I have been a parent for a little under 1 year, before that my main focus was my own personal fitness. Now that I have move down the priority list I want to share some insight and challenges that I have faced staying fit as a new parent.
- Energy– No matter how prepared you are nothing can prepare you for the sudden shock of having little to no sleep and spending all your your awake time looking after a child. If you mange to get through the day (and night) in one piece there is a high chance you will want to crash into the pillow at the same time as your child. To overcome this challenge I do my best to exercise before my son has woken up (when my energy is highest) rather than the worst case straight after I put him down for bed (when my energy is lowest).
- Time- Prior to having a child I thought I was busy. Now that I am a parent I don’t have time to be busy. One thing that parenthood does do is make you seriously analyse how you spend your time, because that rare occasion that you get some time to yourself you feel compelled to make the most of it. I try to commit one hour to myself a day (normally to exercise) with the knowledge that if Dad duties call this hour is not guaranteed.
- Motivation- When I am low on energy and even more so when I am short on time my motivation can waiver. That is why it is so imperative to have a plan and a schedule. That is also why I question if motivation is a good thing to rely on . Being committed is more important than being motivated, as commitment should be consistent as relying on motivation is far too variable.
- Diet- Prior to having a child I had a very disciplined diet. Those healthy food habits I ingrained in myself over the years have helped ensure that I stick to a good diet even when I am in full parent mode. It also means I have began to pass these healthy habits on to my son from an early age. Considering yourself as a healthy role model is a great way to keep your diet on track, once you know that everything you eat influences what your child eats it makes you really consider what you consume.
- Guilt- My son may only be awake for 40mins in total while I am at home each day (I am at work during his longest awake time) therefore any time I spend on myself or doing some extra work I feel guilty that I should be spending time with him. That is why it is important to have an agreed fitness schedule, that way there is allocated time each week where you can focus on yourself and your fitness without feeling like you ‘should’ be back home being a parent.