How to Add Fitness and Stay Active as a Busy Mom

As moms, we tend to save the scraps for ourselves.

We give and give until there is nothing left. But in order to give to our families fully, we must take care of ourselves.

We can’t take care of our families if we are running on empty.

I have been there, and quite frankly, it’s pretty miserable.

The idea of fitness and staying active as a mom is the last thing on your mind.

My Story

After having my first baby, I was determined to get back to my pre baby body and make time for myself.

I remember having a  conversation with a family member about how I painted my nails every week as a form of self care. I exercised on a regular basis.

I took time to read books, and watch my favorite shows. Foolishly, I thought this was sustainable (and actual self care).

I succeeded. I lost the weight and took time for myself, but it didn’t last.

Soon, reality smacked me in the face, and I let the stress of being a new mom (oh, and we also bought a fixer upper that needed massive amounts of work) and I let myself go.

I stopped taking care of myself and starting dealing with the stress by eating.

Physically AND mentally, I was a mess.

Anxiety began to rule my life. This cycle dragged on for another two years, and then we added a second baby to the mix.

And I thought self care was hard with just one baby. Ha. It’s virtually impossible with two.

Trying to deal with a fussy baby while chasing a toddler is not for the faint of heart. I was tired and anxious, and completely uncomfortable in my own skin.

Finally, after many tears and sleepless nights, I had enough and decided something had to change. I had to start taking care of myself if I was going to be a good mom and wife.

My doctor prescribed an anti anxiety medication, and I felt so ashamed that I needed medication. But, I was desperate.

I started exercising again, adding fitness into my routine, eating healthier (and stopped using food for comfort), and taking a few minutes a day for myself.

Gradually, I started losing the baby weight, my anxiety was lessened, and I felt confident in my own body (maybe for the first time ever). It didn’t happen overnight, and it wasn’t easy.

But I am so grateful I took that first step. Read my full journey to “fitish” here.

My Advice for Staying Active and Healthy as a Mom

1. Give Yourself Grace

Making healthy changes isn’t always easy, and it won’t happen overnight.

You will get frustrated and want to quit. DON’T. Take it one step, one day, one thought at a time.

2. Find a Community

I laughed at this at first.

I didn’t think I needed accountability, but let me tell you something. This was a game changer for me.

I started a “fitstagram” and started following women who motivated me and it truly was the best thing I ever did. I firmly believe having a community is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

3. Don’t Diet and Don’t Restrict

Say what?

In my opinion (and personal experience) dieting and food restriction leads to binge eating. Tell me not to eat chips, and I will eat the entire bag. No cookies? I’ll eat the whole plate.

Give in to the cravings every now and then. Moderation is key.

I try to go by an 80/20 rule: 80% of the time I eat lean, clean and green. But 20% I allow treats (ya girl likes her wine, sweets, and chips).

If you eat your kid’s leftover mac and cheese, it’s okay! It’s impossible to be perfect, even healthy eating.

Make an effort to fuel your body with foods that will make it perform best, but allow yourself treats every now and then. Life is meant to be enjoyed, after all!

4. Meal Plan

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Good ole Benjamin Franklin sure was a smart fella.

If you don’t have healthy meal options ready to go, you will be way more likely to end up in the McDonald’s drive thru.

Planning out my meals each week is the best thing I ever did.

I plan out every single meal, and I even factor in snacks. Not only does this help with the afternoon snack attacks and avoiding the takeout menu, but it also helps with the grocery budget.

Meal prep as necessary to make your week even easier to succeed. Here are some of my favorite recipes to prep in advance:

Read more about my meal planning process here.

5. Find a Workout Routine (That You’ll Actually Enjoy and Work For You)

Just because spin classes are all the rage right now, doesn’t mean you have to spin. Same with running.

I personally don’t enjoy running so I don’t. HIIT, spin class, and walking are my favorite ways to get in some cardio.

Dance is also a great option!

Switch things up if you feel yourself getting bored. I literally never do the same workout.

Even when I go to a spin class, every time is different so it keeps things fresh and keeps those muscles guessing (which helps getting that toned look). Also, I don’t know about you, but two hour workouts are not sustainable.

Especially when you have kids! I need a quick and efficient workout. Most workouts I do are 30-45 minutes.

Involve your kids and show them the importance of active bodies: go for walks, ride bikes, play tag, dance.

Just move your body in some way! Oh, and take 1-2 days per week. Resting your muscles and body is just as important as exercising them.

6. Develop a Routine

I prefer to workout in the morning, but you may prefer afternoon or evening.

Do what works best for you and your family. Just find a 30 minute block of time to fit it in. Make it a priority, and you will find the time.

It’s Your Fitness Journey

Give yourself grace.

You will slip, you will lose motivation, you will get frustrated, but please don’t give up.

A fitness journey is just that, a journey. It will ebb and flow. There will be valleys and there will be mountains. Be patient with yourself and be kind to yourself. Just keep moving forward and you will get there.

I’ve been there. I’ve felt the hopelessness. I know how hard it is to feel defeated.

But just know there are women out there who want to support you and cheer you on.

You are stronger than you think you are. You’ve got this!

I’m Sara, a wife and mom living an imperfectly balanced life. I love food, cooking, working out, traveling, and reading. Finding healthy AND delicious recipes that the whole family will love can be a challenge. I’ve been there! Imperfectly Balanced Sara is here to help you navigate this crazy season of life by providing easy, delicious recipes while also incorporating wellness, fitness, travel, and just life stuff. I hope to make your life just a little bit easier. Get my FREE meal plan guide.

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