When you’re pregnant and when you’re a mom, it might seem like your workouts will automatically take a back seat to the rest of your life.
The tiredness, the nausea, mom guilt, the to-do list, the sick kids, the sleep deprivation, the full-time job – there are a million reasons why a workout can’t happen that day.
It can be especially hard to make it happen when you can’t remember the last time you slept more than 3 hours in a row….!
The good news? Moving our bodies is really effective for facilitating physical and mental health, which is why physical activity is a priority in my own #momlife. It’s total self-care.
(I was going to tell you that “my workouts are basically the only alone time that I get” and then I remembered that my 9-month old is around for all my walks and workouts, SO NEVERMIND, lol. Sound familiar?)
Movement is a priority for me and the mums in the To Pregnancy & Beyond community, too.
I asked them how they do it. Real-life moms and pregnant mama’s.
They are pregnant, first-time moms, second (third and fourth)-time moms, moms with toddlers and babies, stay at home moms, working moms, work at home moms – they *get it*. They are living it.
How do they stay committed to themselves, their workouts, throughout the day-to-day rush? How do they keep themselves on the list?
To set the tone, most of them (myself included!) are doing 2-3 strength training workouts per week, and some leisurely walking. Some are doing a bit more, some do less, some do yoga, pilates, or other cardio.
Before the To Pregnancy & Beyond mama’s tell you their tips and tricks to fitting in their weekly workouts, I want to tell you my Top 4:
#1: Redefine what a “good workout” is. My workout this past Sunday night was 12 minutes. I used one mini-resistance band. I did bodyweight squats, banded forward and backwards walks within the space from our (small) ensuite to the bed, and clamshells on the floor.
#2: Have a set workout plan. No guesswork – the workout program is written down and planned out. I don’t have to think too hard; I just do it. Huge time and sanity saver.
#3: I do the exercise I hate (ha!) the most first, even if it’s not programmed that way. I get all the reps and sets out of the way of that exercise that I know is going to take the most mental and physical energy, and then I move on. Freedom!
#4: I do all my workouts from home. With a breastfeeding baby who has never taken a bottle, it wasn’t possible to leave the house to go to the gym. Invest in some dumbbells and resistance bands – you’re set.
Here’s how the TP&B community makes their workouts work in their extremely packed schedules:
“I try to get my workout in either during nap time or right after my son nurses so he’s as happy as can be. If he’s awake and still not feeling it, he becomes my weight! It’s not what I’d hoped for, but at least I’m getting it done.”
Jill – Mom to a 7-month old.
“I try to get my workouts in during the week at lunchtime/right after. In this way I have my mornings with my son and time for coffee if the night was rough! I like to leave my weekends open for walking and family time. It stresses me out thinking of going to the gym on the weekends.”
Vanessa – Mom t0 a 3-year old and 9-weeks pregnant.
“I keep 2 mantras in my head “what doesn’t challenge me doesn’t change me” and also “what would Tracey do?” (Tracey being a friend and a bad-ass mum of 4 who trains for ironman triathlons!)”
Imogen – Mom to a 2-year old and an 8-week old.
“I make peace with the fact that my 4 year old will want to join in and the workout will most likely be in 3 or more parts. If I’ve not managed to do a workout for a few days I’ll squeeze a quick one in before bed in my pjs. The less getting changed the better. And anything is better than nothing!”
Silke – Mom to a 4-year old and a 3-month old.
“I spent so many years putting pressure on myself to “get my workout in” not necessarily because I wanted to but because I felt I had to, to be smaller, stronger, faster, better.
Throughout this pregnancy, I really had to adjust my mindset. For me, it’s easy to get my workout/walk/yoga in because I’m doing something that I’m truly enjoying. And honestly, on the days that I planned on a strength session but when it comes time – I just really don’t feel like it… I’ll do something else I feel like doing more like a walk, or my birth prep exercises.
Putting less pressure on myself has made everything more enjoyable and doable.”
Shannon – 33 weeks pregnant.
“First, it helps that I’ve set attainable goals – 2 workouts a week instead of this 5-6 days/week that my pre-children self went for. Then, knowing that I’ll feel physically and mentally better after gets me moving – reducing pain and feeing accomplished is where it’s at!”
Maureen – Mom to a 2-year old and a 1-month old.
“When I’m not feeling like I have enough time or energy to get through my workout, after each set I say aloud “I’m stronger now”. Those words do something for me. I get pumped that I’m at least an itsy bit stronger than I was 30’s before that moment. It keeps me going!”
Sunny – Mom to a 15-month old.
“I have found that I am most likely to finish my workout if I do my workout right before I go pick up my kiddo from day care. I have found that this way I am able to let go of all the stress from work and able to get my mind in a more relaxed place before I go get my little girl.”
Kristin – Mom to a 10-month old.
“I’ll usually try and get my workouts in earlier in the day (whether at the gym or at home) around my daughter’s nap time and while my boys are in school. If that doesn’t happen, then I will work out while my boys are playing outside and my daughter hangs out with me in her pack n play.
If I realllllly don’t feel like working out, then I just don’t do it. If I am waivering, then I’ll do a super simple session (4 moves: push, pull, hinge, squat) of weight training.”
Victoria – Mom to an 8-year old, 5-year old, and 15-month old.
“I fit in my workout while baby naps and big bro plays. It is definitely more difficult to accomplish some days than others (depending on how much he wants to “help”!).
If I’m not feeling my workout I use the old “just do the warmup and then you can stop if you want”, “just do the first set”, etc.
Generally once I start I feel so good that I get through it, and if I still can’t get into then I figure it’s just not the day/time for it and let it go.
If it’s a hard exercise or one I don’t like, I count my reps down instead of up so I know how many more until I get to stop!”
Roxanne – Mom to a 20-year old, 17 year old, 3 year old, and 1 year old.
“I have to do my workouts first thing in the morning, before everything else or they’ll just get pushed back & back until the day runs out. Since being pregnant though I’ve definitely given myself more leeway to prioritise sleep or just listen to my body more and if a work out isn’t happening then being concsious to move in any way I can.”
Nina – 29 weeks pregnant.
“I have made walking a part of our daily routine, so it’s just something we do now. And I remind myself that taking care of MYSELF physically IS a big part of taking care of my family and my home.”
Chrissy – Mom to an 8 month old.
“I learned that working out everyday didn’t mean the best results for my body and mind. How I prioritize at 5 months postpartum, 1). if I have little time or motivation, I work on pelvic floor and only do my warm up exercises, and 2). I try to do weights at least once a week and have registered for a dance class for a little of “me” time and extra push to do cardio stuff.”
Maira – Mom to a 5 month old.
These are all GREAT suggestions. Most importantly, they work and I hope they help you!
If you want to build consistent exercise into your weekly routine, start your (free!) 4-week workout plan that is safe and effective for pregnancy and moms, by downloading it here.