Keeping up an active lifestyle in motherhood – Catherine Chastney

Catherine Chasteney is mum to two girls, Elizabeth (almost 2 yrs) and Hannah (6 months).

I really believe that declaring what you’re doing, committing to being there for others, and enrolling others in your plans can keep the motivation going. Here is Catherine’s story about setting up her active lifestyle and managing to fit exercise into her everyday life as a mum. At the end she’s also shared some tips for getting in shape as a new mum.

Catherine: I’m not a natural sportswoman. Actually, despite my best efforts, I’m really poor at sport but I think I have an active lifestyle. Before I became a mum I’d tried out different ways of exercising – circuits classes, going to the gym, jogging – and tried to keep moving in small ways such as using the stairs rather than the lift. I’ve always liked walking too. Not necessarily hiking, a suburban stroll is fine, and I enjoy the rhythm and solitude when striding out.

Since becoming a mum I’ve continued to walk but I also wanted an exercise programme that was mum-friendly. I wanted better all-round fitness and, of course, to lose my baby belly but I needed the flexibility to be able to exercise at a time that suited me and my child(ren). Ready Steady Mums has given me that. I exercised at home after my firstborn and through my second pregnancy, and after baby two was born I started attending local Ready Steady Mums walking group which progressed on to exercising with other mums and their babies and toddlers. At first I had been happy exercising on my own at home and it suited me to do it while the baby was sleeping, but after our second child I was out and about soon after the birth. I quickly discovered that me, a toddler and a newborn home alone in the summer was not much fun for any of us!

I was pretty motivated to get back into shape, not least because I was to be a  bridesmaid 13 weeks after the birth, so towards the end of my second pregnancy I thought that documenting what I was doing might help to keep me focussed and that was why I started my blog: The blog is a public challenge to myself to keep exercising. I started writing about how I was progressing in returning to shape and improving my fitness, although there are a few posts on other related subjects. I know that friends and family read it to see how we’re doing and I hope that other mums struggling with a baby, a changed body and sleep deprivation might find it and know that someone else is going through the same.

The difficulty about exercise is keeping it up. I enjoy feeling fit but I have to make exercising fit in with my lifestyle and routine and make it as fun as I can otherwise I will find excuses not to do it. Doing the blog is one motivator and becoming a Ready Steady Mums Group Leader is another. A few weeks after I started going to Ready Steady Mums Socialcise sessions in my local park the mum who coordinated it had to return to work. As I wanted to keep myself motivated I volunteered to take her place. Now I know that at least once a week I will definitely do some exercise, and I can’t wimp out of it as other people are depending on me to be there. The session I run is on a Monday morning and it feels good to start the week in such a positive way. I like meeting other mums and doing something that benefits me but is still toddler-friendly, and I think it is the only thing I do with my children where I don’t end up singing nursery rhymes!

Exercising with young children can be challenging. I feel that I don’t get as much cardio work in as I would like but maybe it is enough at the moment just o be a bit short of breath and quickening my heart rate as I up the pace while pushing the buggy. Often one of my daugthers is upset at some point while I’m doing a session in the park but at least when you are exercising with other mums everyone else understands the predicament. In general, exercising is easier than I thought it would be because I hadn’t really registered that my lifestyle was already fairly active. I have really only added two dedicated exercise sessions to my week and all the other exercises I do are slotted into everyday life.

I feel a little bit proud of myself for managing to keep this exercise malarky going. My husband is delighted and so supportive, he helps me write workout sessions for my Monday group, and my toddler loves to copy me doing stretches. I feel happy that I am a positive role model for my children and am promoting a healthy and active lifestyle (whether that is by playing sport or by making exercise part of a game you play together or just by walking instead of taking the bus).

My top tips for mums wanting to get in shape are:

  •  work out what your motivations are and keep reminding yourself of the target
  • get someone else to remind you what your motivations are and to spur you on when you’re feeling tired (partner, friend, relative, exercise buddy)
  •  know what your challenges are and spend time working out how to tackle them because at some point your enthusiasm for your new exercise routine will wane
  •   be kind to yourself, if you have a bad week it doesn’t matter
  • try and make exercising a part of your life (pelvic floor exercises whilst watching TV etc.)
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