Sweat is the new black

October 07, 2015, by Deena @Shoes to Shiraz

Before kids, exercising was easy.  I had the time and I didn't need to find childcare to make it to the gym.  After I had kids, finding excuses became easy as I had such little free time and the last place I wanted to be was the gym.  However, fitness has been a priority in my life since I lost 75 pounds in my late teens and kept it off for almost 20 years.  So although it wasn't always easy to be active, I worked hard to make it an important part of my life.  I think I am a better person, mother, wife, and friend because of it.

I've come up with a few ideas on how you can work extra activity into your typical day as well.

{one } Choose a time when you don't have to worry about childcare.  Personally, I go the gym over my lunch hour at work since I am a working parent.  That way when I get home from work I don't have to squeeze it into my already busy schedule.  I have 2 boys in hockey after all....  Some other ideas include when the kids are in school, after the kids go to bed, or getting a membership where there is a good childcare facility.

I think it is also important to recognize that the optimal time for exercise may change as your family's schedule changes.  Before kids I was a morning exerciser, but after kids I needed every extra second of shut eye so I adjusted my schedule accordingly.  I tried exercising after the kids went to bed but I was too tired and was finding many excuses to skip it, that is when I adjusted to lunch exercising and I find it is the best time of day energy wise for me.

{two} Put it in your schedule.  If you do this, you'll plan around your exercise schedule.  If someone asks you for coffee or dinner and you have it in your calendar to exercise you can suggest an alternate date.  I currently have a personal trainer and we meet every Wednesday and Friday over lunch, I also signed up for lunch hour yoga on Thursdays.  So if I want to go for lunch, I do not plan it on those days.

{three} Find something you like.  For years, I only did cardio.  I ran on the treadmill or went on the stepper every single time.  About 18 months ago I tried my first group exercise and LOVED it.  I really regret not trying it sooner.  Right now I love Barre and Spin. It doesn't feel like a chore to go at all.  I look forward to it.  Going back to point 3, I have it in my schedule that my hubby and I go to spin every Monday night.  Yes, sometimes life gets in the way, but then we try to reschedule.

Best cardio ever!
{Four}  Change it up. When I first started exercising, I only did step aerobic, years and years of step aerobics.  Then when I moved into an apartment I switched to running on the treadmill and stayed with that for years.  In the past 18 months, I've tried so many group exercises I've lost count.  I've incorporated free weights into my workout and I feel so much stronger.  The more things you try, the higher the chance you'll find something you love.

{five}  Join a gym.  I have been exercising almost daily since I was 17, I joined my first real gym this year and wish I would have done it so much sooner.  I was very intimidated by the gym as I had only worked out at home or at my office gym.  I thought everyone at the real gym would be fit and in better shape than me.  I was wrong.  Yes, the gym is intimidating the first time you go but once you get in your own routine it is so worth it.  The number of classes and different equipment that you have at your disposable is crazy compared to at home where it is very limited. The variety keeps your workouts interesting and challenging.

{six} Find a gym buddy.  Not only does having a buddy make it more fun, but it also keeps you accountable.  I have a gym buddy at work that checks in with me every day to see what class we are doing that day at lunch.  I have not been to the mall over lunch since I joined the gym in June, almost 4 months ago.  That is music to my hubby's ears I am sure.

My fave exercise buddy is my Mom.  She is WAY stronger than me.

I also have a friend that instead of going for dinner or out for drinks, we go for a walk.  Our walk can sometimes be well over an hour depending on how much we have to catch up on.  We have been doing this for over 10 years and it is a highlight of my month.  While we used to go every week pre husbands and kids, we now go at least once a month.  We've had to adjust the frequency but the important part is that we've kept it up.

{seven} Set attainable goals.  When you start a new exercise program, don't set an unrealistic goals, set something that you can actually do.  After my kids were born, I set my goal at exercising 3 times a week.  That seemed attainable to me.  While I would have liked to exercise more, I knew that I would be setting myself up for failure.   This is also true when it comes to food.  Don't tell yourself you are going to stop eating gluten, instead commit to removing gluten from a certain meal a day.  Set yourself up for success!

{eight} Buy new exercise wear.  When I was reading these tips to my hubby he didn't understand this one and I had to explain it to him.  If you have exercise wear you like and feel good in, you are more likely to wear it and exercise.  Also, you can set a goal and reward yourself with new workout wear.  For example, if you exercise 3 times a week for a month you buy yourself a new exercise top, or entire outfit.  This is my personal favorite tip and one I stand by .  Some of my favorite brands are lululemon, onzie, zella, and believe it or not, Forever 21.

Perfect bra and top for Hot Barre.
{nine}  Make lifestyle changes.  There are so many fad diets out there these days and yes they may make you lose weight quickly, but the odds are high you will revert back to your old ways post diet as they are too extreme to continue. Make food and exercise choices that you can maintain in the long run.  For me, I am more likely to reduce my sugar intake long term than I am to eliminate it.  That just ain't gonna happen.

{ten} Think strong instead of skinny.  For years I just wanted to be skinny, I was thin and but not strong.  My new goal is be strong.  I may weigh more, but I have more muscle and feel fit.  Or so that is the goal.  I need to be strong to lift those hockey bags into the van and to get all the groceries in the house in one trip.  Just because one is skinny does not mean that they are in shape.  I want to be healthy and to be able to keep up with my kids which is always a challenge.  Where do kids get the energy??

I hope that you have taken away at least one tip that will help you be more active in your everyday life.  Life is busy, full of commitments from work, kids, and other obligations, but we owe it to ourselves to make our health a priority.  Sometimes we fall off the wagon, and that is perfectly fine, as long we always find the strength to get back on.