By Susan Arruda
Susan Arruda is a 6 Time Figure Champion and mom of 2.
Kids are a joy as well as a challenge and because you are much more limited in your area of personal freedom and time, the demands surrounding time for exercise increases substantially (unless of course, you’re fortunate to have a nanny or available help from family or friends at your disposal, which I was not). Although you may be expending energy running after your children, this, unfortunately, does not fall into the realm of fitness, nor does it justify having no exercise program. This may very well be a time where you will have to adjust your mindset and expectations, as I did, and ultimately had to succumb to the massive lifestyle changes.
My bundles of joy in the earlier years!
Sleep deprivation and fatigue can make for some seemingly insurmountable odds, but thankfully, our bodies are amazing when it comes to survival and making adjustments for getting through difficult times and challenges. I can speak from personal experience here as my first child was very alert and never slept through a full night until well after a year followed by an extremely colicky second child. My children were a mere 14 months apart and I did not have any help outside the marriage. If you don’t have a gym membership with a daycare option, you need to develop a firm mindset regarding getting some sort of activity in, not only for your body’s sake, but equally important, for your state of mind. You’ll undoubtedly be a better mom and wife if you’re happy with yourself, so don’t make the mistake of feeling guilty for taking some time out to make that happen. Dads may have to pitch in and devote some quality one-on-one childcare time in order to help their spouses in this area as it will also be beneficial for the men also. Ladies, this is generally a period of time where you may have to settle with getting small bursts of activity here and there and realize that it is just a season.
Get creative in building physical activity into your day. Invest in a walking/running stroller, get physically active with your children when at the park or playground, (incidentally, we have a 2 part playground fitness video segment on YouTube) play tag and chase your children, purchase a time saver exercise DVD workout that gives you the option to target train in 10 or 20-minute segments (we have some). Anyone and everyone can devote 10 targeted minutes to train, regardless of how tired you may be! This is literally the approach I took in getting back into training after having my children and coming to the harsh realization that life had completely changed and making adjustments was necessary in order to accomplish staying fit. I can still vividly recall my turning point; the day I made that conscious decision to start doing smaller bouts of activity and at the end of that day, at 1:00 A.M., I started back into it with 10 minutes of abs. A resource I am now looking to avail others of as I begin my journey of creating fitness workout DVDs for busy moms and others leading very hectic lives.
Bottom line: Exercise in concentrated bursts and sustain consistency and remind yourself that anything is better than nothing and don’t neglect the power of resistance training! Resistance training shapes and firms loose, saggy skin and aids in naturally boosting your metabolism. You burn more calories simply by building and having lean muscle tissue on your body. Shift your focus onto body composition rather than scale weight as a pound of muscle is 3-5 times more metabolically active than a pound of fat and it is much tighter when compared to a pound of fat. (a Lb. of jello vs a Lb. of baseballs) Focus primarily on body composition – bodyfat percentage and measurements instead of scale weight.
Toss the “I’ve got kids” excuse to the curb and be determined to stay active, healthy and happy!