Working out is an incredibly important part of my life. I have worked in fitness my entire career, teaching Pilates and body toning classes on a regular basis, and even training for a race once or twice a year over the last decade. On average, I spend at least 60 minutes per day in a gym or outside, working to burn calories and get my heart rate up. It's imperative for my physical and emotional well being, and not something I can ever see myself giving up. In fact, I'll sacrifice almost anything else in my life before skipping my daily workout.
When I became pregnant, I knew things would change dramatically. Once the baby arrived, I would need to coordinate with my husband or child care in order to keep up my routine. To be clear, I'm a personal trainer and exercise instructor by profession, but I rarely exercise during sessions, because I spend that time coaching my clients and correcting their form. Like anyone else, I have to find time outside of work every day to exercise, especially since I want to practice what I preach.
I find that I'm more consistent and accountable if my workouts are mapped out in advance.
My days of exercising whenever I wanted and wherever I wanted were on their way out, so I immediately began talking to my husband about my workout goals for maternity leave and beyond. I explained that I wanted to start walking outside or on our treadmill in the basement for at least 30 to 45 minutes a day as soon as I could, and I would need his help to make sure this happened. Luckily, he was happy to provide the support I needed to work out during those first months of motherhood. He knows exercise is a huge part of my life, if nothing else to de-stress and recalibrate my mind and body at the end of the day.
After our son came, we were lucky enough to both be able to take a decent amount of leave from work. At the beginning of each day, once I calculated the approximate time I would spend nursing, I let my husband know exactly when I planned to exercise. I wanted him to be able to structure his day, but also be aware he would need to be present for our newborn while I hit the gym or walking trail. I also made sure this was reciprocated. If he wanted to take some time to himself and exercise, he could also do it.
I've always been a planner, but it was more important than ever that my workouts and classes were on both of our calendars and we were in sync. Having a baby means nothing goes exactly as you thought it would, but I find that I'm more consistent and accountable — and feel less guilt for taking some time for myself — if it's mapped out in advance. By marking off and reserving an allotted time to exercise, there are no surprises and fewer incidents of "double booking" in our household.
I plan to go back to teaching exercise classes when my baby is 3 months old, and my husband has already adjusted his schedule to be home from work earlier on those evenings so I don't have to worry about getting to class on time. I'm lucky to have the support and teamwork needed to make sure we both stay as healthy as we can. These first months of motherhood have taught me that staying physically fit — and at the same time, working to relieve stress — is even more important when you're sleep-deprived and tasked with taking care of another human being.