I am a Mom who works 14 hours a day when you include getting the kids ready, taking them to school, going to work, picking up the kids, making dinner, giving baths and getting them to sleep. I used to be a personal trainer. I used to not buy excuses from my clients who claimed they didn’t have time to work out. Now, 7 years later, I believe them. Did I mention that I’m basically working 14 hours per day?
Despite this, health and wellness is actually very important to me. I do crazy things like walk my son to school while wearing my 2 year old daughter in an ERGO baby carrier rather than stroll her. I do lunges while my kids are in the bathtub. And once a week, I get about a half hour for a gym workout.
This is how I do it: My 5 year old son has a 30 minute swim lesson every Saturday at the 14th Street Y in New York City. By the time I drop him off for the lesson, I have 25 minutes all to myself. For some, this would be a joke workout. 25 minutes wouldn’t even cover their cardio, and I admit that I used to be one of those pre-kid. It’s also true that 25 minutes won’t give you the kind of solid workout that an hour or more will do for you. However, each week I try to maximize my workout time by doing things in a specific way. Here’s what I did this week:
10 minutes. I warm up, break a sweat, and get my heart rate up to 170.
I sprint to 10 lbs free weights for Standing Squats. I tighten up my glutes and pull in my abs into a pilates scoop (pull the abs in and tuck them under my ribcage for the full effect). 1 set of 15, then 20 tiny pulses in the low squat position. I repeat this 3 times.
Using the large muscles of the glutes and quadriceps keeps my heart rate up and gives the cardio effect, while building (or at least maintaining) the muscle mass in those areas that, as a friend of mine described “keep my a** off my thighs”.
Next are lunges with bicep curls and triceps press, holding a 5 lb weight. Here’s how it goes: The lunge is standing with my back leg on the ball of my foot. I lunge as low as I can, pressing my arms back for the triceps, and into the curl as I rise from the lunge. I do this as many times as my legs can stand it, and then I switch sides.
My heart rate is still up, but not at the 170 it was when I started the squats and lunges. I can now move to chest and shoulders.
Chest and Shoulder presses with a plie’: Feet apart a little more than Shoulder width. Pull in the abs to the pilates scoop, and as I plie’ down I raise my arms laterally to the shoulders. As I raise up from the plie’, I tighten my inner thighs as if I’m trying to pull my feet together. At the same time, I press my arms together at chest level, activating the pectoral muscles. I go down into the plie again, bring the arms down. As I come up, I bring the arms up vertically, and then down into the plie bringing the arms out again. I repeat this as many times as I can stand it.
Run to the pool and pick up my son before he can accuse me of not being there when the lesson is over. My favorite 5 year old guilt trip: “MOM! When someone’s lesson is over you need to be there!” While he showers and changes, I stretch out my legs, shoulders, chest and back. You can do a lot standing up in the humidity of the locker room!
I remember the days when the only guilt I felt post exercise was maybe that I didn’t do enough. This time, I know I’ve done as much as I possibly can, in every way.
-Camille Diamond is the Director of Community Engagement and Communications at the 14th Street Y.