UPDATE: Since I published this blog post early this morning (before I left for work, having written it late last night when maybe I should have been exercising ), I have been BLOWN AWAY by the ideas, inspiration, stories and questions folks are sharing in the comments below the post.
This is such an important conversation for women to have - about exercise and how to get it shoe-horned into our lives – because particularly for those of us with little kids and full-time jobs, figuring out how to exercise regularly is REALLY HARD. It seriously is. If you haven’t lived this life, you may not realize how hard it is.
I mean, women in my position are not lazy. That’s not the issue. It’s the opposite. We’re so busy doing for other people – getting it done – that we don’t do for ourselves. It’s a self-care issue, and frankly, I think there are too many husbands and fathers who make it even harder for the mothers of their kids to do things like go out and exercise. That’s not always the case – I am lucky that it’s not one of my own barriers – but it IS a big issue for many women I know who are struggling with this same dilemma in their own lives.
Anyway, read the conversation happening in the comments below this post and join in with your own thoughts and responses. It’s an important dialogue for women to be having with one another.
xo – Katie
I have a full-time job and am the mother of five kids. I also have a husband, a big old house, three dogs, multiple freelance and consulting gigs (including my blog) going at any given time, and I also volunteer with Henry’s Fund. I am busy, no doubt, and people often ask me how I do everything I do. I usually answer jokingly that I manage by utterly neglecting myself, but that’s really not such a joke. Like many moms with busy lives, I DO tend to neglect myself, but as I ‘ve been blogging about lately, I am now trying to take some baby steps toward better self care.
-I’ve created a space just for me
-I’ve been overhauling my wardrobe and paying more attention to what I wear and how I look (I will be blogging more about this sometime in the next few days)
-I’ve been drinking more water and trying to jumpstart the process of losing the 30+ pounds of leftover weight from my last pregnancy (G is 18 months old now, so it’s time)
But one very important part of taking care of myself that I have NEVER been able to figure out is when to exercise, and what exercise I should be doing. Right now, I am totally inactive. At various points in our marriage, Jon and I have managed to find/make time for substantial walks of several miles around our neighborhood once or twice a week, but we haven’t even done much of that since G was born.
So here’s my exercise situation (along with all my excuses):
- I can’t get up and exercise before everyone else is awake in the morning because the moment I get out of bed, G wakes up for the day, meaning that if wanted to get up at 5am every day, I would be assuming that Jon wanted to wake up at 5am as well (to care for G while I exercised).
- I am intimidated by gyms and don’t want to spend the money. Gyms seem so unappealing to me, and I have no idea how the machines work.
- I’ve tried yoga a couple of times, but I can’t figure out how to get my glasses to stay on while I do it, and without my glasses, I can’t see my feet, much less an instructor demonstrating poses. I also find the idea of yoga intimidating, much like a gym. What class should a chubby, out of shape mom of 5 start with? What do those yoga class names even MEAN? What kind of clothes should I wear?
- What I’d REALLY love to do is start riding horses again. Nothing I’ve ever done gives me more sheer joy than riding, and I am good at it. Equestrian sports are the only competitive sports at which I’ve ever succeeded, and I miss the whole thing. But riding is expensive and we probably can’t afford it, and it’s hard to fit riding into to a busy life, for sure.
- There are no showers at my office, so midday exercise would be tricky.
- I tried running for a while about two years ago and found that I hated it and it gave me shinsplints.
- It already feels like I am away from my kids too much with my full time job and semi-regular travel for work, so taking time away from them for exercise after work or on weekends seems really selfish, not to mention that I feel bad leaving the little ones for Jon for extra time when he already does so much of the childcare in our family.
Okay, so those are all the barriers to exercise for me, but I know that I have to get past the excuses and find a way to make exercise a regular, consistent part of my life. I am now solidly middle-aged, and I’ve had two c-sections in the past 4 years. My belly muscles are shot, and if I let my body slide any further, I could not only end up with serious health problems, I may find it hard to ever get my body looking and feeling as good as I want it to ever again. I REALLY don’t want to accept that I will never again comfortably wear a bikini at the beach. I don’t want to simply accept that those years are gone forever for me.
But how? How do I do this?
So my question of the day is for those of you who have gone from relative inactivity to regular exercise. How did you do this? What were your baby steps and overall process? What excuses and barriers did you have to get past to make it happen? How did you choose an exercise activity, and what made you stick with it?
Tell me how you did this in the comments below. I know your couch potato-to-regular-exercise story will inspire me, and help me figure this out, and do the same for other readers as well.