of exercise each day, but when they were out running around or riding their bikes, I was doing things that needed done in the house (not necessarily things that burned a lot of calories or strengthened my core muscles!), or frankly, sitting down for a cup of tea. When they were at swimming lessons, I was sitting with the younger ones. We met up with our nearest homeschooling family once a week for a 4 mile walk, and I would occasionally use a Davina McCall exercise DVD, but I knew I needed to be doing more.
I have realised, particularly in the last couple of years, that I have to intentionally make time in my day to exercise, or it will not happen at all. Last year I read a book about perimenopause (the ten years or so leading up to menopause), called The Change Before The Change, which woke me up to the fact that I need to be looking after my body more if I want to continue to be strong and healthy to look after my family, and have a healthy and productive life as I get older. I also know that my core muscles are not strong, and this has contributed to some sporadic back pain I have had over the past year, so I want to improve that too. Doing regular exercise also keeps my mood positive, so that is another motivator for me.
So, what am I currently doing to stay fit, and how am I making time for fitness?
1. Fitness Books
First off, I asked others for recommendations of what they used and enjoyed. I know I do not enjoy running, or team sports, and I don’t want to make a huge time commitment to a particular type of exercise, so I know the sorts of things that will not work for me. A dear friend recommended Peggy Brill’s book The Core Programme, which for the most part, I really like. It is written by an American physical therapist, and is designed to take only 15 minutes a day, which obviously appealed to me. I had not used a book for exercises before, so I wasn’t sure how it would go- would I have to stop every few seconds to read the next part of what I had to do? The answer was yes, but only for the first few weeks that I used it. Brill’s book has a picture summary at the end of each exercise regime, so once you understand what is involved in each exercise, you just keep the book open on the photo page and this reminds you of which exercises you are to do. Obviously these are exercises specifically designed to strengthen your core, and arm and leg muscles, so you would also need to be doing other, more aerobic exercise to keep your heart healthy or burn calories, if that was something you wanted.
Another book I have used since last summer, after realising that using a book for exercises does work for me, is Fit and Fabulous in 15 Minutes by Teresa Tapp, also known as the T-Tapp system. I had heard about T-Tapp through several other Christian mums’ blogs, and decided to give it a try. It involves exercises that use the resistance of your own body to strengthen all muscles, and get your heart rate up, so it is good for both core and cardiovascular fitness. Again I like it because it only takes 15 minutes, (once you have got the hang of it and can move through the routine quickly), and you do not need a lot of space or special equipment.
About 2 years ago I got Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison’s book Trim Healthy Mama. It is a huge book and involves quite a big lifestyle change in terms of eating as well as exercise. Although some people don’t like it, I have found it helpful, and the year I started using it, I did lose a reasonable amount of weight. One of the things Pearl and Serene are big on is using short intervals of exercise, (which research has shown to be more effective), which obviously fits in well with the busyness of homeschooling, and the fact that I am able to be flexible and choose when I exercise. So one of the things I will now do, (if it’s not snowing!), is take the first 5 to 10 minutes of our children’s morning outdoor time, and before I have a coffee, or do something else, I will bounce on my mini-trampoline/ rebounder (which I got from Freecycle), or use my skipping ropes. It’s not a pretty sight, but it gets an exercise interval in for me 🙂 I will often do this after lunch too.
2. Exercise Classes
Since moving house to the Hebrides, I have started going to weekly fitness classes. It had been a LONG time since I had done this, (we’re talking about 20 years here!), so I
felt feel a bit conspicuous at the classes, but they have allowed me to meet some local people and to get some more aerobic fitness in, as well as extra strengthening exercises. The classes are in the evening, and although I am tired by then, it is a suitable time for me.
I have tried to go for a walk with the children at least every second day since we arrived here, and as I mentioned above, we met our homeschooling friends for a longer walk once a week at our previous house. This year I also bought a Highlander Easywalk Pedometer with vouchers I was given for Christmas, so I can at least see which days of the week are better or worse for me, in terms of activity level. I note the number of steps at the end of each day on my household planner, which also has a ‘Get Moving’ space to record if I have exercised each day, which I find works for my personality in terms of motivation.
4. Online Resources
Finally, there are some online resources I have found helpful in motivating me to make time for fitness. Clare Smith has had several fitness challenges that I have taken part in through her site, which always involve paying attention to your spiritual and emotional fitness as well. You can also see Clare Smith’s you tube videos here.
Amy Roberts from Raising Arrows has a Fit Mom of Many series on her blog, Claire from Angelic Scalliwags has a Wibbly Wobbly Weight Loss series, and Charlotte Siems and Trisch at Be Youthful ‘n Fit are T-Tapp trainers. The Healthy and Fit Homeschool Mom site also has photo tutorials of her exercise routines.
I have in the past used SparkPeople, which is an online tracking tool where you enter all your daily exercise and what you have eaten. However, I have not continued with it, as it was way too time consuming for me, and I want to be active and eating healthily, but not obsessed about what I am eating.
If I am feeling in the mood for it, I will use some you tube videos for an aerobic type workout. I like the ones from REFIT Revolution, (who also sell their workouts on DVD and online subscription service), which have contemporary Christian music on them, such as this one:
I have a list of these videos on my internet favourites list, so I can do as many or as little of them as I like, depending on the amount of time, (or energy) I have.
An idea for being active as a family, which I haven’t tried yet, is to do geocaching together. You can see a post from Life Off the Paved Road on Geocaching as a family here. I think my family would enjoy doing this together, and it would be another way of adding exercise to our time together, and allow us to get to know the new area we have moved to.
What I have shared above are the ways in which I try to make time for fitness, but I have a long way to go in terms of being consistent.
So, how do you make time for fitness? How do you incorporate exercise into your daily schedule, or perhaps more importantly, how do you stay motivated? I would be grateful for any additional ideas you can give me below 🙂
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