Getting in a good workout is all about having a habitual routine and a commitment to yourself. Traveling, however, is a break from our regular, day-to-day lives and can cause a hiccup in our exercise habits. Parents, this simple difference in routine is not unlike other major changes in our lives, like, say, incorporating a new baby into our world. In the quest to find a “new normal,” we often prioritize the “new” over ourselves and our personal well-being.
So, how does it happen? And, how do we make sure that we maintain some focus on ourselves in life and while traveling? While I don’t have all the answers in life, I do certainly have my own experiences. I’ve learned from them over the years, and I’m guessing they’ll probably sound familiar.
When it comes to the business of exercising on the road, my future post, “Getting Fit In Life and On the Road: How to Avoid the Travel Slump,” will take what I’ve learned and provide you with some suggestions that can help you stay on track through your next adventure.
Before I got pregnant with my first child, I was in the best shape of my adult life, mentally and physically. I was working out every weekday before work, had reserved beer, wine and/or cocktails for weekends, and had just gotten my weight down to a few pounds (kilos) above my high school average. I was fit and fabulous, felt amazing, and oozed positivity.
Then, I hit my third trimester of pregnancy and found myself eating Fat Boy Vanilla Ice Cream Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwiches on the couch and even going back for seconds because, well, “I didn’t taste the first one.” They were delicious, and I loved my evening ritual as well as my lazy days. What I did not enjoy, however, were the 20 lb (9.1 kg) of jiggle that were left on my body thanks to those bad food choices and that lack of exercise. I was not “ready for [that] jelly,” Destiny’s Child, and neither was my wardrobe.
As you likely know, having a new child in your life creates a huge break from your previous routine. Not only did I let my exercise regimen go, but my focus shifted away from “me” and onto my child; so, those extra pounds just stayed there. It’s not like I was terribly large, or obviously overweight (though according to various measures, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] I was barely in the “overweight” range). I simply wasn’t at my best, and I knew it because I had been there before. Yet, I continued to ignore what I knew I needed to do for myself to get back to my healthiest “me” and forged on. As parents, that’s what we do.
Fast forward nearly nine years, through a second child and a move most of the way across the U.S., and that extra weight was still hanging around (and occasionally inviting guests). I walked or hiked every day. Often, I went to the gym when the kids were in school. Then, I played soccer on Sundays. Still, that 20 lb wasn’t really budging. Again, it was my eating habits at play and the fact that I wasn’t strength training at all. What can I say? I like food…and excuses.
Give me a reason to not workout and I will totally take it. If I took a substitute teaching job for the day, I wouldn’t workout because I didn’t have time. Some days, I decided it would take too long to drive to the gym. I’m definitely apt to excuse myself out of working out in the evenings, being busy with the kids and all. I’ll even use the excuse that it’s too much trouble to wake up and put on my workout clothes in the morning.
What can I say? Working out is hard. Excuses are easy.
I’ve always known what I needed to do, but those excuses are just so easy, and ugh, who actually wants to spend time in their already hectic, plate-spinning, wake-work-parent-repeat day laboring themselves into a sweaty state with sore muscles to follow? Nobody.
Seriously. Absolutely nobody wants to workout. Nobody. People do it, and I’ve started doing it, solely for the end results: Health, wellness, & strength. This is why, back in September 2019, I finally made the commitment to myself, shifted my daily schedule, stopped making excuses and started waking up at 5:00 in the morning to follow (and often curse) Jillian Michaels via my TV for an hour every weekday. It’s tough, but as I’ve heard myself and others say about a good workout, I never regret it when I’m finished.
As I said before, exercising is about a commitment to yourself. It’s not about weight loss or being “thin.” It’s about being fit and treating one’s self well. People who workout regularly simply love what it does for their bodies and minds. Exercising not only builds the muscles that support our bodies, but according to the Mayo Clinic, it relieves symptoms of anxiety and depression, and may help increase bone density to stave off osteoporosis.
After about six weeks of working out almost daily, I started to see changes in how my clothes fit. (Sorry, everyone, it’s not instantaneous.) I had no idea how much actual weight I’d lost because I don’t own a scale, but I do know that I was standing up straighter, the muffin top was significantly reduced, and I’d started to get a butt, again!
Then, when I went to the doctor for something unrelated, I finally got my weight measurement. The scale confirmed that I’d probably shed about 10 lb (4.5 kg), nudging me back into the “normal” range for my height, according to the CDC. (Click to get your own BMI results from the CDC.)
Another benefit of exercising, I’ve found, is that we get to see ourselves improve, and we become our own cheerleaders. When I began my daily exercise routine, I could only do pushups on my knees. It’s taken months, and some pushing myself to try and do, but I am now on my toes (mostly). I’ve even picked up a slightly heavier set of weights to work with and to challenge myself further, and I’m doing some of the more difficult versions of exercises within the workouts. Go me!
Through this journey to find and be a fit and healthy “me,” I’ve learned that when we prioritize our health (both physical and mental) and commit to improving ourselves daily, everyone benefits. Our children, who are learning from us, see the importance of healthy choices and self care as well, and that really makes all the hard work totally worth it.
The tricky part is maintaining this flow when we travel. While I manage to squeeze in a workout most days of the week at home, it’s more difficult when we’re on the road and our family routine is off-balance again. So, I’ve compiled some tips and suggestions to help us keep up with an exercise regimen while on the road. Look for them in my future post, “Getting Fit In Life and On the Road: How to Avoid the Travel Slump.”
NOTE: If you’re thinking of making that shift in your life and starting a workout routine, be sure to check with your doctor about what the best options are for you and your body.