Working Out in Your “Free Time”

By Brandy Contributor

When I mention I work out most days, working moms look at me like I have 3 heads. Yes, I find time to work out at least 3 times a week. Job, kid, blogging and *GASP* pregnant. I do it all and find myself down if I don’t squeeze in a run here or a body sculpt class there. To me, it is a priority, but that doesn’t mean it is easy either.

Rule #1: Good shoes

I got addicted to working out before I got on this mama bandwagon and my stubborn ass head strong personality wasn’t about to let me stop when I started sporting a baby bump. I ran for 22 weeks with my son, Landon, in my belly before I called uncle due to the fact my feet changed shape and I was tired of buying new sneakers (my goal is to look into cheaper inserts this time around to make it much longer). I did Pilates until I had to do more modifications than real exercises and I credit my core strength and lack of back problems to just that. BAM. I did strength training and low impact aerobics until he was born along with water classes and lots of walking.

Six weeks postpartum I was back at it. Heck if you count walking a newborn around for hours strapped to your chest, lets say about 5 days postpartum. When I stopped breastfeeding at 15 months, I decided I would use MY body to train for a half marathon and did…all while working a 35 hour work week and caring for my family. It made me feel confident, I got smaller than pre-pregnancy AND I could eat ANYTHING I WANTED (seriously…2 hamburgers after a 10 mile run for protein…HOLLA).

So the first question I always get is “How do you have time?” Well, I make it. Mostly lunch breaks. I am VERY fortunate to work at a spectacular place (another post coming soon on that). We have an on-site gym, walking trails, pool and fitness classes scheduled throughout the day. I know some of you are now rolling your eyes and going “Well…then of COURSE you work out,” but there are plenty of people I work with that say they don’t have time either…so it can’t be all resources.

To me, it is all about scheduling. Yes, I have errands to run at lunch and even days I just want to meet a girlfriend to talk about why our kids are now terrified of the bath, but I work around it. Some people meal plan…I workout plan…if that makes sense. Monday morning I check out the gym schedule for the week and decide what I want to do. Cross reference that with standing appointments already. Then fill in days with running friends, blogging and lunches. With the addition of the kidlet, weekends are pretty crazy. I can’t guarantee I will do anything. Sometimes if I wake up earlier than everyone, I will go for a run before the house gets going, but I love sleep, so I don’t punish myself.

Next question is “How do you have this energy?’ Well, it sounds silly, but it is because I work out. Call it endorphins or whatever, but it works. I think some has to do with getting your body tired and sleeping better. I always sleep better after a good workout…so then I am refreshed the next day. Rinse and repeat. I also have a rockstar immunity system. We all know a kid in daycare is pretty much just a walking CDC lab, but I usually dodge it all. I attribute this to a healthy lifestyle and getting plenty of sleep. After that first year as a new mom, I appreciate all the sleep I can get. I will fight someone over sleep…really. That means I am in bed by 10:30 at the latest on a week night. Plus I am avoiding caffeine while preggo, so…yeah. Where is my gold freakin star?

The other thing I have learned in this new life as a working mom is that you don’t have to pump it for an hour on a elliptical for it to be a work out. Anything is better than nothing. Early on I started figuring out how to workout and mom at the same time. This was anything from doing pull ups on the bathroom door frame while Landon played in the tub to doing crunches while he built legos on the floor. I am a big supporter of 30 day shred for its short bursts of working out. It’s a hard 25 minutes but then you are done. I would sometimes do this after work while my husband took Landon to play outside. And if you have a smart phone, find some workout videos to rip and compress them for the phone (we use a product call Handbrake). I’ve used this many times when I go to the gym and needed a plan. The instructor can yell in my ear and I can reference the screen if I am unsure on the move. There are also plenty of apps out there to give you plans. Squeeze it in where you ca.n ::that’s what she said::

Now this isn’t going to happen overnight. Like I said before, I make it a priority because I know I will feel better. Sometimes on the weekend, I can feel me getting tired after lunch, but if I power through and go for a walk with the dog, I feel 100 times better and usually come back and can be productive. It gives me “me time” to think about blog posts, crafts for Landon or even just listen to some new music. So next time you see you have 15 minutes, try it. Do something simple. Do some jumping jacks and help your toddler learn to count. Have a dance party while holding your infant. Or my husband’s favorite, vacuum with a kid on your hip. You don’t need a fancy gym membership or even equipment, just look for ways to be more active and maybe soon you will get the exercise bug and be paying more for running shoes than heels….maybe.

After my half marathon

So what do you do for exercise? What do you WANT to do? I hope to focus of health and fitness here as a new contributor so I want to know what you are looking for in work/life balance and where fitness comes into play.

55 Comments

  • LauraC says:

    Whoop Whoop! Love the new exercise blogger.
    This fall was the first time in my adult life I did not exercise on a regular basis bc of launching the photography business and I felt like ASS. Got fatter, felt more tired, and not as good of a mom all around. Back on the workout wagon and feeling like I can do anything again.
    LauraC recently posted..Project 365 drop out. Again. Yes, again.My Profile

    • Brandy says:

      It’s amazing how much missing it will make you feel so crappy. It is still hard for me to rationalize “I’m tired…I need to get up and work out”. So counterintuitive.
      Twitter: mannlymama

  • Tracy says:

    Welp, I don’t have the options that your workplace does, but this post is totally making me realize how I do have time. Like I’m usually home with Abby by 4pm and our routine these days is for both of us to plop our butts down and watch the day’s episode of Sesame Street. There’s no reason why I can’t pop in 30day shred while Abby watches Elmo. Then there’s the fact that I’ve noticed a few teachers doing some speed walking in the halls of school once our contracted day is over. I think I might join them at least once a week. And then there’s that App on my phone….couch to 5K. As it’s starting to get lighter out later, as spring approaches and summer right around the corner, I could maybe get on that train after Abby’s in bed. This has really got me thinking that instead of just talking about it, I need to do it. So glad to have you on the team!
    Twitter: wa_tracy

    • Brandy says:

      I have a great 2 part series on my blog about running and how to get started and motivated. Biggest help? Supporters and workout partners. So joining other teachers is a HUGE step!
      Twitter: mannlymama

  • Law momma says:

    Argh. This makes me feel lumpy and large. Post disc herniation, I’m joining a gym for lunchbreak exercise.

    • Brandy says:

      Not sure where the herniation is but could you even do a recumbent bike? I need to start doing that and I can probably read at the same time. MUST MULTITASK ALL THE THINGS!
      Twitter: mannlymama

  • Jamie says:

    Great post.  I am a beginning runner and finding the time is always a juggling act.  Thanks for a good post.
    Jamie recently posted..Busy BoxesMy Profile

    • Brandy says:

      YAY! I have a special place in my heart for new runners. I find scheduling it or having a friend to hold me accountable make me do it more. No excuses :) Good luck! I would love to blog about beginning running if that would be helpful!
      Twitter: mannlymama

  • Christina says:

    Great post!!!
    When preg with my 2nd I jumped back on the exercise bandwagon to prevent a huge gain and stay in shape for my natural VBAC and it definitely worked! I only gained 20 lbs (my son was still 8 lbs 7 oz), had a great birth and felt awesome after. My oldest is 3, the baby is 8 months and I work FT. I started back at the gym in Nov and feel great after. I also have a flexible workplace with a gym and classes, but I choose to work out at a gym by my house or at home. I work from home often, so I go to the gym after dropping the kids at daycare in the morning. It really is something you need to plan. And I also meal plan, which is key with 2 kids and eating healthy!

  • Madonna says:

    I like this post. After two years, my family and I have a gym routine. I don’t have the luxury of working out at lunch, but instead take the munchkin to the local Y near our house immediately after daycare three days a week. At first I felt bad taking her to another daycare after 45-50 hours in one already, but she loves it. She asks to go. So I can’t miss a workout now. ;-). Even though i can only do 30-40 mins max to get home by 6, it is better than nothing. I try to plan easy meals on those days so he can get dinner started. And I hit the gym solo on the weekends while hubs and her nap. I’ve really made my health my priority for 2012. And I am already down almost 10 lbs to prove it!

    • Brandy says:

      Why, thank you and congrats on the weight loss! I am sure your daughter is getting a great role model seeing you juggle it all and work out. Leads to a healthy lifestyle for her too!
      Twitter: mannlymama

  • Katherine says:

    I feel like I’m stuck right now, this time last year I was living it up working out on my lunchbreaks about 3 times per week. I was in a great routine and if felt really good. Now? Well, now I’m out of my routine and I had to cancel my gym membership, I know I can squeeze workouts in at home, but now it’s actually getting started to get back into a routine…that’s always the hardest part for me.
    Twitter: lilmissrysmama

  • JP4GA says:

    Great post. I started working out about 6 months ago and I can say that prior to working out I was tired and falling asleep on the couch at 6 pm at night. Now when I miss a workout I can feel it and get tired easily. I hope to work up to running~ I have a ways to go before I will be running any marathons but I plan on building myself up and doing more than working the machines at the gym. 
    JP4GA recently posted..Food is NOT your friendMy Profile

    • Brandy says:

      I started running by just walking everyday. The. After a few months I wanted to go farther in the same time…so I ran. I have never looked back :). I never really did anything before then. It was all it took!
      Twitter: mannlymama

  • Shannon says:

    Goodness gracious, girl! I just joined a gym again this new year. While I was pregnant, I walked a mile every day with my dog–the entire pregnancy–so go me. But because I was so sick my entire pregnancy, I only gained 14 lbs total. Once I could eat again… ugh… I’m the only girl who looks worse NOT pregnant than she did pregnant!! I love your idea of working out and eating anything you want :) I try to work out three times a week, right after work before I pick up my little boy. Sometimes, on Tuesday nights, my husband will keep the boy while I go to a kickboxing class. Gotta do what you can! Great post :)
    Shannon recently posted..LimboMy Profile

    • Brandy says:

      But it’s great you are putting in the effort. Every week can’t be perfect but it is better to at least try! Keep going girl!
      Twitter: mannlymama

  • Wendy says:

    Great post….I’m agreeing that i’m only going to be able to work out consistently when I do it doing my lunch hour.. (right now my baby is 7.5 months and i’m still nursing) so i’m pumping during lunch. I’m trying to work out with videos or Nike Training ( recommend this app) after the baby goes to bed. It is SO hard for me to work out at night. I worked out in the mornings pre baby…but with her waking up in the middle of the night…I JUST CAN”T DO IT! :)

    • Brandy says:

      Yup. You are in the tough spot now. I pumped 4 times a day at work including lunch but would cut the lunch one shorter and go for a quick 30 min run or weights. Luckily nursing was great for keeping my metabolism high so it was so bad. Go mama!!
      Twitter: mannlymama

  • I bought a bike trailer for Isaac and it is the stuff! I can give him some snacks, a sippy cup, some books and a ball and he’s good to go while I go for a 45-50 minute bike ride. Plus, between the trailer and him it adds up to about an extra 60 pounds, making it quite the workout.

    I was never a fan of the jogging stroller (the running motion with it is so unnatural), but the bike trailer is great. Plus it’s a 2 seater that can hold up to 100 lbs, so whenever we have a second kid (and they get old enough) I can take them both.

    You just have to avoid steep hills…
    Adam @ Hanging with Dad recently posted..Getting to Know Dad (that’d be me)My Profile
    Twitter: hangingwithdad

    • Brandy says:

      Hot damn! I don’t do bikes but good call for others. Yeah I never liked the jogging stroller either. Great for walks but never liked running.
      Twitter: mannlymama

  • Jessie says:

    After reading your post, you got me motivated! So after putting Julien to bed I jumped on the elliptical. I hope to do this at least 3-4 times a week. I just need to keep myself motivated!

    • Brandy says:

      It takes that few minutes to mentally get you there and then you feel so much better. I still struggle with that sometimes too. Especially on weekends.
      Twitter: mannlymama

  • Lindsay says:

    How’s that for motivation?
    Twitter: Lilloveandluck

  • You are right, and I hate you a little bit for it. Hoping to make some time to work out this week, because I need it. Gotta do something good for myself!
    Misty @ The Family Math recently posted..SOC Sunday: How DO I relax?My Profile
    Twitter: mistymathews

  • Heather says:

    LOVE This post! I have two young kids (3.5 years and 16 months) I work full-time, and I workout 6 days a week. I cannot stand it when people say they do not have the time! I think being active and healthy is great for your kids to see! Tuesday through Friday I wake up at 5:15 to run 3-4 miles on my basement treadmill. Thursday night my husband stays with the kids and I go to a kickboxing class at my gym. Saturdays and Sundays are my favorite workout days, I either wake up at 6:30 or I wait until my kids are napping and I run 6 miles outside. My husband knows this time is important to me and he helps to make sure it happens (I am also really grumpy if I don’t get my long outdoor runs in). I also love to sign up for races, it helps keep me motivated: I am a 5K junky, and I just signed up for my first half marathon!

    • Brandy says:

      Way to show me up ;). I long for a neighborhood where i can do early morning runs. I really like them once I get up but it is so hard…plus when it is dark, I am scared to go by myself. Hopefully we can move to somewhere new soon and find some early morning workout partners!
      Twitter: mannlymama

      • Heather says:

        You should get a treadmill! One of the best purchases I ever made, plus there are no excuses for not getting a run in. I would love to run outside everyday, but my neighborhood doesn’t have street lights.

        • Brandy says:

          Ha! I have one but it is currently living at a friend’s house so we can sell our house! I miss it and hope the next house will have a sweet bonus room for it!
          Twitter: mannlymama

  • Jocelyn says:

    This is a great post. I feel the same way – you don’t have to hit the gym for a mega-workout every day for exercise to count as exercise. I actually canceled my gym membership after my daughter was born (she’s now 18 mos and I still have no plans to rejoin). Between breastfeeding for 9 mos, extra trips up/down stairs for added laundry, taking her for walks in the stroller almost immediately after she was born, carrying her around doing housework, playing with her, etc., I lost more than the baby weight and have kept it off. I am lucky to be able to still see my trainer once a week, but from a former gym rat who was there usually 6 days a week, I’m perfectly happy aiming for 3 days now of things outside a gym. And I, too, definitely feel better overall on those days where I can squeeze even a little exercise in somewhere.
    Jocelyn recently posted..This one time, when I fell asleep with my eyes open while driving…My Profile
    Twitter: _ScooterMarie

  • Suz says:

    Great post Brandi! You are quite the inspiration. After the triplets arrive, I’ll be taking your advise to heart!
    Suz recently posted..Eighteen WeeksMy Profile
    Twitter: suzstreats

  • D says:

    I started making fitness a priority a few months ago and have just really started to hit my stride. Although I will admit the blog has fallen to the way-side, but I always look forward to doing my workouts. Unfortuntely the schedule only allows for this to happen at 8:30/9:00 PM but you gotta do what you gotta do! Love to hear about how other mom’s make it work because it is such an important aspect that we lose focus on way too easily.
    Twitter: DianeDear11

  • KeAnne says:

    I hope to use some of your tips to become more active this year. I have a treadmill upstairs that misses me (and I miss it). I do try to do leg exercises while cooking, so I need to figure out more ways of incorporating exercise into daily activities.
    KeAnne recently posted..Low-Carb JambalayaMy Profile
    Twitter: KeAnne

  • People are always surprised when I say I fit in working out because I have multiple jobs and work six days a week. My strategy, since lunchtime workouts aren’t an option, is to work out post bedtime. Sometimes it’s nuts – last night, I was working out at close to midnight. But I knew that I’d feel better today, even tired, than if I hadn’t worked out at all. Usually it’s not so late, but it’s still pretty late!
    Christa the BabbyMama recently posted..What I’ve Been Up to: Art Stoage Boxes and Not Much ElseMy Profile
    Twitter: mommeetmom

  • Anna says:

    I’m right there with you. I ran and raced until I was 36 weeks pregnant and cried uncle when the post-run recovery wasn’t worth the pain! Like you, I also became addicted to running and working out pre-pregnancy, and it’s been difficult yet rewarding to find the time and energy with a 7 week old. But I know taking out 30 minutes here or an hour there for myself does wonders for my mood, my ability to handle stress, and most of all, it makes me a better wife and mom. 
    Anna recently posted..Laying out a planMy Profile

  • Jennifer says:

    How do you manage the sweat factor when you work out at lunch? I have a small gym at work, but if I were to work out at lunch I would need to shower afterwards. I think going back to work with a wet head would be frowned upon, but I wouldn’t have enough time to blow dry my hair and get a good workout in!

    • Brandy says:

      Well we have showers here at work. I fortunately don’t sweat through my head that much. Also unless I am doing extreme cardio, I don’t get that overheated anyway. Pilates, strength training, etc usually don’t need a shower or if anything just a quick rinse off. I also have started not washing my hair on the mornings I know I am going to run or do harder cardio. That way I just sport the same pony tail all day. The pool is another story. Since I am super short, I always get my hair wet in the water so I have to wash. Those days, I just wrap it up in a bun and call it a day. So basically I am saying I am lazy :) Hope that helps!
      Twitter: mannlymama

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