How do you rise and shine? Mornings can be a struggle, especially with little ones in tow. It can be hard to get everything done before work and exercise is often sacrificed. We’ve come up with some easy ways to fit in your daily exercise and start your day off on the right foot.
Getting enough sleep
It seems like an obvious one, but there are so many parents out there who are exhausted all the time because they just aren’t getting enough rest. We try to do everything and be everything for everyone, even late at night when we should be in bed!
Each night we sacrifice much needed sleep so we can be up early the next day to start all over again. Adults really need a minimum of eight hours sleep a night and most of us just aren’t getting that, leaving us tired, rundown, less efficient in our day-to-day lives and more susceptible to getting sick.
Stretch before getting out of bed
Stretching some major muscle groups before your feet even hit the floor will help to gradually wake up your muscles and get your body ready to start moving. This is great if you plan on exercising first thing in the morning, but also good if you feel a little stiff and sore when you wake up. Try these four bed stretches to get you started, they only take a couple of minutes and give you a little ‘me time’ before starting the day.
- Whole body stretch: Lying on your back, stretch your arms above your head as long as you can, arch your back as it lifts away from the sheets and lengthen your legs, pushing your toes as far away as you can manage. Hold this for two deep breaths before relaxing.
- Knee Hug: Lying on you back, pull your knees into your chest and hug them with your arms. Relax your neck and shoulders and roll your knees gently and slowly from one side to the other and back again, keeping your lower back on the mattress.
- Hamstring stretch: Lying on your back, lay your left leg flat against the bed and pull the right leg upwards, holding on to your thigh. Straighten your right leg with the sole of your foot towards the ceiling, pulling back until you feel a comfortable stretch. Hold for at least 10 seconds and breathing deeply. Repeat with other side.
- Seated pelvic lift: Sitting on the side of the bed with feet flat on the floor and your hands flat on the bed behind you about shoulder width apart with fingers facing forward. Lean back lifting your hips and forming a straight line with your body as you press your weight into your hands and tilt your head back. Hold and take two deep breaths before lowering back to the bed. Repeat 3-4 times.
Get your protein
Carbohydrates are essential for energy, but protein will keep you feeling fuller for longer, and help you avoid naughty snacks mid-morning that will undo your hard work exercising. Try adding eggs, bacon, avocado, chia, quinoa, spinach, yoghurt or natural nut butters like almond to your breakfast. Smoothies are great as they can include a range of high protein ingredients and are portable and simple, no excuses!
Don’t overdo it
We all need rest days when exercising, especially if you are just getting back into it after babies or long periods of inactivity. The body needs time to recover, so we can come back stronger and better each time. At least one day a week you need to have a reprieve from exercise, a walk to the park with the kids is great, but no hard workouts. If you are just getting back into it, having a rest day every second or third day, depending on your fitness level is advisable.
Mix it up
Doing the same thing every day or the same routine every week will have you losing focus and motivation pretty quickly. It is important to keep your workouts varied and introduce new things regularly to alleviate boredom and keep you on track. Try new classes, workout with different people or visit different parks for a change of scenery.
Plan your exercise and nutrition
Sometimes it’s hard to find time, make time and be organised enough to actually follow through with good intentions. The easiest way to ensure you get your exercise done is to plan ahead, allocate time and don’t make excuses. If you have blocked out an hour to do something just for you then don’t talk yourself into doing something for the kids or anyone else. Housework can wait as can most things, make yourself a priority! Don’t ever feel guilty because you went for a run instead of washing dishes, the dishes can wait, your health and wellbeing can’t!
Planning your food is just as important. Meal planning will save you money and ensure you always know what you’re having for dinner. This will ensure you aren’t running out to get takeaway at the last minute and ruining all your hard work. When you shop make sure you are filling your trolley with things that make healthy choices easy for you, regardless of the time of day. If you can’t resist junk food lurking in your cupboard, then don’t buy any!
Get the kids involved
When all else fails and you are stuck with kids and wanting to exercise, let them help you out. Kids are some of the best (and free) personal trainers. They have boundless energy and if you spend an hour chasing them around you will definitely get a workout. You could even set up an obstacle course for everyone and spend some time playing, laughing and getting a workout all in one go.
If you have a baby it is easy to get them involved in your exercise routine and most of the time they will immensely enjoy being involved. Lunges and squats holding baby to your chest or on your shoulders as a weight are very effective. You can do sit-ups or crunches with them on your knees, see if you can rub noses with them each time you sit up. If you’re planking or doing pushups lay them on the floor under you and chat to them and pull faces.
You will still have the odd day where despite your best efforts it all goes wrong but don’t despair! If you can’t get your workout in, find exercise wherever you can. Park further away from the shops and walk, take the stairs instead of the escalator, chase the kids around or do squats and lunges while you’re cooking dinner. Where there is a will there is always a way.
What helps you jump out of bed in the morning and get a great start to the day?