Hey mama, I hear you… Finding time to workout when you have a baby and/or toddler in the house is HARD! I think it can be especially challenging for new mamas who are so exhausted from newborn middle-of-the-night wakings or simply trying to adjust to their new normal of never being alone! Believe me, I’ve been there!
One morning when I was home with my 3-month-old firstborn (who was colicky and a horrible sleeper), I got fed up with my life feeling controlled by a tiny human. I missed my workouts and I missed feeling like myself. So, I decided right then and there that my new motto moving forward would be, “Something is better than nothing.” What started as a few minutes of movement during his first nap every day turned into me really getting into the swing of finding time to commit to my workouts with kids in the house. Here’s my tips on how to do it!
1. Allow them to join you
This isn’t always easy, but I promise that the more you do it, the easier it gets! Your children may not like it at first, but soon it becomes a routine and they come to expect (and respect!) mama’s workout time. At our home gym, our son likes to pretend to workout with us, and our daughter likes to play with her toys around us. Yes, we have to stop and start our workout a few times to attend to their needs, but it’s much better than not working out at all. And, we get the opportunity to model for our children what taking care of our body and minds looks like and help instill healthy habits for them early! If you want tips on how to build a good home gym, I linked all our Amazon home gym products here.
2. Provide kids rewards for being patient during your workouts
I know it can be a challenge for babies and toddlers to entertain themselves long enough for you to get a good workout in. Before I workout, I’ll tell my children what fun we’re going to have after the workout so that they behave and have something to look forward to. I try not to make it revolve around food because then that’s a weird habit to start with so early (We’re going to workout so we can have cookies later?? NO!!). The rewards are usually that we get to go to the playground, library or even Target! Or, we’ll play a game that they love or watch a movie together as a family.
3. Try shorter but more frequent workouts
If your kids simply can’t give you a solid 30 minutes to get a workout in, try breaking up your workouts into two 15-20-minute workouts throughout the day. For example, I’ll do a 20 minute walk in the morning and then a quick 15 minute HIIT in the afternoon.
4. Workout during their nap
This can be tough in the early infant stages when you’re so exhausted from night feedings and the adjustment to life with a newborn! Even though you’re tired, I recommend working out during the baby’s very first nap of the day. It’s usually their most routine and longest nap of the day (so you could potentially workout AND nap!), so it will give you a guaranteed workout time every day. I know all you want to do is nap when they nap, but if you move a little bit first thing in the morning during that first nap around 9am, I promise it will make you feel better and give you more energy for the rest of your day! Even if it’s only a quick 20-minute workout!
5. Take turns with your partner
My husband is great about this! On the weekends, one of us stays with the kids while the other gets to have their own solo workout time. It’s typically when we do our most intense workouts of the week, because we’re able to focus without child distractions. We take turns. Afterward, we usually do something active as a family, and it’s a really rewarding day!
6. Add more movement throughout your day
If you’re really struggling to find time to workout while caring for your children, try to find all the small opportunities to move more. Take the stairs, play “tag” with your kids, have a dance party with your kids, park far away so you have to walk further to get to the store or work, stand when you’d normally sit… anything!
7. Stay up late or get up early
I’m only mentioning this because I know so many have had success with working out before their kids wake up or going to the gym after kids’ bedtimes. This isn’t for me now, but I hope it will be in the future. I used to always workout at 6am but that changed when I had kids, because I have early rising babies. My husband has a very demanding job, so I remain the kiddos #1 caretaker while he gets ready and leaves for work super early. I go to bed at 8:30 so the idea of squeezing in a sweaty workout at 8 p.m. sounds dreadful – LOL!
I hope these tips are helpful! You can do it mama! If you’re looking for more ways to optimize your health and wellness as a parent, check out my post on small changes that make a big difference here.
Let me know what you do for your workouts in the comments below or connect with me on Instagram @maggiehjackson!
Happy 2022! Here we go again… New Year, New Resolutions!
I love goal setting, visualizing, dreaming, manifesting, all things positive life improvement, you name it! For me, the New Year is the perfect time to revamp my goals around health and wellness, because it’s a fresh start after all the holiday indulging, in addition to starting a new year after my birthday (Dec. 23). I love that I get to enter a new calendar year at the same time as a new year in my life!
I haven’t always been successful with resolutions, though. I used to set these big, lofty and sometimes unspecific goals – often with no real reason behind them other than vanity or comparison. I have yet to run a marathon or get “super toned,” and the years that I made those resolutions were typically some of the hardest years for me. I always felt like I was failing and usually resorted to worse habits, like crash dieting, overexercising, or giving up completely. After some time, maturity and therapy (seriously!), I’ve learned that the best health and wellness resolutions are the ones that are realistic and easy to keep. I know that when you have a big goal, like losing 50 pounds or running a marathon, the idea of making only a small change can sound disappointing, but trust me… the smallest changes can lead to the biggest impact over time! I’m so proud to say that I’m the healthiest and happiest I’ve been in my life – all without running a marathon LOL!
So, this year for me is all about small changes that help me OPTIMIZE my health and wellness. I’m at a stage in my life where my health maintenance is pretty good. My diet consists of 80% healthy and 20% fun food. I prioritize finding time to move throughout the week. I get a lot of sleep. I take the time to journal and work on my mental health. These things are good, but I feel they can be taken to a higher level.
I don’t just want to move 30 minutes a day, I want to make sure I’m doing the right type of movements consistently and improve my resting heart rate. I don’t just want to sleep for 8 hours, I want to have the deepest, healthiest sleep without middle-of-the-night interruptions. I don’t want to simply journal every day, I want to continue taking a proactive approach toward enhancing my mental health.
With this in mind, below are the detailed ways I plan to OPTIMIZE my health and wellness in 2022. You also can check out my YouTube vlog where I share more details! Let’s get it!!
First, let me tell you a bit about my workouts… I workout about five days a week doing something active. That could be a HIIT workout, a 30 minute walk around our neighborhood, yoga, or a 5k run around the Rose Bowl. What I do for a workout usually depends on the time I have that day and how my body is feeling. Trying to squeeze in a 30 minute workout 5 days a week, plus adding movement where ever possible (taking the stairs, playing outside with my kids, etc.) has worked for me the last four years in maintaining my fitness. I don’t belong to a gym. We built a makeshift gym in our garage during the pandemic, and now I honestly wonder if I’ll ever join a gym again (you can read about our home gym here).
As I started examining how I could optimize my fitness this year, I realized that I wasn’t doing any sort of tracking to truly understand how I could make it better. Enter the Apple Watch Series 7. Yes, I know I’m late to the Apple Watch game, but that’s because I never had a reason to have one… In fact, I didn’t want one, and I actually thought it would make my life worse! I’m too connected to my iPhone as it is – I don’t need another Apple device on my wrist!! But, here’s the truth: I’m less connected to my iPhone now because of my Apple Watch! When I’m with my children, I now leave my phone in the other room and can be PRESENT without the lure of opening a social media app or browsing the internet. If I receive an urgent call or text message, I’ll receive it on my wrist, but I often decide to respond to it later. I love the activity app on my Apple Watch that tracks my movement, exercise and standing. It’s my goal every day to close my “activity rings” by doing enough movement to burn 310 calories, exercise for at least 30 minutes, and stand for at least a minute each hour. It’s very motivating to see my daily progress and try to move more to close my rings. I also love that the Apple Watch tracks my heart rate. Heart disease runs in my family, so I believe it’s super important to be aware of your resting and active heart rates. I honestly like the band that my watch came with – I chose the Starlight color. But, when I don’t want it to look like I’m wearing a fitness tracker, I switch out my band for this pretty two-tone stainless steel band that’s super affordable on Amazon.
Running is my preferred method of cardio, and I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m way behind on updating my running shoes! Experts recommend changing running shoes every 300-500 miles. Of all the running shoes I’ve tried, Brooks brand has consistently been the best running shoe for me and for many other runners. Brooks are like the Heinz Ketchup of distance running shoes. Every bada** long-distance runner loves them! For me, it’s the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 that does the job… WOW, they are comfortable and offer lots of support! I have thin feet and a high arch, and these shoes protect me from getting plantar fasciitis while also adding extra support for my knees and hips. Adding these new shoes will make my runs longer, more comfortable and injury-free. I recently purchased the shoes in the Grey/Rose/Black color combo (below). I like the neutral colors with the subtle girly nod with the pink accents!
I already mentioned that my preferred method of cardio is running outside, but my husband and I felt we needed a cardio machine to add to our home gym for when it’s raining or can’t leave the house with kids napping. Since my husband is a big mountain biker and cyclist, we considered getting a Peloton. Then, he discovered the Echelon Smart Connect Fitness Bike, which is basically like the Peloton but much more affordable! To be honest, I’m not a big cyclist and don’t necessarily love cycling classes. I prefer choosing my own music, pedaling to the beat and switching up my resistance based on whether the song is fast or slow. We didn’t really feel like we needed to pay for all the bells and whistles of Peloton’s fitness classes (especially the monthly fee!), and Echelon provides cheaper options to do without! We got the bike without the screen, because we can add our own. However, there are options to add a screen and Echelon also has plenty of live, on-demand rides and classes to choose from, including yoga! If you want something as similar to Peloton as possible without paying an arm and a leg, this is the bike to get! It’s quiet, sleek and works like a dream. But, if you’re rich and need Ally Love (or whatever instructor) to move your butt, go the Peloton route. I can’t wait to level up my cardio at home with this Echelon Smart Connect Fitness Bike!
Sometimes you just need a new outfit to inspire you, right? I’ve been on the hunt for the cutest pink workout set, and these are so hot! Most of my workout gear is black, but I’m ready to switch it up this year with fun colors!
Some background on my current sleep: I feel really fortunate that I have pretty great sleep already and part of that is because I made a priority several years ago to develop good sleeping habits. Thankfully, both of our children sleep through the night. My children go to bed at 7-7:30 p.m., and we’re in bed by by 8:30-9 p.m. every night except for weekends. Despite having fairly good sleep, there are still some nights I have trouble falling sleep and some mornings where I wake up really groggy for no apparent reason. Because of this, I was curious if there were any ways I could optimize my sleep.
I used to be really resistant to wellness products that included CBD, and honestly, that’s only because I didn’t know enough about how beneficial they truly are! I used to think that CBD for sleep was like habit-forming melatonin, and I knew I didn’t want to be knocked out or have to take a pill every night. Also, because of the messaging around marijuana I’d heard my whole life, I had a weird subconscious voice telling me I’d get high or addicted… Even though the science around CBD told me otherwise! Then, my girlfriend told me about Juna, a botanical wellness company founded by two busy moms and career women who were looking to optimize their overall wellbeing with plant-based solutions, and the effectiveness of their Nightcap Sleep Drops. I was skeptical, but after I looked into it, I learned about the different stages of sleep and how Nightcap helps restore your natural sleep cycles and get your brain to Stage 3 Deep Sleep (when your cells and body repair themselves). I started incorporating Juna Nightcap Sleep Drops into my nightly routine by simply putting the drops under my tongue before bed. I did this regularly for two weeks, and I truly started noticing a difference in how well I slept and how refreshed and clear-headed I felt the next morning! If you have any interest in optimizing your sleep, you won’t regret trying these sleep drops! And, if you use code MAGGIEJACKSON at checkout, you get 15% off!
I took better sleep a step further and started pairing the Nightcap Sleep Drops with the Juna Nightcap Sleep Roller before bed. The rollerball is a NON-CBD product, so it’s a great solution for pregnant or breastfeeding moms who want great sleep but are concerned about the effects of CBD prenatal or postpartum. I put the Nightcap Sleep Roller on my wrists and behind my ears before bed, I take a couple deep inhales, and it’s like a magical sensory experience that calms me for a deep sleep. Again, if you use code MAGGIEJACKSON at checkout, you get 15% off, which is awesome if you get more than one product!
My nighttime routine is now so peaceful and sets me up for a great sleep. One hour before bedtime, I drop the Juna Nightcap Sleep Drops under my tongue. Then, I take a warm shower or bath. I absolutely adore a warm bubble bath with Dr. Teal’s Foaming Bath Soothe & Sleep. I brush my teeth, put on body lotion, then put on silky PJ’s from Cleobella or Lunya (my favorites are here and here). Then, I put on my Juna Nightcap Sleep Roller on my wrists and behind my ears. Sometimes, I roll it on my chest, too! I take a deep breath or two into my wrists, then climb in bed. I read a calming book for the next 15-30 minutes, then turn out the light and Zzzzz! It’s important to mention that I have NO SCREENS during this nighttime routine, which I think is HUGE if you want to reach a better, deeper sleep!
I have done A LOT of work on myself the last 15 years, including therapy, reading tons self development books and listening to a multitude of self-improvement podcasts. Some of you may know that mental illness runs in my family, so I have made it a priority to work toward improving my mind the same way that I work out to improve my body. Here are the ways I’m optimizing my mental health this year:
I use my Moleskine Classic Notebook for almost everything, including to-do lists, brainstorms, and mapping out my three, five and 10 year goals. But, I use this notebook the most during my morning routine where I jot down my daily gratitude, love and intention. I got this idea from two great influencers I follow, Lauryn Bosstick and Rachel Hollis. First, I write down what I’m grateful for and make it specific. For example, I don’t simply say, “I’m grateful for time with my kids.” Instead, I’ll write, “I’m grateful for the time I got to spend present with my kids at the playground yesterday.” Next, I’ll write down who I’m sending love to. Sometimes, this is a list of people who I know are going through a rough time. It’s also people that are just on my heart. It’s like a little prayer for those I care about. Lastly, I’ll write down an intention for who I want to be that day by stating an affirmation, like “I am a fun, energetic mother. I am a loving, devoted wife. I am going to be a national TV host.” Stating these intentions stick with me throughout the day and help me live up to them! I highly recommend that you grab a Moleskine and start doing this first thing in the morning while you sip your coffee (or lemon water or protein shake or whatever your routine) to set your mind in a positive, grateful place for the rest of the day. I’ve used Moleskine notebooks for years, because they’re the highest quality, come in lots of color options, simple to write in, and last forever! It’s my goal for 2022 to do this practice at least 5 days a week, and I’d love for you to join me!
Here I am talking about Juna, again, because the product is really that amazing! I started incorporating Juna Balance Drops in my morning routine and have sincerely seen a difference in my overall mood and daily productivity. After taking these drops consistently for two weeks, I noticed that I felt more clear, more relaxed, and more “on.” This may sound crazy, but I relate these drops to the pills that Bradley Cooper takes in the movie “Limitless.” Okay, I’m not some magical Wall Street master, but I do feel more like Super Mommy! I used to find my mood all over the place throughout the day where it was hard to stay focused and present. When using these drops, I feel a bit more even keeled, ready to bounce back and forth from cooking family breakfasts to answering emails to playground playdates to writing projects. According to Juna’s website, the Balance Drops are “a reliable dose of brain nourishing phyto-actives that centers the mind and balances the body… Balance truly helps us reduce daily stress and calm nerves.” It’s like vitamins for your brain! Use my code MAGGIEJACKSON to get 15% off at juna-world.com!
Similar to how I pair the Nightcap drops and roller together in the evening, I pair the Balance Drops with the Juna Balance Roller for a heightened mood lifting experience. As the last step of my get-ready routine, I put the rollerball on my wrists and take two deep inhales… AHHH! According to the website, “Juna’s nanoparticle mood-shifting Balance Halo is a complex essential oil rollerball that uses scientifically proven functional botanicals that will reset the mind and shift your mood.” For me, it’s like an instant mood boost with the relieving scents of cedarwood, peppermint, grapefruit and eucalyptus. And, you can keep a roller in your purse for instant relief on-the-go! Check it out and get 15% off with code MAGGIEJACKSON.
I love journaling and practicing mindfulness, but as a super busy mom who often feels pulled in 5 different directions at one time, it can sometimes be difficult to find my zen! I decided that 2022 is the year that I really make meditation a habit. It’s my goal to feel more centered and in-tune with my body, so when the stressful days and moments do arise, I’ll have a great foundation to stand on.
I learned the 4-7-8 breathing technique several years ago from a therapist when I was learning coping skills for anxiety. It’s an awesome way to just slow down and ground yourself for a minute. Some people claim that it puts them to sleep after several rounds! I’ve found that it’s also an awesome way to meditate or begin meditation. If you’re not familiar with the 4-7-8 breathing technique, let me explain: breathe in for 4 seconds; hold for 7 seconds; then breathe out for 8 seconds. Once I do a couple rounds of 4-7-8, I switch to 4-4-4 and keep my mind only on my breath. If my mind wanders, that’s okay. I just come back to the breath. It’s actually kinda cool to see what pops up! I’m, like, now why did my brain go there?! LOL! My favorite time to meditate is after a workout or while taking a warm bath before bedtime. I love the calming scents of lavender from the bubble bath while I slip into deep relaxation.
The next step for me will to start doing guided meditations, and I’m looking into which app, like Headspace or Calm, may be best for me. I’ve also heard great things about Deepak Chopra’s Meditation Experience! If you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear them!
What do you think: Would you try any of these simple hacks to optimize your health and wellness this year? I’d love to hear ways you’re getting healthy in 2022! Drop me a comment below or connect with me on Instagram @maggiehjackson.
AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of this post contains affiliate links for the products I use and LOVE. If you take action on these links (like clicking, buying, etc.), I may receive compensation at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own, and I’ll only recommend what I truly love. For more information about affiliates and your privacy, view our Terms & Conditions page here.