This Little Miggy Stayed Home: 10 Tips For Working Out at Home (with Kids)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

10 Tips For Working Out at Home (with Kids)

This post is sponsored by Lorissa's Kitchen. Lorissa's Kitchen premium protein snacks are made from 100% grass-fed beef and antibiotic free pork and chicken with no preservatives, hormones and no added msg. 11 grams of protein in every serving makes Lorissa's Kitchen the perfect high protein snack. Thanks for supporting sponsors on TLM!

As many of you know I have only recently started to live (mostly) pain free again after a year and a half with debilitating back pain. (For anyone in a similar boat you can ready about it here, here, here and especially what has helped the most here.) I have felt a new found freedom, love and gratitude for my body and have especially been so grateful for the ability to workout again--to feel the heat of a good burn and to feel my muscles getting stronger feels so good these days! The recovery of my back coupled with the fact that this is my last year in my 30's has been pushing me towards some fitness goals. Specifically I want to me stronger. More specifically, I want to be able to do 10 (or more) pull ups by my 40th birthday. Through out the remainder the of the year I'll be doing monthly fitness and health related posts that are less about what our bodies look like and more about how our bodies feel. I'll also be keeping you up to date on my pull up goals--I've never been able to do one in my life, so this feels big for me.

Like most women body images issues run deep and I have spent (and truthfully still spend) time wishing my body looked different than it, does now. I know that I am not overweight, and so I say that with a heaping pile of self awareness, but in my experience body issues have no minimum weight requirements. Happily I am making progress. Little by little I am successfully starting to appreciate and feel gratitude for my body NOW. In the past, no matter when phase of life 'now' looked like---even in my 20's when I was by every definition thin--I didn't ever seem to appreciate my body now.

With that in mind I want to focus on strength and how I feel, not inches or pounds. There is not going to be a before and after photo, and this is not about achieving a 'perfect bikini body' (although if I can be comfortable showing a picture of myself in a swimsuit that would be a win). After all my back problems the thing I have felt more than ever is gratitude. That gratitude has fueled a desire to both honor/respect my body and to feel strong and challenge my body in a measured, yet gentle way. To have been so limited by pain, and ultimately fear, for so long had a deep impression on me--now I find myself craving physical challenge and even the soreness from a body that has been pushed beyond it's normal capacity.

I'm really grateful to have Lorissa's Kitchen sponsoring this post as part of my strength training regime includes decreasing my sugar intake while increasing my protein intake. Lorissa's Kitchen products are 100% grass-fed beef and responsibly raised pork and chicken without nitrates, added msg or hormones. There are 11 grams of protein in every serving and 4 delicious flavors to choose from including Korean Barbecue, Ginger Teriyaki, Sweet Chili, and Szechuan Peppercorn. So tender and so delicious!

Also, many of you may have read my home tour with Design Mom a couple weeks ago, but today you get an exclusive look at our deluxe yoga studio and fitness room, which also happens to double as our unfinished basement. Super posh. Watch out for spiders.

Over the years I've tried having a gym membership, but for me it's simply not worth it. It's not so much about the cost but about the time. THE TIME! I've found that the quickest I can travel to and from the gym, do a workout, get showered, dressed and ready is 2 hours. If fitness is your jam, your main squeeze, your thing, the hakuna to your matata, then 2+ hours is perhaps not an issue. But if you're more like me and fitness is something you want to have as a part of your life, but not a predominate part of it, then maybe you're more of a home workout kind of gal. I've been doing home workouts for years and today I'd like to share 10 tips for working out at home... with kids. That last part is important.

1. Go walking/running with your kids. This is a great workout if you still have stroller aged kids--and I do. This isn't a year-round workout, but I do this a lot in the fall after we drop big sister off at school and I just keep on walking! I try to go at a fast pace and hit some hills, and I can usually go for 2-3 miles. Sometimes my girls get a little bored, but for the most part they enjoy the sunshine and fresh air as much as I do.

2. Have a dedicated work out space: I feel so lucky that right now with our unfinished basement I have a dedicated space where everything is always set up and ready to go. We even have a huge gym that was left by the previous owners, which has also been great. BUT there have been plenty of years where my 'dedicated space' was the living room where I would roll out my yoga mat and bring my hand weights every time...but it was still my dedicated space! It's surprising how little equipment you need to actually get a good workout. Once you have a mat, a few hand weights and a work out video or two you're good to go!

3. Keep it short. My home work out game changed years ago when I discovered the 30 Day Shred workout video by Jillian Michaels. I still love these videos--20 minute workouts that pack a punch! (They're a little longer when you factor in the warm up and cool down). I did this one video for a couple years before I branched out. They are difficult yet effective and again fast. Working out with my kids around means I need something to be fast. I dig other similar Jillian videos like Ripped in 30 and Killer Buns and Thighs.

4. Make yourself available and accessible to your children. This is key. When I used to do my Jillian workouts I would tell my kids DO NOT BOTHER MOMMY WHEN SHE'S WORKING OUT! This was mainly because I could barely breath, let alone answer a question as I was fighting my way through those workouts. But also, I figured it was 20 minutes and for heaven sake, you can do life for 20 minutes without my help! But without fail they would need/want something and without fail I would lose my cool. Whenever I make myself unavailable to my kids it's funny how suddenly clingy they become. And by setting up the expectation that they should leave me alone, I was setting myself up for disappointment and thus anger and frustration. Now, I find that if I invite them down to the basement--especially Zuzu--and allow her to be close to me while I'm working out, she just hangs out next to me, tries some yo-gut (as she says) moves, and eventually wanders off on her own.

5. Realistic Expectations. Piggy backing off of making yourself available is lowering my expectations. Now when my kids interrupt me, I pause my video or stop my reps or whatever I'm doing and address the problem. Or I simply shout that I'm almost done and be up in a minute or can you ask your big sister to help you? Either way, I don't set myself or my kids up for unrealistic expectations and it's a much better system for everyone.

6. Turn on the TV. Also, sometimes it helps to just let your 2 year old watch Mickey while you workout and not feel guilty about it.

7. If you lack motivation just get dressed. When I wake up super tired and feeling like the last thing I want to do is workout I don't necessarily commit to working out, but I simply put my workout clothes on. Almost every time this small step works by getting me mentally prepared and eventually I'll find my mojo and do a workout.

8. Variety! This is actually new to me. As I said for YEARS I did Jillian workouts. But they were always so hard and challenging (especially if you try some of her other videos) that I often dreaded it. The one good thing about all my back issues of the past year is that I came to really love yoga. So now I rotate between Jillian videos, yoga, weightlifting, etc. When I do what I feel like doing that day--even if it's not super hard core--I actually enjoy and look forward to working out.

9. Work out with your partner or as a family. Lately the husband and I have started working out together on weekends. It's just good relationship bonding to have something to do together--whether it's working out or making out, winkwink. Also, when we do the workout and invite the kids to participate to their ability, everyone has fun. We've invited them to do yoga with us, or last weekend as we did sprints in the yard the kids ran around and just hung out with us. Of course I'm always down for a family hike or bike ride as well--an experience will always trump a simple work out.

10. Be kind to yourself. Maybe you don't want to work out, maybe you have 2 bowls of ice cream a day (me!), maybe you don't know where to start. And maybe any and all these things lead to feelings of shame and self doubt. In my experience shame and self doubt are more toxic than a big ol' bowl of sugar. It's great to have goals, but it's not great to feel constantly weighed down by shame and self doubt if/when we fall short of our goals. I also mean 'be kind to yourself' in terms of loving my body now, but I also mean this in the context of accepting that I still have body image issues and I'm doing my best to be balanced and healthy about it. These days it can be a really sensitive issue to talk about women, weight and overall how we are continually judged by how we look--these are good conversations to have. But the truth is most of us do care what we look like--whether it's make up, clothes, weight, plastic surgery, braces, teeth whitening, cut and color. Extremes on either side--caring too much + not caring at all--are usually a dangerous thing in my book. It's a fine line my friends, and I'm just doing my best. I bet you are too.

Any other home worker-outers out there? What are you tips for working out with kids at home? Any other quick yet good workouts you suggest? Also, I'd love to expand my goals a little but without focusing on a number on a scale I'm sort of at a loss...I don't want to run a marathon or anything--any other ideas? 


  1. This *so* speaks to me right now! I have 11 month old twins...a few months before I got pregnant, I ran a half marathon. Today, I struggled to run a mile. It's so discouraging to me. Plus, my husband and I always worked out together, but now, one of us always has to wrangle the kids. I look forward to the day that we can involve our kids in the workouts and do it as a family again! Best of luck to you...I think 10 pull ups is an awesome goal :)

  2. I'm just getting back into exercising after a couple years of health issues, followed by a "routine" surgery that ended with me in ICU. Now that I'm feeling like myself again, I'm trying to be grateful to still be here, and that I'm getting stronger, rather than focusing on the baby weight that still isn't gone after two years. I'm trying to ingrain my new philosophy in my mind: Eat real food and be active. If I focus on that, I feel good physically and don't allow myself to feel shame for not being perfect.

  3. I'd love to be able to do a few pull-ups! I think that is a fantastic goal. I also set running goals sometimes. I'm not interested in long distances but last year I wanted to run 365 miles in a year...sort of a 1 mile a day thing but not running everyday. I didn't make it because of an injury, but it kept me motivated.

  4. I've done a few kickboxing youtube vids in my living room with my boys, but I prefer group workouts. If I don't have a set schedule and someone to encourage me, I get lazy.

    I've been doing martial arts for 15 years and it keeps me sane--I love getting out of the house, group exercise, adult conversation, and that sense of satisfaction that comes with being really good at something. I go twice a week after boys are in bed. It makes such a difference in my mindset when I have martial arts in my life! I seriously think it was what helped me not have postpardum depression after my second baby. (I was on moderate bedrest with my first and unable to do martial arts.)

    I'm also on week 4 of the couch to 5k program, which is only 30 mins 3 times per week. I just run in the neighborhood when my husband is home so it's not that much of a time suck. I already feel like I get less out of breath when sparring, so it must be doing something!

  5. Anonymous3:47 AM

    I like this post. I'm trying to get stronger without focusing too much on my own body image issues. I find it more motivating to think about having more energy and strength in the future. Thinking about how I really should look slimmer and firmer doesn't motivate me as much. Thanks for sharing your tips!

    However, I am puzzled to read you have your own body image issues? At least these photos of you working out in your enviable basement exercise space show someone who looks the way I hope to look after getting back in shape. Did the back pain that plagued you chip away at your self-esteem where body image is concerned?

    1. Anon--As I said, I know I'm not overweight. I'm thin even, by most standards.

      BUT like a lot of girls in my generation I was raised by women who were told in no uncertain terms that their looks mattered greatly. And therefore that message was passed onto me at a very young age and I would say I have actively thought about my weight since I was in a single digit age bracket. I was in 3rd grade when I started consciously 'dieting." I distinctly remember being told by [a woman in my family] that if I ever gained too much weight she'd send me to a fat farm, I also remember another [woman in my family] grabbing my inner thigh when I was in a swimsuit once and saying, "What's this?" With a laugh. I was probably all of 9 years old and completely horrified. I was so consumed with this idea of weight that I was completely surprised to see a picture of myself from 8th grade recently and to my utter surprise I saw my tiny chicken legs and wondered how I still seemed to think I was never thin enough.

      So yeah, I'm thin. But I'm not as thin as I used to be. Mostly I'm really OK with this and I would say I love and appreciate my body more than I used to. But I can't deny that I still fight this urge to be thin. It was a standard and desire that was deeply ingrained in me from a young age and that's hard to completely block out. I love to work out for the sake of taking care of my body--especially after all this stuff with my back--but I will probably always have that little voice in the back of my mind telling me I'm not thin enough. Luckily, it's not a loud voice, but its there. I hope that explains it. I actually wrote a longer post about it here if you're interested:

  6. I am so glad I came across your list today! I’ll be having my first baby in September, and am DETERMINED to lose the baby weight as quickly as I can. Thank you for this list! I will be bookmarking it and referring back to it quite often!