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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mom Guilt: 4 Ways to Work Through It

Yesterday as I walked up the gym stairs to pick up my son from the nursery I noticed another mom doing her best to entice her little one up the stairs in hopes of a quick workout.

Once inside the nursery, the little girl clung for dear life with crocodile tears flowing.  Despite the welcoming gym staff noting that she quieted down quickly yesterday, I could just see the heart break on the mom's face.  She did her best to soothe the little girl, peeled her off and quickly exited the room.

When I left a few minutes later, I found the mom just outside the door listening to hear if her daughter had calmed down yet.

I gave her a smile, patted her on the back and wished her a peaceful workout, but man, my soul hurt for her.

Mom guilt.  It's a b****.

Whether you're a stay at home mom, work outside the home mom, part-time working mom, new mom, or seasoned guilt sucks.

When is comes to health and fitness mommy guilt runs especially rampant as, to many mothers, workouts and self care time can feel indulgent, frivolous and can infringe already tight schedules.

I get it.  I really do.  I have left crying babies in the nursery to make it to a yoga class.  I've left my husband with a tantrum throwing toddler so I can take a walk.  I have gotten up before dawn (many times) to lift.  And even been in the gym as late as nine pm on a Saturday to destress.  To say I can sympathize with other guilt stricken moms is an understatement.

But ya know what?  Those workouts aren't indulgent or frivolous for anyone- especially for mothers.  Study after study have shown links to increased mother's activity levels to increased children's activity levels [1], lower stress levels, improve mood, and positively impact body image, all of which greatly impact not only yourself but your entire family.  Remember the saying, "If mama ain't happy, no body happy!".  There really is some truth to that.  It's not just for you, it's for your family too.

It's easy on paper to schedule 4:30 am workouts so you're finished before the first kiddo awakes, and I applaud those who have made that commitment but sometimes you have to part ways with the family to get in activity during the day. Plus, 4:30 is really early.  Ugly early.  

But regardless of why, if you're struggling with mom guilt over taking time out of the day for workouts, here are a few tips to help you get moving guilt free.

They will survive with out you:  Deep breathe, take the super woman cape off and hand it over to dad (or grandma, etc).  I know us moms tend to think the kids may starve, the house will fall apart and homework won't get finished if we don't do everything ourselves, but try putting some faith into whomever is responsible for the littles while you squeeze in some exercise.  More than likely, the to-do list won't be tackled exactly the way you would do it but they will survive while you're gone, and so will you.

Write down your why:  When you're met with resistance at the first drop of the words "Mommy's going to go workout.", it can be easy to just say screw it, and throw in the towel.  But don't give up just yet, write down your "why" on a piece of paper and stick it somewhere everyone can see.  Why is it important to include exercise in your weekly routine?  What are you goals?  What feelings are you after?  Put it down on paper.  When contemplating skipping a workout in attempt to avoid troubling your family, remember your "why".  Keep the big picture in mind.

Surround yourself with support: If you haven't already, fill your inner circle with people who support your exercise efforts.  Find other supportive, gym going mamas at the gym, preschool, even on Facebook.  Those judgy moms who feel superior about spending all their time and energy on everyone else but themselves…you don't need those ladies around.  In fact, putting ourselves last on the to-do list has almost become a competitive sport many women brag about. Ain't nobody got time for that!  Build your tribe with people who support your healthy habits.     Be

Do something together: If all else fails and for whatever reason, you truly can't detach for your family, find something you can do together.  Family walks, bike rides, yoga, playing tag and even calisthenics in the living room can lead to great health benefits.  Your workouts may be interrupted or less than picture perfect but ultimately, it's a chance for your children to see you making your health a priority.  Now that's, time well spent.

Your turn:  Do you have children?  If so, have you been able to maintain an exercise routine?  What's your best tip?


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