As a busy mom of three kids, staying motivated to workout can sometimes feel like a chore. I roll out of bed to the alarm, change into my workout clothes, lace up my shoes, and already feel exhausted before my workout begins. It doesn’t matter if it means walking to my basement for a Peloton ride, driving to an early morning group fitness class, or meeting up with friends for a sunrise group run. Keeping my mental state positive and enthusiastic is the key to achieving my fitness goals. But what’s a mom to do when the fatigue of managing my family’s schedule seems too overwhelming; and as a result, my workouts move to the backseat? Here are my tips for keeping my head in the game and my training on point.
Create a motivational playlist
I’m one who loves moving to the beat. Music pumps me up, and singing is my jam. Good music clears the dread of the workout from my mind and keeps my focus on the exercise routine ahead. When I can pair the movement to the beat of a song, that pushes me even further. As a runner, songs that match the ideal running cadence help me to run faster. 180 steps/minute is the most efficient running cadence to avoid injuries and keep the pace. I find songs whose beat is near 180 beats per minute to help maintain the tempo of my legs and build my motivation to push a little more each time.
Have a goal in mind
I find that when I head into a workout with a clear goal, I am set up better to achieve my goal. Some days my goal is simply to get out the door. Other days, it may be to go a specific distance or maintain a certain pace during a run. When I’m in the gym, it could be to improve the form of my squat or ensure I breathe properly during a deadlift. If I’ve had a stressful day, I may use my workout as meditation to reduce my stress levels and think through a solution. When I wake up after a poor night of sleep, sometimes I tone down the intensity of my workout knowing my body needs movement but not overactivity.
Talk to yourself
Creating an inner monologue with yourself is powerful. This doesn’t mean being your inner critic. It’s about positively talking to yourself about the steps of an exercise or giving yourself props for hitting a PR. For example, when doing a deadlift, I’ll talk through each step and say, “plant your feet, hinge at your hips, set your shoulders, flatten your back, now push through the ground and pull the bar to your hips.” Not every rep will be perfect but when you do it correctly, you know, and it feels good! The same goes for running. If I’m doing time-based interval running drills, I break the time up into quarters. The first quarter is always hard but by the time I get to the half-way point, I tell myself, “You made it halfway, the rest is downhill!” I easily put it into perspective and realize doing anything for a minute or 2 is nothing in the scheme of a day, a week, a year.
Be in the present
Life is hectic so exercise becomes my time to be in the moment. I turn off notifications, tell my family not to interrupt me, and stop thinking about all the tasks on my to-do list. Giving myself an hour of “me” time is healthy not just for my body and mind, but for my family too. They know that just as they enjoy their sports, to be the best mother I can be involves a dedicated workout schedule.
Take one step at a time
While we all love a big goal like training for a marathon or building more muscle mass, the small wins are just as important. The everyday victories pull us through to the next level. For me, this could be drinking more water, eating a healthy breakfast full of protein to hold me over until lunch, or getting 8 hours of sleep so I’m present for the day ahead. I try to stay focused on what I can accomplish today so I can get closer to my goals tomorrow.
Develop better habits
Our lives are designed around the things we do habitually. If we make exercise part of a weekly schedule, then we are more willing to do it. Personally, exercise is my non-negotiable. It’s part of my calendar, and exercise comes first before everything else. Will my business be okay if I arrive late…YES! Will my family be okay if I step away for an hour…YES! Will my family starve if dinner is ready 30 minutes later than normal…NO! I truly believe in the power of habit stacking. When you stack one habit on another everything falls into a sequential pattern, so you are always moving ahead. For example, the night before a workout, I set my clothes and sneakers in my bathroom and my water bottle in the kitchen. That way when I wake up, I don’t have to think about the process. I get ready, put on my clothes, walk downstairs, grab my water bottle, and out the door I go! I make it so easy that I could do it with my eyes closed!
Find your tribe
Before I had kids, I often worked out alone. I enjoyed heading to the gym or running out the door on my own. I had a lot of time to fit exercise into my schedule. Once I had kids, that all changed. I was tired and lacked the motivation to workout. I started building up each workout in my mind as a challenge because life was busy and having time to myself felt selfish. It required a huge amount of effort and simply starting a workout became harder over time.
However, as I connected with other moms who felt the same, we decided to start a running group. We set specific days and times that worked for all of us and stayed accountable to one another. My time with these women became therapeutic as we discussed common struggles and pushed ourselves to get through each workout despite lack of sleep, work/life stress, and common aches and pains. When life moved my family to another part of town, I did the same thing. I reached out to a local mom’s Facebook group and asked if anyone wanted to run with me. Soon we had 5 moms getting up at 5am to meet in the neighborhood and run for 45-60 minutes. It didn’t matter how fast we were; it was our non-negotiable social time. Over the years, it has made us better moms, better spouses, and stronger women in our professional lives. These ladies are truly my tribe - they motivate one another to show up day after day!
What if you are not a runner? This concept applies to other forms of fitness, too. I’m a big fan of group fitness classes like Orangetheory, Shred 4/15, and CrossFit. Believe me, it was a little intimidating initially stepping into a class with 24 other people that seem so motivated. For me, the workouts were difficult , but I stuck with it, and soon I made friends with the people that attended the same class times. We struck up a conversation and began looking forward to seeing each other. Not all of us were great at doing exercises but everyone was supportive regardless of our levels. I began looking forward to seeing these people, and it made the challenge of the workout so much easier.
I hope by now you are feeling a little more motivated to try one of these strategies. I’m not suggesting that you apply every one of these. Aim for consistency, not perfection. All I ask is that you choose one that speaks to you and try it. Once you’ve become consistent with that one, move to another until you’ve stacked a few strategies together. Staying motivated through all the ups and downs of life is a struggle but with a clear mind and a present heart, our bodies can push through most anything. Let your workouts become the medicine that gets you through it!
Thanks for reading,
Lauren Sok MPT
Founder & Physical Therapist
Fearless leader and mother of the team, Lauren took the leap to found Functionize in 2015 after nearly 20 years in conventional physical therapy practice with the ultimate goal of creating a new legacy for her family and her colleagues.
Finding energy in helping others and joy in watching them succeed, Lauren embraces childish enthusiasm and overt optimism in the face of entrepreneurship. Despite doubts and challenges, Lauren braved starting a cash-based physical therapy practice at a time when private-pay was a novel concept in the healthcare industry.
Raised in a small, blue-collar town in Pennsylvania, Lauren grew up with her parents encouraging and enjoying an active lifestyle; as a result, she grew up watching them age constantly with grace and agility, which became a prime motivation for her to help others do the same. Lauren came to learn that a proactive approach to health and wellness is the key for living your fullest life. The first in her family to go to college, Lauren laid the foundation for Functionize in hard work and determination.
To create the dream team, Lauren carefully curated a culture of dynamic, invested and innately curious experts in relentless pursuit of providing best-in-class care and a customized approach for each individual patient.
Lauren’s intention is for her clients to feel they have a coach, partner and friend in with Functionize. Her goal is to ensure every person who comes into the Functionize fold leaves the education, support and empowerment to regain control over health and optimize wellness. Ultimately, she is dedicated to disrupting the current approach to healthcare for one that focuses on humans as a whole as opposed to the sum of symptoms.
Today, Lauren lives in Dunwoody with her husband, Kevin, teenage twin boys, Ethan and Austin, and spunky daughter, Sienna. When she is not running between sporting events, networking socials, supper clubs, carpooling, and school volunteering, Lauren enjoys traveling, running, a lazy day on the beach, OrangeTheory Fitness, and exploring the food and events in Atlanta, GA.