It’s not easy to stay fit after children. Active? Yes. But finding time for our own fitness routines can take a backseat to other demands once baby is born. Enter Hot Sweaty Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom by Kara Thom and Laurie Kocanda (Andrews McMeel, hotsweatymamas.com, $14.99). Laurie is a mom of two daughters and Kara is a mother of four. They recently spoke to The Parent Paper (alternating answers) in an e-mail Q&A.
Question: Why the term "hot sweaty mamas?"
Kara Thom: When we say "hot" we literally mean hot, as in overheated, panting, flushed-in-the-face hot. For that reason we loved the play on the term "hot mama," which is a popular moniker for everything from fashion boutiques and jewelry to websites and books. But whichever variation of "hot" you consider yourself, it's the "sweaty" part that we think is most important.
Question: What is the biggest fitness mistake moms make?
Laurie Kocanda: The biggest mistake moms make is adopting an all-or-nothing attitude about fitness. Motherhood is full of the unexpected, which oftentimes means things don't go according to plan. When that happens we have to be content with Plan B, maybe develop a Plan C on the fly, if we are going to get and feel fit. Any exercise – ven if it doesn't get you hot and sweaty – is worth it in the long run when you consider both the mental and physical benefits. You are making small deposits that will eventually pay off. Guaranteed.
Question: What is the single best thing moms can do for their own health and well being?
Kara Thom: Be kind to yourself. When you put your day in perspective, considering all the variables, you might be enormously satisfied with "just" getting in a walk to the park with the kids (instead of that boot camp class you hoped to make it to). In the same way we have to consider the stages in our life, too. Some years might lend themselves to marathon training, other years we might need to scale back our fitness goals because there are other things happening in our life. No sense beating yourself up for what you can't do. Be happy with however you can squeeze fit in fitness.
Question: What about moms who are too busy for exercise?
Laurie Kocanda: Finding time to exercise is really about identifying and living by the priorities in our life. Moms often say they are too busy taking care of their families to fit in exercise, but we have ask, "Aren't you a member of the family, too?" In fact, aren't you a pretty important part of the family equation? Most moms don't let their kids skip a soccer practice or swim lesson, but don't hold themselves equally accountable to their fitness endeavors. We have to be crafty, but like everything in life that holds value, we will give time to the stuff that really matters.
Question: Is losing weight an important part of being fit?
Kara Thom: It can be if someone starts out on their fitness journey obese and fighting off chronic diseases that are caused by excessive weight. But we make the point in the book that the focus of fitness should be on your health, not fitting into your favorite jeans. But fitting into your favorite jeans can certainly be a fringe benefit. I don't think there's a woman out there who wouldn't like to rid herself of excess flab, but fitness can transform the body in other important ways too: a healthier heart, improved stamina, stronger muscles. Then there's the mental transformation: improved mood, greater self-confidence and power over your life. When you get a taste for all that, the scale will be less important.
Question: How can other members of the family support a mom's fitness goals?
Laurie Kocanda: Having a good support network is essential if Mom's fit lifestyle is going to take hold. Family members can help by providing encouragement and support – both in action and in word – whenever possible. Help keep Mom accountable by asking about her workouts; show her what a wonderful mentor she is by joining her whenever possible. In this way, she'll be encouraged to continue on her path to fitness.
Question: Is there a secret to staying motivated?
Kara Thom: We have this to say about motivation in the book:
"Exercise probably won't become part of your lifestyle if you rely on a single motivator –for example, weight loss, because your friend talked you into joining the gym, or because "it's the right thing to do." Sure, any one of these reasons will do a great job of getting you started down the path of fitness, but it may not provide enough force to sustain a fit life. A list of good reasons, though – including those mentioned above – can create synergy for your motivation. On some days that "one good reason to exercise" might fail you, but with five others on the list, how can you refuse?
Even with your list of good reasons to workout, motivation is more easily achieved when you are doing activities that are an authentic expression of yourself. Be active in a way that you enjoy so much you look forward to doing it and will happily make time for it in your day.