Ways that you can fit exercise and relaxation into a busy schedule
Like most mums, you may often think that you’re too busy to exercise and relax as much as you’d like to. Sometimes it can feel like you never have any time to spend on your own. While this is a given when you opt into the world of parenting, this lack of ‘me-time’ is not kind to your mental and physical health.
It’s important to get the exercise and rest you that you need to ensure you don’t run your body to the ground, especially when you get older and your body starts to tire and age. Numerous studies point to the health and lifestyle benefits of regular exercise and then winding down afterwards to lower those stress hormones (cortisol). So, how can you fit in all these benefits when you have kids hanging from your limbs 24 hours a day?
This post is to help busy mothers fit exercise and relaxation into their hectic schedules.
Sign up for an online personal trainer
Having a personal trainer is one of the best ways to remain committed to exercising. However, physically going to the gym can end up taking a bunch of your extra time. You’d have to travel to the gym, prepare for the session, have the workout, get in the shower, and then leave the gym to go home. Sometimes all of that can take around three hours (or more), and we all know that three hours to a mum is like an eternity of ‘me-time’. So, what if you could have a personal trainer right in the comfort of your home? When I say personal trainer, I don’t just mean a buff guy like in the above picture, grinding your gears to get that extra burn from your aching limbs. I also mean those home videos that you can buy and download straight to your PC/laptop/smartphone or even DVDs that you can buy from Amazon. I manage to squeeze in around 30 minutes of high-intensity exercise almost every day because I work out from home. Moreover, when school breaks up for the holidays the boys get to workout with me, so I don’t have an excuse not to exercise. My favourite exercise DVDs at the moment, in the order of most favourite, are:
- [easyazon_link identifier=”B00GSBMW2Y” locale=”UK” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”motherho-21″ cart=”y” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”y”]P90x3[/easyazon_link] – Tony Horton is hilarious, entertaining and cute (he looks amazing for pushing almost 60!) But, most importantly, his videos are super easy to follow, and they’re only 30 minutes long, so there is little excuse to fit in these videos to your hectic lifestyle. If HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is not your thing, [easyazon_link identifier=”B00GSBMW2Y” locale=”UK” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”motherho-21″ cart=”y” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”y”]P90x3[/easyazon_link] includes more relaxation and core strengthening exercises like Pilates and Yoga. But for the more athletic, Tony offers some Eccentric and Complex sessions, which, I am telling you, are brutal. However, I have seen the best results from his DVDs, so definitely my most favourite of the bunch
- [easyazon_link identifier=”B00DW6FZTK” locale=”UK” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”motherho-21″ cart=”y” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”y”]Shaun T Focus 25[/easyazon_link] – Shaun T has this enigmatic and enthusiastic approach that motivates you to keep working out. He’s brilliant at explaining each move and he does it so eloquently while he’s working out with you – he is one of the toughest trainers I have ever worked out to (and I’ve worked out to a lot of exercises DVDs, thanks to trial and error!). Yes, these 25-minute exercises, which are split into Alpha (beginner), Beta (Intermediate) and Gamma (Advanced and OMG, tough as anything!) can be really hardcore and you’re left sweating buckets, whilst only having done 25 minutes. Like Shaun T says constantly throughout his exercises, “You can do anything in 25 minutes!” But, they are so worth it and the feeling you get once you have completed one of his workout sessions is nothing like you will have ever experienced – it is a cross between a sense of euphoria and accomplishment. Plus, you’ll see results so quickly that you’ll stay motivated to keep burning that fat.
- [easyazon_link identifier=”B01N3QQOQC” locale=”UK” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”motherho-21″ cart=”y” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”y”]Core de Force[/easyazon_link]– Joel and Jericho are a cute team of personal trainers who take it in turns to explain each move, which is cleverly split into 1-minute or 30-second intervals, with a spike in between, so you are kept guessing and on your toes throughout the video. Sessions are split into either around 30 minutes or approximately 50 minutes and the 50-minute sessions can get you burning up to about 600 calories in less than an hour (plus you’ll keep burning throughout the day thanks to the HIIT style of the exercises). Plus, I love the fact that they use martial arts as a form of exercise – I feel invincible when I’m working out to [easyazon_link identifier=”B01N3QQOQC” locale=”UK” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”motherho-21″ cart=”y” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”y”]Core de Force[/easyazon_link]!
- [easyazon_link identifier=”B00JZQDWRI” locale=”UK” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”motherho-21″ cart=”y” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”y”]21-day Fix Extreme[/easyazon_link] – This is a new series for me, which I stumbled upon by accident via an advert on Facebook for beachbody.com. I was attracted to this series because it’s only 30 minutes per video and Autumn Calabrese is super fit and personable too – i.e. she’s not irritating to work out to. I skipped the 21-day fix beginner’s version because I’ve been packing the other 3 series into my fitness regime for a while now. But [easyazon_link identifier=”B00JZQDWRI” locale=”UK” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”motherho-21″ cart=”y” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”y”]21-Day Fix Extreme[/easyazon_link] is tough and your body will be aching after the first time you try it. You’ll get Yoga and Pilates in the schedule, but it won’t be as relaxing as you think. The Pilates session uses resistance bands [easyazon_link identifier=”B00CA45MKM” locale=”UK” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”motherho-21″ cart=”y” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”y”](I have these resistance bands at home[/easyazon_link] and they’re awesome) which makes the moves much tougher and Yoga is quite fast-paced and involves a lot of core strength, so you’ll break into a sweat even after the Yoga session – which is good!
Combine the above exercise regimes with their respective diet plans that come with the DVD series and you’ll be ripped in no time!
Also, I use a tool like https://workoutscheduler.net which automatically inputs your favourite Beachbody (so all of my above choices), Jillian Michaels and MMA exercise sessions into a calendar randomly, which you can then print off and use. Mine has the calories (and check marks) scribbled on, so apologies for the messy look, but here is what my workout calendar looks like so far:
I have also included Beachbody’s [easyazon_link identifier=”B01BFJZMBG” locale=”UK” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”motherho-21″ cart=”y” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”y”]22-Minute Hard Corps[/easyazon_link] with Tony Horton, which is great if you are really pushed for time to exercise. The exercises are split into three levels of Cardio, Resistance and Core. You’re meant to do the 10-minute Core routines with their respective Cardio or Resistance sessions which brings the total to around 30 minutes. If you do it this way, then this workout series is super effective. Otherwise, you’ll burn around 100 to 200 calories per session and you want to get the most bang for your buck when you’re a busy mum with free time that is like gold dust. So, I’d opt for exercises that burn at least 250 calories every 30 minutes and you’ll really see the results fast.
If working out to a DVD isn’t for you or you still need an added incentive, like someone actually pushing you personally, then there are plenty of online personal trainers that will work with you from the comfort of your own home. You won’t have to waste time driving to the gym or paying for an expensive membership. It’s the perfect way to be more efficient with your time without sacrificing your fitness.
Kit yourself out with workout gear
Each of the workout DVDs above use workout gear, like dumbbell and resistance bands, so to get the most effective workout in at home, make sure you have an arsenal of equipment to hand. Completely Fitness is a great website for buying premium products without the premium price tag attached. You can purchase fitness trackers, to keep on top of your daily goals and a range of other workout gear, like treadmills and exercise bikes, if you want to create a gym for yourself at home. But, I’d stick to the dumbbells and resistance bands first and then work your way up once you’re more serious.
Kitting yourself out in super comfortable, performance enhancing and glamourous activewear can really boost your confidence when working out. If you’re a gym goer, having a great multi-purpose gym bag is vital to keeping your drink, activewear, makeup and other very important girlie stuff together in one place. I love my Mia Tui Tan Elise bag (image above), a British brand created by a busy mum of 2, Charlotte Jamme. So she knows what we women need in our gym bags! I also use my Tan Elise as an everyday bag (even a laptop bag because it’s very durable), simply because of all the awesome compartments it has i.e. the following:
- 1 Clear bag
- 1 Matching clutch bag
- Water bottle holder
- Key clip
- Phone pocket
- Pen holder
Here is a link to the Mia Tui Elise bag in action:
Good fitting leggings and top are important as well to ensure that you can flail your arms and legs about without bits of clothing getting in the way. You don’t want clothes that are too thick and heavy too, otherwise, they can weigh you down and make you sweat more than you have to. I found Proskins Leggings and matching Top (in the images below) so easy to wear and very comfortable. The tummy flattering high waisted leggings hold everything in, and the material even offers cellulite busting benefits! I also found the leggings’ material was wind resistant and so they kept my legs warm during the harshest of winter. So it is well worth investing in good quality activewear because they’ll experience a lot of rough and tumble during exercise!
I think one of the most important pieces of equipment you will ever need in your fitness arsenal is a good pair of trainers. There are different types of shoes available for different types of exercise, for example, running shoes are meant for running (obviously), so it’s worth taking a look around to find the right kind of shoe for the exercise you do the most. I walk absolutely everywhere, so I went for an E-Walk Trainer made by Wolky, which is made from a special soft stretch leather and is very, very comfortable to wear when walking. I didn’t feel any pain after walking long stretches and, funnily enough, minimal sweating too because they are very breathable. I tried the E-Walk trainers at one of my friend’s Bootcamp classes, just to see if they could handle the pressure and they absolutely did, offering extra support, so that my performance was enhanced.
Check out the images below to see the Proskins leggings, top and Wolky E-Walk Shoes in action!
Sneak aromatherapy into your daily Life
Aromatherapy is a relaxation method that draws on the smell of natural plants and oils. While it is thought to have medicinal benefits, aromatherapy is mainly used for relaxation.
Turn down the lights, play some tranquil music, and light up the scents and oils. This will allow you the perfect relaxation time that you need to breathe out the stressful day and breathe in the calm. You can find some great aromatherapy tools online now like these scented candles by Royal Essence, especially for use during bedtime. Scents like lavender and chamomile will help relax your tense muscles (after a workout, maybe) for a good night sleep. You can place a couple of lavender oil drops to your pillow which will help you to drift off to a restful slumber. Keeping lavender scents nearby your kids’ bedroom if they struggle to get to sleep have been known to help as well. Combine these aromatherapy oils with some meditation style breathing and you’ll really feel like you’ve mastered your inner chi. Have you heard of the ‘4-7-8’ breathing technique which has been known to help you de-stress and sleep? Basically, you breathe in deeply through your nose quietly for 4 counts, hold your breath for 7 counts and then you exhale forcefully through your mouth for 8 counts. (You can check out Dr Andrew Weil explaining the 4-7-8 breathing exercise in a YouTube video here).
The 4-7-8 technique comes from yoga, and in yoga breathing, you can maximise the benefits by keeping the tip of your tongue to the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth. If you practice this technique for a minimum of twice a day to a maximum of 8 times per day, then after around 4 to 6 weeks, magical things will start to happen to you. You can use this breathing technique to not only lower your blood pressure, improve digestion, increase blood circulation, and slow down your heart rate, but if someone upsets you, the kids are giving you a hard time, or your patience is wearing super thin from sleep deprivation, then this breathing technique will give you back the calm that you need to get through it all. Some top fitness pros advise exhaling slowly through pursed lips when trying to increase your stamina during exercises (The Pursed Lips Breathing Exercise). Well, the reason for this is because it controls your breathing when it is under stress, for example, when you are exercising and you’re trying to increase the air to your lungs so you can keep going. The Pursed Lips Breathing method is actually used to address those who have trouble breathing, like those associated with chronic lung disease. Exhaling through this method, not only slows down your breathing, but it releases trapped air in the lungs, keeping the airways open longer and relieving the shortness of breath.
I’ve tried both Dr Weil’s technique and the Pursed Lips Breathing method quite a few times now and indeed they both brought my breath speed right down and I felt more in control of my lungs. Before I knew it, I was yawning and then sleeping!
If you do these breathing techniques twice a day for at least 4 weeks, they will work – they will really work.
What’s great is that these aromatherapy oils and breathing techniques won’t require you to leave your home, so you can spend as much or as little time as you want without any wasted commute or ‘gold dust’ me-time.
Don’t forget to look after yourself
Sometimes it’s easy for mothers to forget about themselves. You can get so wrapped up in taking care of your children and other commitments that you skip out on taking care of yourself. But it’s important that you make sure to prioritise yourself from time to time to remain healthy and happy. Also, ensuring that you’re eating a healthy balanced diet will mean that you’ll have more energy to tend to your multitude of parenting tasks and you’ll feel better during as well. Keeping up with hygiene is also vital because sometimes you will forget to shower, especially when you have small babies to tend to, which means you may be more prone to getting infections. Sleeping as much as possible, even if it seems impossible to do so, is key to keeping up your immunity as well. If you have minimal time to sleep, then it’s best you get to sleep quickly when you can! Try the breathing techniques above to improve your sleep efficiency.
Most importantly, using these above tips to get the relaxation and exercise you need means that you will feel more content and secure enough to tackle your parenting tasks full-on. If you are the strongest and the calmest you can be, you will feel like you can do anything (like I feel when I’ve finished one of those Core De Force martial arts workouts).
What are your tips for incorporating exercise and relaxation into your busy lifestyle? Please share your wealth of knowledge with us in the comments below.
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