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Squeezing fitness into the mix

Categories: Best Practices, Tentative Steps


At the moment, just at my entrance point to my mid-thirties - I am in the best shape of my life. This is foreign to me, and a little maddening, because I think: why didn’t I love my body when I was 22 and didn’t have to work to have a nice jean bum? How, when I was 18, did I ever think my body wasn’t suitable for a bikini? (hint: I had a diminutive chest that, at the time, shamed me. Now I love it because small things get hassled by gravity a little later than giant water bomb things, and also kind of look better in dresses.)

I was inspired last summer at the BlogHer Conference, when I met Linda for the second time in “real life” and she talked about putting together a fitness site. Wicked, I thought, awesome. If anyone can inspire people that they can look better than ever after babies, it’s Linda - who shredded herself into shape after her second born solely via do-it-yourself methods.

I was in pretty crap shape after my split with my son’s father. I subsisted on black coffee and jittery adrenaline, an occasional handful of Dorito’s. By the time I was ready to do something for myself, get really in shape, it was almost two years post-split. I was skinny, gaunt, with little folds of fat in inopportune places: on my arms and hanging from my legs. My stomach was flat but soft and bloated, I essentially looked like hell.

In January of this year, I wrote down that I needed to get in shape. Since then, 5 days a week, no matter what, I make time to exercise. I’ll run half an hour or two hours - and if I really don’t have time at all and I need to combat the internal protests that, god this proposal is due and prospecting is needed - I’ll just slip in Ye Olde Jillan Michaels Standby - because twenty minutes is the time I would otherwise take for a coffee break.

But I realize I’m a bit of an anomaly. Because I primarily work from home, I can go on a 45 minute run at lunch. I generally do a loop around my neighborhood, past the marina and sometimes up through the forest paths. And I can come back to my office - at home - and sit down in my sweaty yoga pants and get right back to work. No one glares at me because of my ill smell, and I don’t feel self conscious that my hair is in plasticky wet tendrils on my red-flushed face. When I’m swamped, I work straight through to 5 and don’t even bother showering to pick up my son. That’s what deodorant is for. Plus, it’s daycare, not a board meeting.

I realize I couldn’t work out this way if I worked in an office job downtown. I’d have to shower after or at least take the 20 extra minutes to make myself presentable. And the thought of interacting with people face to face after I’ve killed myself on hills outside in the sun - well - I’d rather just deal with people by phone, and via email.

So I’m curious, Single Moms - do you exercise consistently? How do you make time? Is this something you’d be willing to do at all costs, even if it means hiring a babysitter 3 nights a week so you can kickbox? Even though I know I have it good, I’m always looking for time saving tips to magnify these muscles.

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16 comments so far...

  • I’m not single, but my husband has a long commute and gets home later than I would want to work out at night. I work full time and made excuses forever about not having the time. In February, I made the decision to get up at 5:00 every morning and exercise. It’s a killer, but I’m always glad at the end of the day that the exercise is out of the way. There are mornings where I do a 45 minute run and others where I do 30DS, but I make sure I do something. It’s worth it and if my circumstances changed, I think I would now make sure that I made time for exercise, even if it meant hiring a sitter or arranging my schedule. I too wonder why I didn’t make my body a priority in my 20s instead of waiting until I had two babies and was approaching 40.

    Sharon  |  April 28th, 2009 at 6:36 am

  • First of all, I have to acknowledge that God gave me a low-maintenance body. So I have never had to “work hard” to keep it healthy. But before kids, I used to do a little yoga every morning and take occasional long walks. Other than that, I relied upon domestic tasks to keep me strong - snow shoveling, cleaning the basement, moving furniture, etc. After kids, I fell out of practice for various reasons and am now trying to get back a bit. If I got up at 6am every day, I could get back to doing some daily yoga before playing outside with my kids. After I get over the cold I currently have, that’s my plan. I really can’t take significant time out of the work day to exercise, due to the nature of my job. Besides which, I don’t enjoy running.

    I think most people don’t realize how much a little yoga can improve all aspects of fitness. It’s a lot quicker, more convenient, and less painful than what most people visualize as “exercise.” I’d recommend people research and try it and see if it doesn’t really help.

    I should also note that diet is a big reason why I don’t have to kill myself exercising. I don’t starve, but I avoid most fatty things and try to eat whole and organic foods. For me, it’s easier to do that than to carve out a lot of time each day to punish myself for eating.

    SKL  |  April 28th, 2009 at 8:38 am

  • Like you, I let myself go during and after my wreched divorce. It left me skinny, yet very giggly. Fortunetley, the company I work for has a 24 hour fitness center - not to mention that my daughter also attends an on-site day care. Since January I’ve taken advantage of the fitness classes, elipitical machine and iron. Just recently my coworkers and I have started a running club. On our lunch breaks we head over to the local park and get a quick 3-4 miles in. Another perk - I work for a wellness company and excercise and a healthly mind are strongly encouraged. So instead of spending my lunch hour smoking cigarettes wallowing in my own self pity and feasting on a bag of Chex Mix, I take my time allowed to me by the wonderful company I work for and excercise.

    Again, like you, I am in the best shape of my life, but I am sure if I worked for a different company with different goals and missions I would still be giggly and out of shape. Thanks Aveda.

    Great post! :)

    Missy  |  April 28th, 2009 at 9:06 am

  • I was in good shape but after having two kids back to back I’m working on not looking like hell. I have to be out the door by 8:00 am so I get up at 5:00am so I can work out for an hour before my day starts. I’m a morning person so the am things works best for me. And as much as I enjoy it once I’ve warmed up it’s hard to get started. Doing it as soon as I get out of bed makes it happen. If I waited until later in the day I’d never work out.

    Dawn  |  April 28th, 2009 at 10:24 am

  • I used to work from home and had lots of time to workout like you do now, of course, that was pre-baby. Now all the circumstances are different and I have little time to workout and no money to hire a sitter to work out @ local gym. Until the little guy gets thru the whole separation anxiety stuff, I’m sort of stuck.

    krystyn  |  April 28th, 2009 at 10:29 am

  • My husband is going out of town next week for a couple of days and in July for more than half a week, and I was JUST thinking that I don’t know how single moms can EVER exercise consistently. I mean, when would you do it? When my husband leaves, I’ll be unable to go on my evening runs during those days–no one else is here to watch the kids, and if I were a single parent I’d never be able to afford a sitter 3-5 times a week for workouts. I have huge respect for any single parent with very young (i.e. before school-age) who is able to find a way to work out. I can only do it b/c I have a spouse to do childcare duty when I’m gone.

    Shannon  |  April 28th, 2009 at 10:48 am

  • Hi Kristin, I am not single, but most times it feels like I am. I follow a routine similar to yours and even repeat in my head your phrase “I love to hate to love to run” on my runs. I’ve committed to doing some physical activity every day - ideally I do a day of running (Couchto5K) followed by a day of Jillian’s 30 DS (changing levels once a week), however if I have no one to leave my son with I’ll do 30DS with my kid playing in the same room. By now he knows not to interrupt me under any circumstances when I do the “exercise”. So I might do several 30 DS’s in a row even if it means I’m doing them at 11 pm at night (I gave up fighting myself to get up at 5 am and would rather stay up till 1 am to do the exercise and then go to sleep). Finally I allowed myself a floater day. I target to exercise 7 days, but something always gets in the way at least once a week.

    Maria  |  April 28th, 2009 at 10:57 am

  • I’m not single (Obviously), so I get to leave the kids with Matthew two nights a week to go to Boot Camp.

    The other 5 days of the week I get up before everyone else, work out to Jillian (usually) or some other DVD and then get on with my day. It’s kind of nice to have it over with, but MAN AM I HUNGRY all day long.

    Angella  |  April 28th, 2009 at 12:22 pm

  • I am struggling with this right now. I had wanted to lose about 10-20 lbs. before I ever got pregnant, and now am looking at 20-30. A year ago I told myself I wasn’t buying a single new article of clothing until I had lost at least some of the weight. So now I hate the way my body looks and I hate the way my clothes look!

    I have tried setting my alarm and getting up early, but then I am just awake early and I never actually get up, which leaves my tired and grumpy. I am lucky because I am sure my ex would keep him an extra hour each evening, if I really got tough with him, but the thought of another hour away from the little guy every day is more than my guilty conciensce can take.

    Nikki  |  April 28th, 2009 at 1:21 pm

  • I’m having a very hard time with this also. I have an hour commute in the morning for work and I’m up at 4:30 a.m. so, working out before work is kinda out of the question because I refuse to get up in the dang middle of the night to work out. When I do get home, I want to spend as much time as possible with the little man before I have to put him to bed so I don’t want to do it while he’s still up and after I finally get him down for the night, I’m pretty exhausted myself and ready to turn in. So…I’m really at a loss as to when I can fit in exercise. I wish there were more hours in the day.

    Christine  |  April 29th, 2009 at 11:06 am

  • I’m not single, but I recently made a decision to get healthy. I have 50 pounds to lose. I’m getting up half an hour earlier and riding my stationary bike. Did you know 5:15 am is really early? Ugh. But I feel SO MUCH better!

    Robyn  |  April 29th, 2009 at 11:34 am

  • I’m a single mom, and I don’t exercise. (Why do I feel like I just stood up in a meeting?)

    Anyway, I don’t right now, and I don’t have a plan to start. The only exercise routine I’ve ever stuck with was a deep-end water aerobics class, but those are offered only in the mornings here.

    The only realistic options I can think of are either to get up super-early and work out in the house or do it over lunch break. Right now, I’m working on my master’s thesis during lunch break and at night, which makes both of those options nonstarters…so I’m giving myself a pass for now and will add it to the overlong to-do list after the thesis is done!

    I really admire any mom, and especially any single mom, who works out consistently.

    Just me  |  April 29th, 2009 at 12:02 pm

  • I can’t get up an hour earlier because our walls are paper thin and she’d get up with my alarm. Then, she’s tired the next day.

    I try to walk after lunch when the weather is good but it is so often AWFUL and it is hard to do a good workout in work clothes.

    Concentrating on good eating right now (today was salmon, sweet potatoes and mixed veggies) and maybe start adding as we can.

    Mich  |  April 29th, 2009 at 12:37 pm

  • I too am not single and am currently ‘trying to decide what I want to do when I grow up, if ever’. Which means I have oodles of time to get out and exercise and don’t. Kudo’s for you for making the time and DOING IT!

    Amy  |  June 1st, 2009 at 12:17 am

  • I am a single mother, working full time and in graduate school full time. I work out 3 times a week at the gym but am finding it so hard to manage my busy work and school schedule while ensuring im here for my 2 year old son. I hate not being with him so i was very blessed to find a gym that has an awesome daycare! he loves playing with the other children so it makes my workouts better. All I can say is being a single mother is a job only few can successfully balance exercise, self, baby, work and school. I pray this doesn’t kill me;)

    I honestly think it is possible to workout at ANYTIME. Taking the stairs, squats, sits up while playing with baby etc.,.. but its totally harder when you add school to the already impossible tight schedule;) Good luck to you all single and non single ladies!!!…exercise is somtehing WE ALL need;)

    Tanya  |  July 6th, 2010 at 3:22 pm

  • Yes! I share 50% custody of my daughter, so that gives me a couple days a week to myself, then I too, work from home, two days a week (and in the office, an hour a way the other three) in addition to my part-time photography business.

    Needless to say, I have to get really creative to fit in working out, but I seem to do it! On the days I have my daughter (3yo) I put her on the bike seat and we bike up the mountain trail (a safe mountain trail, nothing crazy!) and make a fun mamma and me morning of it.
    I also practice yoga at a local studio that allows her to sit quietly and read books or watch a show on our iPod while I am in class (peeking out at her every once in a while). The receptionist has a blast with her, too. I am very grateful that they let me do that, because if they didn’t, I would only have two free days a week to get to a class. Yoga, and exercise in general, makes me a better, happier parent!

    We also practice together at home about 20 minutes or so when I can’t get to a class.

    I hope that by taking care of myself and putting it as a priority (not just a luxury) I will be setting a good example for her. :)

    Even if you do not have money for yoga classes, or a gym, and you are a single mamma who has full custody, DON’T MAKE EXCUSES! Get creative and MAKE IT WORK as if your life depended on it, because actually, it does! :)

    Sunee  |  June 28th, 2012 at 4:39 pm