The “I Don’t Have Time” Workout Solution

My oh my. Where has the time gone?

I’ll tell you exactly where the time went. The 4 month sleep regression. But now we’re at six months so I don’t think I can even use that as my excuse anymore. I think we are finally on a good path to some quality baby sleep (until the next regression anyway), so maybe my sanity and sense of time will return one of these days. I could have sworn I had posted my last post just a week or two ago. It’s been two months. What the heck?

I guess all this is to say, I’m still figuring all of this mom stuff out. I suppose I’ll always be figuring it out since Isabelle will be forever evolving, but eventually I’ll get the baby/life/blog/work balance that I’m aiming for!

These past several weeks have been full of wonderful things though. Isabelle grows in so many ways each and every day, and it is so incredible to witness this little human who is learning so much at such a fast pace. She develops new skills seemingly overnight, which I always knew would happen with a baby, but it’s different to watch it happen before your very eyes.

Because of this ever expanding brain of hers, she has become increasingly curious about the world around her. This makes my life both harder and easier in certain ways, and I don’t always have the time that I would like to take care of myself with fitness and mindfulness. I squeeze fitness in wherever I can though, even if it’s just 10 minutes at a time while Izzy smiles at me from her bouncy chair. The key has been finding ways to get the most bang for my buck, i.e. getting exercises done fast, but remembering to do them well.

The truth is, we all want more time for something. Many of us wish we had more time to work out, while some of us wish we had more time to do other things. Sleep, play with your kids, read, write, even binge watch your favorite Netflix shows. There are so many ways that we could spend extra time, but the fact is that those extra minutes are never just going to show up. You have to make a concerted effort to carve them out of your day, or find a way to make do with what you already have.

A lot of times with little kids or babies, there is no way to carve out extra minutes, so you have to learn to make do. I think that is probably why many new parents give up on fitness all together, because there is often only time for a short burst, and what good can that even do? Well, actually, it can make a world of difference.

10 minutes of exercise, of you time each day can not only maintain a certain level of fitness, but can greatly help with mental clarity and well being. Even if it’s just running through a few rounds of sun salutations or doing a few push ups, getting your blood flowing and body moving can change your outlook on your whole day.

Sometimes, after an especially rough night of sleep, the last thing I want to do is get my heart rate up and move. But if I just take a few minutes to fit in what I can, I find that I truly do feel better about myself and about my day. I am going to be totally honest that I’ve been guilty of the old “I don’t really have time” excuse lately. And that’s totally true. I don’t have time. But thankfully I have Will to remind me that 10 or 20 minutes is better than nothing, and that I’ll thank myself when I’m done.

For instance, the other day I literally only had 15 minutes before I would have to get in the shower and then feed Isabelle. Will could be with her for those 15 minutes, so I got right to it. I did a few warm up exercises, some glute work, push ups, 100 KB swings, and a few Turkish Get Ups. It wasn’t much, and it certainly wasn’t a “full workout”. But it made me feel 100% better going into the rest of the day, and I was thankful I took those few minutes for myself.

And it doesn’t always have to be hard exercise. Sometimes using those 10 or 15 spare minutes to just stretch and focus your mind can work wonders on your mood and energy level. If you are looking for some quick exercise though, check out the following for some super quick ideas. You could do just one of these or put a few of them together for a little bit longer workout if it turns out you have more time. The most important thing here is to forgive yourself for “only” having so much time, and make the most of it. The only thing that complaining about your lack of time will do is eat up even more of your precious minutes that you already don’t have enough of.

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Give some of these a try next time you’re strapped for time. Each will get your heart pumping, but you can be done and on with your life in just a few minutes.

Just a few notes:

*Inchworm push ups – Start standing. Bend down and place your hands on the floor. Walk your hands out until you are in push up position, do one push up, and walk hands back. That is one rep.

*To make the jump squats, reverse lunges, and side to side squats more challenging, hold a dumbbell, kettlebell, or other form of weight.

* For the mini band workout, wear the mini band around your ankles and keep it on for the entirety of the workout.

*Side to side squats: wearing mini band, step out to left, squat. Step to right, squat. This is one rep.

*Plank up downs: Starting in high plank position (on hands and toes), move to your left forearm, followed by right. Immediately return to high plank one hand at a time. This is one rep.

*Touch backs: Wearing mini band, stand in quarter squat position (knees slightly bent). Staying in quarter squat, bring left leg back behind you and touch your toe to the ground. Bring that foot back to starting position and bring right foot behind you. This is one rep. Continue alternating legs, finishing set before standing straight up.

Life changes and why I’m leaving athletic training 

Most people who are close to me know that I’ve recently undergone a huge life change (besides that whole growing and giving birth to a human). And the truth is, I’m still coming to terms with it myself, which is why it has taken me until now to write about it. 

After 11 years as an athletic trainer, I have decided to step away from not only a job that I loved very much, but from my career. This is the first time I’ve written that down, so I’m going to let that sink in for a minute. 

So why, if I loved this job, am I walking away? 

Some would say that it’s understandable since I’m now a mom. And yet others, I’m sure, will criticize my decision for that very same reason. To be honest, the raging feminist in me understands those criticisms, as ridiculous as they are. But the reason I am leaving has less to do with my daughter and more to do with a profession that does not lend itself to family life in any way. 

Many people will recall this blog post I wrote 5 years ago. In it, I praised my field and the many amazing opportunities that it has given me. To this day, all of those reasons still ring true. I’ve met some of the most important people in my life through this job. Case in point, I never would have met Will were it not for athletic training, and thus Isabelle would not exist either. So I cannot say that I regret the career path I chose, even though it is now coming to an end. 

Athletic training is a selfless profession– it’s one that demands long hours, late nights, early mornings, and holidays. It is one with little to no leniency, where you are at the beck and call of the coaches, administrators and athletes, no matter what. It’s a career that is demanding,often grueling, although rewarding. For someone like me, an empath, each day is an emotional investment, helping athletes through sometimes life altering injuries and recovery. And to be honest, this is why I loved it so much. I loved to connect with people and help them come out the other side in one piece. But this is also why I can’t do it anymore. 

To me, being a good athletic trainer meant giving all of myself to the job, for better or for worse. Athletes had access to me all the time through phone and text, events in my personal life would be missed (this was not by choice though). I became invested in each athlete and each injury on a level where it was hard for me to just walk away at the end of the day. I worried, I missed sleep, I spent hours researching possible outcomes, and I did so at the expense of my own personal time. 

I’m not saying that this is right or wrong, im just saying that this is how I knew how to be an athletic trainer. I couldn’t do it halfway. I couldn’t turn it off at 7 pm. 

But I also know that I wouldn’t be able to continue that and still have enough of myself for myself and my family long term. Yes, the schedule, constant changes due to weather or whim of a coach, late nights and–let’s face it– not nearly enough pay all factored into this decision as well. But beyond all of that, which seems an insurmountable collection of reasons alone, I knew that I couldn’t be the mother I wanted to be and the only AT I knew how to be. 

And for all of the shares I get on that old blog post, I hope people read this as well. Because I’m not trying to discourage any young people from becoming athletic trainers, I just want them to be aware of the whole picture when they make that decision. It’s an amazing, gut wrenching, exciting, mentally stimulating, challenging, yet deeply flawed profession. It hurts me to walk away, yet it also feels quite freeing, and I don’t think I’m alone in having these feelings. 

Some out there will criticize the way I practiced. They’ll say I dug myself into a hole and created my own path to burn out. Maybe that’s true, maybe it’s not. But I do know that I gave everything to my career for the past 11 years, and now it’s time to refocus. 

So what’s next? Well, along with being a mom, I do have some exciting projects in the proverbial vault, and I’ll let you all in on those in another post very soon. Suffice it to say, I hope for this blog to be a building block for bigger things, and I can’t wait to get started moving forward. 

Let’s Talk About The C Word 

Nope, not that C word. 

Get your mind out of the gutter. 

I’m talking about the word that so many women don’t give to themselves enough, the word that is so important for taking care of yourself. 

Compassion. 


I can’t even count the amount of times that I hear women refer to themselves with strong, negative language such as hate, ugly, fat, wobbly, and the list goes on and on. And it tends to get even worse right around and after the holidays, as we’re faced with the prospect of a new year and old goals that may not have been met. 

For those who are struggling to lose weight or who are just unhappy with how they look or feel, the seemingly endless temptations between Thanksgiving and New Years can seem like torture, like constant reminders that they still have a long way to go. 

Then add in the pressure of resolutions, declarations of change, and pressures put on us by ourselves and society, and we’ve got a perfect storm of body insecurity. The key here is not to simply stop making goals or seclude ourselves from popular culture, but instead to treat our bodies and our minds with compassion. To realize all of the wonderful and difficult things we do each day, to acknowledge all of the hard work we’ve put in to get where we are, even if it’s not where we want to be.

 Compassion for our jiggly arms, soft stomach, and cellulite thighs. Compassion for our seemingly inability to work out as many days each week as we plan to. Compassion for our wandering, competitive minds who compare us to every other woman we see in the gym, in the store, on the train. 
These things are reality. Most of us will never be super model thin or fitness model lean. We will not have perfect arms or legs or butts or thighs. We will have arms that hold our babies, legs that carry us through life, and abs that have been formed through years of laughter. We accomplish beautiful things every single day, yet the hateful language continues despite these successes. 

Show your body some compassion and acceptance for what it does, not hatred  for what it doesn’t do or for what it doesn’t have. Are you hating your post baby body? Cut yourself a little bit of slack and think about what your body has done for you. You grew a human, and then put your body through trauma to get that human out, no matter how smoothly the birth went. Trauma needs time to heal, and more than time, it needs compassion and care. 

Beating your exhausted body up with workouts every day isn’t the answer; a traumatized body will not be beaten back into submission, trust me. You’ll just end up injured and even more frustrated than before. 

And this goes for returning from an injury or picking back up after life stresses. 

Acknowledge what your body has been through, get in some healthy, restorative movement as often as possible, and build gradually. Fitness after a life change or stressful time isn’t about getting back to “normal” as quickly as possible, it’s about nurturing yourself to allow for gradual, healthy change. 

On the other hand, some people just feel like they’ve been doing everything right for so long and are just not seeing the results they want. Why bother with the hard stuff if you still hate what you see in the mirror? Because results take time, the process is slow, and there is so much value in acknowledging the process as you go along. It can be hard to remember when you’re in the thick of it, but major change does not happen all at once. It is created through a series of tiny, minuscule steps and victories along the way. 

Showing yourself compassion and recognizing these baby steps is the key to not driving yourself absolutely insane when results seem so far away. I often recommend that people set a reflection time once per week to stop and think about these small steps and accomplishments. Write them down where you can reference them each week. And over time, you’ll start to see those building blocks add up to bigger successes. 

Ignoring these small steps in lieu of wanting bigger results is akin to wanting fresh baked cookies but getting angry when you realize that you have to follow a recipe first, step by step. You can’t get the end product without all of the small steps in between, and the small steps are what matter in the long run. Speed through that recipe and forget the baking Sosa or salt, and you’ll end up with some pretty unformed  and bland cookies just because you couldn’t take the time to complete the small, necessary steps to getting quality cookies. Now you’ve wasted your time and you have nothing to show for it. 

Ok ok, enough about cookies, but do you see my point? 

It doesn’t matter if you lose 20 lb if you beat yourself up constantly to get there. That end game will leave you tired, frustrated, and wondering why you don’t feel better even though you reached a goal. If you start out from a place of hate, how do you expect that to turn into happiness and acceptance just because the scale reads a certain number? Hating your body every time you look in the mirror does not just go away once the scale hits the number that you want. If that’s how you’ve conditioned your brain to think, it will continue, and the goals met will never be enough– it’s a vicious cycle. Practicing your compassion, acknowledging the small successes along the way, and recognizing positive things about yourself will help you to appreciate yourself, even if goals are not quite met or change over time. 

We are not numbers on a scale, we are not the size of our jeans or the presence (or not) of fat; we are so much more than that. But the beautiful things that we are are often overshadowed by the things that we’re not, especially when it comes to size and shape. Show yourself compassion. Recognize and celebrate the small steps, the challenges that you face every day, and the magnificent ways that you navigate through this crazy thing called life. Because it’s not easy, none of this is, and that’s why the little things deserve celebrating, and you deserve compassion from the person who is least likely to give it to you: yourself. 

Calling All Moms: Facebook Community

Let’s face it: momming is hard.

And it’s not just hard because you’re caring for tiny humans, it’s hard because while caring for those tiny humans, we often forget or don’t have time to take care of ourselves.

Pregnancy can leave you with changes to your body that you never expected, and the postpartum period can leave you feeling out of sorts, and worried that you’ll never be the same again. And the thing is, maybe you won’t! But that’s not meant to discourage you– your body went through something incredibly difficult, and may not go back to the exact shape or size it was before pregnancy.

But, and this is a big, big but:

That is okay! We’re not meant to go back, we’re meant to move forward. And if forward means different, all you can do now is do your best to get to where you want to be for yourself.

Another truth about mommyhood though, is that it can be pretty isolating at times, am I right? So what we all need at some point is a community. A tribe, a village, whatever you want to call it, we moms need to be there for eachother. We need to lift eachother up when we’re having a rough time, and we need to provide eachother with the support needed not only to take care of our littles, but ourselves as well.

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This is why I’ve started I Train Therefore I Eat:Mommy Style, a Facebook group that is meant to be a supportive community for moms and moms to be who might need a little help on their health and fitness journey. We can take care of the little ones better if we’re doing well ourselves, and this is a place to help you do just that!

Motivation, support, challenges, wins, fails– we’ll discuss it all. We’re all going through the same things, and whether your baby is 6 weeks old or 6 years old, it doesn’t get any easier to do it on your own!

So please, join us and help build a community where we can be strong together, supportive of one another, and we can all get back to feeling our best one small step at a time. Click on the link above, search the group on Facebook, or click here to join.

See you there!

C-Section Recovery: Postpartum Fitness 

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I ended up having an emergency cesarean with Isabelle. And unfortunately, I’m not exaggerating when I say that I didn’t read anything about cesarean recovery ahead of time. I spent so much time preparing for everything else– but a c-section? Complications? Those things only happened to other people, right?

Wrong. The truth is, when it comes to labor and delivery, you never know what is going to happen, no matter how much you plan. And as I found out quickly, recovery after surgery was no walk in the park. Everything hurt, everything was swollen, and it seemed like nothing worked quite right.

The first time the nurse tried to get me up to walk a few steps in my room? Let’s just say my body wasn’t having it. But now, at 6 weeks post op, I’m feeling great, I’m active, and things are mostly back to (fairly) normal. So how did I get from point A to point B?

Week One:

This was the tough part. This was the part where I was counting steps until I had too much pain, I needed help with the most basic movements/tasks, and just changing position in bed was a significant challenge. Add in caring for and getting to know my new daughter, and things were a little bit difficult.  It was during these days where fitness was the last thing on my mind, and all I needed to know was when the nurse was coming with my next dose of Motrin.

By about 3-4 days out though, while I still couldn’t walk much farther than the bathroom, I did want to use my muscles as much as I could. Lying in bed all day drives me nuts, even if it’s necessary! At this time I started doing basic movements like standing calf raises, standing leg raises (I’m talking inches off the ground here), and isometric contractions of my lower body muscle groups while in bed.

We were in the hospital for 5 days, so lying in bed for that length of time was out of the question. Never mind the fact that it’s better for you to move around as tolerated after a c-section– it helps with healing and comfort, which is important when you now have a little one to worry about! These small recovery exercises helped my sanity and my restless legs, and they helped me to feel like I was making progress, even if it was just baby steps.

Weeks Two-Three

A couple of days after we got home from the hospital, we went for our first family walk. And when I say walk, I mean a snails pace for about 200 yards before I had to turn back. I knew not to push too much too soon, but it felt so nice just to be outside and moving, I didn’t care how brief it was. Throughout that week, walks got gradually longer each day, depending on how I was feeling. The first time I attempted a hill near us, I made it about 1/4 of the way before realizing it was too much for that day and turning back.

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Each day I made it a little bit farther though, and was able to pick up my pace as well, slowing again if pain increased. I began adding in our neighborhood hills, and when Isabelle was two weeks old, we took her on our first family hike. Again — this was a short, slow, easy hike on a local trail– certainly not a real mountain, but it made me feel like I had accomplished something, and that was priceless at that point. Also, getting out into nature was good not only for me, but for Isabelle too!

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Around week 3, I started adding in some very basic core rehab exercises, as well as body weight glute work. The point of this was not to work out, or break a sweat, or burn calories. The point of these exercises was simply to keep my muscles engaged and to start to re-train my core how to function after major surgery. These exercises at first included pelvic tilts, cat/cow stretches, glute bridges, and clam shells. All of these were done to pain tolerance, once or twice per day.

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Weeks Four – Five

Around this time I started adding in some more dedicated core and glute specific rehab exercises to my daily routine, as well as walking farther and faster. The rehab exercises would take just a few minutes daily, but I firmly believe that this has been helpful to my fairly quick recovery with only mild pain. Along with continuing the above exercises, I added in a resistance band for my glute bridges, single leg bridges, dead bugs, and mini single leg squats. This was in combination of daily walks and a short hike once or twice per week (wearing baby for all walks/hikes). My daily walks were anywhere from 2-4 miles at this point, including plenty of hills on days when I felt good.

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Around 4 weeks I noticed that I really didn’t have pain anymore at my incision site, save for a few specific movements or forceful movements like an unexpected sneeze (seriously– sneezing/coughing/laughing after a cesarean is no joke!). So I pushed my walks as much as I could, walking hill repeats some days, and upping the mileage. By 5 weeks, I was walking 3-5 miles daily.

Present

At this point, I’m far from the types of workouts I would love to be doing. I am just getting back into a structured workout routine– as structured as it can be with a new baby at home. Everything for now will be done at home with resistance bands, kettle bells,and other equipment that we have, and I’m unsure as of now when I’ll make it back to an actual gym. I am looking forward to the time when I can do some barbell work again, but I’m also fully aware that that might be a while!

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The movements and exercises that I will be focusing on in the near future will continue to be core and glute heavy. I have begun adding in weighted squats, RDLs, Turkish Get Ups, lunges, stair work, and some upper body work. Since I had been doing elevated push ups and upper body band work up until I delivered, my upper body hasn’t taken as much of a hit as I was worried about, so I’m not focusing on that quite as much at this time. My goals right now are not to get into killer shape, or to “get my body back”. My main goal is just to feel healthy and strong, and to build my way back into a program gradually. I am well aware that this will be a process and won’t be easy, but I’m ready for the challenge!

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One of the most important exercises for my core stability — the Turkish Get Up. I’m doing them with just body weight here, and will soon add in a light kettlebell. 

Not only do I want to start to build my strength base again, but I also want to be a good role model for my littlest lady. Even if she has no idea what I’m doing right now, or will never remember these days, the earlier I can provide her with a positive influence of strength and empowerment, the better. This is not all about me anymore, and I can only do my best to ensure that she grows up seeing her body in a positive light, not as something she has to fix.

Disclaimer: I was not cleared to work out until 6 weeks post op. I created the plan that I followed based on my medical and rehabilitation knowledge due to my line of work. I do not recommend that anyone else follow this or any other plan post op, until given direct and clear clearance by their physician.

Are You As Active As You Think You Are? 4 Ways To Move More

So you go to the gym 3 times per week, like your doctor told you to. You lift some weights and jog on the treadmill for 30 minutes, do some abs, and call it a day.

You had a good workout, so now it’s ok if you just sit at your desk for the next 8 hours, and then in front of your TV for 2 more, right?

Unfortunately, not so much.

Yes, it is important and recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine that we get a certain amount of exercise per week, but those 30 minutes per day of moderate exercise won’t create the change that many of us are looking for. Any movement is better than no movement, but it’s also important to think about the rest of your day when you’re not in the gym.

I’m certainly not saying that you’re entire day needs to be spent on your feet or at a treadmill desk, but it is important to get in regular movement throughout your day, not just a 30 minute block at the beginning or end.

The movement fallacy.

Many people believe that if they get a workout in on a given day, it gives them the freedom to move less for the rest of the day, or to eat whatever they want for the rest of that day. Unfortunately, that’s just not true. A 30 minute moderate workout may only burn about 200-300 calories — the same amount of calories in one medium sized apple. Doesn’t seem so significant when you put it like that, does it? Regular exercise is an important component of a healthy lifestyle, but what I find to be just as important is the amount of low intensity “lifestyle” movements you do throughout the day as well.  In other words, we need to be more understanding of the difference between exercise and simple activity or daily movement, and the necessity of both in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

These daily  movements come in the form of walking, standing, moving from place to place, even just standing for a periodic stretch break if you can’t actually get away from your desk at work. We’ve all been told a thousand times now that those long periods spent sitting are literally killing us, but we’re also told that 30 minutes per day of exercise will counteract that. Breaking up your sitting times at regular intervals throughout the day is a great way to ensure that you’re moving enough to make an impact on your health and your longevity.

So how can we move more throughout the day? It’s more than just picking a parking spot a little bit farther away; sometimes we need to be a little bit more deliberate than that. The following are 4 of the most consistent strategies that I use throughout my day to move a little bit more, a little bit at a time.

  • Pretend the escalators/elevators aren’t even there. Trust me, there are days when I’m exhausted and want someone to just push me home in a wheelchair. But I would say 99% of the time, if I’m coming out of the train station or going to one of my offices, I’m taking the stairs. Even when I’m tired, even when others are hopping on the elevator. Especially when the line for the escalator is long but the stairs are empty. Seriously — you’d be surprised at how often you can get somewhere quicker by using your own two legs rather than the machinery to get there.
  • Take a lap. If you are stuck in an office building all day, like many people are, hopefully you’re not actually chained to your desk (and if you are, you might want to speak to HR about that). Take a lap around the office in between phone calls, deliver a message to someone in person rather than through email, actually walk to the proverbial water cooler and have a conversation. If you are in the depths of a huge project and can’t do any of this, at the very least stand and do some light, unobtrusive stretching at least once every hour. I’m not talking about getting on the floor in butterfly stretch, but bring your arms up, twist your torso, and just move your body, even lightly, for a few moments. The extra blood flow may even give your brain a boost, giving you a bright idea for that meeting you have coming up.
  • Be Ambitious. Sometimes things like this do take some extra effort, and require a little bit of motivation. For some of  you, this may  not be an option at all, but is along the same lines of parking at a farther parking space. For those who are train commuters in a city, try getting off the train one stop sooner than you have to. I started this habit last year, mostly because I actually like that extra walking time on the way to and from work. It gives me just a few minutes to gather my thoughts, center myself, and decompress from the “go-go-go” of my work day. Yes, you do have to give yourself extra time, and this isn’t really realistic when the weather is miserable, but for me, one or 2 extra train stops meant an extra mile or more of walking per day. That adds up!
  • Make yourself a deal. Add in little bits of actual exercise, without turning them into a full on workout. For instance, there are certain times where I’ll tell myself that every time I walk past the pull up bar in my house, I have to do one pull up. One rep seems like nothing at the time, but when I pass through the same doorway 15 times in one day, that adds up to (you guessed it) 15 pull ups. Not bad for fitness “freebies”, right? You can make a similar deal with yourself whether or not you have equipment in your home. Commercial break during your favorite show? 15 squats and 15 glute bridges. Have a bench in your bedroom that’s the perfect height for incline push ups? Every time you enter that room, bang out 10 pushups. It’s easy, and it’s not something you have to do every day, but it’ll get you moving at times when otherwise you might just be sitting around.

 

Readers: How do you move more throughout the day? Is it possible for you to take a different train stop or find another way to sneak movement into your commute?