Athlete Moms: Making it Work
Training for an endurance event, such as a marathon or triathlon, can seem next to impossible for most mothers; however, it doesn’t have to be! Moms with fitness endeavors spanning athletic-like proportions can compete; the key to making it work rests in understanding nutrition, scheduling, and rest and recovery
Athletes have specific nutritional needs to keep the body performing at its peak level. In some respects, the type of sport you perform will play a role in your nutritional needs. For instance, moms playing on a competitive soccer league may have different needs than those training for a half- or full marathon.
Still, whether you are lifting, biking, or punting, you have to eat to perform your best. This can be difficult when it comes to parenting. It often seems easier to snack on fast food than to race home, peel carrots, and dip them into hummus. It can be done, though.
Mix Carbohydrates and Proteins
Joyce Daoust, CN, co-author of the national bestseller The Formula: A Personalized 40-30-30 Weight Loss Program, says, “When we work with competitive female athletes, we design their diets with hormonal control, blood sugar stabilization, and repair and recovery in mind. But when working with competitive female athletes, who are also moms, it’s an added challenge to help them achieve their dietary goals while addressing the needs of the family.”
Daoust designs meals with a ratio of 40 percent carbohydrate, 30 percent protein, and 30 percent fat for every meal and snack. “Balanced meals help stabilize blood sugar, which helps you access stored body fat for energy, doubling energy output, and sparing glucose for the brain,” she says.
Too often, female athletes believe that halting caloric intake will assist with weight loss; not only is this dangerous, but it is incorrect. When you don’t take in enough calories, your body shuts down, placing itself in starvation mode. Not only are you doing damage to your muscles and organs during this time, you’re stopping any weight loss you may have wanted to achieve. Eating for exercise is critical when it comes to health. Don’t skip meals. Eat every few hours to maintain blood sugars. Combine carbohydrates and proteins, and replace liquids with both water and, for longer training events, electrolytes. Also, for snacks, plan ahead.
Another area that athletic moms find difficult is in scheduling workouts. In order to train for a specific event, such as a half- or full marathon, enough time must be spent in training. Mothers have difficulty finding enough time to do laundry, much less to pound the pavement. You can make it happen, though, by following these tips.
Get out early. Research shows those that exercise in the morning hours are more likely to stick with a routine than those who wait until later in the day. If you can train before the sun rises, do it. Set up a home gym. Purchase an assortment of hand weights, such as an exercise ball, videos, and running shoes. Set the clock an hour early (but be sure to get to bed an hour earlier, too) and make a plan to work out before the family wakes.
Don’t Rest During Training. Fitness expert Douglas Taurel recommends training different muscle groups back-to-back with no rest. “(This) raises your metabolic rate, which really gives you the more bang for your buck with less time in the gym.” He suggests using a variety of equipment, from kettlebells to dumb bells. Choose a group of muscles to work and flow from one exercise to the next. In between, you might fit in cardio, such as jumping rope or jogging in place.
Get Your R&R. What do all moms need, but seldom get? Sleep. Babies wake up, kids get sick, and most often mom must come to the rescue in the wee hours of the night. Athletic moms must find time to rest, though, as going too hard for too long results in injury and illness. How can you combat this during training season? Plan to retire to bed early during training season, and on nights before a scheduled hard workout. If the alarm sounds and your body tells you it can’t rise, let it rest. Listening to the body is important when it comes to remaining healthy and injury free. If you have children that still nap, nap at the same time. Twenty minutes of shut-eye during the middle of the day can do wonders for the body, and soul.
Train Smart. Never follow a hard workout with another hard workout. Schedule complete rest days, and mix up the workouts you do when you are exercising. Also, use a foam roller to work out the kinks in your muscles, and schedule regular massages; not only will this help with exercise recovery, but it’s great for the mental attitude as well.