The alarm clock buzzed next to my head, rattling me from another sleepless night of waking every four hours to feed a new baby. I plodded to the coffee pot and settled back into bed with an over-sized coffee cup and my Stroller Strides workout in hand, preparing for the class I would teach in a couple hours. After dressing myself and two little boys, feeding one and nursing the other, we left the house to head to class. The temperature couldn’t have been more than 25 degrees, and snow crunched beneath my feet as I carried two over-dressed, marshmallow children to the car. I drove to Stroller Strides extra slowly to make sure the car wouldn’t slide on the snow packed streets. At 9:00a.m. sharp, I was standing in a huge volleyball gym with a toddler belted in, snacks in hand, and a 7 week old snoozing comfortably in the stroller. After several minutes, I realized the boys and I were the only ones who had dared leave a cozy house on such a frigid day. Rather than drive home and melt under a sea of blankets, I stayed and completed the workout I had prepared for the morning.
I remember that morning vividly because it was the day I realized that exercise had truly become part of my routine, and part of my LIFE. As a franchise owner and fitness instructor for Fit4Mom, I never had an opportunity to make excuses NOT to exercise. I had to be at class, whether it was freezing cold, if I hadn’t sleep the night before, if I had slight food poisoning, or if I woke up with a headache. On that cold February morning, I realized that fitness was more to me than just my job. If I was already there, why wouldn’t I workout? It was my hour to take care of my body, which would allow me to feel energetic and fantastic throughout the rest of the day. You may be thinking about your own excuse for not exercising, and thinking, “this woman is nuts”, but after three years of experience in “motherhood and fitness”, I can guarantee you that I have experienced (and had to overcome) every excuse in the book. Let me break down the most common ones for you:
1.) “I don’t have time”: If you are a full-time working mom, I totally hear you, and honestly, that will be a huge, continuous struggle. However, Fit4Mom Charlotte has recently added an evening class, as well as occasional Saturday classes for YOUR benefit. Since it’s recommended to fit in 3-5 days of exercise per week, try doing a quick, cardio intense workout before work, or a 30-minute jog with your stroller when you get home. Your kiddo will be delighted to get outside, and you get a bit of exercise in, too! If you don’t have time to exercise and you are not a working mom, my only suggestion is to lighten up on your schedule. Fitness has to be a priority to you, or it will never be accomplished. No one can make you value fitness except for you.
2.) “My child won’t stay in the stroller”: Yes he will. I have the most spirited, headstrong little guy on the planet, and I totally feel you. Some workouts consist of me gently pushing my stroller 10 feet away so that he can shout his frustrations at the nearest tree for five minutes, but we have never left a class early because of this. I often tell my boys that I get one hour per day for me, and the rest of the day they get to run around and play. At the end of the day, I am the boss and they don’t make the rules. If your child suckers you into letting him out of the stroller before the hour is up, he will think he can get away with that every time, and will work every trick in the book until he gets his way, every.single.time. Just take a deep breath and endure the tantrum for a while; he will eventually realize that you mean business, even if it takes a month.
3.) “I don’t want to drive so far just to exercise”: Why not? I have developed a system that works for my family, which includes interactive “talk” time on the 30 minute drive to Stroller Barre, where we ask each other questions and talk about all sorts of weird kid stuff. On the way home, they know I have “phone time” where I get to catch up with an old friend for 30 minutes while the littlest guy takes a snooze, and my 3 year old tells stories to his cars. You can find your own system, but sometimes car time is actually pretty great. I had a member in Colorado who used to drive down from the mountains just to get to class for nearly 3 YEARS. She was dedicated to being a fit woman, and she chose to do Stroller Strides (rather than joining a gym in the mountains) so that she could set a positive example for her daughter.
4.) “I am far too exhausted to exercise”: We are living the most exhausting time of life. We all know those days well—the ones where we barely make it out of bed, and wish we could drink coffee intravenously. You think, “I could go to Stroller Strides today. OR I could sit on the couch and watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for the next hour.” The days that I love what I do the MOST, are the ones where I show up to class a tired mess. Because….I leave feeling transformed. Truly. I dare you to try it. If you feel exhausted, try doing a quick workout, even if it is just 100 jumping jacks and 100 squats. You will feel ten times better immediately.
Moms, I know that there is so very much on your plate right now. I know that some days you feel like you are in survival mode. I know that fitness is probably the last thing on your to-do list. However, I also want you to feel great about yourself- inside and outside. I want you to get the full benefit of consistent exercise. You can do it!!! I am not athletically inclined, by nature. I am actually a turd at every sport. Even if you feel like you are just not a “fitness person”, give it a go!! No one looks good doing a burpee, I promise. Exercise will instill a discipline in you that will pour into every other area of your life. Set your exercise schedule for next week and don’t let any excuses get in your way! You can do it.