When I began 2020, I was determined that this would be the year that I would get in shape! I had had my first child three years ago, then went straight into breastfeeding and had lost a ton of weight. When I was pregnant with my second child just 14 months later, I ended up too sick with hyperemesis gravidarum and actually lost weight. I was still reasonably small after delivering my second son, but it had been nearly two years since I had started working out again regardless of size. Then, a year later, once I was done nursing him, everything with my body just slowed down. By January of this year, it had been a total of 3 years since I had any healthy exercise, and I was determined now no longer pregnant or breastfeeding, that this would be MY YEAR!
In January, I signed up at Club Pilates, got on track with a healthy diet, and started seeing results and feeling so much better physically. Then in March, as Covid-19 swooped in to impact all of our lives, everything changed. Within a few short weeks, my beloved Pilates studio shut down, and so was every other gym in the area. Many fitness centers started virtual fitness classes. While I commend their efforts, the reality is, anyone with small children knows a virtual workout class merely is unrealistic. When March hit here in Texas, and everything shut down, including my sons’ school, I was home with a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. My days trying to keep them occupied and not getting cabin fever was a challenge all on its own. I’m not going to lie; I’m not the perfect mom, and it was not easy. Exercising entirely and utterly went down the drain. Along with it, so did my healthy eating. I was afraid of too much fresh produce because I wasn’t sure how exposed the local grocery stores were to the Pandemic, so I started purchasing lots of shelf-stable foods, and let’s just say we started eating very unhealthily.
The days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months. The next thing I knew, it was May, I had gained back all of the weight I had lost, my beloved Pilates Studio was still closed but soon to be opened back up. By this point, I felt so sluggish and out of shape that I knew it was time to get back on track, so starting in June, I began working out again.
Returning to a new world.
My studio had made some changes to ensure we all remained safe. This included shortening class times to add extra time for clean-up, limiting occupants per class, and requiring masks upon entry. They had lots of stations for hand sanitizer, and overall, I felt safe when I saw how well everyone was working together to ensure we all stayed safe and healthy.
My body, however, was a completely different story. I was extremely challenged by the reformer workouts I used to be able to complete with ease. I was struggling to make it through every session and left utterly exhausted. While I thought it would take me just a few days for my body to readjust, it actually took several weeks! It made me realize that I should’ve done something to stay active during the shelter in place. Even perhaps a walk with my boys while I pushed the double stroller, just to have remained active.
What I learned most is that if I ever have to enter a formal period again where I can no longer work out at my fitness center, I HAVE to do something at home so that I don’t lose all of the strength and endurance I worked so hard to gain.
Now that I finally feel like I’ve gotten back into the groove of things, I thought I’d share some simple tips that work well for me and may also work well for other busy moms during these unprecedented times:
- Make your health a priority. I know it sounds cliché, but your body really is a temple, and you only get one in this life. Prioritizing simply means that staying active with some form of exercise moves from your “should” list of things to your “must” list. The way I started thinking about it was, while I can’t predict the future, I want to do what is in my control to live a long and healthy life to be around for my kids. This notion started to motivate me when I thought about my health because it isn’t selfish when you think about it as moms, it’s selfless. The better we are for ourselves, the more we have to give to those we love.
- Adjust to the times. Your new workout lifestyle may not be what it once was. If you previously spent five days a week in a gym and no longer have the time amongst homeschooling, remote learning, working from home, etc., that’s okay. If you have a spouse or partner at home, plan “trade-off days” where you each get the opportunity to work out every other day. That way, you don’t have to worry about childcare and can get in a full, undistracted workout.
- Include your kids. If a spouse alternating workout schedule doesn’t work for your household, consider including your kids. One of the things I could’ve done while my studio was closed was walked more with my boys. Putting your little ones in a stroller and walking around a park is beneficial for you and them, not to mention a safe way to get fresh air and a change of scenery. Consider walking around parks, nature trails, or even a high school track. If you have older children, take them to a park and then do reps in the park while they play on the equipment.
- Keep bags of fruit and veggies handy to snack on. This one has been super hard for me! The more time we’ve spent at home, the more I’ve snacked. It hasn’t been easy to remain disciplined, and at least for me, I don’t think that trying to abstain altogether is indeed the answer. We already keep lots of snacks available for the kids. If you don’t end up getting yourself anything, it’s easier to fall into the temptation of demolishing a bag of cheese-its when you have been busy all day trying to get your work done and take care of the kids and also eat! I started making lunch bags for myself of fresh fruits like grapes and berries and vegetables like broccoli and carrots. I meal prepped them as though I was packing a lunch to go somewhere, but put all the snack bags in the fridge so when I had a craving or that bag of cheese-its was calling my name, I had a healthy alternative. Be sure to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables, either with a fruit and veggie cleaner or by making your own vinegar and water mixture to ensure you’re fighting off any grocery store germs.
- Give yourself grace. This is hard, mamas, it really is. Don’t be so hard on yourselves. We are all doing the best we possibly can, and that’s okay. If you miss one day, just try again the next. If you miss a week, then keep pushing for the next. If you’re too tired, go for a slow walk, anything to keep your body moving and heart pumping!
I hope this helps and encourages someone. I would love your comments on if this has helped. Or to learn more about what you’re doing during the Pandemic to stay healthy!