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Small Changes, Big Results

We may still have some weeks to go before the snow melts, but there's something about March that brings the hope of spring; the sun feels warmer, the light starts to change - spring is coming.

The last couple months of winter in Ottawa were tough. I tried to stay positive, but it was really hard on days that I couldn't even walk down the street because of the ice. Because I wasn't able to get outside as much, I found it more important than ever to fit in something active everyday - even if it meant working out in my basement. As a working mom of two young boys (4 and 2), it can be hard to find the time for exercise.

About a year ago, I realized if I ever wanted to exercise again, it was going to have to be before my kids got up. To any parent out there with young kids who have had their sleep taken away, the idea of getting up before your kids seems crazy. Well, I’m now over a year into my new routine, and the thought of not getting up at 5:30 am seems crazy.

It feels so good knowing you’ve exercised, showered, and had some coffee, all before your kids get up. Having that uninterrupted time to move your body and clear your mind will help you move into the day with more energy and focus. I also find that I have a happier and more positive attitude, and more patience (most days).

I recently shared my story on social media, and a lot of busy parents related to how I felt. But 5:30am? Really? Here are a few tips and tricks that got me from one early morning wake up a week to five, and how I now also squeeze in a shower, prayer/meditation, makeup on, hair done and have a coffee (ok well at least a few sips) before my kids get up.

Start Small

I would recommend starting with two mornings a week. Perhaps avoid days that you also have evening activities scheduled, as you'll find when you get up earlier, you have to go to bed earlier (I'm sleeping most nights by 10:00pm).

Once you get used to the idea of getting up early, add on another morning, and then another, and another. Before you know it, you'll be working out 5 days a week! Small changes, big results!

Set Yourself Up for Success

Have your workout clothes right next to your bed. I swing my feet off the bed, onto the floor, and change into my gear. Now there’s no turning back.

You may have to invest in some free weights and a bench (10 lb and 15 lb weights are a good start), but now you can cancel your gym membership and will have some extra money to invest in your new home gym!

Keep it Short and Sweet (aka challenging!)

Ease the transition by committing to short workouts that pack a punch. I workout for 15 - 20 minutes, but I choose challenging circuits using the Nike Training Club app. It’s free and allows you to customize the workouts to fit your needs (you can even choose Yoga!). Mentally, it's a little easier to get out of bed knowing that you only have to workout for 15 minutes!

Dry Shampoo is a Must

After my quick workout, I go straight upstairs and jump in the shower where I do my daily prayer/meditation (I also try and meditate for 10 minutes after my kids are in bed as well). I work from home most days, so the only times I leave the house are to do pick-ups and drop-offs. Some would argue putting makeup on and doing my hair is unnecessary, but I like to feel my best. I find it helps with my overall mood and productivity. Before kids it would take me an hour to get ready (I used to wash and blow dry my hair EVERY DAY). Now, I wash my hair twice a week (dry shampoo is key), and I can get ready in 15 minutes. My amazing husband brings my coffee up, and shortly after I hear, “Mommy, I'm awake!” Instead of feeling anxious and overwhelmed, I’m excited to see my kids, and grateful for the day ahead.

Do Something That Scares You

The idea of getting up early to exercise may be a scary thought, but lately, if something scares me, I run right towards it. Last year, I made the decision to do my 200 hour yoga teacher training. Everything about it was unknown and scary. It was a lot of work, and time away from my family, but it felt awesome to overcome fears, while pursuing my passion and doing something for me. After-all, aren’t the best things in life just on the other side of fear?

The biggest takeaway from my yoga experiences is that the more I did things that scared me, the less scary and overwhelming other things in life seemed. It’s like I’ve gained a new found courage or strength that allows me to move forward in the face of fear.

Maybe the idea of getting up early freaks you out. Change is scary, but I encourage you to try it. The more you push yourself, are uncomfortable or live scared, the more courageous you become. As the great Michelle Obama said, “For me, exercise is more than just physical - it’s therapeutic.” I totally agree.

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