Fitness and the Working Mom

exercise ball at desk

photo credit: Elizabeth Skene

I’m huffing my way down the Commonwealth Ave. Mall in Boston’s Back Bay, miraculously timing my walking pace to the traffic lights and I breeze through every block without stopping. Tunes blasting in my ears and I’m happy. It’s a gorgeous day and I’m enjoying just how beautiful my city truly is.

Then I get to the office. My backpack has hugged my body in such a way that I’ve got a big sweat stain on the back of my tank top.

Welcome to today’s version of fitness and the working Mom. I can’t change clothes until I dry out a little bit so I’m sitting at my desk all sweaty with puffed-out hair, hoping no one notices. They do.

“How did you get here today?”

“Um, I walked. It was about 4 miles.”

“Wow! Good for you.”  And then they wander off.

With a 45-minute commute by subway (it’s 65 minutes if I walk), I don’t have a lot of time in my day if I want to get home by 6:30 and have dinner with my family. How the heck am I supposed to fit in exercise? On top of that, I’m sitting at a desk. All. Day. Long. I’ve already got a kink in my neck sending me scurrying for my foam roller when I get home. At least I know what to do to make myself feel better.

And despite eating salads at lunch four times this week plus reasonably healthy dinners at home, I’ve gained two pounds my first week on the job. Ugh.

So I’ve signed up for the gym next door to my office and I’ve gotta figure this out. How to stretch time, maintain sanity, and keep my waistline, because honestly, I can’t afford to buy another work wardrobe in the next size up … I already just spent a ton on what I’m wearing now.

I mean this literally … this is a dollars and cents decision.

Hats off to those who manage to stay svelte while holding onto a full-time job. Especially those with a family who need to get home by a certain time so they can remember what their kids look like. It’s a big deal. All the years of fitness advice I’ve been giving out … and now I know some of it’s been useful, but some of it has been total crap. Sorry about that. I know more from the other side and I’ll do better now.

Fitness and a Full-Time Job

Here’s my strategy for the coming weeks …

  1. Measured snacks and salads for lunch so I don’t overeat, but also to make sure that what I eat is healthy and keeps me energized.
  2. Take walking breaks to clear my head in between tasks at work. This is very helpful as I’m doing a lot of writing and it gives me a little mental timeout before I move on to the next thing.
  3. Go to the gym every day, but only for 30 minutes. Get in, get out. Focus on HIIT workouts and on a little bit of lifting.
  4. Workout at the Pilates studio on Thursdays and Saturdays when I’m seeing a client as I can work out around their schedule.
  5. Get a standing desk. I’m going to elevate my laptop at work and stand more. I’m also going to get an inflatable ball to use when I do sit so that I stay a bit more active.

We’ll see how I do. I love my new job and the challenges it’s bringing my way. But I need to stay healthy for myself and my family and honestly for the job too.

I’m no good to anyone if I’m not good to myself.

If any of you have any ideas to share, please do! I welcome any and all suggestions. Fitness and the working Mom do not easily go hand in hand … how do you manage it?



About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.


3 Responses to Fitness and the Working Mom

  1. Suzanne @WorkoutNirvana September 25, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    Well hats off to YOU for managing this in such an intelligent way. Creating an actual game plan is fantastic. You know that unless you do, something has to give, and it’s almost always your fitness level and weight. Walking is THE best for weight management. Kudos Lisa! And I totally agree about taking care of yourself is taking care of others. It’s the truth, although some will deny it to the end and use “taking care of others first” as a way to avoid taking care of themselves (which never works).

  2. Nan Horton September 26, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

    Finding time to workout with kids and a full time job has been a task for me. I like your suggestions. work from home now and I have built a mini gym in my garage which help a lot with getting exercise done while the kids are at school. But one thing that has helped is implementing them in my workout regimen. Invite them to go on a bike ride.

  3. Lisa Johnson October 1, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

    Thanks Suzanne! I’m still a work in progress and still trying to find the balance, but I’m getting there. L–

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