Thursday, February 25, 2010

Finding Time for Exercise: When Do You Fit It In?

Coffee Talk Thursday

Before I had kids, I went to the gym regularly (a free membership was one of the perks of working on-air for the TV station). After I had my first son, I lost all the baby weight fairly easily, and then some. I’m 5’4”, and I was wearing a 4 (I know; I was pretty pleased, myself! I am not there now, though). With my baby in the jogging stroller, we set off for long walks, even some runs, in the summer.

Then I got pregnant again. The last ten pounds of that baby weight did not come off as easily as with the first, and when the summer following my middle son's first birthday hit, I was pregnant again. Those extra pounds got added to the several I gained during my pregnancy.

Now that my youngest is 16 months, and I am not pregnant, I’m setting out to tackle those final ten pounds that have hung on so tenaciously. I do not have a gym membership, and we do not have a treadmill or any other kind of large exercise equipment. Oh, and I have three very active little boys that occupy my every minute.

So what do I do?

  • I know I could wake up early. However, for me, on the days I do, it is more important to me to prepare spiritually for my day by reading Scripture and spending time in prayer. Eventually, when my baby is fully weaned, if I can rise even earlier consistently, I could try to find some time in the early morning hours.
  • For me, I can't find time to exercise apart from my kids; so what I do has to involve them.
  • I am looking forward to the arrival of summer. I much prefer exercising outdoors over indoors and love to load the guys up in the double stroller and head out for long, brisk walks. We garden. We take bike rides. I may try to get back to roller-blading. Lots of outdoor activity.
  • Since it's the middle of winter in the Rockies, and I can't take everyone out for exercise as regularly as I would like, I have been doing some exercise videos a few times a week. I like Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred and Denise Austin: Get Fit Daily Dozen. They are both short enough that I can finish the workout without my baby clamoring at my leg for me to hold him. Plus, the 30 Day Shred involves push-ups, jumping jacks, and other exercises that the boys can get into too.
  • On the days that I don't get "intentional" exercise, I try to remember that we are quite active anyway. I have three flights of stairs in my house, that I climb up and down several times a day. We eat healthy. I try not to be too hard on myself. I've done that before; it's not too healthy.
  • I try to be patient about losing the last few pounds. I find they drop off completely when my baby is fully weaned.
I really like what Jordan Rubin writes in his book, The Maker's Diet:
“From my research, I am convinced the Creator’s prescription for exercise more closely resembles real-life activities involved in the daily patterns of work and play.

The longest lived peoples in human history usually walked everywhere they went, trailed their animals and herds, hunted wild game on foot, built rugged shelters, or cultivated fields at an active pace each day with intermittent periods of rest. They knew nothing about aerobic exercise, treadmills, or running tracks, but they were masters at anaerobic exercise—activities that incur an “oxygen debt” through temporary or briefly sustained exertion…

My description of the oldest physical activity of the human race can be expressed in one word: walking. Even before Eve, Adam was assigned the task to care for God’s garden—a job that could not be done without walking.”

He recommends a brisk, two-mile walk a day. Plus, walking outside gives you fresh air (unless you’re in LA) and plenty of sunshine.

Above all, it helps me to remember that while it is important to be healthy, a little extra tummy flab is what one friend refers to as our “battle scars”—souvenirs of the sacrifices, but also the joys, of bearing our children.

So that's my side of the conversation this Coffee Talk Thursday. What works best for you when it comes to exercise?


  1. Great post. I have heard of the 30 day shred video but not seen it. Do you own it?

    For me I exercise more in the spring/summer. I love to walk outside from April to October. We usually walk 4-5 miles, at a very brisk pace, 4-6 times a week. Love it! The only drawback, which I have gotten used to, is we do it from 5-6 am which means I need to get up even earlier to have some quiet "spiritual exercise". Because I agree, that is much more important than physical exercise. 1 Timothy 4:8.

    Today (I am in SF with my hubby) we walked down to the weight room at 545 and it was full. So we decided to walk around the perimeter of the 8th floor several times. It wraps around a huge atrium. Then we did the 8 floors of stairs THREE times. Yep, that got the heart rate and the sweat going. But, after we were done walking for about 35 minutes we walked outside to cool off and walked along a path next to SF bay. Beautiful and peaceful. Wish my workout was this ideal every day. HA ha.

  2. I'm sort of in the same boat. My children (I have two boys) do not sleep at the same time (as far as nap time goes). My youngest is 10 months old and still wakes multiple times a night, so getting out of the bed in the morning for anything besides "Mommy, I have to go potty," is quite hard. Before when my baby was taking 3-4 naps a day I tried to squeeze some excercise (The Firm) in the afternoon when my toddler was down. I still felt too exhausted to do it.

    I have gone in the evenings when both boys are asleep but I don't like to do that too much because it cuts time with my husband.

    I think I just need a double stroller. My ten pounds are hanging on too. Glad to hear I'm not the only one. Thought there was something wrong with me! :-)

    Thanks for sharing. Sorry I don't have more helpful tips.

  3. I have 3 children, ages 7, 5 and 23 months. When my 5 year old was only 3 months old, my husband had me join Curves and I worked out there until this past summer because they closed. Finding time to excercise has been really hard, but Johnathen Roche ( pushes for "interval workouts". By following his ideas, I'm able to "work-out" several times throughout the day for 5 minute intervals.

    I also wear my pedometer all the time and track my how many steps I take and attempt to guage how much to eat by how many steps I have taken for the day. In the summer, I tend to easily get 10K steps a day, but in the winter, if I make 5K that is a really good day for me.

    My personal goal is to be healthy for my children and my husband. I want to help them to be healthy too, so doing exercise games can be tons of fun for everyone and you still get some good muscle toning exercise. Our personal favorites are timed sit-ups (who can do the most in 30 seconds) and the kids love having races while walking around on their hands and we hold their legs in the air.

  4. Hey Cheryl!
    I have been doing the 30 Day Shred video to lose my baby weight as well. I like it so far! Especially since I know the exercises (at least in level 1) well enough to do it without her I can turn on my own music and do the workout to that. Most of the time little W. watches me from his swing. :D
    I just have one son, though, so that makes it a lot easier. I exercise in the mornings, after breakfast and time with God.
    I don't want to be too hard on myself, either...but at the same time, I would really like to have a flat tummy again! I don't want to "compete" with the world's standards, but I DO want to look nice for my husband. Not to mention, I can't afford to buy a whole set of new clothes, so I need to fit back into my old ones! Ha! There's motivation for you!

  5. This is a fun coffee talk! I also have 3 boys--a 3 year old and twin one year olds. My most common form of exercise is to put them all in our little red wagon and walk a fast (really pushing myself to get a cardio workout) mile or two around the neighborhood. We are all in better spirits after the walk. The fresh air just does good things! Now that my 3-year-old has gotten bigger, he will walk or jog at least half the time. We try to get out even on cold days. It just takes more time to bundle up in big coats, hats, and mittens. We've even walked in pouring spring rain.

    We also like to turn on music at home and just dance around the living room.

    Something else I do is to tear out workouts I find in magazines (Cooking Light, Women's Day, other health-related magazines). I keep them in clear, plastic, sheets in a notebook. Then about every other day, turn on some music to get me pumped up and do the workout right in our living room. Sometimes the boys join me and sometimes they just play with toys while I do this.

    I do occasionally enjoy a workout dvd as well--stott pilates or an aerobic dvd.

  6. Jodi, your time in SF sounds like it is going great! Good job on the workout; I would probably still be sleeping at 5:45 on vacation w/o kids :) Yes, I did buy the 30 Day Shred. Sam's had it for about $8. The library has it too.

    Ashley, I know what you mean about waking up a ton with the baby! :( I say, just give yourself time. You need the rest right now. Summer's coming. :)

    Janelle, good idea about the interval training. I'll have to check out that site.

    Alicia, that's a good idea about using your own music. I'm glad your little guy stays content for you to get some exercise time in! :)

    Rachel, good ideas too! I usually look at the workouts in the magazines but never do them. But I like your idea about putting them in clear sheets. I think I would be more likely to follow their workout if I did the same thing. Plus, they're usually short enough you can fit in in fairly easily. Thanks for the tip! :)

    Have a great day!

  7. Haha Cheryl, you made me laugh. Well.....after all that working out and walking yesterday, we slept in a little later today. :) Thought you'd be proud of us. Actually, we ended up walking all over the place yesterday that my shins hurt today. After Phil gets done with class at 430 we are headed to Fisherman's Wharf so I didn't feel too bad about skipping the workout today.

    I will say, though, that as hard as it is to get up early to get a workout in, I ALWAYS feel so much better throughout the day. Something with those endorphins releasing is so good for my physical energy, but more importantly for my mental/emotional state. Staying in shape is just a good by-product, but not my primary reason for working out. It's a win-win situation :)

  8. Amen! Sorry, I don't have any helpful advice but I just have to say I love your outlook on it all :) Just what I needed today, so thanks!

  9. Cheryl - I love your blog! I found it a few weeks ago and have been reading past posts.

    Don't be too hard on yourself with the pounds as your children are still so little. I have found the past 1 1/2 years to be so much easier as far as getting time in to exercise. (My youngest just turned 4) Finally everyone is sleeping consistently and even though we have no more nappers:( I can get up early and my husband can be on early a.m. "patrol" if needed. I can also fit some time in while my olders are at school and my little one can watch a video or play alongside while I run or do some toning. My birthday present was a treadmill last year, I definitely recommend it if you live in a cold climate like me (sounds like you do:). It was a major purchase but I feel like it's an investment that is well worth it. I also am looking forward to spring - it does seem to be easier to exercise when everyone can run around together outside or take the "long" walk or bike ride to the park!