As a mom, it’s not always easy to get motivated to workout. Between the exhaustion and the never-ended “to do” list, it can be hard to make working out a priority.
I had exercised 4-5 days a week (with very few exceptions) for around 15 years before I fell off the wagon COMPLETELY while I was working, raising 2 kids (aged 1 and 2) while pregnant with my third.
Like, I maybe exercised 3 times the whole 9 months. And after my pregnancy, with 3 kids 3 and under just getting through the day was challenge enough.
But of course, I wanted to exercise.
I knew how much I’d benefit from it.
However, knowing the benefits of exercise and even sincerely wanting to get into shape doesn’t always translate into shaking off the perpetual mom fatigue and throwing on the running shoes. Sometimes, we need more to actually get motivated to workout.
Before I knew it I had 4 kids 4 and under and an extra 50 lbs that needed to vacate my body’s real estate.
And unlike before, NOTHING was going to keep me from regular exercise. I was finally going to get into shape.
BUT TO GET TRULY MOTIVATED TO EXERCISE, I NEEDED A PLAN.
So I researched. And then I made a plan to keep me motivated. And…it worked! Since then, I’ve managed to get back to my weight before having kids, lose over 35 lbs (and >10% body fat), drop 3 pants’ sizes, and reshape my body.
Motivation really comes down to creating and implementing a plan that gets you pumped and keeps you accountable.
No matter how busy you are (and girl, I know you are) or how much you don’t like exercise, you can create a motivating plan that will make regular exercise happen.
Here are the three (research-backed) guiding principles that helped me create a plan to get motivated to workout while being a working mom to 4 kids 4 and under.
1) CREATE A REWARD
Research shows that creating a reward either during or after your workout will help you get motivated to workout.
Importantly, the reward should not be food. I know, bummer, right? But having food as a reward does not create a healthy lifestyle.
Stick to something else, like a favorite activity like watching TV, reading a magazine, or scrolling through a social media feed. The key is picking rewards that work for YOU.
DURING EXERCISE REWARD
For me, my reward during my workout is listening to podcasts or audiobooks. And getting alone time away from my kids.
(Heaven knows I love my kids to pieces, but mama needs a little break everyday!)
Since I either run or go to the gym before my kids are up (or have them at the gym daycare), I usually get to workout without any pint-sized distractions. Which is heavenly on its own. But then I also get to listen to podcasts and audiobooks without my children complaining about how boring they are. So endorphins aside, those 2 things make working out truly glorious for me.
What could be your “during” reward?
HERE ARE SOME OTHER EXAMPLES:
- Only watch your favorite show at the gym
- Only listen to certain music you enjoy while working out
AFTER EXERCISE REWARD
This reward can only be enjoyed once you’ve exercised. Perhaps you take a relaxing bath on days you’ve workout out or allow yourself to sit and drink coffee while reading People magazine.
What activity could be your “after” reward?
- Watching a show you like
- Scrolling Instagram (or another social media feed)
If you’re like me, when you think “reward” you think sugary treats. But food rewards are going make your efforts self-defeating.
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2) GET AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER
Most people benefit from having someone to keep them accountable in their exercise plans. An accountability partner can take many forms, but it generally means you’ve got someone who is both aware of your goals and is keeping you accountable.
For me, this means checking in with my husband about my daily workouts. Knowing my goals, he’s been encouraging and supportive. Always knowing that he’ll ask about my workouts keeps me accountable.
SOME OTHER EXAMPLES OF AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER:
- A workout buddy who you meet up with at a certain time and place
- A personal trainer (paying someone tends to be really motivating to people)
- Someone you text every time you workout (my sister texts me and finds it helpful)
What would your ideal accountability partner do?
3) FORGET TRENDS AND DO WHAT YOU LOVE
If you do not like a certain exercise, it’s going to be REALLY hard to get motivated to do it. On the other hand, an activity you enjoy doing has built-in motivation. You’ll naturally want to do it and look forward to it.
THE KEYS TO FINDING AN EXERCISE YOU LOVE:
- Explore Everything You can
- Be Honest With Yourself
- Don’t worry about how good you are
Remember: there is no ONE holy grail form of exercise that you simply have to do. And just because your friend, the girl down the street, or the celebrity you follow is way into [insert exercise trend] doesn’t mean that’s the one true path to physical fitness.
There are endless paths to physical fitness!
Like fashion, exercise trends come and go. But forget trends and find what you love.
And be honest with yourself.
If gyms full make you feel self conscious and awkward, it’s going to make it that much harder to go. So maybe you want to get some equipment for home or do workout videos (T25 is my favorite).
If you hate running, it’s going to near impossible to lace up and hit the road. But maybe power lifting is the obsession you never knew you had.
And by the way, you don’t have to be good at something to love it.
I went to my first Zumba class years ago with a good friend who simply loved Zumba. Just before the class began, she admitted she was terrible and she did not disappoint. It was like watching a baby giraffe do hip-hop.
But honestly, she was completely glorious. And I loved her more for it.
Throughout the class, she was in complete bliss–all while getting an amazing sweat. Afterwards, she was on cloud nine and I was in awe of her awesomeness.
Do what you love and forget everything else.
CREATE YOUR PLAN
With a desire and a plan, you will be motivated to exercise. Building in rewards, getting an accountability partner, and finding an exercise you legitimately love are three ways that you can make regular exercise a reality. Even as a busy mom. Select a strategy (or several) that are right for you, create your plan, and truly get motivated to exercise.
You’ve got this, mama!