Staying Fit With a Full-Time Job (and a Baby)

This is a guest post, kind of stemming off of a post I wrote last week about making time to stay fit.  I was not comfortable speaking to staying fit while you’re a mom, because honestly, I’m not a mom, and I feel like I’m not necessarily in a position to judge.
Over the past year or so, Chelsie, a good friend, and an AMAZING bridesmaid, has made the transition from being a hard-working wife, to a hard-working wife and mommy, and she’s managed to, in my opinion, find herself in even better shape than she was prior to becoming a mommy, all the while baking, working full-time, and making sure that Evie gets fed too!
So from mommy to mommy, here some tips to staying fit with a job, husband, and baby!
If you know me in real life or if you follow me on Instagram ( then you know that I bake often.  This fact frequently leads to the question, “But why aren’t you huge!?” When Cheri, who is basically a fitness goddess, asked me to share how I work full time and stay fit I was honored that she wanted my take on things.  I am in no way a professional when it comes to nutrition or fitness.  However, I do know what is working for me.  My daughter, Evie, is nearly 17 months old and I find myself in better physical shape than I have been in, in years.  That is not to say I left the hospital in non-maternity clothing.  I gained the recommended 35 pounds while I was pregnant and it took about 8 months to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight.  I have since continued the journey with the only goal in mind being to be as healthy as I can for my daughter.  I think my methods break down into three categories that hopefully even persons who are not parents can take tips from.

1. Breastfeed

Ok, so this one sounds mom-specific, but hear me out.  We’ve all heard “breast is best” and there are endless studies that show breastfeeding is excellent for babies and their mothers (for more on that HERE ).  This, however, is not that post.  When you are pregnant you are supposed to eat 300 extra calories a day to provide your developing baby with enough nourishment. When you are nursing you are supposed to eat 500 extra calories a day. Breastfeeding burns 500 calories, y’all.  FIVE HUNDRED for snuggling with a cute squishy baby (or a cute wriggling toddler who may or may not be pulling your hair and presently has one foot on your throat, or still yet 500 calories for spending some QT with that pump you love, but hate).
So, you don’t have a baby? You’re just busy and you want to be healthier.  Still a very likely, very valid scenario.  My suggestion here is to take a cue from breastfeeding mothers and limit your alcohol and caffeine.  I love coffee, and in what sometimes seems like another life, I loved bourbon.  I will not begrudge you that morning cup of joe or occasional glass of wine (though I did give up alcohol and caffeine for my entire pregnancy… except for what caffeine is found in chocolate- I have my limits.), but it is something to think about when you are considering calories.  It is extremely easy to drink extra calories without even batting an eyelash and that goes for cocktails and coffee drinks alike.  The same goes for sodas, teas… you know what your vice is.
2. Eat Like A Toddler (or how you would want your toddler to eat in a perfect world)
When introducing solids to Evie we chose to go with a modified version of baby led weaning, which basically means no baby cereal and no jarred foods or purees.  The short answer as to why we went that route is that the nutritional value in cereal is artificially added (it’s “fortified”) and I would rather she get nutrients from a rainbow of foods, not enhanced rice.  She eats what we eat, only in a more baby friendly version, which means our meals have to include things that are baby friendly.  We started her out on single ingredient foods that were naturally the right texture for somebody who only has gums to work with – think avocado, banana, steel cut oats.  As often as possible she ate (and still eats) fresh fruits and vegetables (strawberries created the crime scene above) with no added sugar and no added salt.  When I’m cooking dinner for a discerning toddler (now almost 17 months and quite the foodie)  I can’t throw her just any old junk in good conscience.  Having a child makes you a better person, and in the case of my husband and I, it has made us better eaters.  Before you put something in your mouth ask yourself if you would feed it to a toddler.  I’m not asking you to eat mush, but I think you get the point.  It takes a little planning – you have to buy whole foods if you want to eat whole foods- but it’s so incredibly worth it.  Instead of handing her a pop-tart, I can just as easily (with less than 15 minutes of prep on a prior evening) hand my daughter a hard boiled egg for breakfast.  Grab some fruit or half an avocado and you’re set in minutes!  If you’re just getting started with cooking, simple is best.  Less than 5 ingredients is perfect, raw is absolutely acceptable (carrot sticks as a side? Yes, please!), and seasonings are your friend. I’m pretty sure apples are the original convenience food.  We have excellent resources here in Nashville in our various farmers markets.  The main market is open 363 days a year and we have neighborhood markets nearly every single day in the summer that spring up all over town where we can buy locally grown produce as well as grass fed meats and dairy.  Look around a little, I’m sure these things are available in your area too (Tip: you can sometimes source local free range chicken eggs via Craigslist). Odds are good you’ll be able to support local agriculture and it’ll be easier on your wallet than a health food store.
Like I mentioned earlier, I am a baker.  Another one of my food related tricks is that I have kind of an unwritten rule where I make my own junk food. This allows me to eliminate preservatives for the most part and ingredients I can’t pronounce. The added bonus here is that because I went to the trouble to make it from scratch and use quality ingredients I tend to savor it as a treat a little more. I eat a piece (or two), and ultimately take the rest to work to share.
The same goes for bread as it does for cake.  I make most of our sandwich bread. I don’t find myself chowing down on toast because while simple to make, bread takes time, and time is not something I have a lot of these days.
Side note: My toddler loves curry.  Who would’ve thought?!
3. Rethink Your “Workout”
Just because you don’t have time to fight traffic on your way from the office to the gym, change clothes, kick your own booty in a high impact cardio class for an hour and a half, then swim some laps before heading home doesn’t mean you don’t have time to work out.  I can not block out hours at a time to workout inside or outside a gym.  The number of hours in a day do not exist and I do not have the childcare that this requires.  My husband and I have been on ONE real date since sweet Evie was born and sometimes I feel like I hardly have time to shower.  However, I do have time to take a brisk walk at lunch or after dinner.  I do have time to do 20 pushups or hold a plank until my eyeballs pop out while on the floor playing with Evie (babies think planking is HILARIOUS).  It’s an added bonus when she climbs on top of me to add an extra 27 pounds to my pelvic tilts (if you can’t tell, I’m all about rebuilding my core post-partum) and the same goes for squats.  She has a good time, we get to play, and mama gets in a little extra strength training.  Next time you’re catching up on your Twitter feed do some simple barre exercises (tendu, anyone?).  Netflix has eliminated the commercials for many of us, but if you’re watching regular tv, do something, ANYTHING during the commercial break.  5 minutes here, 10 minutes there adds up, and 5 minutes is better than no minutes.
It’s not perfect, and I don’t think I’ll be writing a best selling fitness book anytime soon, but I hope I’ve provided some insight into what works for me.
How do you stay fit with a full time job?

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