Exercise Routines of a Mother of Seven

I posted some pictures of my abs in an internet forum. A few ladies wanted to know what my exercise routine has been to get to this state after seven children. Well, personally, I am not happy with the way I look, and my post was intended to ask what I can do to get rid of waist fat. Maybe I’ve become a victim of Barbie Doll mentality, and probably shouldn’t worry so much about it, but I do.

Maybe some of what I’ve done will work 1000x better for others with a propensity to have better results. My legs are long, which cuts in on the amount of space between hip bones and rib cage, so I can’t expect to have a small waist. Still, I do want it a bit smaller.

Before I ever had any kids, I was into aerobic workouts. Since after I graduated from high school in 1985 and no longer had the “ten-miles-uphill-both-ways-barefoot” walk to keep me fit (truly, it was more like 2 miles downhill on the way there, and of course uphill on the way home), I started going to local gymnasiums where someone would lead a 30 minute workout in the late 1980s. The cost added up, though, and so I eventually put together cassette tapes of my own favorite songs and worked out to music in my house.

Then I discovered free workout videos on TV. I recorded them on a VCR and did them a few times a week.

In late fall of 1990, my ex-mother-in-law sent me a compilation of workouts, which I used while caretaking a barge that fall and winter in Prince William Sound, Alaska. It contained a couple of workouts by Jane Fonda, some by Kathy Smith, and one by some other people who didn’t impress me so I only tried the workout once and forgot their names.

During my first pregnancy, in 1992, I walked a lot on the mud flats of Muddy River, Alaska, during low tide. In my third trimester, I brought my mountain bike up from my old house in Washington and rode it around the logging roads. After my baby was born, I waited six weeks before launching back into workouts, starting with the gentler Jane Fonda workout and eventually working my way back to the longer one.

After my second pregnancy, I got a device called “The Ab-Flex”, which was supposed to help core muscles. I don’t know if it really helped, or if it was more to do with the aerobic video tape that came with it. THAT was awesome. It worked a lot of muscles and made me sweat. Here it is on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4FJk9MRXSc

That video was my go-to, other than Jane Fonda now and then, and it helped me get back to my pre-pregnancy size and stay in shape. I used it after my third, fourth, and fifth babies, but it broke shortly after my sixth was born, so then I sought out a new copy. It seems to be rare and I couldn’t find one anywhere, so I opted for a few others. I tried a 15 minute routine by Teresa Tapp, and also one called “New Dimension” by Cindy Crawford. The latter I enjoyed very much and was able to start on it easily six weeks postpartum. It has a super gentle beginners level of about 15 minutes. The next level up is a few minutes longer but quite a bit more intense as it uses some hand weights. Then the third level is too long for my tastes, at over 40 minutes. I did it once and never did it again.

Six weeks after my seventh baby was born, I worked my way back into the Cindy Crawford DVD. That first routine is also nice for when I got out of the habit of working out for several months. I’d do it every other day for a couple of weeks and then start on the next level.

I forgot to mention that in 2001, after my fifth baby was born, I discovered Leslie Sansone walk videos. I got a couple of those and loved them. I also was using a stair-stepper machine at home, with computerized programs. I’d put on a headset, listen to music for a half hour, and stair-climb. For about 15 minutes of it, I’d also use hand-weights of 5 lbs each.

In 2012, I bought a Jillian Michaels DVD called “The 30 Day Shred”. I hated it, but I challenged myself to stick with it for 30 days. I documented my experiences throughout in a blog: https://ificandoityoucanprobablydoit.blogspot.ca/2012/03/level-1-day-1.html

I now have settled in with Leslie Sansone walk DVDs. My favorites are “Tone Every Zone”, the strength sessions of which I do with 6 lb and 8 lb hand weights; “Mix & Match Walk Blasters”, which is ten different ten-minute segments you can pre-program on your DVD player (I do three at a time, but sometimes four); and “Walk It Off In 30 Days”. The latter is the most intense Leslie Sansone workout I have ever done and I really like it. I also use 6 and 8 lb weights for the strength session, which is 30 minutes long, and I use 3 lb weights for the 30 minute cardio workout. I guess we’re supposed to alternate days, but I usually end up doing it more like 4-5 days a week rather than 7.

Oh, and walking. Walking is something I can’t overestimate as being important. A good quick pace for a half hour, with a few hills thrown in, feels so good. I started mixing it up with running last spring for HIIT (high intensity interval training). I’d do 25-30 minutes of that out in the rolling hills and winding country roads near my house, at least 3 times a week, plus extra walking just for fun, depending on where I felt like going.

Last fall, I bought a used treadmill for $50. I enjoy it, but it is in my un-insulated basement, which is very cold in winter, so I didn’t use it at all in December, January, or February. It’s great for doing HIIT workouts with a headset full of music, but not nearly as fun as being outdoors.

Of course, diet is important, too. In 2009, after my seventh baby, when I got up to 180 lbs, I was having a hard time losing the weight. Cutting calories and doing my usual exercise routines weren’t helping me get below 160 lbs. I had several other health concerns, too, and so I went to my naturopath. He told me to do the anti-Candida diet. The gist of that is to cut out all sugar – an addiction that is tough to break, but so worth it – and also I couldn’t have all kinds of other things I’d habitually eaten. Finally the weight started coming off. I got back to 120 lbs within eight months.

I am now 130 lbs, at 5’6″, but want to get back to 125, which has been my norm for the past decade or two, except for a few times when I dipped to 115 during some severe depression and heavy stress – I don’t want to be depressed and underweight, though.

I’ve been trying the ketogenic diet, and although I like the foods that are involved, I’m not having much success in losing the ten pounds I gained this winter. I’ve lost four pounds since starting in January, now three months ago. Maybe because I am 51, I need to accept 130 as the new 120? I hope not.

I guess that’s about it. I am looking forward to getting back into HIIT outside as soon as the snow and ice are gone around here.

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