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A single mom or dad? How to find the time, energy and money for fitness.

Chris Gmitro

When you’re a single parent with limited resources, going to the gym or hiring a personal trainer is usually a pipe-dream luxury. Even if you could spare the greenbacks, in terms of time and energy, you’re spread super thin as it is. After all, juggling a full-time job, raising kids, and doing house work makes you way too pooped to even contemplate dressing up as a gym rat for a few hours a week. But doesn’t exercise generate that additional energy you need to make it through the day? Absolutely! Is it possible to stick to a reliable exercise routine at home? Tricky, tricky: this is true.


However, with the right mindset,some basic home gym equipment and pliant tots to accompany you, it can be done – within schedule and budget, for sure. To get an idea on how to burn those excess pounds off while tackling single parenthood, the following valuable tips should help:


For Motivation, Start with Simple Walking


For a single parent, there are multiple benefits for going out for a nice, long walk. You not only exercise cardio and work up a calorie-burning sweat (when walking at a focused, fast pace), you relieve stress and refreshingly change up your surroundings. Have your kids join you, putting the youngest in a jogging stroller designed for multitasking jogging parents.


The idea is to eventually develop the stamina – and motivation – to run, at which point you’ll want to sign up for an outdoor class that trains you to run long distances. Running is easily one of the most easy-to-do, effective and inexpensive ways to get into shape. With just a trusty pair of jogging shoes and a can of mace, you’re good to go.  


Don’t Fall for the Hype


All food products tweaked, primped and geared towards healthy living, weight loss, or even stress relief aren’t worth your precious dollars you can alternatively be setting aside for your kids’ college fund. Do them, and yourself, a favor and avoid all food products that “tell” you how good it is. The “wordless” natural, holistic alternative is always better and kinder to your pocketbook.


For instance, you don’t need fancy, specially packaged granola. It’s down-to-earth wholesome alternative – oatmeal – is an infinitely cheaper version and just as delicious when sprinkled with nuts, cinnamon and raisins at home. Why spring for the “instant, easy microwaveable chicken pesto pasta” when the cheaper-yet-all-wholesome alternative is a mix of lean protein, fresh veggies and organic pasta?


Always braking your supermarket cart for food that is close to the source – Mother Nature being the source, here – will give you the best health, fitness and energy-generating results you are looking for.


Getting Serious Mileage Out of Your Yoga Mat


Involving your kids in your exercise routine can be a family-bonding activity in more ways than you can imagine. Not only does it teach them discipline, technique and a love for health, when you get creative, you can associate art, creativity, and fun with the activity, which is joyful for the entire family.


For example, if you’re avidly embracing yoga and/or calisthenics – using your body weight instead of weights to build muscle strength – you’ll likely go through standard studio yoga mats every 6 months. Using standard kid’s art-and-crafts materials, save the material of your discarded mats for fun family-bonding projects, like creating large pinwheels out of different colored mats, or fashioning a unique decoration trinket for the year’s Christmas tree.


As for a fun, exercise-related activity, teach yourself and your kids to interpret the meaning of wear patterns on your mat every six months. The marks might reveal places where you or your exercising kid could correct technique and form depending on where the body is continually placed on the mat. Deep drag marks, for instance, when practicing yoga, could mean you need to lift your feet a tad higher before you step into and out of certain yoga positions. Consult with a yoga pro friend to get the most meaningful interpretations.


A Final Thought


As a single parent, saving money while optimizing activities and resources so that it benefits the whole family is always top-of-mind. With the above tips, you’ll clearly be generating win-win-win scenarios for yourself and your children alike. The trick is breaking out of the single-parent-mind-cycle-trap of (guiltily) feeling you shouldn’t be spending time and money on exercise that mostly benefits you over your children… particularly in the beginning when you’re not convinced that the effort will pan out


Article by: Travis White