Being a mama and juggling the care and love for your family can leave you exhausted at the end of the day. Marcy discovers how some families are increasing their energy and reducing their stress through regular exercise.

My husband and I share a deep desire to be in good physical health because we recognize the impact our physical health has on our ability to be actively involved in the lives of those we love. In an effort to inspire or rekindle a drive for a healthy you, I’d like to invite you to sit down with a cup a coffee and meet mama Erika, mama Shannon, and dada Kris.

Erika and Shannon live in Missouri while Kris resides in Tennessee. Erika and I are neighbors and running partners. Shannon and I went to high school together. And Kris is my cousin.

How many children do you have? And what are their ages?

Erika: I have three boys. They are nine, five, and one.

Shannon: I am a mom of two. Bryleigh is six and Aven is five.

Kris: I have two children. Elijah is six years-old and Adonai is two.

Has fitness always been part of your lifestyle?

Erika: Fitness has been part of my life even from some of my earliest memories of going on walks with my father. As a kid, my friends and I would be gone for hours each day riding our bikes. As I got older I was always playing some sport whether it was with friends for fun, a recreational league, or school team. I have always loved running, so I would go running on my own outside of track practices quite often.

Shannon: Yes fitness has always been in my life as with growing up with sports, gymnastics, dance, indoor/outdoor soccer and softball. Once I was in high school I joined cheerleading and each year was enrolled in weight training classes. At age 16 I joined a gym for workouts.

Kris: Yes and no. I have always played sports, but while I was playing soccer I broke my back. That led to weight gain. Before I knew it I went from weighing 180 pounds to weighing 260 pounds. I am now in the best shape of my life!

What motivates you to work out?

Erika: I think our number one motivation that everything else evolves from is a motivation to do it for “me”. Is there any of us that doesn’t like to hear someone tell us that we look great? I like to look “in shape.” Exercise also helps me reduce stress. I love to feel healthy and strong. Strong, healthy bodies can help us live longer and stronger lives. I want to live a long and strong life to have as much time as I can with my family, friends, and future family.

Shannon: Working out not only makes me feel good about my physical appearance it is a great stress reliever for me when I have the time without forcing it to be a ‘must have’ on my schedule.

Kris: My family motivates me the most – knowing that I will be able to play sports and run around with them is great feeling. I also recently became a Beachbody coach to help motivate others to exercise.

How frequently do you work out in a given week?

Erika: I always have an overall target amount of times I want to run and strength train each week. I usually like to run five times a week hitting a specified mileage each week and strength train two days a week as well as play soccer on Sundays.

Shannon: I used to workout five to six times a week, but now with kids, a job, and being a single mom with having full custody, currently I shoot for at least three times a week.

Kris: I usually work out six days a week. I alternate between cardio and resistance training.

How do you make time to work out?

Erika: I know many people say that they do not have time for workouts or other things as well. Truthfully, we have time for the things we deem important. We have time for the things we make time for. If something is important to you, you will make sure it happens. I think if we all were to examine our daily schedules we would find that we really have more time than we think we have. If I spent three hours watching TV every night maybe an idea would be to take one of those hours and spend it on working out. Working out actually creates more time for you than taking it away because of the increased energy level that comes from workouts.

Shannon: Making time to work out is difficult. I currently work three 12 hour shifts 7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesday, and Thursdays, so I try to head to gym on days I’m not working. Tuesdays, Fridays and on a Saturday or Sunday. I also run around with both my kids which is a workout! Being a pediatric nurse I’m constantly lifting which is also a workout during work. In winter seasons my son and I snowboard.

Kris: I usually make time in the mornings. I work out at least an hour before I go to work. It helps give me energy to get through the day.

What advice do you have to mamas and dadas who want to get back in shape but can’t find the time?

Erika: You can make the time. With work, kids, and various other responsibilities, sometimes finding the time to work out can be a bit tricky. But with planning, you can make it work. Every Sunday evening I sit down and take a few minutes to plan my workout schedule for the week. If it is on the schedule, you will be more likely to do it. Practically speaking, many gyms now offer childcare or sometimes it is fun to go on a family walk together or do some sort of activity together. My nine-year-old son goes running with me quite often on my short runs. We also goof around in the yard together playing soccer. Nike said it best with their slogan ‘Just Do It’.

Shannon: When busy in our daily lives, finding time is hard. There are multiple ways you can workout without hitting a gym though. When I take time away from gym because it’s getting stressful just to get there, I put kids in bed and find a quick workout video on the Internet to do at home. Or I take walks with my kids. There are many alternatives to working out. You just have to find what’s best for you. It can be as simple as taking stairs and not elevators or parking further away at stores instead of circling to find a ‘front’ parking spot.

Kris: You will always find 100 excuses not to work out. Stay positive about it. The time is there; you just have to find it. My boys know my routine and love to work out with me! Start out small and work your way into it.

Sometimes we battle with finding time to work out and sometimes we battle with boredom. How do you add variety to the types of fitness you do?

Erika: I love to listen to music while I work out. Yes, very simple I know, but music can add a little fun to your workout. I find that also varying the intensity of your workouts can add a bit of change to your workouts. I love to run. I know some people find running to be boring and get absolutely no joy from running. That is okay! My husband is one of those people. Find various activities you like to do such as swimming, biking, taking a fun class at the gym, or even going for a nice walk. Any activity, even working out, is more fun with a friend or family member.

Shannon: You can always switch up a routine to help with workouts but to avoid boredom. I always listen to music! Some gyms have movie rooms. As long as you aren’t doing the exact routine daily, you shouldn’t have to face getting bored. If you find yourself becoming bored, head to a park, hike, swim, or engaging in sports are all good ways to keep fit.

Kris: I change my routines all the time. I use a variety if workouts like Insanity, P90X, and Insanity Asylum.

What do you do by day? Can you describe your work schedule?

Erika: I am a healthcare professional. I work Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and alternating Fridays. Due to the nature of my job, I have to be on-call at work. This means that if my job calls me in, I have to be available to be at work in 30 minutes. I take usually about 40 hours of call a week. This adds another level of difficulty to my workout schedule but I still make it happen.

Shannon: I’m a pediatric nurse. My schedule normally three 12-hour shifts can change at any time when I pick up another patient. Sometimes I work four 10-hour or five 8–hour shifts as home health care changes with changes of patients.

Kris: By day I am a tattoo artist, so I spend a lot of my time hunched over tattooing. My diet and work out schedule fit into my lifestyle. In my opinion health and fitness is all about finding what works for you. Finding workouts and diets that you can maintain as a part of your routine. Don’t look at it as a diet, but a lifestyle.

– Marcy, Taking Clipping Out of Couponing