Working In A Workout


001 Picture deets: Me. My dogs. My baby. Working in a workout. Not stylish (points for a colorful scarf maybe?) but we were working it!

Remember when I was so excited to start working out again and shared my ideas for a play list? Sounds good, doesn't it? And S wrote about ways to squeeze a workout in during naptime (should that exist in your world). And then S so graciously helped kit you out for your new gym/exercise experience. You look great. Did you go directly to the gym and return on a regular basis? Do you do a workout DVD as a matter of routine? No, me neither.

Before I had the baby, and after I'd grown too large to work out like I did before I was pregnant, I fantasized about when I'd be able to get back to the gym after V's birth. After I had the baby, and had a first-hand experience with newborn exhaustion, I still had these images of myself getting the 'me' time you read about in parenting magazines by spending a few hours at the gym a few times a week.

Eleven weeks after getting the all-clear from my doctor, I've gone to the gym 7 times, spending quite a bit of each session in the steam room.

It's not that I'm lazy. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Maybe you are the type of woman who starts marathon training the day after your doctor gives you the ok to starting walking at a moderate speed. Or perhaps you are a working mom of three who also goes to spinning 3 times a week and teaches a yoga class for fun. Good for you. Seriously, without snark, I'm happy for you.

But when I find myself with downtime, which isn't as often as I had imagined, sometimes the gym or the bike path seems like the last place I want to be. Sometimes I want to snuggle on the couch with my husband and catch up on '30 Rock.' Sometimes I want to take the longest bath I can manage with the hottest water my skin will tolerate and read a NON-parenting related book. Sometimes I want to stare mindlessly at my computer screen and read blogs and creep on Facebook.

Despite the fact that I am doubtful a bikini will ever again factor into my life, summer is approaching and bathing suits of some ilk will be necessary. So I'm re-motivating myself, and hoping to help you, too. Here are my ideas to help me work a workout into my day (week?).

  1. Set reasonable goals. Not goals that you think you should set or that some diet plan says you should set, but things that will actually work in your life. If there are 2 times a week when your partner is home and nothing needs to be done and you feel energetic enough to hop to it, then your goal is to do something fitness related twice a week. Period. Anything above and beyond that is extra credit! Good job you!
  2. Change your idea of what it means to exercise. Maybe you can't put an hour in at the gym or don't have the time to go to yoga or run a few miles. But you can pack up your babe and go for a walk (even when it's cold out, I swear you'll be ok!). You can do lunges across your living room while wearing your little pal (I do this! I'll admit it!). Does your little bundle like to play Superman or airplane? Lay on your back and you are doing a chest press. I've even squeezed in a mini ab workout by setting V in her Bumbo and playing peek-a-boo every time I come up to crunch. It's not perfect, it won't give you a six pack, but it's something.
  3. Don't watch the numbers. I don't have a scale for the simple reason that I know I would not be able to take my own advice on this one. Maybe you've lost all the baby weight, numerically speaking, but things still aren't fitting right. Or perhaps you've just started to feel kind of cute again but then you let the fact that you are still above your pre-baby weight bring you down. This number, it's not helping you. It's not motivating you. It's just taunting you.
  4. Go easy on yourself. Maybe you slept with your neck bent and a baby attached to your breast. Or you were up all night fixing bottles or soothing an uncomfortable baby. Maybe you are tired because you work outside the home or work in the home on your own or maybe you don't need an excuse because being a mom is hard, dangit! So don't expect to wake up one morning looking like Gisele (freak). Do what you can, when you can, and be proud of yourself. The main goal of working out is and should always be your HEALTH, both mental and physical. Let's not kid ourselves, part of it is vanity and that's ok! But while you're getting healthy and hopefully-as-a-side-effect tightening up that pooch, visit ANMJ and find ways to cover it up.
  5. Don't make excuses. I know what you're thinking. Um….number five directly contradicts number four. All I mean to say is that while no one expects you to kill yourself just to workout, realistically there are times when we choose something over workout and we regret it later. A walk with a girlfriend counts, and you probably need the therapy anyway! Your dogs need exercise, so make them your motivation. Your partner can handle things while you go to yoga for a couple hours, just don't expect the house to be spotless when you get home. Get up, move a little, and I promise you'll feel better.

The bottom line is this: a healthy mama is a happy mama. A happy mama makes a happy baby, or at least makes a cranky baby more tolerable. So get you sweat on, and please leave a comment sharing your secret to working in a workout!



Contributing author Lane is an intentionally unemployed social worker who is currently a new mom, following her husband's dream, trying to stay relevant, and practicing her mothering skills on two rescued dogs, Enid and Falcor (in addition to her new addition, baby Vesper).  Check out her fabulous blog, the Overseas Trapeze.


  1. Love this post – thank you! We found a gym with amazing childcare – so amazing that my kids beg to go to the gym on the days I would really rather stay home. Having the kids motivate me (“MOOOOMM!! Puh-leeze can we go to the gym now?”) gets me out the door more often than I would on my own. Our gym also has a separate locker room for kids – which means the adult locker room is a haven of kid-free showering. All the hot water I could ever want and no one standing outside the bathroom door needing a snack or throwing a tantrum? Heaven.

  2. Great post! You hit the nail on the head. Being realistic is so important. The last thing mamas need to do is beat ourselves up for one more thing. 🙂 With that said, my two tips: 1. Take advantage of sun! Now that it’s spring, get you and baby out for a walk (run?) in it when you can. Even if it’s only 20 minutes. You’ll both get your vitamin D and I always feel better after getting some sun on my face. 2. I just started doing the Jillian Michaels Ripped In 30 DVD. I can crank it out during naptime or In the evening and it is already making me feel stronger and a little leaner. For $12 it is a great workout.

  3. Your posts crack me up. Seriously, I’m in love with this site! I also have found a gym with childcare that just happens to be on our way home from dropping the oldest off at school and now it’s just become a part of our day. We drop her off and the rest of us just head on over. I take my clothes and shower and get ready there. It works.

  4. @Lisa: Great tips! I totally agree about the (knock wood) arrival of spring! I am one to say that even in the dead of winter, fresh air does the body good! And generally I’m afraid of things that say ‘shred’, but you make a compelling argument! 🙂

  5. My kids are a little older now, so I can wake up very, very early and do yoga or go to a spin class BUT before the magice ages of 4 and 6, I did what I could…I walked at least a mile a day with them every day. Sometimes much more. I also got the Tracy Mallett Sexy in 6 video, which was a totally embarrassing dvd to have hanging around but it was great to have b/c I could almost always find 6 minutes. Sometimes even 24 or 30. You don’t need a lot of space and the moves are easy to memorize so pretty quickly you can start to do them anywhere where you find yourself with a few minutes to pretend to jump rope…

  6. Thank you for showing that someone can actually walk two dogs and a baby at once! At least one of my dogs is bigger than yours, but it’s reassuring to see this may happen one day. Second to my worries about getting exercise myself is getting dog walks in.

  7. @Joanna…it is possible! I struggled at first when V became too big to wear on every single walk (I still wear her for 2 of four walks a day, our shorter ones) BUT the solution was a compromise! Instead of two leashes, I now use an extendable leash with a leash splitter at the end. The pups have to stay close together, but can go farther from me than on their nylon leashes. They seem to really like it and walks are fun again! And for what it’s worth, half of the time when I don’t go to the gym or for a run it’s because I feel guilty exercising without my dogs!

  8. I definitely didn’t get back into the swing of things with my first kid for awhile….we went to the gym sporadically until he was about 9 months old before it became part of our routine. That whole morning nap and afternoon nap makes it so hard to just get out the door! But with my second one, I realized that the childcare at my gym enabled me to have some ‘me’ time so I try to take full advantage of the 2 hours they’ll watch my kids. Plus, you have to have an appointment to bring in a baby, so I treat it like any other type of appointment and I don’t cancel. I also set some realistic goals that weren’t weight loss-related, like getting back into running. I ran my best 5K by the time my daughter was 5 months old, and I was so proud of myself for staying motivated.
    But can we get a post on how to hide your pooch while wearing workout clothes? I glare at it in the mirror during every fitness class!!

  9. I work outside the home, with a long commute. For a while, I tried getting up at 5am to do yoga, but just couldn’t make it happen regularly. Now I spend my lunch hour (well, 45 minutes) on most non-rainy days walking from one end of my hilly office campus to the other and back. It gets me some fresh air, gets me away from the desk, and means I don’t have to get up at 5am.

  10. Thank you for this post! It’s been 6 months since baby No. 2 and I still pretty much have all my baby weight. All of it. And I feel it when I walk, when I sit, when my clothes still don’t fit…and my husband doesn’t understand why it bothers me.
    I might jump rope for 10 minutes at lunch today. If I can do that every day, I might actually get somewhere with this weight-loss thing.

  11. I have a 3 month old, a day job, and a naughty dog. Woking out is more to bust stress then anything else! I get up at 5am to work out at a gym around the corner from my house, Husband takes AM feeding. It keeps me sane. Well, sort of sane. Between exercise and a glass of wine, I have a fighting chance!

  12. I’ve never been a big fan of exercise and it’s hard for me to get (and stay) motivated- especially when trying to fit a workout in with a babe in tow. What worked for me is joining a Baby Boot Camp class. The classes in my area are five days a week and I can drop in to any I choose, I get to bring my daughter with me and everyone else there is a mom, too. I’ve made some great friends through BBC and half of my motivation to go to class is that I’ll get to catch up with them while I’m getting my butt kicked!

  13. This comment list is GOLD. I need to start looking for a gym with good childcare. I had tried a couple of times…but R wasn’t having any of it. (“Would the mother of Raines, please report back immediately…”)
    @Sam – I tried Stroller Strides for a bit after R was born….and I agree – the best part is chatting with the other moms. But getting there on time was a problem. 🙂
    I recently started a new thing (ahem – have only done this once, hoping to make it a “thing”)…but Jayme and I ditched the kiddos on Sat for a Pure Barre class. It was 45 min of total pain, but it worked out every part of us. Maybe if the pain threshold is high enough, it’s ok that we only go once a week? @December – it probably did more for my sanity, than anything else. 🙂
    @Megan – Check out Gap Body’s new workout tanks. One of them has a banded waist bottom that will help hide the pooch. I’m actively looking for some now, so I’ll publish my finds….
    Great article Lane!! Love the pic!

  14. Shana, thanks for the Gap tip–I’m definitely going to check out their shirts. My MIL took a picture of my before a 5K a few weeks ago and I made the mistake of looking at it after the race when I was feeling so proud of myself. Huge mistake! The evil woman took a picture of my profile. Yikes! I’m choosing to use it as motivation, but you better believe things were cropped before sharing the picture with anyone else-ha!

  15. Lane, I love your post and these comments regarding exercise ideas are great. It just goes to show that although some things never change, we have come a long way. Shana may remember my doing Disney’s Mousercise “album” back in 1982 after I had Scotti. It was better than doing nothing, and it was a hoot! Eventually running became my thing to do. I needed only a good pair of shoes and 30 minutes, either before Willie left for work or after he returned. I wish that I had started lifting weights back then, but I didn’t know how important that would be. Keep up this wonderful writing, Lane. I so enjoy reading what you and Shana post. xxoo

  16. Good post and good comments. I *am* one of those moms who was out running 2 weeks after my last child was born, but I still had to remember to be kind to myself and keep my expectations realistic. Having a baby takes a lot out of you and it wasn’t until 5.5 months after he was born that I started to feel like myself in a running sense, and I ran and did Pilates through most of my pregnancy. So even those of us who work out a lot still had to change our expectations and our goals. There’s nothing that having a baby doesn’t change.

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