There are many reasons women should enjoy cycling and fitness. There are also many articles for women based around weight loss and looking a certain way.
This isn’t one of them.
I want to address this post to a specific group of women. Mothers. That said, this advice is not exclusive to mums at all – any busy woman may find it hard to make time for the things she loves to do. After I had my kids, I decided to incorporate fitness into my life in a big way. I didn’t even own a bike! I’ve now made it my job to coach and motivate people toward real goals in indoor cycling and general fitness.
I believe in the importance of a holistic fitness regime that includes all forms of training – including strength and conditioning. I’m sharing my story as it may trigger something in you to change how you live your life and treat your body. You might recognize aspects of yourself in some of the story – perhaps you have dedication and determination in other areas of your life, but just need to be able to channel this into your goals around health and your body.
I’m an average person – a mum about to hit my late thirties. My goal focused beyond looks, to health and mastering a sport and, ironically, lead to a better body. A target beyond a dress size or an event will keep you going and accountable for life. There will be days when people around you are sick, your legs are tired or you are not performing as well as you’d like. Days when you can see only the bad bits in the mirror – even now, sometimes I struggle with all of this. The difference between reaching your goals or not will be how you handle these low times. Ultimately, the most exhilarating victories will be when you realize you’ve pushed through these feelings of doubt and just kept going, head down.
If you have children, thinking of how to be a good role-model for them is helpful starting point. They need to see their mother happy in her skin, confident and ready to tackle life’s challenges. If you don’t have kids – take the time to reach those health goals for yourself – there is no one as sexy and gorgeous as a woman that grasps hold of life, winks and says ‘hey baby, I’m here and I’m strong and focused’. That sense of freedom, just you and your bike, the endorphins from exercise, the sense of achievement and the chance to catch up with friends as you do it – priceless.
If you enjoyed life before you had kids, that life isn’t going to go away – and, why should it? As a mother, there are many components to life, but wellbeing and happiness can only thrive when you also have time for self-care. Self care looks like:
Fact is, with kids and work, and all the other components of life, it is easy to put yourself last – to neglect your training and your body – because it can make you feel guilty to be away, and, also, training can feel hard. But it’s important to find your own time. You may start small – meet up with friends once a fortnight on a weekend morning, early, for a ride. Block time out.
Coming into winter, find a studio near you and get some base fitness and leg strength. We specialize in this at our studio.
* Don’t worry about fancy clothing or equipment.
* Make your health and exercise routine a key part of your life, as essential as anything else.
* Find a support network to help with your kids – a gym creche, friends you can swap with, parents.
* Get that routine happening. If you can’t get out – find something you can do at home and make sure your diet is super tight.
* Visualize your goals – your body, your achievements – make them real in your mind.
* Expect it.
* Demand it.
* Timetable – don’t deviate.
* Set out everything the night before, socks, shoes, keys – everything – it works to get you up.
* Get used to getting out of bed early – do the household chores: prepare breakfasts, lunches, uniforms or clothes in advance. Or, if you procrastinate – leave the non-urgent chores until after your training.
* Find someone who is going to help keep you accountable – somebody who you need to meet – an instructor or trainer who looks out for you and monitors your progress.
* Hydrate and high fibre.
* Fresh food – unprocessed.
* Create social rituals that are not based around food – walking, cultural, sports-based.
* Be honest with people – when they want you to eat that fatty dip or cake, just say you love catching up, but you are making some changes to your health routine.
* Get used to adapting quickly with food – when out, know your best option on any menu.
* Stick to the outside aisles of the supermarket where the fresh foods are.
* Get used to feeling a bit of discomfort as your muscles adapt, or as you push your threshold, and account for it in your daily routine.
* Respect your body- listen to advice.
Search for inspiration among those with whom you have the most in common – then it won’t seem such a leap to model yourself of their way of life.