Over the last few years I've had the privilege of speaking to women from all aspects of our industry. One question keeps coming up.
Other farm moms always ask, "How do you have time to stay in shape?"
Every time it's asked, I have a lousy answer. I just smile and shrug, or reply "I don't know!"
For moms on the farm, life is so different. Our mornings already start earlier than most with morning chores. For moms
who farm full time, there isn't a break between sun up and sun down. Many of us leave the farm for a career during the day, only to return to more chores in the evening. We often eat meals on the go, in the tractor or in the barn.
Add in all the normal, non-farm things we do - getting kids to and from practices, cooking dinner, cleaning, helping with homework - and the mere thought of working out seems exhausting.
Many of us have thought about joining diet plans or workout challenges. But those things just don't fit our lifestyles. Starting the morning off with a 150 calorie shake won't get us through morning calf checks and working out twice a day, six days a week? Not going to happen, there's no time!
So why do other farm moms ask me about exercising? Is it because I'm the perfect size and weight? Hardly. Is it because I eat six small perfectly portioned meals a day? Not even close. Is it because I have some kind of education or expertise in diet or exercise? Not unless reading Runners World counts.
The reason I believe women ask me about working out is because of two things - I light up with passion when I talk about running and I've managed to stay relatively stable in my running even after having kids and taking on new challenges in my career and on the farm.
So for the first time I really thought about it, and the answers came relatively easily.
How do I find the time??
1. Support from the Family
My mother-in-law is a three time Boston Marathoner. My husband grew up in a household where Saturday mornings his mother got to run and during the week his dad waited to head to the tractor until his Mom finished her morning runs. There have even been mornings that my husband had to leave early and my father-in-law volunteered to come sit with the boys until I got home from a run!
I take pride knowing that my boys understand it's important for Mommy to have her time and they see their dad support that each morning.
Remind your family of the benefits of having this time, a few days a week. You'll be a better mom, a better spouse and a better farm hand because of it.
2. Wear a Fitbit (or other device)
About a year ago my company did an employee challenge for six weeks and along with it we were given a discount on Fitbits. I purchased one and was shocked to see how little I actually moved during the day, or on my off days. I immediately made it a point to find more ways to move when I was not specifically exercising and it's still rare to see me without my Fitbit on. Having the feedback each day allows me to adjust accordingly. I'll park further away when I go pick up feed. I'll walk lambs an extra lap with the boys at night. I'll take the long way around to do chicken chores or walk to the mailbox instead of grabbing the mail on my way by.
3. Park the tractor... Walk... Lift
Farm life is labor intense but some days we avoid being physical at all costs. I started challenging myself to do more physical work. At least once a day I try to find something I can do more physically. I can walk to check on cows or corn instead of drive. I carry water by buckets to the chickens. I can carry those bales a short distance instead of hauling them in my truck.
Having my Fitbit on all day helps me to know where I am at when I get home from work and helps me know how many more steps I need to get in. And finding ways around the farm, or even in the house, to get those steps is usually pretty easy!
4. Fall in love with running!
I can't tell you how many times I hear women say, "I hate running!". (Half the time that's what I hear from my running friends!)
If you have never tried, or haven't tried recently, give running a chance. There is no cheaper, more effective stress relieving, calorie burning, sweat inducing joy than running.
It can literally be done anywhere for any amount of time and a small investment in a decent pair of shoes is all you need. I travel for work, and often have an irregular schedule. Being a runner means I can work out whether I'm at home or on the road, at the farm or at a stock show, whether I have twenty minutes or two hours.
Start small - focus on being able to run for 10 minutes at a time. Then 15. Make yourself stick to a walk/ run plan for a month and then see how you feel.
Listen - I was the girl in school who would literally do ANYTHING to avoid running the mile. Now I'm a 5 time marathon finisher. If I can run, ANYONE can run!
5. Always remember, tomorrow is another day.
How have I stayed committed all these years? I give myself a break. Too frequently actually.
I take days off, I eat cupcakes (I actually ate three on Sunday after my kids went to bed. But in my defense they really didn't need any more sugar.)
I keep myself in love with running and exercising by not beating myself up over it.
I actually tried one of those online 30 day challenges a few months back. I found myself so obsessive over working out more, eating less that I couldn't think of anything else. I became a hungry, tired, mean lady! After about two weeks I knew there was no way I could continue anything that extreme plus I gained two pounds! When I looked back I realized I hadn't enjoyed anything about the challenge. And so I stopped it right then. It's not sustaible
if you don't enjoy it.
When I have a bad day, or bad week, I don't dwell on it. But I also don't wait for the first of the year, first of the month or first of the week to start again. I get my butt back to it as quickly as possible, and if it takes me too long I can always count on my running friends to drag me back onto the streets.
Farm moms, like all moms, are busy. The real key is making this time for you a priority. In the same way you would never skip morning feeding, don't skip out on this time for YOU!
Kate Lambert grew up in northern Illinois, not on a farm but active in FFA and showing livestock.
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