I spun and lifted my way through my 20’s. I jogged, kick boxed and Bodypumped my way through the decade. Youthful, energetic and free of familial obligations, I worked my butt off daily at the gym, I discovered my fitness passion. Fitness was my biggest hobby and my passion. In fact, I spent so much time at the gym, I even found myself a husband there. Fit was my way of life. I could not imagine anything different.
And Then Came Motherhood
Fast forward to my 30’s and suddenly that energetic, youthful gym rat was no longer toned, tanned and free. I was exhausted, managing a household, full-time job and raising boys with little time to indulge in my fitness habit.
Now don’t get me wrong, being a Mom is my greatest joy. As I write this, my sweet boy is sleeping peacefully next to me in his favorite Lightning McQueen pajamas. But, lets all be real, becoming a mother forever changes your identity. Oftentimes us Moms, well, we put ourselves last. For many of us, that means postponing that work out. It is especially easy to skip, especially if its not your passion.
The Benefits of Working Out
Yet, regularly working out has so many benefits for those of us enduring the struggles of motherhood. From helping our postpartum bodies lose weight and gain strength, to increasing energy, self confidence, and boosting happiness levels, we often put on the back burner what could be improving our lives immensely.
It was about 1.5 years ago that I was feeling extra out of shape, exhausted and down. I knew I needed some self care. I tried at-home workouts, but they bored me. Then, I thought about joining a big box gym, but their group fitness schedule didn’t fit. I contemplated jogging around the lake in my community, but with the 95 degree weather, I decided against that.
The Call That Changed It All
One day I was on a call with a colleague and she told me about barre. This is a ballet inspired workout that mixes elements of pilates, yoga and functional training. I was skeptical, envisioning my lack of rhythm in a room full of dainty dancers, but I decided to look into trying a class. I discovered that my local studio, Pure Barre Carrollwood, had classes that I could squeeze into my schedule. It was way out of my comfort zone but I decided to give it a try.
Did I just Blow a Hamstring?
Every single preconceived notion of barre ended after I tried my first class. The workout begins with a warm up, moves to upper body, then lower body and abs. The goal is to utilize these functional movements to get your body to shake. And shake I did, fatiguing each muscle group as I moved through these barre movements. My legs felt like jello. And as the class ended with a stretch, I felt calm, peaceful, happy and renewed, ready to attack my day.
Immediately, I signed up for a membership. Only one week after my first class, I felt stronger and saw a change in my body. More importantly, I felt happier, energized and motivated. I found a workout that made me feel a bit like the “old me.” And, that only makes me better able to be the “new me.”
The side effects of discovering a workout I loved included increased self confidence, energy, strength and flexibility. And also, quite a few pounds and inches gone. A year and a half after my first barre class and I have maintained a toned figure. I can even see my abs. And, I can hold a plank for what seems like an eternity.
But for me it is not just about the physical aspects. Equally important is the time I re-dedicated to fitness has transformed my life. Being healthier, happier and more energetic makes me a better Mom, wife and friend. And during a rough week, spending 50 minutes working hard in class helps me to find my zen and refocus on the positive.
You Got This, Mama!
I know I am not the only Mom who has ever been exhausted, demotivated and out of shape. And, there are so many women out there looking for a way to get fit. The cycle of dieting or gaining a gym membership that collects dust is epidemic. When you have little time and energy, its hard to change a habit.
But, my fellow moms, I implore you to use your moments of self care to find a workout you enjoy. There are so many options out there. From functional workouts such as barre, yoga or pilates to high intensity boot camps, there is something for everyone.
Many gyms and fitness studios offer you the opportunity to try before you buy. Test them all out! Discover what it is that motivates you to return to class. What exercise do you WANT to add into your already hectic day? Forcing yourself to participate in a workout that you hate is a set up for failure. Whether it is a passion for a dance class or spin, weightlifting or yoga, finding what works for you is the first step in changing your life.
There is no fad workout or diet that will make you fit in the long term. What I believe helps you reach fitness goals is a lifestyle change. Set aside the “Mom-guilt” and spend a few minutes working on “you.” Remember, the benefits you and your family gain by having an energized, healthy, refreshed and focused Mom leading the family are infinite.