Quick, effective workouts for time-crunched moms

I’m happy to report that I’ve found an amazing physical therapist who understands runners and running and is helping me to correct some imbalances and joint dysfunction that have likely been leading to recurring running injuries all of these years. My hamstring is doing well and wasn’t sore even after a tough interval workout on the track yesterday (yay!). I’ve been much better about properly stretching and cross training as well.

To supplement my running, I’ve been strength training, completing core exercises, and regularly stretching. How do I have time for this all? I still have all those kiddos after all, and my sweet, once extremely laid-back baby boy has morphed into Todzilla. We affectionately refer to him as Thomas the Terror. The boy hits everything within arm’s reach and turns random objects (plates, plastic animal figures, diapers, sippy cups) into balls. “Ball!” he shouts just before he freely hurls the non-ball object at people, breakable objects, and onto plates filled with food on the dinner table. I’ve always been wary of stereotyping boys and girls or squeezing children into stringent gender definitions. My oldest always seemed to fit more into the boy parameters, for example. She was really active, has broken several bones, and preferred pirate parties to princess ones. But she didn’t throw things like our little Nolan Ryan or just plow into others (or walls) for the fun of it, so I would say that in my experience with three girls and one boy, this XY chromosome carrier is far more physical.

Part of my regular workout obviously consists of keeping Thomas from killing himself or one of his sisters. This requires plyometrics and endurance and strength. Aside from this regular fitness, I get up early – 5:15ish usually – to run several days a week. I usually run at least four days a week, and I frequently run five or six days. However, I always try to take at least one complete rest day and when my hamstring was bothering me, I rowed on a rowing machine to cross train rather than running so much. Since I homeschool and can avoid the early, mad-morning rush, some of my kids (two out of four) sleep in closer to 8 a.m. The early birds fend for themselves until I’m finished with my run and have showered (i.e., the 5-year-old reads quietly while the 4-year-old cuddles with Daddy before he gets ready for work). On busy days, I skip the shower. One day recently Thomas wanted to nurse but when I lifted my shirt and he caught a whiff of my sweaty musk, he said, “Ewwww,” and climbed off my lap. There’s a weaning tip for you if you’re ready to wean and your toddler isn’t. Get all stinky and don’t shower before offering them the breast.

After my runs, I’ve been doing an excellent DVD I read about called Exhale: Core Fusion – Body Sculpt. I’d heard the video was great for people wanting to supplement a regular exercise program (like running or biking) and also for people who crave variety. I like to mix things up, and this has been perfect. The program consists of five weeks of different 20-minute workouts – six workouts for each day with one rest day incorporated into the routine. It’s challenging for someone who has taken barre classes. There was one move I physically could not do, and I’m not sure it’s because I am a complete weakling or just terribly inflexible (flexibility has never been my strong suit). The workouts also keep me from growing bored since each day includes new moves. The workouts combine yoga, pilates, and strength moves. I highly recommend it and no, I was not asked to review this DVD. I purchased it with my own moula off Amazon.

My husband and I also enjoy working out together at night when the kids are asleep. We have a mini gym set up in our basement/classroom/television room. This is when I stretch and strength train.

I’ve also discovered 8 Minute Abs and 8 Minute Arms, thanks to Hungry Runner Girl. I’ve been doing the 8 Minute Abs almost every day. We all have eight minutes to spare, right? The cheesy music and super-cool leotards keep me entertained as my abs begin to burn. I’ve only completed the 8 Minute Arms once. It’s a good arm workout that covers all the muscles, but make sure you’re using heavy enough weights to make it effective. A zebra-striped leotard may help you feel the burn more, too.

Here’s my challenge for you this week: Carve out just 8 minutes to devote to fitness every day or at least six out of the seven days this week. You can do it!

If you have a favorite, quick but effective workout, share it below, please!

Enter the Conversation...

7 Responses to “Quick, effective workouts for time-crunched moms”
  1. Terri K says:

    I hear you on the boy thing. I think that’s why I got so tickled when you posted the purple smoothie photo several months ago. I have one daughter and eight sons, in that order. She’s the oldest. Our two oldest children are college students, but we still have seven full-time boys. I tell people that it’s like living with a litter of over-sized puppies in the house. Everything is industrial strength or it gets replaced on a regular basis. We just replaced most of the shelves and door compartments in our refrigerator because they broke under the weight of being climbed like a laddder.

    I don’t exercise regularly. Our oldest child who is home full-time goes to high school, leaving early in the morning with hubby who takes him into town. I homeschool the rest. School’s out next week, though, so our high schooler will be home in the mornings. Maybe I can get a walk in if I go early enough. Thanks for the inspiration.

    I really liked this post and would be interested in more like it. Working exercise into my day is a real challenge. I have a toddler too.

    • Kate Wicker says:

      Hi, Terri! Thanks for your comment, and I’m glad you enjoyed this post. I have been thinking about writing more about fitness and motherhood, so I really appreciate the feedback. If you have any particular topics you might like to see covered, please feel free to let me know.

      Squeezing in short 10 minute exercise bursts throughout the day has been shown to be just as effective as longer sweat sessions, so don’t give up just because you don’t have long stretches of time to exercise. I understand what a challenge it can be, especially as homeschoolers!

      Here’s to some energizing walks!

  2. Terri says:

    Thank you, Kate. <3

    I read your book, which is why I'm subscribed to your blog. Another difficulty I have is finding the line between exercising for fitness and for vanity. I know you covered that issue in your book, but I'd be interested in further discussion. In our culture I don't think it can ever be a settled issue. I have been in shape in the past, but I was motivated by looking good. That doesn't last. I am, like so many of us, a survivor of child sexual abuse. That plays a role. I've read that it's common to hide behind being overweight, and conversely, to have a deep fear of being attractive. Any time I've been thin/exercising, I feel vulnerable. By prayer, I discerned that I just need to put more energy into finding clothing that's stylish while also making me feel adequately covered. It does help. I've lost 25 pounds since Christmas. Going slowly and prayerfully, I have hope that fitness might become a permanent lifestyle change this time. As always, I look forward to future posts.

    Blessings to you and your beautiful family.

    • Kate Wicker says:

      Terri, thank you for sharing your courageous story. Fitness and vanity is an excellent topic to ponder. I hope to address it further in the future.

      “Slowly and prayerfully.” That’s a beautiful and healthy way to approach weight loss – and healing those hurtful, scary wounds we all have.

      God bless you on your journey!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Okay, this is wonderful. I’m pregnant now but will happily bookmark this page for when I’m not:)
    I do exercise in the morning but have a hard time getting enough sleep, waking up early and finding time to walk as well as have quiet prayer time before the kiddos wake. I love that they usually wake up to see me exercise but I’d rather they see me devoting time to prayer. How do you find Time for all of this and for daily prayer? I’d love to know your secret!

    • Kate Wicker says:

      Elizabeth, have you thought of making exercise a form of prayer? Okay, I know that might sound cheesy or even New Agey, but I participated in an apostolate about a year ago and read a book called Prayer in Your Life. Well, the author (a priest) talked about all the different kinds of prayers and that there’s no one right way to pray except the way that draws you closer to Christ. Now, of course, we need to challenge ourselves in our prayer lives. So if we never reflect on the Word, we probably need to find more time to immerse ourselves in Scripture. Yet, we also must find a regular prayer form that resonates with us. The book talked about many different forms of prayer – singing, the “empty chair” prayer (speaking to an empty chair as if Jesus was sitting in front of you listening to your every word), and, yes, the exercise prayer in which you glorify God with your body.

      When I do a DVD, I don’t feel like it’s a prayer, but both walking and running are very conducive to praying for me. Hiking in nature can also be a very prayerful exercise for me. There’s a group of moms who even pray the Rosary during their weekend walks – Mamas Movin’ With Mary (http://mamasmovinwithmary.com/).

      Anyway, we moms are queens of multitasking so why not multitask a little while you exercise and make it a time to talk to God as well?

      Congratulations on your pregnancy!!!

  4. Kelly says:

    Haha! Don’t forget 8 minute buns where you can work out that “big G” as super cheesy 8 minute man likes to say! (-:

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