Motherhood is awesome (when else do you get to play Bingo with M&M markers?), but between the "mommy tax" on fruit snacks, sacks of leftover Halloween candy and spending a huge chunk of time in the kitchen every day, it's a full-time job that can be tough on your waistline. And we won't even go into the damage the little butterballs do to our stomachs while they're inside them. Maybe that's why research says that moms gain an average of 7 pounds per kid.
To keep it from happening, we're told to eat healthier and exercise more, usually by people who don't have to deal with an infant every 30 minutes at night. Fortunately, according to our mommy experts, you don't need to give up your workouts just because you roll with a posse of little people. Here are nine great ways for every mom to stay fit, healthy and happy.
The playground workout
You're already at the park every day the weather is decent, so why not exercise along with the kiddos? A playground has everything you need to make a great cardio and strength circuit, like this "playout" workout from SHAPE. Kara Thom, co-author of Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom and mom of four, adds that playouts "tend to go better if you let them take the lead: Ask them what they want to do and go with it (less whining involved)."
Helpful hint: Yell, "Tag I'm it!" and your kids will got nuts. Tag may be the best sprint workout ever.
"Yoga is a powerful holistic workout that is beneficial for women at every stage of life," says mom Tamara Koscielski, 500 RYT and LifePower Yoga coordinator. "For post-partum moms, it teaches you how to calm yourself, which helps with everything from deeper sleep to milk let-down when breastfeeding. For older women in any stage of menopause, hot yoga (yoga done in a heated room) helps balance your hormones and release stored toxins." Plus, kids are naturals at yoga and will love to do Down Dog and Tree Pose with you, even if they jump on your back when you're in plank (that'll teach you to keep your abs tight!).
Helpful hint: This workout lends itself well to pajamas! Even at 3 p.m.!
Learn about the best yoga poses for flat abs >>
The at-home workout
The internet is a bounty of free workouts. From the short-but-intense offerings of BodyRock.tv to the hardcore CrossFit to the bubbly Pop Pilates, you will never have to pay for a workout again!
Helpful hint: The trick, Thom says, is to lower your expectations. "If I'm working out with my kids around, I know not to expect the same intensity or duration I would have if I were working out on my own. Someone will need a snack. Someone will poop. Someone will pick a fight. And on it goes. But whatever I manage to accomplish is better than doing nothing!"
Mommy and me classes
Many gyms and community centers offer programs like "Stretch and Stroll" at the mall, parent-child swim classes, family boot camps and other classes specifically designed to bring your kids along with you. Koscielski says this is how she first got back into exercise after her daughter was born. "It was a gentle way to work out but still stay with my baby."
Helpful hint: This is a great way to make mommy friends — those girls are health and sanity savers!