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Elisa Batista's picture

When my son was born in 2003, I had no idea how I was ever going to exercise, much less work and keep a roof over our heads while caring for an infant – and a colicky one at that!

I am pleased to announce that I survived the hellish sleep-deprived year that was my son's first year of life – lol! – and am back on the exercise bandwagon. I even lost the almost 50 pounds that I gained with my son, and then again with my daughter in 2007. It took some planning on my part, and lessons learned along the way, which I am sharing with you all today.

Step 1: Prioritize your sleep. I know that it seems counterintuitive, but a good night’s sleep – or any sleep while you are caring for an infant! – is crucial for all aspects of your life, including weight loss.  It regulates your diet and exercise output. It affects your mood around your baby and loved ones. I actually didn’t work out for the first year of each of my children’s lives, trying to catch up on sleep at every opportunity. It only made me come back stronger when I hit the treadmill again.

Step 2: Identify when and how much time you have to exercise. This means sitting down and drawing a calendar with how you spend every minute of your day: include the times you are working, sleeping, caring for your children, cooking dinner and other household chores. When I started working out again post-baby, I realized that the only time I had to work out was before they awoke. That meant that I would work out from 4:30 am to 6 am. 

I know that it sounds insane, but trust me, that peaceful 1.5 hour in the morning was heaven. The house was quiet, and that was uninterrupted time for me.

My children are now 11 and 7.5 and no longer waking up at 6 am. Nonetheless I am juggling a full-time job with shuttling them to school in the morning and making dinner at night. My schedule includes three boot camps a week (Monday, Tuesday and Friday) at 6 am and soccer one evening a week (Wednesday) from 7pm to 9 pm. 

Step 3: Work around inconsistent childcare schedules. Let’s be frank: unless you can afford a household of round-the-clock help, most of us struggle to find childcare to work out or end up working out around our children’s schedules. Here are some ideas: work out while it’s still dark out whether in the morning or at night. Be safe and use lights and brightly colored clothes if exercising outside!

When my son was a baby and toddler, I had a YMCA membership with built-in childcare that cost $3 an hour. I’d use the child watch for the hour I’d run on the treadmill.

For the times my husband was away on business, I’d do exercise DVDs at home. Exercise DVDs are a mother’s best friend, and I’ve tried many of them: a couple of Tracy Anderson’s videos, “Post Pregnancy Workout” being my favorite; a few of Jillian Michael’s videos, my favorite being “No More trouble Zones”; and Tony Horton’s P90X. Here are some quick thoughts on these DVDs:


Step 4: Schedule exercise as you would sleep and meals. There are so many health benefits to regular exercise, including preventing chronic illnesses and improved mood and energy levels. What parent couldn’t use more energy? I’m convinced it is a major reason I am able to do all that I do in one day every day.

Give it a try, and let me know what you think! 

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