"How I got back into exercise after having kids"

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About six months ago, my cousin finished a 10km run in 59 minutes. I was super impressed and absolutely thrilled for her – she’s a seasoned runner who enters this running event every year, and she’d been aiming to crack the 60-minute mark for a while.

But hiding under my congratulatory smile was an ugly emotion I didn’t quite know how to process: envy.

I envied that she could run, that she was fit, that entering a run didn’t intimidate her in the slightest.

Most of all, I was envious of the fact that she had prioritised her health and fitness above all else, when I couldn’t seem to prioritise a walk to the park with my girls – a park that is literally a six-minute walk away.

That she somehow found the time, despite being just as busy with kids and work and life as the rest of us, to run several times a week and then nail it over 10km… Well, let’s just say it lit a big spotlight for me on the lack of exercise in my own life. Yes, I have a baby and a toddler, but that doesn’t stop other mums from being fit and active and healthy. So why was it stopping me?

A couple of months ago, I decided I’d had enough. It was time to make some changes.

First, I upgraded my sneakers, then I did some research (ahem procrastinated) by reading blogs, asking fit friends about their habits, and reached out to a personal trainer friend for her advice. My aim was to find a way to incorporate running and fitness into my life, without creating an unrealistic regime that I’d only ditch a few weeks later. This is what I wound up doing:

I stopped thinking about my big goals.

I know – this is the opposite advice that most would suggest. But although I’ve always wanted to enter a 10km run ‘one-day’, that’s not what drives me to pound the pavement for a run/jog/walk combo. Rather, it’s the sense of accomplishment after running for 4km, twice a week – and the absolute non-negotiable nature I’ve attached to these running appointments, regardless of weather or weariness – that keeps me motivated.


I created a habit around running that suits my family.

Everyone says you should exercise first thing to get it done and dusted, but honestly? I don’t want to wake up at 5am to exercise. In fact, I don’t want to wake up a single second before my alarm clock (aka my daughter climbing over my head) wakes me. So, on Monday and Friday afternoons, my husband picks up our kids from kindy while I jog a circuit around our neighbourhood. Thirty minutes later, we all arrive home at roughly the same time.

Image supplied by Sarah Megginson.

I grabbed an accountability partner.

My brother is into everything active – running, surfing, tennis, golf, you name it, he loves it. So when I decided to start running, he offered to be my running buddy. Not only do we keep each other company, but it’s been a brilliant source of motivation on those days when I’ve really been tempted to pike.

I try to be active every day.

On Monday and Friday I run; on the remaining weekdays, I try to do something active. So far this has included things like strolling around local neighbourhoods in the early afternoons; walking to the shops instead of driving; running up and down my driveway blowing bubbles for my kids to chase; and walking to the park then playing with my girls. It’s not exactly ironman training, but it’s creating positive daily habits and integrating exercise into my life in a low-key way.

It’s been about five weeks and so far, it’s working – which is to say that I haven’t missed a run yet, and I’m able to run more than walk during my 4km trot (it used to be the other way around). I’m also a shade lighter (down 1.7kg, officially) and I’m feeling more confident about possibly thinking about potentially entering the 10km event next year. Maybe. At the very least, I can cheer my cousin on, without those pesky jealous emotions getting in the way. Baby steps…

What do you do to get back in to exercising after you've taken a break?