A Mother’s Happy Life Essentials by Susie Rahaim (Essential 2: Exercise)

Exercise –Why do it?  I can only answer this question for myself.  It is a personal question as everyone has his or her own goals.  What I can share with you is why I exercise, the health benefits, my routine, and how I stay disciplined even when the world gets crazy taking care of three young children.

Painting with my little ladies.

Painting with my little ladies.

Why I Exercise

I exercise because it makes me feel awesome! Seriously, the feeling after an intense workout is priceless.  So what is that “feeling?” For me it’s… looking at myself differently. I see a strong-willed woman. I look and feel healthy. I feel connected to my body and promise to continue to nurture it.  I feel ready to start my day with an extra “pep” in my step! I am ready to challenge myself. I am more confident. I am more interested in whole foods (preparing and eating them). I even often pray when I exercise, usually during long runs. When I have a good playlist on my iPod, I do what comes naturally when I hear the beats and that is choreographing different dance pieces or planning upcoming classes. I brainstorm and take advantage of the mental clarity often writing down ideas after.

So there you have it.  This is what exercise does for me on a daily basis.  Did you notice not a mention about “diet,” or “weight loss?”  That is because I don’t exercise to lose weight.  If this were my reasonings I don’t think I would do it everyday.  If you can find a deeper purpose than it becomes part of your daily life and not categorized as “something you have to do.”  It becomes something you WANT to do for yourself everyday.

Exercising brings peace and helps me be a better "me." I'm very lucky because my husband, Bob, supports my exercise routine and realizes how important it is to me.

Exercising brings peace and helps me be a better "me." I'm very lucky because my husband, Bob, supports my exercise routine and realizes how important it is to me.

Health Benefits of Exercise

We all know by now the health benefits of regular physical activity.  I will just touch on the basics. Exercise…

  • controls weight and can help prevent excess weight gain.
  • improves mood by stimulating various brain chemicals.
  • combats health conditions/diseases.  According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise can help prevent and manage a wide range of health problems including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression certain types of cancer, arthritis, and falls.
  • boosts energy by improving muscle strength, and delivering oxygen and nutrients to your tissues.
  • helps you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Believe you me there is much more to add to this list but I am sure you get the picture!

My Exercises and Routine

So this is what I do on a daily basis.  I have found this routine to work for ME.  We are all different and what I like to do may not be for you.  The best way to find out what you enjoy is to try a lot of things and go from there.  I do try if I can to get outside as much as possible.  I believe its better for you overall!

My typical exercise schedule (but it is flexible)

Monday: 30 min run. 30 min of Pilates (working various arm, leg, abs, and back muscles). Stretching.

Tuesday: 20 min spinning video (super cycle by Mindy Mylrea). 15 min at home with 10-15 lbs weights working arms, also push-ups.

Wednesday: 1hour and 15 minute Vinyasa Yoga class.

Thursday: 20 min spinning video or 30 min stationary bike on intense intervals. 45 minutes of Pilates working various arm, leg, abs and back exercises.

Friday: 30 minute run. 15 min at home pull-ups, push-ups, and sit-ups.

Saturday: 30 min run- or what I call my fun day.  Sometimes I rollerblade, power walk, or do The Tracy Anderson Method videos.

Sunday –REST

Sounds like a lot but this basically turns out to be anywhere from 30 minutes – to 1hr and 15 minutes of my day put aside for physical activity. You should aim for at least 30 minutes everyday.

Many trainers, doctors, and health guru’s will claim they know the “best exercise,” but I think it depends on if the person enjoys the routine. What I do is what I enjoy.  I like to do my exercise everyday! I encourage you to find for yourself a program you can and want to do everyday.  If you have more specific weight-loss or toning goals or are training for a race, then take these goals into consideration when creating your program.

How I stay Motivated and Disciplined

So how does a busy mom of 3 young kids find time to fit this in?  It’s discipline on my behalf!  I get to bed at a good hour and get up by 6am.  I am finished with my workout just as the kids are usually waking up around 7am.  My motto I follow in the morning is taken from another blog written by DR. SUE McCreadie at nourishmd.com.  Its “Don’t think, just do.” I get up, put workout clothes on, my contacts, and go!

Don’t overdue it at first and don’t give up. I AM ROOTING FOR YOU!

And lastly…don’t forget to stretch.  This will help your muscles respond better to daily exercise and prevent soreness or stiffness.

My Favorite Toning Exercise

My favorite toning exercise for arms is the classic push-up. There are so many variations to play around with.  You can start with your knees bent.  As you get stronger you can move onto full or military style push-ups.

Pushups on Bosu offer an extra challenge because of having to balance.

Push-ups on the Bosu offer an extra challenge because of having to balance.

Play around and try holding the plank position in between or putting your feet up on an incline while doing a pushup.   You can forever challenge yourself with this simple classic exercise and the rewards are increased strength and nicely toned arms!

The Plank move on a pilates reformer offers arm-toning and full-body lengthening.

The Plank move on a pilates reformer offers arm-toning and full-body lengthening.

My sister and best friend, Aline and I. One of the benefits of the push-ups are cocktail dress-worthy arms.

My sister and best friend, Aline, and I. One of the benefits of the push-ups are cocktail dress-worthy arms!

*A note to all new mommies out there, I have to be real and tell you that I did not nor would attempt my workout regime with a new baby. It is not realistic. I did not start much more than power walking until my babies were at least 1 year old, not nursing around the clock, and sleeping well. It may be earlier for you, but just wanted to throw that in!

Have a wonderful holiday season, remember to take time for yourself and be on the lookout for my next Happiness Essential: Sleep. Also, check out Chelsea’s upcoming “Gift Guide for Sisters, Mothers, Girlfriends.” Perfect present ideas for the special women in your life.

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