Ann Farrar is an online fitness coach and mental health counselor with a background in work/life balance. She is currently combining both interests and pursuing certification as a holistic health coach, while traveling full-time with her husband and 4-year-old daughter. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook, or email her.
For those of us with small people at home, with or without a full time job, it can be hard to prioritize fitness. Most don’t. I have learned to make fitness non-negotiable.
I discovered the gym in college. I went from an awkward, moody teen to a strong and ballsy coed. As an introvert with a fiercely independent personality, I liked that I could exercise without having to coordinate with anyone else – or even my own appendages too much. Later as an actor in New York, I found that intense physical activity was phenomenal stress relief and I liked being able to move heavy things. I couldn’t control what went on in casting offices, but I could control my own physical fitness. I could get in there and get it done. And feel like a champion after. After intermittent struggles with depression, including some wicked PPD, a regular fitness regimen has pulled me to the surface again and again. It’s the best insurance for mental health I know.
When I had a baby, I was suddenly very tied to my neighborhood, which didn’t include a gym. So for Christmas, I asked for a BOB running stroller. And I got it. Thank you, grandparents!! Suddenly, Prospect Park was my oyster! It took some time to get used to running with a stroller. Besides the proper form, I had to learn which streets had fewer giant trucks and fire engines to wake my sleeping baby and which had the most shade in the brutal summer heat. I started to get my mojo back; that freedom I first fell in love with. I may have been home with my baby and at the mercy of her sleep, eat and poop schedule. I may have had to put my career on hold. But nothing could hold me back from getting my body to a place where it felt alive and strong again.
I want this feeling for all mamas.
So a running stroller is one way, but not everyone is a runner or lives near the most beautiful park in New York City (call me biased). How else do you fit in a fitness regimen that sticks?
1. Find what you love.
Find where you feel at home and motivated. The best fitness routine is the one you actually DO, so find something you enjoy, or at least don’t despise. Are you more social and like people around you in a class to feel motivated? Are you calmed by the water? Do you need something quick and dirty (high intensity interval training) or more chill and meditational (yoga or tai chi)? Are you energized by the outdoors? Do you like feeling poised and the graceful movements in a Pilates or barre class? Don’t do what your friends are doing; do what fits you. Don’t punish yourself, treat your body to what it wants.
2. Look at your resources.
It is easy to feel depleted as a mom, but I firmly believe we are all rich in something. If you can afford a babysitter or have a partner who is available to help for at least an hour a day, take advantage of them! If you don’t, but do live near a park, do some squats, lunges and tricep dips at the playground. If you don’t, but have a kid who is a solid napper, get some DVDs and get to it!
3. Schedule your workout.
If you wait until you have “free time” (FREE TIME! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA), your workout time is going to get thrown to the wolves. So write it in. On Sunday night, look at the coming week and block out a half hour each day that is yours and protect it like the fierce mama bear you are. Many moms self-sabotage by allowing their children’s whims supersede their fitness goals. Don’t. Be proactive. Plan an activity for your kids, and book help. If you work 9-5, hit the gym on your lunch hour, or before the family wakes up.
And when scheduling, be realistic. When do you have the most energy? This is when consistent workouts are going to happen. At my house, my husband works nights and sleeps in, so I am the lead parent early mornings. However, by the time he gets up, I am antsy and he and daughter, the homebodies of the family, are content to play at home. That’s when I hit the road. Of course, we have to be flexible — sometimes Drew’s work schedule changes or the rain pours down. No excuses there either. I have video workouts I can do anywhere/anytime and sometimes that ends up being 10pm.
4. Reach out to me (or someone like me)!
If you are able to work with a physical trainer, explain your needs and goals. They should be able to design a regimen for you that takes into account your schedule, resources and current stamina level. I coach fitness programs online and can help you select, follow and stick with one that you can do from the comfort of your own living room. My team members have lost tons of weight and gained mojo back in spades. Since finding an at-home workout program myself, I haven’t thrown running or the (glorious) gym to the wayside, but when I can’t get there (most days) I know I can still get my workout in. Every single day.
To hear more about working out at home with a supportive coach and community, email Ann.
For a breakdown on the best jogging strollers, see this comparison.
Photo credit: Angela Tsai