Building an Exercise Routine as a Mom (or Mom-to-Be)

Pregnant, just had your precious baby or already mom for a couple of years? We at least have one thing in common: we are busy! If you are working professionally, a stay-at-home mom or “just” busy with friends, family and social life, the early years of motherhood are hectic, busy, and sometimes exhausting.

And still, you could have some healthy New Year’s resolutions!

Being in the middle of your own rat race, you may find it hard to believe that adding another element to your packed life will make it any better, but believe me: it does!

As a partner in a strategic consultancy firm, happy mom of a two-year-old daughter and pregnant with my second child, I was working over 70 hours a week and I was exhausted. I felt out of control, very low in energy, and my hormones were all over the place. Right in my 20th week, when my midwife advised me to “just take some extra vitamins and cut down on work,” I found my saviour: working out!

For me, building an exercising routine is not about losing those extra kilos (although of course I do cheer with you when you lose the kilos that you thought were too much), it is about living an energetic life. It is about feeling good and confident, strong and full of energy. It is about being able to fully enjoy life as a (working) mom.

I am more than happy to share some of my “secrets” for a great and long-lasting exercise routine. In the end it is about “just” getting started, yet we can make it a bit easier for ourselves!

Exercising outdoors

I believe in exercising outdoors, because just being outdoors brings extra benefits. You are working with and in the elements of nature. And you feel that! Besides a great workout, you get all these extras nature has to offer: a beautiful evening sky full of sparkling stars or the rising sun in a cool morning at the park. And planking in the snow really feels different from planking in a packed gym.

Furthermore, don’t forget the extra Vitamin D and oxygen that nature gives you outdoors. Our bodies are craving that and love it. On top of the endorphins – yes that is the hormone that makes you happy – that already are your free bonus when you exercise.

And last but not least, working out outdoors will make your body work harder. Especially when it is cold, your body has to work even harder to keep you warm. And working hard means burning more fuel.

The female body

Although I do tell my daughter that she can achieve just as much as any boy can, after two pregnancies I had to admit that the female body is, at least, really different from the male body. Especially during and right after your pregnancy but also later on when you start to notice problems in your back, hips or pelvic floor, it is very important to adjust your exercise routine to accommodate this. That doesn’t necessarily means cutting down! It is about knowing your body, your limitations, and building up your strength in a responsible way.

For example, for men it can be very effective to add a lot of Jumping jacks or squat jumps to the workout routine, but for women who have lower back or pelvic floor problems, this can be very painful or uncomfortable. When women experience this we might stop right away, saying, “See, I can’t do those things anymore.” Such a shame! Because you can be(come) strong. It just takes the right focus and attention.

A moment for yourself

Women are very good at thinking about and taking care of others. We are not so good at creating moments for ourselves, and yet such moments are so important – to recharge, to re-energize, and to find yourself again. One hour a week just for yourself might seem meaningless, but it can actually already make a big difference. Remember: happy mom, happy baby and kids!

Building routines

I do not believe in quick fixes. No “easy” seven-week diets or x-week exercise plans. It is about building routines…about building an energetic lifestyle with new routines. And this takes time, patience and courage!

Doing it together with a friend/colleague/neighbour makes it easier. Because, especially for women, if we commit ourselves to somebody we tend to stay committed!

And do let “the world” know about your new routine. Putting it in the family planner and telling your friends about it makes it harder to quit. And of course, most importantly, ask your partner for his commitment and support! That will really make the difference.

Are your kids a bit older? Involve the kids – tell them about your exercise routine. And show them! Kids love sports and they will be so proud of their mom. And don’t forget that you are setting a great example.

Last but not least, be gentle! If you miss a week, there is always tomorrow, a new day to start again. But do give yourself this attention and allow yourself to exercise. You deserve it!

By Barbara Rijntjes-Besancon 

Barbara Rijntjes-Besancon is a Dutch mother of two living in Switzerland. She is the founder of Mom in Balance Switzerland, offering outdoor workouts for women. She is also the founder of Boost, a wellbeing company offering corporate and individual programmes to bring more energy into your life.

Photos by Andaleeb Lilley

Andaleeb is a photographer based in Zug and loves working on location – www.andaleeblilley.ch 

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