Yoga Explorations: 5 Reasons for Working Moms to Practice Yoga

5 Reasons for Working Moms to Practice Yoga - mostlyfitmom.comI am a yoga newbie. I am not super-flexible, my heels are off the ground in downward dog, and I still don’t really understand the etiquette of where to put my mat in the room when I’m at a yoga studio. How close is too close and how far is too far? Trying to get into crow pose scares me because I feel like I’m going to land on my face, and forget about grabbing my feet or ankles in bow pose. The front of my body is just too tight to pull that off. I love forward folds, struggle with twists due to major thoracic inflexibility, and can barely interlace my fingers behind my back because my chest is so tight. I also get irritated in a very non-yogic way if I don’t like an instructor’s voice or cuing. I love hot yoga, dislike doing yoga with my kids around because I find it hard to tune them out, struggle to tie up my hair so that I’m not lying on a lump of ponytail during shavasana, and practice at home the majority of the time. I know that yoga has a more spiritual aspect, but I haven’t really gone there at all.

In January, I practiced yoga daily. I was part of Yoga with Adriene’s 30 Days of Yoga challenge and I signed up for a 30 day introductory pass at Moksha Yoga, too. I made it to about four classes at Moksha, a hot yoga studio, over the course of the month and loved it, but found it super-challenging to fit into my schedule. I’m a mom with a fairly full calendar, so a two-hour block is a luxury for me, and I sometimes had to question whether spending those two hours on a one-hour practice was worth it. I really enjoyed the daily practice, though, and having been practicing regularly ever since.

As a working mom, my schedule isn’t terribly flexible. My work hours are pretty set as a dentist because patients get booked in sometimes months in advance, and really, at this point in my life, building up my dental practice is a higher priority than making it to yoga classes. At the same time, I know that my body is healthier and fitter when I practice yoga and I am making a conscious effort to get onto my mat regularly. Here are several reasons to make yoga part of your life, too.

  1. Your back will feel better. So many of us sit in the same position all day long, crunched over, barely breathing or moving. Yoga is a remedy for my slumped posture and forces me to uncrumple my spine, which makes my back healthier and happier and helps release the tension in the muscles of my shoulders, neck, and back.
  2. Yoga helps you manage stress. Yoga is all about being present in your body. It’s not about the 20 tasks you have on your to-do list, the fact that you’ve got to get your daughter to hockey practice by 7pm, or what you’re going to take out of the freezer for supper tomorrow. You are breathing deeply, checking into your body, and letting go of the mental chatter, and that is a recipe for increased happiness.
  3. Yoga increases flexibility and that’s good for preventing injury. I’ve been struggling with running injuries off and on for the past few years. I know it’s related to my glute and core strength, but I also have seriously tight hip flexors and a super-tight chest, which can make it hard to stride properly and makes it really hard for my back muscles and glutes to function properly. I’ve found yoga to be an active way to work on those tight areas in a way that’s more fun and feels more satisfying than just stretching.
  4. You deserve time to take care of yourself. It is becoming clearer to me how important it is to put my health and fitness at the top of my priority list. If I let myself get stiff and weak, I won’t be able to practice dentistry, pay off my business loan, and help support my family. That’s a recipe for stress right there, isn’t it? Plus, if I stop moving and plunk myself down on the couch all the time, what kind of example is that setting for my kids? “Hey kids, sitting on your butt while you watch TV for hours is A-okay.” Not exactly the behaviour that I want to model for them. You’ve probably read articles encouraging women to put themselves first, that say we have to take care of ourselves to be able to care for those that we love. I agree. You have to put your own oxygen mask on before you help those around you, and sometimes your work schedule and mom-guilt can get in the way of that. Taking care of your family is a priority for many women, but, that being said, you have the right to do it FOR YOURSELF, and not for anyone else. You are worth it. The challenge even greater than finding the time is believing that you’re worth it.
  5. Yoga makes you stronger. Plank, chaturanga, downward dog, arm balances, and warrior II are all poses that challenge my strength, depending on how many repetitions we’re talking about and how long each pose is held. When I started strength training again a few weeks ago, I was sure that I was going to have lost a ton of strength since the last time I was really lifting, but I was pleasantly surprised at how heavy the weights needed to be to be challenging, and I’m sure that it’s related to the fact that I’ve been practicing yoga. I’m about 50 pounds overweight right now, and just about the only benefit I can think of is that my muscles have had to support that extra weight during yoga, which has made me pretty strong.

I sense that as I continue to practice yoga, my reasons for doing so will shift. I feel like yoga can be what I need when I need it, that it’s continually changing as I change. Right now, practicing at home several times a week is what works for me, but in the future, well, I am working on being present, so we’ll see where yoga takes me.

Do you practice yoga? What are your reasons? Do you have any advice for a newbie?

Back to Working Out

Hockey is officially over for the season and I’ve taken advantage of the room in my schedule to get some great workouts in this week. Did yoga a few times, lifted weights a few times, and rode my stationary bike a few times. In addition to my suddenly lighter schedule, the weather is finally improving and we got above freezing late this week, which has really helped to boost my mood. It’s totally sloppy outside, though, since we got the most snow we’ve had in years this winter, so my workouts are still restricted to my basement, but it’s sure easier to feel happy when it’s not snowing – again – and it’s light out before 8:30am.

On the eating front, I’ve been using the Lose It app for a few weeks now and have lost about 4 lbs. My fruit and veggie consumption is much improved and treats have been few. I feel pretty good about my eating, though I know there’s still room for improvement. This weekend is challenging, what with the Easter Bunny leaving treats tomorrow and visiting my parents for a couple of days, where I tend to want to snack on whatever happens to be lying around and end up consuming way too much. So far, though, I’ve been doing quite well avoiding the cheese and crackers and ice cream. Tomorrow will be trickier, with it being Easter and my mom planning a big meal, but I’m allowing myself 2 treats tomorrow and will be tracking my food. Food journaling helps keep me honest.

Adding to the motivation is the fact that my husband and I are celebrating our 15th anniversary in a month and we’re heading to Hawaii (thanks to reward points from our credit cards) for a week. Nothing like knowing you’re going to be in a bathing suit to give yourself a little kick in the butt to workout harder and eat better.

I’ve never been to Hawaii before. Have you? We’re going to Oahu, which is totally not my vacation style – I usually like more laidback. Any recommendations on things to see and do? Pearl Harbour is definitely on our list, but we don’t really have anything planned beyond that.

Reverb 12: Day 9 (again, a day late, but better late than never)

Kat at Tenaciously Yours has posted information about “a prompt-a-day series for the month of December that is meant to give us all the chance to reflect on 2012 and the opportunity to write down our hopes and dreams for the coming year.” Her post and the details are here.

The Plank: It has been said that you must learn to take care of yourself before you can be effective at taking care of others.  How did you take care of yourself in 2012?  How will you take care of yourself in 2013?

I started out 2012 with this post, in which I resolved “to cut myself some slack and treat myself with kindness in 2012,” and I really did try my best to do that.

However, I think I may have erred on the side of cutting myself some slack and could definitely be taking better care of myself and treating my body with more kindness. I ignored the fact that “kindness” does not always equal “rest.”

My body is starting to rebel. As of the moment, I am having a little trouble turning my head to the left. This has been going on for a few weeks now, despite yoga, stretching and regular massage therapy.  My stomach has been a little topsy-turvy since I had a virus early last week and seems to be irritable about having to digest food, particularly if we’re talking about meal-sized quantities.  My left IT band is still irritated and I’m still not running. I’m not complaining; just stating that this is the inevitable result of inactivity and stress.

How will I take care of myself in 2013? Hmmm, that’s a great questions that I still don’t have an answer for. Regular massage therapy is definitely on the agenda, along with regular yoga practice (even if it is a DVD and not a live class with an instructor).

Beyond massage therapy, workouts are key. I feel like I’ve been struggling forever to get a regular workout routine established. I’ll get in a good groove and then, wham!, I hit a super busy patch in dental school, buy a dental clinic, or put my kids in five separate activities, and my workout schedule goes to sh*t. However, I know that for my health – physical, mental – I need to lift weights and get some cardio in. I also feel SO much better when I make 8 glasses of water, 5 servings of veggies, and 3 servings of fruit part of my day, but that hasn’t been happening very much lately, either.

In 2013, I would love to take care of myself by putting my health first. I just need to figure out what that looks like and how I can balance that against the needs of my business (not making money does not equal good health, either – it equals stress), the needs of my kids (five activities is probably overkill, but I do want them to be active and they’re already signed up), the needs of my husband (the guy deserves some time to play hockey and workout, too), and all of the other stuff that I want to get done on a regular basis (haircuts, visiting with friends, changing the sheets and towels more frequently, finally hanging pictures on the walls in our house, etc., etc.). Clearly, prioritization and organization will be major factors in my success.

What do you do to take care of yourself?

How Are Things?

I’ve been busy, busy, busy! Installed digital x-ray equipment, did a day of training on the new system, spent two days in Calgary at an orthodontics course, kids have started hockey and we’ve been running to meetings and practices (well, mostly my husband).  Have been getting busier with patients, fired an employee a week ago (unfortunately had to be done, but it was my first firing), and have been doing major organizing at work. There have been a couple of days where I barely had time to eat or go to the bathroom, but it’s been really good to be making headway at work and start to get the business organized.

Having said that, I really hate that so many people describe their lives as “busy” when asked how they’re doing, because most people I know are “busy.”  So enough of that from me.  My life, with kids’ activities, my new practice, and my husband’s new business venture, is kinda crazy these days, but I will have a pretty full schedule for the foreseeable future so I’d better get used to it and work around it. And, hey, it’s still a bajillion times better than dental school!

My eating has been pretty decent, but definitely with Thanksgiving last weekend and going out of town without snacks pre-planned, things got a little off track.  Workouts, though, have not really been happening, and I know I’d feel so much better if I could fit in some activity, and this, of course, requires planning.

I do really wonder, though, how other married couples with kids fit in workouts? We honestly don’t know any couples where both spouses work full-time and both workout. We know couples where one spouse stays home/works part-time, which allows that person to fit in their workouts during the day when the kids are at school, and we know a couple of families where at least one of the parents works out regularly, but the other person really doesn’t, so the “active” one is covered by the other parent at home. Is it just a matter of being really strict with a workout schedule or what?

We are also going hard with kid activities this year, with my son playing hockey and soccer and my daughter participating in hockey, ballet, and gymnastics, so we are scrambling a lot so far in terms of running around and fitting healthy meals, never mind fitting in workouts (even if it is our own fault). Honestly, a couple of early morning workouts would probably be the best thing, but I am so NOT a morning person, especially now that it’s so dark in the morning.  If you have (reasonable) tips for getting out of bed, shoot ’em my way.

All of that being said, one of the reasons I originally started this blog was to help keep me honest in terms of my workouts, so this week I am committing to the following workouts:

Monday – 30 minutes yoga 9pm

Tuesday – 30 minutes stationary bike 7pm

Wednesday – full body strength workout, 30 minutes walking (outside or treadmill, depending on weather) 9:30am

Thursday – 30 min yoga 9pm

Friday – 30 min walk right after work 5:30pm

Saturday – 35 min walk during my daughter’s ballet class 10:50am-11:25am

Sunday – full body strength and 30 min stationary bike 9am

Starting tomorrow night I will pack up my gear the night before, make sure my iPod’s charged, and fill up my water bottle so that it’s easy to just get that workout done.  Honestly, the schedule I’ve laid out is probably a little aggressive considering the week I have coming up, but it is doable. And I already have it in my Google calendar. As extra incentive, if I get all of my workouts in, I will download myself five new songs from iTunes.

How do you fit in your workouts when your schedule gets jammed?

Wiped Out

It’s been a long day.  Well, it FEELS like it’s been a long day, but it hasn’t been really.  I got to sleep in because the kids did and my husband didn’t have to leave for work early, so it was a relatively late start.  I had a great day of activities planned for the kids and we did some amazing things:

That’s about the point that the wheels fell off the bus, so to speak.  From about 5:30pm onward, my daughter kept picking fights with and teasing her older brother.  There was a whole lot of screaming (and not just the kids), some tears were shed, and I was totally losing it.  On top of that, I thought that things would be better after supper and I took the kids out shopping for the camping gear.  It did not go very well.  My daughter did not go to bed well, either.  It probably took her an hour after I put her to bed for her to fall asleep (at least, I think she’s asleep now….).

In any case, I didn’t get my strength training in and am kicking myself for not just plunking the kids in front of the TV this morning while I got my workout in.  I hate to let the TV “babysit,” but if I happen to find myself in the same situation tomorrow morning (that is, I’m not up and working out before the kids are up), that’s what I’m doing.

That’s my goal tomorrow, by the way – to get my workout in before the day starts.

And I still haven’t posted my meal plan for the week, but hopefully I’ll find a spare corner of time tomorrow and get that up.  I like to be able to refer to it online myself, since I seem to lose my meal plan in the paper clutter that’s strewn across my kitchen and dining area.

At least today wasn’t totally terrible.  Besides the cool art and science projects, I have been eating quite well lately.  It’s really quite a big deal that I managed to deal with my stress today without resorting to eating handfuls of dry cereal or slices of bread to soothe myself.  Instead, I gave myself a couple of time outs and just walked away while counting to 10 more than a couple of times.

I’ve got more fun stuff lined up for tomorrow.  I’m hoping to head to the zoo and start packing up for camping.




A Week in Review: Regular Workouts, Summer Activities, and Chocolate Cake

  • I have actually started working out regularly again: lifting weights, walking, and doing yoga.  My physio did some acupuncture on Tuesday so I didn’t do my planned workout as he advised (weights), and then I had the mega migraine last night so I didn’t get my workout yesterday either (he advised something light, like walking).  So, I walked tonight.  Overall, I have lifted weights twice, practiced yoga three times, and walked twice in the last week.  It’s a start.
  • I’ve got my kids for the next several weeks, before I start work/take over my future dental practice.  Last week was rainy, so there was more TV than I wanted, plus some indoors crafts and games.
  • Over the weekend, though, it started to heat up around here, so we’ve been outside a lot more.  The kids stayed overnight with friends of ours on Friday night (another of my husband’s cousins and her husband) so that my husband and I could have some alone time (which basically boiled down to dinner out and a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad Season 1).
  • Saturday, my husband and I tackled our mudroom.  Wish I had taken before and after pictures, because you couldn’t really see the floor for all the shoes, backpacks, and random gear strewn about, and now we’ve got shoes on shelves, summer gear in a bin, and even empty shelves for expansion.  I may get around to posting a picture of the end result…
  • Sunday I did some grocery shopping and we went over to visit friends and their pool.  It was a beautiful day and I didn’t have to make lunch, so what more is there to say, right?  We then had another set of friends and their son (the friends who watched our kids Friday night) over for a barbecue and to watch the Rider game.
  • Monday I babysat my nieces and the kids spent a lot of time in the sprinkler.  We also did some tie-dying and the kids loved it.
  • Yesterday, I had my kids – no nieces – and we did some science projects, which you can find here and here, and again they ran through the sprinkler a lot.  I also baked and iced a cake for my husband’s birthday, which was yesterday.  It was totally delicious – probably the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made – and you can find the recipes I used here (Devil’s Food Cake) and here (Chocolate Buttercream Frosting).  Later, the kids and I  did some hopscotch on the front driveway, visited with our neighbours, and then went inside where I was hit by the migraine just before my husband came over and took over.
  • Today, I had my nieces again.  We ran errand in the morning and then there was more sprinkler and swing time before I tried out some face-painting using these tutorials here and here as inspiration.  I didn’t want to post pictures of my nieces, but here are my kids:

  • As for the exciting travel news I mentioned earlier, my husband and I are heading to London to watch his cousin compete in the Olympics!  We’re pretty pumped and have booked our hotel, flights, and some event tickets.  Neither of us has been to London (unless you count Heathrow), so feel free to send must-see and -do recommendations my way!

What were your favourite summer activities as a kid?  I loved jumping on our trampoline, running through the sprinkler, going swimming at the lake, and playing hide-and-seek with all the kids in the community.

8 of 28: Upper Body Workout

By the time I got home tonight (after my daughter’s hockey practice and a meeting for the parents of my kids’ school), I was beat.  I was so tempted to just call it a night and hit the hay early, but I didn’t.  Instead, I thought about how much better I always feel after I workout – energized, proud that I fit it in, stronger – and got out the dumbbells.  I did an upper body workout balancing on my Bosu, with a little lower body thrown in there.  As I relaxed against my Bosu after my last set of incline chest press, I drifted off.  You know you’re tired when you wall asleep on the living room floor, using a Bosu as a pillow…

Eating wise, I was much improved over the non-stop eating and consumption of sugar that was my weekend.  I did have a slice of poppy seed loaf at supper time, but not on it’s own.  Still, I think it definitely counts as a treat, so boo to that.  I didn’t meet my goal there.  Tomorrow is another day, though.

Goals for tomorrow:

  • no treats
  • 30 min of cardio (stationary bike or walking)
It’s going to be another busy day tomorrow.  We’re spending the evening interviewing babysitters, so I think it’ll be challenging to fit those 30 minutes in.
What’s your favourite upper body strength move?  I love pushups because they’re hard and work more than one body part.  I also love incline pullups for the same reason.