One question I receive often is on workout motivation; how to find it and keep at it. My motivation has surprisingly stayed consistent for well over a decade. When I started thinking back and thinking, working out is really about having a why. And for me, the why has changed often! For some time it was means to prep for my wedding, then I worked out to manage my stress and then I got pregnant with Mitch and my why completely changed. When I was expecting, my why was giving my little one the best start at life. After Mitch was born, I struggled to find my why until I realized that my why was still him and me, and my family.
After Mitch was born, I took the doctor-recommended 6 weeks off from exercise with the exception of walking. Once I felt okay enough to walk postpartum, I walked around our neighborhood with Mitch and Henry most day and LOVED spending time outside with both of them. (This also really helped with cabin fever that can set in when it feels like you’re basically hibernating with a newborn!)
After six weeks, I decided to ease back into workouts. My gym has childcare, but I wasn’t ready to for that with Mitch. So, I started working out to DVDs during his nap times (and sometimes finished with him in his Snugabunny). Finding a workout I could fit into my day was a priority for me because I know myself enough by now to know that regular exercise does almost more for me mentally than physically. Returning to a few ‘normal’ parts of life felt good, I think I needed it. My workouts were also pretty much the only time I felt like I got somewhat of a break from mom duty and focused on myself for 30 -45 minutes so they almost felt like a treat for me.
I am sharing my experience because the number one thing I recommend to anyone looking to feel motivated to workout (postpartum or just in general!) is to find something you LOVE. Looking forward to a workout (or at the very least not dreading it/feeling completely bored) will make it 10,000 times easier to be consistent.
When I returned to work, Mitch was 10 months old and more independent. He was eating solids with one to two feeds a day, which gave me the opportunity to return to my morning workouts. Which I know many of you wonder, “How in the world do you get up at 5 a.m.?” Well, I know what those workouts make me feel like, how they reduce my stress and also offer me time to just be me. While we all have our own schedules to manage, I’ve learned that I have to prioritize my daily to-dos and rethink my why.
Workouts are not to drop weight – they are nourishing. Changing that view helped me realize that your workouts do NOT need to last an hour or more to be effective. If you can manage to squeeze in a 30 minute workout at home a few times a week, that’s fantastic! Making small, realistic goals is often really helpful (i.e. working out three times a week for 30 minutes vs. six days a week for an hour) so you are setting yourself up for success and don’t feel discouraged. As you see progress, you’ll likely feel MORE motivated and can increase your goals accordingly.
Even a short workout can be incredibly beneficial and understanding that workouts don’t have to last an hour is HUGE, especially when you have a little one in the mix. I fully embraced this fact after Mitch was born and absolutely think it helped with my consistency. My workouts for the first year of Mitch’s life looked like a combination of spin classes one to two times a week and quick naptime workouts (I adore Tone It Up workouts, they’re quick and effective!). I increased the intensity of my at home workouts but cut my typical pre-baby workout time significantly, so I was often done in 30 minutes or less. Workouts became more efficient and understanding I could work up a sweat and knock out a workout in under 30 minutes and didn’t need a full hour was huge for me as well from a consistency standpoint. HIIT workouts are awesome and something I have added into my weekly routine.
Another option is to workout with your little one. There are awesome stroller workouts or if running is your thing, take a running stroller out. Now that Mitch is older, we take Mommy and Me yoga classes together and play outside. If I leave for the gym, when I come home Mitch will ask if I was exercising. I love that he knows I exercise in different ways and that we can all enjoy being healthy and active.
I have to say, I’m not sure what the future will bring with a second one on the way. Life will change and we will all adjust and find our new norm. But having a new understanding of my wants and needs from a workout and keeping an arsenal of awesome workouts at the ready will be a good start.
And one more note – be kind with yourself. There can be so much pressure that we put on ourselves unnecessarily. Love that little one and know that one day you’ll have time for 60 minute workouts, but enjoy the season you are in.