Learning to fit exercise into my life as a working mum has been quite a journey for me. Exercise has always been an important part of my life and now more than ever as a working mum.
Exercise allows me to achieve my strength, fitness and weight management goals and most importantly achieve mental clarity and the energy levels required to meet the demands of motherhood and career.
Exercise has always been an important outlet for me and my sanity. (If I don’t exercise for more than a week I am so grumpy!).
BC (before children) I dedicated lots of time to exercise. Back when I had the luxury of time!
I started taking dance classes when I was six years old and by the time I was sixteen I was dancing seven days a week (whenever I wasn’t at school or asleep!).
At university I had the luxury of time and spent at least an hour everyday exercising. Either a gym class, running or swimming. Sometimes all 3!
I was able to maintain at least an hour of exercise almost every day after I graduated and started my full time career.
It all came crashing down though when I fell pregnant with my first child. I had all day morning sickness from six weeks and could barely go to work, let alone exercise. It was the longest I’d ever gone without exercising and I felt awful.
I returned to a safe resistance training gym classes three times a week, 14 weeks into my pregnancy. I was feeling slightly better. I continued safely until 38 weeks. By 30 weeks my weights were much reduced due to pregnancy fatigue anyway. Surprisingly these gym classes gave me more energy.
Three months postpartum I returned to strength training with a vengeance. I had gained 15kgs from the pregnancy and eating when I felt tired (which was all the time after my son was born). Turns out you can’t eat whatever you want when you’re breastfeeding, especially if you’re mixed feeding. So I returned to my regime of going to the gym most days. Again I had the luxury of time as I was on maternity leave. The nearest gym had a crèche so I could go during the day when my husband was at work. After 8 weeks of this though none of the extra weight hadn’t shifted. It was time to do something different.
Then I learnt about portion sizes. Although my husband and I were eating healthy foods we were eating far too much meat. Usually 500g per meal between us! Cutting meat portions back to 100g each per meal made a big difference to my weight loss goals. I thought I would be starving. I wasn’t. We had been overeating. My relationship with food and exercise changed dramatically as I realised it was all about quality time exercising and managing the quality and quantity of food that I consumed.
The best part of this philosophy is that it supports the time poor realities of being a working mum. Going to the gym everyday to compensate for not eating right was no longer possible.
I returned to work when my son was 8 months old. Even though I was only working three days a week, I didn’t have time to be exercising most days anymore. My new exercise goal was a gym class three times a week. I found an efficient and enjoyable workout that fit well around my motherhood and career commitments. I went two nights a week and Sunday mornings. Of course there were exceptions like family sickness or social or work commitments.
By the time my son was a year old I had lost the 15kgs and my body was in better shape and stronger than before pregnancy.
Exercising two to three times a week while working part-time was sustainable and I continued to do so during my second pregnancy too. Second time around I only gained a few extra kilos. I gradually and safely returned to exercise from 5 weeks postpartum, with guidance and support from a women’s health physio.
On days when my motivation to exercise is low I always remind myself that I never regret going. I only regret not going when I could have.
It’s not everyday that I have the opportunity to exercise anymore and do something that boosts my energy and confidence levels. I appreciate opportunities to exercise now more than ever as a working mum.
First published on By Brittany Noonan.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. What’s your favourite exercise and how do you make time for it as a busy working mum?