You mean I have to do all I do and look good doing it? Seriously? As a working mom, I used to hate that. We have enough trouble trying to squeeze a fitness regimen into an already packed and stressful schedule. When we have to worry about everyone and everything else around us, our own needs usually come in last. However, there are benefits working mothers need to know about fitness that go beyond looking better or wearing a smaller size.
Fitness isn’t always about going to the gym or dieting. Fitness is about learning to live a healthy lifestyle, which lowers your stress levels and improves the quality of your life and health. When you are healthier you are better able to cope with everyday stress, ward off illness and fatigue, and improve your overall feeling of well being.
Here are some ideas that working moms can incorporate into their lives to increase their level of fitness.
Make Better Food Choices
It’s a fact that working moms tend to snack when they’re stressed, eat convenience foods on the run, and skip meals. The desire to run through the drive-thru is truly compelling when you are running errands and carting kids around. All of these habits lead to weight gain, for you and potentially your children. They will do what you do. Many snack and convenience foods are loaded with transfats and processed sugars.
Instead of skipping meals, try to eat smaller, healthier mini-meals throughout the day. Foods such as vegetable sticks, nuts, and fruit satisfy the need to munch and you can still eat healthy. You can also have your chocolate, if you choose wisely. Milk chocolate is loaded with fat and sugar and doesn’t have any of the health benefits of dark chocolate, which contains anti-oxidants and other health benefits.
Incorporate a Little Exercise in Your Everyday Routine
We’ve all heard the advice to take the stairs more often, or park at the back of the lot and walk to the shops. There are other ways that you can burn calories doing the things you already do, just doing them a little differently.
- Yard work and housework burn calories, but you can increase their benefit by incorporating lunges and stretches as you work. Mopping, dusting, and home repairs are all opportunities to get moving and get your heart rate up. Use big movements and you will increase the burn. Play music you love while doing this and you will find yourself moving faster and enjoying it more.
- Exercise while watching your favorite TV show. This will give you a 30-60 minute workout, and you can increase the pace during commercials instead of running to the fridge.
- Standing instead of sitting when you’re on the phone or in a waiting room burns an extra 30 calories per hour.
- Incorporate mini-workouts throughout the workday, whether you do isometric exercises at your desk or visit the office of a colleague instead of calling, you can find many chances to get in some exercise wherever you are. Go for a walk! I find a walk after lunch helps me avoid the “2 pm Slump” where everyone wants to put their head on the desk and fall asleep, or they are heading for the coffee pot to make it through the afternoon. If you live a cold climate that is not conducive to this during the day, don’t let that stop you. Put your headphones on, find the staircase in your building and take 20 minutes to rev up your energy.
Take the Time to Play
Workouts don’t have to be boring, and they don’t have to be work. In fact, if you do take up an exercise routine and it’s boring, eventually you will give it up. We only have so much willpower and sooner or later, we just can’t bring ourselves to do it. Take up a sport, take a dance class, or just play with your children. All of these activities help you to get fit and have fun at the same time.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is possible, and it’s much easier than you think. It just takes making some changes. Set realistic goals and implement these changes gradually and you will begin to see and feel a difference in yourself that will carry over into other parts of your life. You will also have the added bonus of setting an example of healthier living for your children.