Self-care is usually last on the list for moms. Especially when they’re “in the trenches” with little ones. I know that all too well—it’s something I continually work on. Kids become the priority, followed by spouses, work, family and friends, and self-care is often an afterthought (yet so essential). It’s hard to fit it in though with work, school, activities, household tasks… and the list goes on. One thing that I’ve managed to always keep up with is physical activity. For me, being active has always made me feel better physically but more so mentally, and always seems to make my day a little bit better. So, I’ve always made it a priority to fit it in. And I’ve become really creative with them! In fact I remember a time when my colicky baby girl wouldn’t nap (at all!) so in order to fit a workout in, I would strap her to me and go on the elliptical trainer for half an hour to not only get some activity in, but also help her fall asleep!
When you’re a busy mom, it can feel next to impossible to fit in a workout, so what can often happen (and what I hear from fellow moms and clients) is that it just doesn’t happen. So, what I often recommend (and what has been my go-to way of working out lately) are free workout videos that you can do at home. There are literally millions of them online, so it can be a bit overwhelming to choose one, so I’m going to share my top three. What I love about these is that they range from 15 minutes to 45 minutes depending on how much time and energy I have. And the more I do them, the more comfortable I feel. They require minimal equipment and can be done just about anywhere (including hotel rooms!). My kids often join in too!
Top 3 Favourite Free At-Home Workouts:
1. Barre Body Studio’s Youtube Videos
I just started doing ballet barre workouts a few years ago and feel in love with it. I’ve been active my whole life but have noticed a big difference in my strength and tonality since starting barre. And my very favourite place to do it is Barre Body Studio in Calgary. Every single instructor is absolutely amazing, and the music and positive vibes brighten my day every time. In fact, one of the owners, Marlo Brauses’ “Rise Up” classes have been so inspiring and even “healing” that I have made them a weekly ritual as part of my self-care. When Marlo released her first free Barre Body at-home workout I literally cheered – it’s an amazing 45-minute workout that you can do anywhere (and there are modifications for those who aren’t totally comfortable with barre yet). It’s best to have light weights, but you don’t need them! And they’ve just released a second video which is just as good! I highly highly recommend!!! And if you can make your way to one of her live classes at Barre Body Studio in Calgary, DO! Her classes (and all of the other classes) are fabulous.
2. Train with Tish’s Tabata Cardio Workout
Tish McCrae’s short and sweet at-home workouts have literally gotten me through the last three to four years of being at home with little ones and having very little time to work out. I can literally just turn one of her free at-home workouts on, get my sweat on for 15 minutes (no equipment needed) and go on with my day! My kids know this workout off by heart and do it with me. It’s the best! Some of Tish’s workouts require equipment, but most can be modified so that you don’t need it. I’ve included the link for my favourite one below. Her videos aren’t fancy, but they’re just what I need when I don’t have a lot of time, but I still want to get a good workout in. Tish is Fabulous—she’s a pro in the fitness field and really knows her stuff. Follow her on IG too – she’s got lots of great workouts on there too!
3. Popsugar’s free fitness videos
Popsugar’s videos are fun, free and easy to fit into your day. I discovered them when I was searching for free and fast workouts for moms, and now I’ve done 10 or 12 of them. Some I like better than others, but if you’re looking for a 20-30 minute quick and fun workout, these are great. There are so many… from beginner workouts to no equipment cardio workouts to sculpting weight videos. My favourite are the no-equipment cardio workouts. The best part? They’re free!! Browse their channels and try a few out to see which ones are the best fit for you.
Don’t forget to fuel your workouts with proper nutrition!
Now, it’s important that you’re fuelling yourself for your workouts (and after). Admittedly (and ironically), I have not been doing the best job of this myself lately, and I’ve really noticed that I’m not getting as much out of my workouts… I don’t have as much energy and have been experiencing more muscle stiffness than is normal. Proper nutrition and hydration before and after workouts is really SO important!
It’s important to stay hydrated always (water is always best!). I always recommend that moms have their favourite water bottle with them at all times and try to refill several times a day. Two to three litres is what we should be aiming for per day (this includes all hydrating fluids, such as water, milk, tea, coffee, smoothies, soup etc.). But when it’s hot out and you’re working out, you might need more. The one way that you’ll know you’re hydrated properly is the colour of your urine – it should be clear to pale yellow and you should be peeing frequently throughout the day. Remember that alcohol will dehydrate you, so if you’ve indulged in a few glasses of wine, make sure you bump up your fluid intake to avoid becoming dehydrated.
Before a workout:
Make sure you are nourished prior to your workout. Timing of this really depends on what time you’re working out (and the intensity). If you’re working out first thing in the morning and you’ve had a good supper the night before that included protein, fat and carbs, you might be ok to have a quick cup of coffee, some water and do your workout without eating before. If you feel like you need a quick snack half an hour to 45 minutes before, have something light like half a banana with a bit of peanut butter, 1/3 cup of yogurt or a homemade energy ball to give you a little boost before. Again, hydration is most important. You want to stay away from anything too heavy (too much protein, fat or fibre especially) before a workout. These nutrients are digested really slowly and will make you feel sluggish while working out (and probably give you a stomach ache). If your body is busy digesting food during a workout, blood flow will be drawn to your stomach, not your muscles. This isn’t good. So if you do eat something, make sure it’s light enough (and more carb-based) so that it’s digested easily and quickly.
After a workout:
This is when proper nutrition is most important, because you’re replenishing your energy stores for your next workout, and you’re repairing (and building!) muscle tissue that has been damaged during your workout. For these reasons, it’s important to have a good meal or snack within about an hour of your workout, that includes some protein and some carbohydrate. The carb is for the energy store repletion and the protein is for muscle repair and growth. I always try to include a little bit of healthy fat too. Hydration is also key, especially if you got a really good sweat on!
My favourite post-workout snacks are…
- Tropical Green Smoothie
- Homemade protein balls + fresh fruit
- Crackers, hummus, cucumber and carrot sticks
- Greek yogurt + berries and muesli
- Homemade protein-rich muffin + fruit
- Homemade Sweet and Salty Lentil Granola Bar
- Latte + apple slices and almond butter