Friday, September 9, 2011

How I Do It: Exercise

This post may contain affiliate links.

I am very excited about this new series. I get a lot of questions that ask how I do what I do in a day. I have written a couple of posts on the topic, but it seems to be either too much at once or not enough details for some people. So I thought I would break down several things I do in the day that often allude people. The first topic is Exercise. First, the basic info:

What: Exercise
When: Early morning
Where: At my house
Why: To be healthy
How: Elliptical, mini tramp, and videos

Now more details.

What: Exercise
I do not love to exercise. I love to do things like play basketball that give you exercise, but I fully despise exercising just for the sake of exercise. However, I do believe in taking care of my body. I believe it is my responsibility to make sure I get the exercise I need to maintain a healthy body. So I do it even though I hate it.

And you hear people who love to exercise tell you things like "Oh, after you do it for two weeks you will be addicted." Um, no. I have been consistently exercising at 5 days a week for 1.5 years and still do not love it. Although I will say I don't dread it now. So maybe I am on the slow path to loving :)

I will note that I do several things that are exercise beyond my daily exercise. This includes going for walks or bike rides, hiking, playing sports, and gardening (you try squatting 500 times to pick your green beans and see how you feel). I do not count these as my "exercise" for the day, though it certainly is exercise and could easily be justified to switch. For me, maintaining my exercise in the morning program is dependent upon me consistently doing it 

When: Early Morning
The easiest time for me to fit in exercise is in the early morning hours before my children get up. I wake up at 6:00 AM to exercise. I do this five days a week. I never do exercise on Sunday. Some times I will do something on Saturday beyond normal exercise of the day.

A note on time. This is what works for me. You might find waiting until independent playtime is what works for you. When McKenna was a newborn, I went running in the evenings between bedtime and the dreamfeed.  I didn't want to get up early with a new baby in the house. The trick is to find a time that you can be consistent with day in and day out.

Where: At My House
I do pretty much everything I do at my house. I sometimes venture out to go running, but I positively hate to run, so it is not something I mark as my norm for exercise. I have to do something I can tolerate if I want it to be a normal part of my lifestyle. Some people need  a gym to exercise in, and many offer childcare while you exercise, so that is definitely an option.

There are lots of things you can do at home. Jump roping, videos, machines, videos, lunges and squats...lots of things that can be done in the convenience of your home. 

Why: To Be Healthy
My goal with exercise is to be healthy. Exercise improves physical, mental, and emotional health. When you exercise you have more energy. And honestly, when I exercise, I can pretty much eat what I want to without gaining weight and I really like to eat food. So I do it to be healthy and to eat food. It is my observation that the older people I know who are still active have always been active. They move around quite well and maintain an active lifestyle. I would like to be able to be active as long as I am alive, so I want to take care of myself to help make that a reality.

Another bonus of exercising is the good example it sets for your children. They see that taking care of yourself is important to you, so it will be important to them to take care of themselves.

Now, of course, there is the reason to lose weight, and I have that as a goal, also. Carrying four children can add some pounds to you. My primary goal is to be healthy, and I think to be healthy I need to lose some weight. I don't have much left. One tool I have fond most helpful is an app for counting calories called "Lose It!" It is free. There is another free calorie counter app that is rated really well, also. I believe there are some free websites you can do that on, so if anyone knows, please share!

The way to lose weight is to expend more calories than you put in. With Lose It!, you input your gender, age, height, and weight and weight goals (how many pounds by what date). It then tells you how many calories you can eat in a day to lose as much as you desire per week. You input your activity (which adds the number of calories you can eat) and your food. It adds up the calories for you. 

It is interesting to use something like this. My husband and I can do the same exercise, but he gets credited more calories burned than I do. I have a friend who is using this, and while I can eat 1505 calories a day to lose a pound a week, she can only eat 1000. So it helps you have a more personalized goal. I actually lose 1.5 pounds a week when I follow this.

How: Elliptical, Mini-Tramp, and Videos
Like I said above, I do my walks, bike rides, sporting events, gardening, etc. that provide some good exercise. Even with that, I add in my daily exercise. 

I do my elliptical 2-3 times per week for about 45 minutes usually. Sometimes 60. 

Some days, I mix it up with mini-tramp exercises. 

Lindsay Brin's Boot Camp 2 DVD with Moms Into FitnessLast Spring, my friend Char did a guest post about her book on exercising. On that thread, several people commented on Lindsay Brin's DVDs. I decided so many of my readers could not be wrong, so I bought one of her bootcamp DVDs. And I love it! Lindsay Brin's Boot Camp 2 DVD with Moms Into Fitness. It is seriously a great video. She has pregnancy workout DVDs and others. I highly recommend it. I also really enjoy pilates and have a few Winsor Pilates DVDs. I have also heard good things about Slim in Six, but I haven't ever tried it. 

Now, I am not an exercise expert by any stretch of the imagination. There are a few things I have learned through my short journey. I know many of you will read this and think "duh," but these are things I had to learn the hard way over the last 1.5 years so hopefully I can help someone learn it in 1.5 minutes instead.
  1. Mix it up. You can't do the same thing every single time you exercise and continue to see results. When I first started, all I did was elliptical. At first, it was great and I lost a pound a week without considering diet at all. But doing the same thing each day--even with my different elliptical workouts programmed into my machine--caused a plateau after three months. Do cardio, do toning, and do different exercises in those categories every so often.
  2. Strength Training. You must have strength training to help burn more calories. Doing something with weights helps build muscle, which burns calories. Pilates builds muscle, yoga, weights, lunges...Lindsay Brin's workouts do toning as well as cardio. I have heard many people say you absolutely cannot get continued weight loss results without some strength training. I thought it was all about the cardio, so that was my only focus. Once I added in strength training each week, I started seeing more results. 
  3. Cardio. Cardio burns calories and burns fat so the muscle you build can show through. Lindsay Brin says to do cardio every other day (toning can be done every day).
  4. Calories. Remember the key to weight loss is calorie input vs. output. You need to burn more than you take in a day. Remember the recent Twinkie diet? A man lost 27 pounds in 10 weeks simply eating twinkies all day. He just made sure he ate no more than 1800 calories worth a day. A hard thing with exercising is when you exercise, you want more food. You could run 10 miles a day, but if you ate more calories than you burned, it wouldn't bring weight-loss benefits. 
I would encourage you to focus on your health when exercising. If you focus on weight, you won't make exercise a lifetime habit. I have had months go by where I don't lose a pound. But I know I feel better and that I am in better shape than I was before I started to regularly exercise. 

If you have ideas to add to this, please share! Do you have favorite videos? Exercises? Effective times of day? Motivation? 

For more great ideas, see this post and the comments to the post: Exercising with Kids


Julia said...

Great post. I find that baby wise moms actually CAN exercise b/c their kids are on a semi-predictable schedule. Just one more reason I LOVE baby wise :) I exercise int he am too, it's the best time for me, and I KNOW the kid will be asleep and I'll be uninterrupted. Insanity, p90x, and Jillian Michael's are some good videos for at home too.

Scott and Jenny said...

I love this post! I've always been an exerciser, but it was pretty inconsistent after having my baby 2 1/2 years ago. About 4 months ago, I decided to really hunker down and lose the last few lbs I'd been wanting to lose from baby weight, and get into shape. I use the website and app to track what I eat daily, and total my calorie intake. I am also a HUGE fan of Jillian Michaels. Her videos are high intensity & usually only 30 - 45 minutes, for those moms out there that really want to workout, but don't have a ton of extra time. I work out of the home full-time, so I am always pressed for time. I find that her videos really help me to lose weight, and get toned. She also has some great podcasts for free on iTunes, that have a ton of great health information, which I have found to be helpful. Thank you for this great post, and for all of your help w/ babywise information. I've been referencing your site ever since my son was born, and recommend it to all of my friends & family with children. Such an amazing resource! Thank you!

Katrina Jackson said...

Great post, it's definitely not easy, but finding a time that works for you, where you can be consistent is the key and second is finding a set of workouts that you can alternate and accomplish. Right now I'm doing Insanity and using and it's working to help me lose weight and I love it. But mostly I notice that I am more awake, feel better and have more energy when I work out.

Brigadeiro said...

Great post! I am about to head to the gym to do a Zumba class (have only started in the last month or so), and my DD will head to the gym's creche for the first time at age 16 months. I have also started doing Tracy Anderson's 'Post Pregnancy DVD', which is CRAZY good!!! (hard, I still can't do all the exercises). I should have started this 15 or so months ago! Ah well, better late than never.

Leigh Anne said...

Great post! I'm always up for exercise info :) I LOVE Lindsay Brin...I have all of her DVD's and lost 20 lbs post-baby number 3 with er 60 day slim down. I used to track my calories online to lose weight. I'm with you though, I don't hate it, but still don't love it ;)

Rebecca said...

Thanks for the motivation! A couple free websites: is great website for counting calories and is also a social networking site, so you can get encouragement and accountability from others. is another great free website that easily tells you the amount of calories in a huge variety of food.

Susan Ozier said...

Great post! I have been following your site for the last couple of weeks and it has answered all my babywise questions about my 8 week old. I have been really wanting to exercise and lose some of this baby weight, but have been so worried about decreasing my milk supply. I am exclusively breastfeeding. How soon after your babies did you start trying to lose the baby weight? Did you have any trouble with your milk? Do you know how many extra calories I will need? Sorry, lots of questions. Thanks so much for sharing so much on your website.

Work, Wife, Mom... Life! said...

Hey Val! Great stuff and so glad you're sharing! i think exercise is important for moms, even just for keeping your sanity!!

I just launched my NEW site last week... it's called MomWOD (Mom Workout of the Day) I provide easy, and quick AT HOME workouts, some with just your bodyweight, some with your kids and even some with weights at the gym.

feel free to share... or many i can do a guest post for you in the near future!

Little Charly said...

Val, enjoy your posts. Thanks for sharing. Just checked out your site @work, wife, mom life. MomWOD. Very cool. Going to follow your site for sure and will pass it along on FB as well. Nice job

Kristin said...

I always love more info on how people fit in exercise too! I am one of those people who really enjoys to work out (don't hate me :) which is a good thing since I would be a heifer otherwise. It's not always easy to get the motivation to begin, but once I'm doing it I love it. I'm a gym class gal but also recently started doing Jillian Michael's videos at home on off days and am hooked. My arm strength and stamina have really improved because she incorporates strength training, which I don't really care for, but she tricks you into it. And they are only 30 minutes so I'm more likely to do them - great for a busy mom. (jeez, I sound like an infomercial!) I still go to the gym, which gives me the variety that you mentioned.

Karen said...

It is not all about calories in vs calories out! See or for details. You don't have to work so hard to be healthy, have energy, and feel great!

Plowmanators said...

Thanks everyone for adding your own ideas!

Plowmanators said...


I really never exercised much while nursing because of milk supply concern also. I did some pilates and some recumbent bike riding. After McKenna, I ran. I believe the recommendation is to wait until you are 6 weeks postpartum and get your OBs okay to start exercise. I started running just before McKenna was 3 months old.

It is all about calories. When nursing, you need so many extra calories a day. You typically need 300-500 extra calories a day above what you would eat to maintain your weight. So if you typically are a 1500 calorie a day person, then you would need 1800-2000 a day without exercise. If you are exercising, you would need to eat to make up for some of those calories burned.

I would suggest you do some research on it--I haven't done much. Though typically a rule is just to eat what you are hungry for...but not all of us can follow that rule with success :)

Laura said...

workout buddy!!! I couldn't do it without her! We've been working out for 5 days a week for the past 2.5 years. We started with Jillian's 30-day shred, then moved to her other videos, running, and cardio yoga. Knowing that she will be ringing my doorbell in 15min is sometimes the only thing that gets me out of bed at 5:15am... especially in the winter :)

Kristy Powers said...

I have wondered how exactly you do exercise. Another great, helpful, straightforward post. You are inspiring me to do more than a daily walk with my toddler. Actually, the more exercise I do, the more I am motivated to do more. The less I do, the less motivated I am.

Plowmanators said...

Laura, I agree a workout buddy is so helpful. Great tip!

Plowmanators said...

So true Kristy.


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