The Balancing Act — Busy Moms Need Fitness Too!

May 2012 View more


In 1991, I had 4 kids, all under 6 years old. Yes, there were moments of utter chaos, but there were also moments of bliss, typically during naptime. Though my days were busy, my body wasn’t. My dedication to exercise was the first thing to go when my day fell apart. It wasn’t until my kids were older that I understood the importance of making time to exercise, which ultimately allowed me to not only be in better shape, it helped me be a better Mom.

As we celebrate Mother’s Day there is no shortage of mothers that likely view multitasking as an Olympic worthy event. From carpools to doctors appointments, sports events and homework deadlines, there’s little room for “me” time. But the truth is you’re letting go of the single thing that would enhance not only your health but your overall sense of well-being- exercise. It’s the easiest thing to add to your to-do list, yet the easiest to fall to the bottom.

I feel the biggest contributor to our growing girth in this country is lack of unintentional activity, things like cleaning our own homes, mowing our lawns, walking, or hanging laundry. The activity that our grandmothers, and in some instances mothers, did are no longer part of our daily activity. That means our caloric expenditure frequently comes from only intentional activity, such as going to the gym. Therefore, you need to find ways to increase your daily activity without letting limited time ruin your good intentions.

Reduced Time, Increased Intensity

When time is limited, focus on intensity. For weight training, simply increase the amount of weight you lift. You’ll reduce your repetitions yet increase the intensity. This philosophy applies to cardio activity as well. Kick up the intensity by adding more speed or resistance whether you’re walking, running, or biking.  It’s better to take 10 minutes and get your heart and muscles pumping than to sit around feeling guilty.

If you only have 5 minutes, find creative ways to squeeze in exercise.

• Sneak in ab exercises before bed or first thing in the morning. Drop and give yourself 20!

• Basic push-ups can be done on the counter while making lunches or at your desk during a conference call.

• Tricep dips are a great exercise to do on a chair, or bench anything that is about the same height as your rear-end. Use good form and sneak in a few dips at the office, during naptime or while making dinner.

• Dentists tell you to spend 2 minutes brushing your teeth. What better way to time your brushing than by doing lunges! One minute per leg. You’ll have great legs along with great oral hygiene!

• Whether you’re walking to school, to the train or from your car, try intervals. Intervals simply mean walking at your regular pace and then picking up the intensity for about 30 seconds. Continue doing this until you’ve reached your destination.

Don’t dismiss exercise because you can’t make it to the gym. Be creative and consider the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the time, do the best you can to be active and eat well. Twenty percent of the time you have to allow for that margin of error. Cut yourself some slack and understand that exercise doesn’t have to be cut from your life, simply tweaked.

My son once said to me, “How come Mommy’s know everything?” We definitely know how to be great to others but sometimes we fall short of being great to ourselves. Take care of yourself and be reasonable in your expectations. Then you will find a balance and be better equipped to take care of those who think you’re wonderful, at least until they become teenagers.