A guest post by Elizabeth Hubbard
There is a truism about me: the only thing I’ve ever been able to quit cold turkey is exercise. Elizabeth of Happy Healthy Caregiver would find that unacceptable and, as much as it pains me to admit it, she’s right.
With a husband, three children and a mother that depends on me, by not taking proper care of myself, I’m making things more difficult. When I’m not taking care of myself, I’m weighed down with guilt and embarrassment. I’m also frequently in a less-than-fabulous mood, which means I’m bringing down everyone around me. That’s why I cooked up the following experiment: exercise at least 30 minutes a day for 30 consecutive days in an effort to make exercise a habit.
What I had to work with
- No gym membership.
- Three little boys, ages 4 and under.
- Two of my three boys don’t sleep through the night so I’m ALWAYS tired.
- A double jogging stroller.
- A cargo bike that can carry all three boys.
- A husband that is available to help when he’s not working or traveling for work.
For the last month, I have squeezed in exercise while working with and around the positives and negatives listed above. For the first three weeks, the two older boys weren’t in preschool yet so I had all three with me. During the fourth week, after preschool was back in session, I had the option to wait until after preschool started so I could push only the youngest in the stroller or the bike. On the mornings when the four of us went for a walk, I put my oldest on the footrest of the double jogging stroller. (Is that safe?! I’m not entirely sure, but I was desperate. I am happy to report he survived unharmed.) On the mornings when we rode the cargo bike, I piled all three children in the bucket of the bike. And on the occasional morning when my husband was able to keep the boys, I was able to go out and exercise on my own! That was precious, precious time to myself.
On the mornings when my mojo wasn’t at its maximum, we would still put in the 30-minute minimum but with a less-than-impressive intensity level. For example, one morning we walked along our street and picked up trash, my oldest walked alongside me while I pushed the younger two in the stroller. It was more of a stroll, but we were outside, we were moving and we were doing a good deed.
So how did I do?!
Well, I almost did it. I missed five days of the 30. I know. I know. I know. But, people, this is still BIG. It’s HUGE. I exercised 25 days out of 30! Considering I was exercising maybe once a week prior to this experiment, 25 days out of 30 is an encouraging accomplishment.
What happened on those five days I failed to exercise? I don’t have a good excuse. It wasn’t the weather. (On the one morning it rained, I did a yoga workout while dodging three active boys.) I wasn’t sick. I let life get in the way. I was able to convince myself that there were more important things than myself to take care of that day.
The benefits I realized
A lot of the benefits of regular exercise were felt immediately after starting this experiment—better sleep, better mood, more patience. The one benefit I didn’t experience is weight loss. In fact, I’ve actually gained weight. Lovely. Maybe it’s muscle tone?! Doubtful. But I’m staying optimistic. It’s painfully obvious that the next step is to start eating smarter in addition to the regular exercise. Thankfully I’ve read Elizabeth’s ebook so I’m hip to how to change my diet to match my new found, exercising self. The best part about this experiment is that I really want to keep going. I want to start incorporating weight training along with the cardio. I’m also excited to step up the cardio. I’ve been jogging a bit here and there, trying to jog longer distances. I want to start regularly taking my sons to preschool on the cargo bike (we only live a few miles from school). What I am most excited about is not feeling the guilt that comes with not taking care of myself. That is the best gift of all and almost makes up for the fact that I haven’t lost a pound…yet.
Elizabeth Miller commentary on this post: Amazing, right?! I have to be honest and can’t even fathom how I would handle being a sandwicher with 3 young boys! I love the cargo bike and her plans for embracing her new lifestyle changes and looking ahead. Elizabeth Hubbard was one of my first ebook readers. I was thrilled to hear that I had anything to do with inspiring her to incorporate exercise into her routine. Talk about a win-win! The ebook that helped inspire Elizabeth H. is now part of the content included for members in the Happy Healthy Caregiver Community.