by Sumi Singh
If you’re a mom, how would you like to get back into your pre-baby jeans, burn the fat off for good, and achieve a lean, toned, and feminine physique? It sounds great, right? But, you’re A MOM. Maybe you’re a new mom, or a mom with a toddler, or even two (or more!) children around… you’re incredibly busy, so how do you find the time?
SumiBeforeAfter – CopyHi, I’m Sumi Singh. I’m a personal trainer from Austin Texas, and I’d like to thank Tom Venuto for the opportunity to share my fitness tips for moms on the Burn the Fat Blog. Tom says that over half of Burn the Fat readers are women and many of those women are moms, so I’m happy to contribute.
As a trainer, a mom, and a trainer TO moms, I understand, and I’ve heard more than my fair share of reasons about why mommies can’t take the time or make the effort to hit the weights, get to the gym, work out at home, and exercise.
And if you’re a mom, some of your reasons seem pretty legit. But at the end of the day, they’re just excuses; they’re barriers that prevent you from achieving the body you could ultimately have. I wouldn’t say that if I hadn’t overcome them myself and helped countless clients do the same (and you’ll hear some of their stories below)…
In working with many moms who are new to training, I’ve gathered 5 great tips to help you find your motivation, get you started in the right direction and obliterate excuses and barriers.
1. I have no time.
YOUR BREAKTHROUGH: Set your alarm clock earlier, cut out pointless behaviors (watching TV, surfing the internet), work out when the baby naps, involve your baby in your daily walks, take a mommy and me stroller class (or something similar), make exercise a priority, budget your time better, hire a housekeeper to free up some time (or even leave dishes in the sink!) Seriously, if you can’t take 3 or 4 hours out of every week to dedicate to fitness and wellness, that’s saying something about where in your priority list you place your own health.
One of my top client success stories, Mari (a new mom who was also new to strength training) shares her two best tips:
• Prep your meals in advance or on the weekends so you don’t have an excuse when life gets too hectic with baby or when you’re running out the door.
• Work out at home, even if the workouts are short. You don’t need endless hours in the gym.
2. I’m too tired.
YOUR BREAKTHROUGH: Take a closer look at your diet. Are you getting in proper nutrition? You could be deficient in vitamins or minerals, not eating enough, not drinking enough water, or are simply choosing foods that make you feel sluggish. Consider supplementing with a multivitamin.
Another client of mine, Catherine, a mother of two and also new to strength training, pointed out that by nailing her nutrition from healthy foods at the start of each day, you’ll be less tempted by the low nutrition value items later in the day. She said:
“Breakfast is Greek yogurt with fruit –every morning. It’s fast and easy and keeps me from the temptation to swing by the donut shop “just this once” on the way to work.”
That brings up an important point; many people experience fatigue after eating meals high in sugar and processed carbohydrates (like donuts). As moms, we know the feeling all too well – the sugar crash that happens after the sugar high. We complain about being tired, but we’re doing it to ourselves by choosing foods that don’t sustain our energy.
If you handle stimulants well, a cup of green tea or coffee is fine. But don’t go overboard. Get your energy from food and yes, training…
Try a little bit of cardio early in the morning before the family wakes up. People seem to believe that exercise makes you more tired, but in the right dose, it gives you more energy; it gets your blood pumping and it’s an instant pick-me-up. Then if you need it, take a nap while hubby watches baby.
3. I’m intimidated by getting in the weight room, I’m self conscious of my body, and I’m still in maternity clothes.
YOUR BREAKTHROUGH: You don’t have to go to a commercial gym. It took you 9 months to complete your pregnancy, so the weight will take time to come off. If you can’t make it to the gym, invest in some resistance bands and light dumbbells at home. My book and DVD contain all the exercises I used and my clients used to get in shape after the baby.
Having a plan is key, ladies! Set a goal, stick to a plan, and get it done. If you can’t find the time for the commute or don’t have the money to make it to the gym, find a good plan you can follow at home.
As Arianna, another of my clients suggests (she’s a mom AND a grandmom!), going to the gym without a plan is like being blind and lost.
“I remember coming in to the gym with a very skeptical attitude and leaving feeling excited and hopeful. I didn’t think that I could lose a meaningful amount of weight at my age, but you didn’t give any hint that you thought I couldn’t do it… and I guess your confidence and belief in me rubbed off.”
“I don’t know that I would ever have picked strength training without your influence. In the gym, I found the free weight area beyond the elliptical machines somewhat intimidating, but I did know as a woman reaching a certain age, that strength training could have positive effects in minimizing osteoporosis, gaining strength, among other benefits, so I was willing to give it a try.”
“Now I love it. I have never felt athletic before and lifting weights and being able to see progress in the form of increasing ability and muscle definition has made me feel better physically and feel better about my appearance.”
4. I have no motivation to exercise.
YOUR BREAKTHROUGH: Find a training partner, enlist the help of a friend, hire a personal trainer, an online diet coach (can reach me at sumi at shailafitness.com, and be accountable to SOMEONE. Someone you pay, or someone who is waiting for you at the trail for a walk.
Use the internet for something productive – your fitness and health! Social networks are only getting more popular. Some people use them to fritter away their time, others use them for accountability. Get on Facebook, or in your favorite online group, and announce your goals publicly (“I want to lose the baby weight, help me stay on track!”) and see how many friends help you stick to it.
After Mari lost over 30 lbs with online training with me, she posted on Facebook:
“I did it! I lost 30 lbs! Thanks to my friends who supported me and to my trainer, Sumi, I have reached my goal. I am so thankful for all their help, guidance, and motivation and for the faith other people had in me.”
The best part is, that was over 6 months ago and she still looks fabulous… there’s nothing for motivation like accountability… especially making your bikini pictures public!
5. I’m a mom and therefore I must put my family first; I feel guilty about taking the time to exercise.
YOUR BREAKTHROUGH: Just ask your husband/boyfriend/partner if he feels guilty about spending Sunday afternoon on the couch watching football while you entertain and distract the little one for a few hours.
Yes, your children, family, and husband need to know you will be there for them. You’re a parent and you always will be. Life will be hectic from from the day you step into that role. But if you don’t make yourself a priority and take care of your own health first, you can’t take care of others.
Many moms think it takes an hour a day or even longer to make training worthwhile and that becomes a barrier to them even getting started. But if you use workouts designed for efficiency, you can get it done in a half or even a third of that time. If you make every minute count, 30 minutes of strength training will do it. Even if you only get away for a 20-minute walk, every little bit helps.
When you learn to make use of those smaller blocks of time, you’ll amaze yourself at the results you get and you’ll be proud of how productive of a person you become. Learning how to work out at home is a lifesaver – check out my Stay at Home Strong program if you want to learn more).
To make it even easier, remind yourself that exercise is a great stress reliever. Raising a family, being a wife, being a mom and working a job is plenty stressful. What if physical activity became your way to destress? It works for me and it has worked for my clients.
About the author
Sumi Singh is a Personal Trainer in Austin, TX, an online diet coach, and the author of Stay at Home Strong. To get more information on the Stay At Home Strong program, visit www.stayathomestrongebook.com/. She can be contacted for personalized diet coaching at sumi @ shaila fitness.com or visit www.shailafitness.com