Seven tips to reach your fitness goals
Fitness is not just about losing weight. It is an important part of self-care that, as Solo Moms, is not really optional. I remember when I was newly divorced, a wise, more experienced Solo Mom told me, in no uncertain terms, “Now that you are a single mother, you cannot afford to not take care of yourself—too many people depend on you.” Those words have resonated with me over the years and have encouraged me in moments when I needed external motivation to do what I needed to do to take care of myself.
The journey to fitness can create powerful changes not only in your body but also in your mind and soul, and that can make a positive difference in the life of a Solo Mom. Deborah Oster Pannell chronicles her fitness journey after the loss of her husband of 22 years and details how working out has helped her to survive life as a Solo Mom. In her article, “How a Journey to Fitness Taught Me About the Woman I Really Am,” Pannell says that “Pushing through those nausea- and tear-inducing moments during a particularly difficult workout to get through those final few reps leaves me feeling exhilarated and empowered. It’s a good reminder to push through my fears, that I have what it takes to get past them, even if I don’t feel it in the moment.”
Although many of us understand the benefits of working out, the time to exercise may seem like a luxury we cannot afford, and the idea of creating special meals to accommodate a weight-loss program can be a nonstarter for the busy Solo Mom. It is not easy, but it is definitely doable. Here are some suggestions on how you can make fitness work for you.
1. Make yourself a priority. To create a workout routine and stick with it, you have to make yourself a priority. It requires a decision that you are worth at least 10 minutes a day to practice yoga or do push-ups or jump rope. You are setting a good example for your children by making time to take care of yourself, which ultimately allows you to take better care of them.
2. Don’t give yourself the option. Pannell recalls advice that her personal trainer gave her, to turn her “shoulds” into “musts.” She remembers, “Instead of saying, ‘I should work out now,’ I need to say, ‘I must work out now.’ No maybe. Just yes.”
3. Do something you enjoy. In her article, “10 Habits of People Who Love to Work Out,” Jessica Migala points out that people who enjoy working out only do things they actually enjoy. The idea is, if you enjoy something, you are going to look forward to doing it instead of looking for ways to avoid it. In the end, you are more likely to stick with it and see results. For example, if you enjoy walking, increase the pace and make that your workout. Is swimming more your thing? Join the local Y, and do laps when your kids are having their swimming lessons. Maybe you really liked playing tennis when you were younger; find a partner at a local park, and set up a regular game. The key is to do what you like.
4. Get it in when you can fit it in. In other words, work out in the time you have. Many busy Solo Moms don’t have hours to spend at the gym. There are many videos, websites, apps, and DVDs that offer workouts of varying lengths. Some workouts available online are free, take as little as 10 minutes, and require minimal or no equipment.
5. Exercise, even if you can’t hit the gym. Gym membership is often an expense that doesn’t necessarily fit within the Solo Mom’s budget. The good news is, you don’t have to join a gym to start your workout regimen. There are bodyweight exercises that require nothing but yourself. If you have small children, chances are you have a jump rope or a Hula-Hoop, both of which are excellent exercise tools.
6. Find your inner “om.” Yoga is a way to improve your fitness and reduce stress, which is an unfortunate reality for many Solo Moms. The good news is that you can do yoga right in your living room, and you can start with just a few poses. Gaia.com has a wide variety of yoga routines you can access online or via an app. Some are only 10 minutes long.
7. Be gentle with yourself. There are going to be days when you skip working out. There will be times when life just gets in the way. It’s OK. Remember tomorrow is another day, and you can start anew. You are making the effort and that counts.
I encourage you, Solo Mom, to take the time, make yourself a priority, and find something you enjoy and start doing it—whatever it is. Take a walk. Jump rope while your kids are playing outside. Find an exercise video that you enjoy and can do while your kids are napping. You will reap benefits not only in your body but also in every other area of your life. You deserve it.
Check out our closed Facebook group ESME Wellness, where we support one another in self-care.
Please feel free to contact us with any comments or questions.