Workin’ on my Fitness (In 30 Minutes or Less)

At 38 years old, I am lucky I crave healthy things. I am addicted to salads, seafood, and exercise. However, this was not always the case. I spent the better part of my twenties very obese and unhealthy. At the time, I wasn’t sure how it happened. It was something that snuck up on me, and it wasn’t until I had my first child that my doctor opened my eyes. She said, “Tessa, you’ve just had a baby, and if you don’t change your habits, you’re going to die too young.” This was blunt and exactly what I needed. I took a really good look in the mirror and realized my baby deserved better than someone who had given up in the health department. After all, I was tired of being tired. I was exhausted from the figurative and literal weight obesity gave me.

Most people talk about never being able to get back to their pre-baby weight and clothes after childbirth. However, I am so glad to be 100 pounds lighter than I was before birthing my first child. The only things I have changed: diet and exercise. My health journey is not over. I want to be healthier than I am now, but I will never go back to a life without exercise.

I started small. I stole periods of time for working out at the beginning. Yoga during nap time; running at 5 am; kickboxing during the other nap time. (My first born was an amazing napper.) However, with each new child, it became increasingly more difficult to fit in time for exercise. The last thing I wanted to do after work was to pick my kids up from daycare only to take them to a gym’s child watch center. I wanted my workouts to become more organic. I ran around my school’s campus starting at ½ a mile, to a mile, to two miles, and I’ve even fit a three mile run in after school before picking my babies up from school or daycare.

These sessions were great for my road to a healthier self, but I was getting burned out of the same old workouts. That’s when my best friend joined me in this health journey, and now, we get to steal time to exercise together. Since 2008, we have been doing incredibly interesting workouts. All around our campus after school, our poor students are witness to us throwing tires, dragging plates, pushing sleds, and carrying sandbags. My friend was the mastermind behind these comprehensive workouts. Although the resistance was incredible, we’ve had to tailor them to fit into a 20-30 minute time frame. Research shows this is the optimal workout for a woman’s body who is between 30-60 years old. I completely agree.  This is good news for busy moms.

Here are three workouts for busy moms:

The Playground Party

During the summer, my children and I play hard, but sometimes, I have to sneak in a workout while simultaneously entertaining them. All it takes is a visit to a playground. At most elementary schools, there are large plots of land used for t-ball or soccer. Luckily, my kids’ playground is right next to a soccer field. While my kids play contently on the jungle gym, I am tearing it up next to them.

One of my coworkers and best friends alerted me to “the burpee”. She also reminded me of my love for bear crawls. This quick playground party session includes both thanks to her inspiration. I start at one end of the soccer field and do ten burpees. Next, I sprint as fast as I can to the other side of the field. I do nine burpees. I sprint back to the other side and do eight. I continue this until I get to zero. When I’m done with burpees, I’m done sprinting the length of the field. Next, I bear crawl half of the field. I do 15 push ups at the halfway mark. Then, I stand up and do lunges until the end of the field (approximately 25 on each leg). I do 15 more push ups. I turn around, and bear crawl to the 50. I do 25 crunches, and then I lunge to the end of the field, completing this routine with 25 more crunches. I’ve done the same thing on a tennis court. If you alter it for cement, it’s just as effective when your kids are trying to hit a tennis ball back and forth with each other.

This workout takes me about 20 minutes depending on how many times I have to run to push a kiddo on a swing or “watch” while something amazing is being attempted on the monkey bars. When it’s over, everyone is happy and my body thanks me.

20 Minute Indoor Indulgence

The more my husband and I study exercise, the more research we find that interval training is where it’s at. Richard Gray, a science correspondent for The Telegraph, looked into exercise research and discovered,

The scientists behind the study found that the shorter [more intense] exercise sessions left the participants with more energy and motivation to live healthier lifestyles.

If you have a treadmill, a stair case, or a large hill outside, this workout can do the trick. If you need to use the hill outside, just apologize to your neighbors and invite them to join you. In my neighborhood, I have a very steep hill, but this same cardio element could be applied if there was a treadmill or a good number of stairs in your house. Run up your hill, sprint on your treadmill for two minutes, or race up your stairs as fast as you can.

Once you get to your destination, do ten burpees. After burpees, have your stopwatch available. Turn it on for 30 seconds. Do as many squats as you can in 30 seconds. Once 30 seconds is up, reset it for 30 and do as many push-ups in 30 seconds. When that time is up, do as many crunches as you can in 30 seconds. Write down your totals, so that you can track your progress when you do this again. Repeat this process three times. Incline sprints/burpees/squats/push ups/ crunches. I’ve done this in the summer or in the winter. Either way, my kids were watching it all or joining in. One summer day, I was able to complete six rounds before collapsing.

Yoga with Tiny Yogis

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I dream of the day I can go to a real yoga studio. One year, our school brought in a legitimate yoga instructor.The instructor set up shop in the library. It was the most healing and difficult workout I have ever done. That grew my love for the practice. However, now it’s just me, my daughter, my uncooperative, yet loving dogs, and sometimes YouTube. My co-workers and I love Adrienne on YouTube. She’s equal parts challenging and funny. However, sometimes my daughter and I just do our own thing. Here’s our routine:

Sun salutations 

Forward fold




Mountain Pose

Push-up Position

Upward dog

Downward dog

Warrior two

Pushup position

Upward dog

Downward dog

Other leg Warrior two

We come back to Mountain pose before recycling the set.

We  rest with Child’s pose

We try to hold each position for twenty seconds a piece. We repeat our moves until we feel like we’ve got it all covered.

Bottom line: I have learned since kid #1, we’ve only got one vessel, and we’ve got to take care of it. I think back to my obese twenties quite a bit. I had all of the time in the world to get healthy, but it wasn’t until my children came around to save me from myself that I started to have to sneak in time for exercise. With a full time job, writing part time, and caring for three awesome kids, I can sneak in some killer workouts if I really want to. I’m never going back. This I can promise you. What do you do to stay fit? What do you sneak in and how do you sneak it in? We’d love to know.

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