Updated: Jul 6
Once upon a time, I only had one baby. After I got over the initial shock of transitioning from full-time corporate America to being a stay at home mom, I realized that I was kind of...bored.
Like, he slept all of the time. And he couldn't play yet. And there were only so many outfits I could dress him up in and take pictures.
I held him and nursed him and cuddled him and adored him. And then he would sleep. And I would be all, "what now"?
Also, I was kind of fat. I had put on a good 50 pounds while pregnant (eating for two, natch!) And guess what? The idiomatic expression "breastfeeding makes you lose weight" is idiotic.
No, I know it works for a lot of people. But there are an equal number of women who don't see the scale move at all, even while producing liters of milk every day and being too sleep-deprived to feed herself a proper meal.
This was me. I was chubby and bored. I loved being a stay at home mom, but I was used to a faster-paced life. In my previous life, I would get up and read my Bible and then have the luxury of going to the gym for an hour before showering and heading out to sell drugs to doctors all over Central Cali. Legal drugs, of course.
After a few months, daily walks with the stroller were not getting my bootie back to the shape both myself and my husband had formerly enjoyed and I was irritated.
And still bored.
So I talked to Beau and decided to join an all-female gym.
You guys, it was awesome.
I got to drive to the gym, sit in the nursery, breastfeed my baby, go take an hour workout class, pop back into the nursery to breastfeed again, eat a snack, take another workout class, shower while someone else watched my baby, dress myself while someone else watched my baby, and drive home in a sparkling mood, sipping on water.
Just in time for naps. Yay! Who said this mommy thing was hard?
I loved it. I did it every weekday for six whole months. I felt fit and happy and nourished and was able to spend the rest of the day hanging out with my baby, happy as a clam.
Then I got pregnant with my Rebecca Sky. We were happy, of course, and thankful. But I kind of liked my routine. I had a suspicion things would not be the same with two children.
And dear Barbara, things were not the same. I went from a perfectly confident, capable mother to a stressed out lady who couldn't really handle her crap. Two kids was hard.
And three kids was harder.
And then I got pregnant for the fourth time. "Again"? everyone said. When you have one kid, everyone at the grocery store stops to chat with your darling child. People smile at you and pinch your singular cherub on the cheek.
When you have four kids, people lower their eyes, speed up their pace, and get out of your way fast.
I had four kids. I couldn't really take them all to the gym. Someone was always sick or about to get sick or getting over being sick. Someone was always on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Okay, that was only me. The point is, my days of casually sauntering around an all-girl gym while chatting with my new mommy friends were over.
But I was fat again, dammit. And I actually liked working out. I am muscle-y. I have mental energy to burn, if not always physical energy. I liked the break from real life while I could listen to a sermon or some techno music or a book on tape.
At the same time, my hunky husband was getting into Crossfit. He calls the regular gym a meat market and (wisely) didn't want to be around a bunch of hotties in sports bras while he was trying to deadlift. I concurred with this. Since I was fat.
So he started building a home gym. Ever since then, we have both gratefully and successfully worked out in our garage "box". We can do almost anything at home that we could do at the gym. It saves us money, and it sure as hell saves us time.
When I had one kid, I was dying to waste two hours of my day. Now, I would give an opposable thumb for an extra two hours in my day. Naturally, our self-care practices are the first thing to go when we are practicing others-care all of the time. I needed to move my body so I could feel mentally and physically and emotionally strong.
And I was able to lose all of my baby weight and then some, just by eating a paleo diet and working out in my little home gym.
You can work out at home, too. I will help get you situated with a few things you can use to get in shape without having to sacrifice too much time out of your busy day.
1. Good Shoes
Please get a good shoe. I love Brooks because their support is amazing. I could run and lift and jump and never get shin splints or achy feet. This may not be your preferred brand, but please do spend the money on a really great and supportive shoe.
You can do so many things with a kettlebell. Get a few sizes for kettlebell swings, deadlifts, clean and jerks, and bicep/tricep work.
3) Bar + Bump Weights
This may seem like an extravagant purchase but I promise you, it is worth it. You will use your bar a few times a week and you will get good results with it. Use it for deficit deadlifts, for curls and tricep work without the plates, for overhead walking lunges, for squats, and the like. Try to find them used on Craigslist first. Our friend and partner in Crossfit crime, Josh, sourced our heavy bar and plates for us. We picked up more plates every time we attended the Crossfit games. Women really do need to be practicing strength training a few times a week to keep muscle tone and bone density.
4) Medicine Ball
I love the bigger med balls because you can use it for support if you are doing ab exercises on an incline, or pushups on an incline, or unsteady lunges. You can lift it over your head while doing air squats or overhead walking lunges. You can slam it against the ground, or throw it up against a wall while you are doing squats. It is super versatile.
This is great for girly box jumps, or HIIT plyo intervals, or ab work. You can use it in place of a traditional bench for doing barbell rows, flys, or chest work. It can sit on an incline or stay raised and level.
6) Mini trampoline
This is a cheap and fun way to do some gentle cardio and drain your lymph nodes at the same time. Always warm up before a workout. This is a great way to do that. Add hand weights and you have a pretty decent 30 minute cardio workout.
7) Girl-Sized Dumbells
I have 1 lb, 3 lb, 8 lb, and 15 lb. I have picked them up here and there. I use the smaller weights while jumping on the trampoline, or doing boxing intervals. I use the bigger ones on days where I am strength training.
Your gym needs mats so you don't put holes in your garage floor, and so you can do pushups and situps without getting all dirty and such.
It is so good to move the body. It is beneficial for mental and physical and emotional resilience and stability. Move every day, even if it is just walking or jumping on your trampoline. Women, do some resistance training a few times every week, even if it is just with your body weight- lunges, squats, pushups, situps, and planks. East peasy.
Would you like an exercise plan for home workouts? I can team up with my colleague Erin to get you a plan. Let me know!
To your mental and physical health,