By Di Westaway | Chief Adventure Chick and Founder of Coastrek
Trying to juggle work and parenting is no mean feat. Between school drops offs and pickups, extra curricular activities, team meetings and deadlines, drinking enough water, cooking reasonably healthy meals your kids will actually eat and attempting to maintain some form of social life, life can feel really damn full.
So when someone suggests you add fitness to the mix, it’s like… when? No really. When?
Over the past 15 years, I’ve worked with thousands of women – many of whom are working mums with young children – to help them fit fitness into their already busy days. I’ve discovered some tips and tricks to make it manageable, and I’m here to tell you, it’s possible.
Work out your WHY
I could give you a list of compelling reasons to exercise, from increasing longevity to improving mental health, lowering risk of chronic illness to maintaining healthy bones and muscles. But that’s probably not enough to motivate you, especially if you’re currently struggling to make it a daily habit.
You need to find out WHY you want to fit fitness into your life. For me, it’s being able to travel the world having adventures, regardless of my age. It’s the desire to play with my great grandchildren one day. It’s because it gives me more energy.
For many of my clients, it’s mental health. The hormones released during exercise are powerful anti-depressants, and exercise also proven to improve resilience and self-confidence. For some of my friends, it’s maintaining muscle tone as they age, and working to alleviate illness. For many working mums I know, it’s ‘me’ time – a break from the pressures of work and family, an opportunity to feel strong and able, to take some time out to take care of their bodies and minds.
For many of our Coastrekkers, their ‘why’ is to inspire their children – to show them how to lead a healthy and happy life. One said: “I did this partly to inspire my children and show them I could do something challenging.” And she was met at the finish line by the cheers of her proud kids.
Work out your why, because that is a powerful motivator, and something to come back to whenever you’re struggling to fit exercise in between the deluge of daily tasks.
Find a FRIEND
Working out on your own is boring. Working out with friends is super fun! And it motivates you to exercise even when life threatens to get in the way. You might cancel on yourself, but most of us won’t cancel on a friend.
Find a friend who also needs a bit of motivation, have a coffee and make a training plan. It can be as simple as: Every Sunday at 8am we’re going for a half-hour walk. If you don’t have any friends who are interested, join a group IRL (that’s In Real Life, for those over the age of 24) or on Facebook and connect with someone there.
Put up a habit chart on the fridge or connect with your friend via text message and record every day you get 10,000 steps and five minutes puffing. Celebrate your wins together, as this will help keep you motivated and on track.
Get a GOAL
You need a goal. If your ‘why’ is strong enough and you really want to make your health a priority, you NEED a goal.
Why? It makes motivation so much easier.
It doesn’t need to be too big, but it needs to feel just out of your comfort zone. Whether it’s running 5km, walking the 30km or 60km Coastrek (click here for info), or hiking to Everest Base Camp, it needs to be slightly scary but also feel achievable – with a bit of training.
Once you sign up to a big, hairy, audacious goal, you will be much more motivated to fit in fitness – to find the time in your busy life to get where you want to be.
Choose a CHARITY
Some people feel a bit guilty when they skip a workout. In my experience, working mums feel the opposite – they feel guilty when they do workout!
One of our Coastrek ambassadors, former Olympic swimmer Susie O’Neill, commented on how much she loved Coastrek because the fundraising element alleviated the guilt she felt for leaving her kids to go have a beautiful walk with her friends.
When others are relying on you, you’re MUCH less likely to feel guilty or give up than if it’s just a personal goal. So choosing a goal with a charity element will make it that much more compelling, and it will be easier for you to make it a daily habit.
When you’re a busy working mum, it’s hard to make time for fitness. But it’s worth it. Because you are a powerful role model and health influencer for your kids, and every parent wants their kids to grow up as healthy and happy as possible. When you’re happy and healthy, your kids will be, too.
Register for Brisbane Coastrek here!