3 Ways to Overcome Mom Guilt
and Strive for Fitness Gains
Before I had kids, I worked out at least six days a week. If I wanted to take an exercise class, sub a class, or sign-up for a race on a whim I did it. Back then I had plenty of time to do what I wanted to do. Raising little ones changes your life and priorities or at least it did for me. I knew things would change, but I guess I didn't expect how. I understood that much more of my time would be consumed with cuddles, diapers, and feedings, but I didn't account for the intense "mom guilt" I would feel when wanting to squeeze in a workout or take a little time for myself. The truth is though, is that working out makes me a better mom. Exercise is important for everyone and the release of endorphins a person receives after a workout is important.
Have You Experienced Mom Guilt?
According to a study by NUK, 87% of Moms feel some level of Mom Guilt. As Moms, we worry if we are doing right by our children and sometimes even compare ourselves to others. Have you ever felt that way? I know I have. Those of us that experience mom guilt, do so in our own way. For example, many of my other instructor friends were comfortable dropping their kiddos off at the gym daycare starting at 6 weeks old. I just couldn't do that. I already worked full-time and the thought of taking more time for myself and putting either of my little kids in childcare made me cringe. Although after the birth of my first daughter, I greatly cut back on the number of hours I taught and/or personal trained, I still felt guilty leaving for my second job. I remember tearing up when I would come home from teaching a class to find that my baby had already fallen asleep. Even though I was gone for work, that didn't impact me feeling terrible. I have gotten better with a few tricks that have worked for me, but I am definitely still a work in progress. I hope that they might help you as well.
Frequency Over Duration
I have always come from the mindset that I needed to workout for at least 30 to 60 minutes continuously for it to count. Especially now that I have two little kids, having an hour while they are awake is not an option. I have now adopted the philosophy of micro-moments of self-care. While the kids are awake, I have learned to break my workouts into smaller pieces. In one study, researchers found that short workouts were equally as effective as workouts that were completed all at once. I have realized that having shorter workouts that are higher intensity will allow me to receive the same gains as working at a lower intensity for longer. A Tabata workout can be done in as little as 3-4 rounds, 12-15 minutes, and offers 9x the caloric after burn of steady-state cardio. Want to give Tabata a try? Check out my 15-minute Tabata Workout for a quick workout that doesn't require any equipment. I find that workouts that do not include any equipment are the easiest for me to jump right into and also helps since my girls are very curious when I do bring out equipment.
While listening to Apolo Ohno, an Olympic Gold Medal Speed Skater, speak at the World Fitness Idea Convention, I learned something that still resonates with me today. During his keynote speech, he spoke about how it was important to think about training when your competition wasn't. He spoke about doing calf raises in the shower or while he was brushing his teeth since he figured his competition would not be doing the same. Although I am not playing any competitive sports at the moment, I think this still mindset is still relevant. I squeeze in exercise whenever I can. I know my husband and oldest daughter look at me funny sometimes, but I can be seen doing standing lunges or plie squats while cooking at the stove.
I am sure you can think of different instances throughout the day that you might be able to fit a few reps in. Your family might look at you funny, but it is worth it. Find something that you enjoy to do and it is easy to start right away to maximize your time.
Changing Your Training Stimulus to Include Your Kids
Incorporating your children into your workout routine sets a good example and teaches healthy habits. Nowadays I go for an abundance of family walks. When I was younger, I never considered walking to count as my workout, but now it has become one of my favorite activities. Also, who knew pushing a double stroller would increase your heart rate so much! I try to find hilly terrain and walk for longer periods of time. Living in Colorado, the climate doesn't always allow for a family walk, but I found other ways to keep my kids engaged. We can be seen doing superhero workouts on Youtube, having stuffed animal relay races or even just playing a game of tag. These workouts might not yield the most calories burned, but they are some of my most enjoyable.
Modify Your Training Time
Evening workouts during the week and mid-morning workouts on the weekends had always been my go-to exercise time-slot before starting a family. I found that taking time to workout when I could be spending quality time with my kids and my husband was really hard for me and therefore resulted in me just not doing it. I have switched my exercise schedule to include early morning workouts before my family wakes up. I am not going to lie, not every morning do I jump out of bed ready to attack the day when my alarm goes off at 5am, but the key is that I still get out of bed and try anyway because I am worth it and so are you.
The Bottom Line
Remember that you are worth it and taking some time to do things for yourself is not selfish, but will allow you to be more engaged in other aspects of life. It is important to find something that you enjoy to keep you motivated. Allow yourself some grace when life throws you a curveball and derails your fitness plans for the day. Do what you can and try again tomorrow.