Client Spotlight: Making Time for Exercise, Mom Edition
I don’t know how else to say it – my client Kelly rocks.
She’s a 44-year-old entrepreneur, organizational genius, and author who not only keeps busy running her own business, but also plays the role of mom to three little boys. I distinctly remember her first message to me last year, that she described herself as “having babies for the last 10 years.” After a decade of pregnancies, she faced many of the same questions that you may ask yourself:
- “What is my actual potential for getting into better shape after multiple pregnancies?”
- “What is my ‘new normal’?”
- “How can I fit exercise in around work and parenting?”
- “How do I maximize my fat loss and strength gain results without compromising mood or energy?”
Because when moms of young children want to increase their level of fitness, they’re not just dealing with their own willpower or lack thereof – they’re juggling the needs of an entire household. They’re squeezing in workouts between PTA meetings. They’re planning their children’s food as they try to streamline their own approach to nutrition. They’re trying to model a healthful mindset toward food and exercise as they focus on weight loss, because the impression they make on their children matters.
This is no small task.
Now, I have been working with Kelly for almost a year, and she has been so successful and is now so solid in her routines that we are decreasing her check-in frequency to about once per season. Since we started working together, she has run a fast 5K, an even faster 10K, and has begun to powerlifting in the double digits. She is an inspiration to me, so to celebrate this transition to less-frequent check-ins and more independence, I asked Kelly if I could feature her as my client spotlight this month.
Here are her thoughts on her fitness journey!
On making time for exercise:
If an opportunity ever presents itself where I can work the cardio into getting from Point A to Point B, I take it. On a daily basis, you have to figure out how to fit it in, like taking the stairs at the office. Last summer, I ran home from dropping my kids off at camp. It was two miles from my house. I would Uber there, and run back.
Also, ask any mom, and she will say this: always have your workout gear on you. My husband always brings his workout stuff to work. But what I do is I make the plan to work out, and then I put on the workout gear to eliminate transitions, like changing clothes. It kind of sucks because a lot of people know me as a workout-gear kind of person without makeup on, but I get it done. If I wake up and I look nice and ready, and then I come back home to change for exercise, it will prevent me from getting to the gym.
I make it a “do” on my to-do list. It’s something I cross off. It’s not just in the back of my head. I actually put it in my calendar. It’s one of my duties, along with the kids’ piano lessons. Then, if something doesn’t happen, I still do it, even if it’s the next day. I would say that’s really good for personality types like me, who are very regimented about to-do lists.
I have different workouts for the week that’s in front of me. It’s kind of like having a wardrobe of workouts – like, “This is what I’ll wear today” turns into “This workout is perfect for this week!” Two weeks ago, for example, I didn’t have much time to work out, so I just used the two condensed* workouts. Then this week, I have plenty of time, so I can actually do the full bikini cycle.* Then, I was at a family reunion last week, and there was a jump rope out, and I thought, “This is a perfect opportunity to practice!” So I just had fun and tried to get up to 20 a couple of times. I just had fun with the kids. I wasn’t going to do “real workouts” at a family reunion, so I just found opportunities to be active.
*These are workouts that I created and customized for Kelly as part of her coaching.
On “being in shape” in your 40’s vs. your 20’s:
I talk to women my age and older, about how when you’re younger, you don’t have to be as in shape to look amazing. It’s almost like your skin holds everything in for you. I was not as “in shape” then as I am now. Now, nothing holds anything in… except muscle. To actually look good at our age, you need the muscle.
When you’re in your 20’s, you definitely take that for granted. You have to do weight-based training to build muscle mass, because, after you’re 40, you’re just losing it.
Now, when I see someone and think, “I want to look like her,” it’s someone who is fit, strong, and muscular, and in her 60’s. I hope I look like that person! I don’t compare myself to what I looked like at 20 or 30.
On finding the right balance between weight loss and mood:
I think my biggest challenge was just changing my diet a little bit, and figuring out how to eat less but still feel full and satiated and happy.
I remember I had to cut down on carbs, and there was definitely a day or two when the children could notice that I was cranky! I had to figure out how to get the right balance.
On “tricks” to manage nutrition and energy with a busy schedule:
I have a “fat tooth” (instead of a sweet tooth), so if I have fat-free everything – Fage 0% yogurt, 0% milk, and egg whites – my body will be so hungry. So for breakfast, instead of fat-free cottage cheese, I have full-fat cottage cheese, as an accompaniment to my fruit. I don’t even eat the whole container – I just eat half the container with the fruit. To me, that’s more satisfying than having the whole container of fat-free. If I have a little bit of protein, a little bit of fat, a little bit of fruit, and then later on some carbs, I can push through till lunch.
I often don’t have time to snack, so for me it’s all about figuring out how to build meals to get me from meal to meal. If I have a salad for lunch, that doesn’t work for me, even if it has protein on it. But if I additionally put a sweet potato on it, it works.
On modeling balance and healthy choices for kids:
I think it’s a little easier being a mom of boys. I think I would have been more focused on that aspect of it if I had girls, but I just talk about being fit, healthy, and making healthy choices.
My son will say, “Oh, McDonalds is so bad for you.” I will say, “You now, it’s not great for you, but you can have McDonalds nuggets and fries every once in awhile, and it’s not going to kill you.” We talk about balance and moderation, and not being too polar in how you approach foods and getting into shape.
It’s cool, because my husband and I are pretty religious about going to the gym, and recently my son who is turning 10 said, “When I turn 16, can I go to the gym?” And I said, “Actually, I think some gyms, you can start younger than 16! Maybe at 13 you can start lifting weights.” And he got really excited.
On celebrating your results when you tend to focus on your flaws:
When I was on this vacation, my husband was joking that he needed to work out so that he could have a six-pack like me. And I thought, “I don’t have a six-pack! I haven’t gotten where I want to be yet!” I can’t see it. But then, while we were there, I thought, “Oh wait, I think I’m almost there!” I got this far, and now I want to continue this. It’s almost like my fibers and my muscle and my skin are sewing themselves back together and getting stronger. It’s not hard to keep the eating and the workouts up, and I want to continue this.
Kelly has done an amazing job of reclaiming her health and fitness and not falling into the busy-ness trap that so many of us can easily get stuck in. She has learned how to make the most of her time, and to balance parenting and business ownership with a commitment to her own self-care. I am so proud of her!
Because Kelly is phasing out as a “full-time” client, I have that spot open! If you want to grab that spot this week, e-mail me now to get the conversation started. I’ll have some questions for you, and we’ll figure out how to create solutions for your busy lifestyle that get you the results that you’ve been wanting!