No one said staying fit once you have kids is easy, but then again, you’ve already mastered the art of juggling caring for a newborn, doing laundry and cleaning up poopsplosions on very little sleep. Lindsay Goulet, a Vancouver-based fitness educator, founder of Hot Mama Health & Fitness and a mom of two, gave us her top tips to counter the many reasons you might have for not exercising.
1. The problem: You don’t know where to start
The solution: It can be daunting to begin working out, especially if you’ve just had a baby—chances are you don’t feel like you’re in the best shape of your life. But you’re not alone. “Motherhood can be lonely and isolating sometimes,” Goulet says. That’s why she believes the best place to start is group fitness classes. “Getting out of the house with other moms is a lot more motivating and will keep you accountable.” Try a few to figure out what type of exercise you enjoy. Goulet suggests going with a mom friend or trying mommy-and-me classes, which let you bring your baby and meet other moms as you get postnatal training.
2. The problem: You’re too tired to care
The solution: Being a parent is exhausting, and you might feel too sleep-deprived for a workout. But did you know exercise can diminish fatigue? “One of the biggest motivations for moms should be energy,” says Goulet. And getting that extra energy can be as simple as starting off your day with five minutes of intense exercise, such as squat jumps, push-ups and burpees, she says. Just think of how amazing you’ll feel after you’re done, rather than feeling guilty for not exercising.
3. The problem: You can’t squeeze in time for fitness
The solution: You don’t have to spend an hour working out to get results. Those five minutes of exercise here and there all add up. Goulet suggests turning mundane tasks into exercise opportunities: Lunge while you carry the laundry basket, squat while you do the dishes, do push-ups over your baby during tummy time or take a walk around the field at your kid’s soccer practice—no equipment necessary. “Your best piece of fitness equipment is your own body,” she says.
4. The problem: You can’t find child care
The solution: Toddlers can be a handful, but don’t let this hold you back from doing a quick workout at home. By exercising in front of your child, you’re being a role model. And toddlers become children who eventually participate. Whether it’s hiking, biking or just taking a walk in the park, kids can be involved in almost any activity. Goulet suggests dedicating specific days for family fitness. “Have that conversation with your kids and say, ‘This is our day to be active. What would you like to do?’”
5. The problem: You’re convinced you’re not athletic
The solution: If you didn’t get an A in gym class, you’re not alone. But you don’t need to be athletic to be fit. If you’re worried about your lack of coordination, there are many classes that don’t require it. Plus, trained professionals can teach you good form. If it’s stamina that’s keeping you from attending a class, well, you have to start somewhere, says Goulet. “If you need to take a break, take a break! If you’re in a truly supportive and motivating place, no one is judging you.”