A few months ago, I remember someone commenting about wanting to hear how I fit workouts in after the baby arrived. Because before the baby – that’s the easy part. After the baby – it gets a little harder.
Ok, a lot harder.
Let me start by saying I’m fully back on the workout wagon and it feels amazing. I feel like myself, I am starting to look more like myself. It’s taken a few weeks (TWO MONTHS) but I even lost a pound (I’ve gotten past the stages of denial, then anger and now have settled for small victories). I got more physically active around 4 weeks after birth by adding in some cycling along with the walking. Around 5 weeks after birth I was cycling and running. By 6 weeks I was back on board with swimming, biking, running and strength training. I listened to my body and did what felt right. You can listen to your doctor but more importantly, listen to yourself. You know the right thing to do as long as you are honest with yourself.
Fitting in workouts before 6 weeks was easy. Chris was on paternity leave. Why more companies don’t do this I will never understand. He was an integral part of my recovery and sanity for the first 6 weeks. He also got to bond with Max during some of the most amazing weeks of his life, waking up to the world. While Chris was home, finding the time to fit workouts in was easy. He would do his workout, then I would do mine. When he went back to work, I knew it would become more of a challenge.
So how does it gone done every day?
First: time management; in other words, I make every minute of the day count. When people find out that you workout, often then will come back at you with where do you find the time? Know that in all of my years of being physically active, I have never looked under a table and found time. Time doesn’t hide from us. Rather, you make time. I make the time to workout. I make sacrifices to have that time. Those sacrifices increased after baby and I had to become even more organized to make time. In the course of a day I cram in the responsibilities of running a full-time business, being a mother and completing two workouts a day (on most days). Being organized and efficient is a must. When I make the time, I then have a limited amount of time to get in, get my ass moving and get that workout done.
Second: sleep. Sleep is very hard to come by as a new mom but I still make it a priority. Sleep keeps you healthy and energized for workouts. Right now Max is not on a predictable schedule. However, I know that when I put him to bed in the evening, chances are he will give me one long stretch of sleep for 4 hours. So, if he goes to bed at 7:30 pm, I go to bed at 7:30 pm. Yes that means cutting my day very short and then waking up very early but I can only go so many days on lousy sleep. I try to get at least 7 hours worth of sleep each night. I also don’t rely on mid-day naps because I find they disrupt my nighttime sleep (which is already disrupted). If I want to gain fitness from my workouts (meaning: recover from them), I know I need sleep. Sleep should be every athlete’s priority!
Third: communication is key. Every night, Chris and I talk about the next day. Communication is huge when you have a baby. I cannot imagine raising a child with someone who did not 100 percent support, respect and love me – and what I do. Chris also does two workouts a day (on most days). So, we figure out who will get the morning or the evening or what he will do at lunch or what I’ll do at nap time. Sometimes we meet halfway – he’ll head to the forest preserve to do a run after work while I take Max and Boss to the dog park at that same preserve. Then, we do the hand off and I head out for my run. We work together to make it work. Neither of us is a morning workout person but what we’ve learned is that if you want to do the workout, you get your ass up early and get it done if that's what it takes.
Fourth: a little preparation goes a long way. The night before, Chris has all of his equipment packed, bike in the car so all he has to do is grab his things and go. As for myself, I wake up and put on my workout clothes if I know I’m going to try to workout while Max naps. As soon as he starts napping, I’m on my bike in the basement. Everything is all set up – including the baby monitor so I can keep an eye on him. Not a minute is wasted. Sometimes our foyer looks like a transition area and it looks like Chris lives in his car but he’s always prepared, never forgets his gear because it’s always ready to go.
Fifth: find some semblance of a schedule and stick to it. If you work from home, you know how difficult this is. Why – because you have nothing that demands structure from you. Max is still too young to sleep at predictable intervals or even eat at set times. But, once Chris returned to work I knew I needed to start putting together some sort of a schedule or I would go haywire. I try to start Max’s day “for real” around 7 am. He has quiet time in his chair with music until I finish eating breakfast. Then we play for about an hour. Then he takes a nap (or I hope he does). I either work or workout. Then we have play time again or go for a walk. Then he takes an afternoon nap while I work. By that time, Chris comes home and we share the responsibilities.
Sixth: have a support system in place. There are a lot of things Chris and I don’t like about living in Illinois, construction, winter, lack of bike lanes. But what we do like is that both of our families live 5 minutes away. Having relatives nearby is priceless. Grandparents are always excited to see the grandchild at any time of the day. Even at 7 am on a Saturday so we can head off together for masters. I could not imagine doing this without the family support. This allows us to get out and even workout together. Things like this keep us connected to our “old” life. If you don’t have family nearby, connect with some friends or find a reliable sitter. You’ll need it (better yet, you’ll want it).
In the past few weeks, I have not had to miss a workout. Chris and I have always figured out a way to make it work. He knows that I’m a better person when I get time for my workouts, and I know the same goes for him. While it has been challenging, it has not been impossible. I’ve finally know what the pool looks like at 5:30 am (the same) or what it’s like to run while watching the sunrise (beautiful). The trainer can be just as exciting as an outdoor mind (visualize it) and the treadmill doesn’t lie (kind of like the track). A workout is a workout no matter where it’s done or when. After all, nothing matters more than consistency in training. So as long as I find the time, I know I can bring it and make it count.
When it comes to working out, there are excuses and there are reasons for not getting it done. A child is sometimes a reason. But it can quickly become an excuse if you don’t take the time to set yourself up for workout success every day. IFor me, so far so good. t’s my hope to show you how you can still pursue your sport while balancing motherhood and business as Max grows up.
OH MY GOD THAT'S MY KID!