I gave up trying to do lengthy workout videos long ago, and the gym hasn’t been much of a thought since my first baby arrived .
These days, I’ve got four kids around, at least one or two of whom have radar for when my feet hit the floor each morning.
In other words, it’s hard to find the time to workout, even if I wake up early. At least, not without being interrupted by “Can I have a glass of milk?” and “When are you going to make breakfast?” or my personal favorite “Change me – I have a poopy bum!” (which of course will be followed by “Mommy?? I spilled my milk… “). Awesome. Bring on the day.
I had always thought that for exercise to be effective, it needed to be long, sweaty, and agonizing. So for a season, I would drag my weary behind out of bed at o’dark-thirty to get in a 45 minute Jillian Michaels video before the kids woke up. Was it getting me in shape? Sure. Was it fun? Not on your life.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Working out makes me feel great. It gives me a huge energy boost. It improves my mood. It reduces my stress and anxiety. It even makes me feel more creative. Not to mention all the usual benefits we hear touted, like cardiovascular health, disease prevention, detoxification, cell oxygenation and cancer prevention, weight loss, lower blood pressure, better sleep, and the like.
I wanted all of those benefits. But I was having a really hard time consistently fitting exercise in, between being mommy, teaching homeschool, working part-time from home, keeping up with the house, etc.
Last summer, I discovered what has been pretty much like someone handing me a slice of chocolate cake and telling me it was a magical health food. I learned about 10 minute workouts.
I was first introduced to the idea of short but intense workouts through Trim Healthy Mama, but since that time, I feel like I keep seeing and hearing it all over the place.
I’m no expert when it comes to exercise. What I really care about is finding a way to work out and be in shape that fits my lifestyle.
Why 10 minute workouts for moms?
Last June, while our family was traveling around the world, I stayed in a small town in southern Spain for several weeks with just my three youngest kids. I barely spoke the language, knew no one, and so we spent most of our time either in our rental home or just exploring town a little.
I had no equipment, no internet, no books, no workout printouts, pretty much nothing. But I was determined to start working out during those two weeks. So, I made it up.
Each day, before it got so blazing hot that we were forced to stay out of the sun, I would go outside (inevitably followed by all three kids) where I would rotate through things like squats, lunges, jumping jacks, jogging in place, pretending to skip rope (without a rope), wall pushups, using tomato sauce cans for weights, or simply doing short sprints back and forth across the tiny yard.
The kids thought it was awesome. They chased me around and mimicked me. I would usually last for 10 minutes of this before I was totally winded and just wanted to stretch and get out of the heat.
I felt fantastic. I started losing weight. I had more energy. My moods improved. I was loving it. And it proved to me that I didn’t need long, drawn out aerobic videos or one-hour yoga or pilates sessions. I just needed to go hard for a short period of time, consistently.
How do you know if it’s enough? I don’t know the scientific answer to this and I’m not a fitness expert in the slightest, but I just try to make sure that I’m moving the whole time, getting my heart rate up, and that I’m feeling it (and I usually do, especially the next day) so long as I’m not hurting myself.
The fact is that anything is better than nothing. If we’re moving and getting active, we can’t go wrong. Even 3-5 minutes a day of something is worthwhile. More is better, of course, but I’ve been really surprised to see that even as little as 8-10 minutes per day (I aim for more like 15+ if I’m doing something less intense, like yoga) is effective.
My personal style of working out these days
These days, I usually try to get in a 10+ minute workout first thing, before I get dressed for the day.
I don’t bother with workout clothes (I usually wear pajamas or just shorts and a t-shirt). The only equipment I have are two small sets of hand weights (3 lbs and 5 lbs) that I bought at a thrift store.
Sometimes I do a yoga or pilates video online, or the 7 Minute Workout (see below), one of the workout routines linked to below, or a mixture of random exercises like I described above that simply get me moving. Ideally, I like to switch it up from day to day.
If this kids come in, it’s not a big deal. I let them watch or try to mimic me as long as they give me a bit of space, and because it’s so short, they can usually handle waiting for me (hurray!).
It doesn’t have to necessarily be in the mornings. That’s just what works for me.
You could fit in 10 minutes, or maybe two 5-minutes slots, anywhere in your day, perhaps while the kids take a homeschool recess, while you wait for a pot of water to boil, or whatever. A friend of mine even bought a kettle bell, kept it on top of her fridge with a printed page of exercies, and whenever she had a few extra minutes she would pull it down and do something right then and there!
Putting it all together and sticking with it
I wish I could say that I stick with it every day, but I don’t.
I will often skip several days at a time, then go back and do two days in a row, skip another couple, then hit 4 in a row. It’s very random for me.
I’ve chosen not to let that get me down. I used to hold myself to rigid goals of doing it X number of times per week, but all that did was defeat me as soon as I didn’t meet my goal.
I cheer myself on for the days I’m faithful, instead of berating myself not the days I’m not. It’s liberating to choose to simply do my best and let it be ok. Focusing on how I feel better when I do it, instead of viewing it as something I failed to do, keeps me so much more motivated.
Here are some workouts I’ve been enjoying lately:
It doesn’t have to be fancy. There are many free workouts available that don’t require any special equipment or know-how!
Two options for a 7 Minute YouTube Workout – they actually take more like 9 minutes, as they build in small rests for your body between exercises.
Others that I’ve saved in my Pinterest board “Short & Sweet Workouts”
**Note: I won’t do all of these workouts with my sons around depending on how the women are dressed, so just check them out yourself first and decide which ones are appropriate to do by yourself, or with others around.
Upper-Body Hand Weight Workout (Emphasis on Shoulders) – requires hand weights
No Rest Tabata Workout With Isometric Holds – no equipment
3-Minute Workout – Arms (Beginner) – no equipment
Towel Workout – requires two kitchen towels and a smooth floor. :)
The Quickest Muffin Top Workout – nothing required (5 min.)
12 Minute Kettlebell Blast Workout – requires 1 kettlebell
Healthy Stuff – 10s in 10 – no equipment
The Lazy Girl Workout – entirely on the floor, no equipment
15 Minute Total Body Blast – requires hand weights or resistance bands
10 Minute Workout Plan – requires kettlebells and weights
10 Minute Kickboxing Workout – no equipment
10 Minute Beginner’s Pilate Workout – mat or soft floor ( I do yoga and pilates in our office which has a nicely padded carpet)
Lower Body Blast – technically 20 min, but you could do less reps to keep it shorter. No equipment.