Me Time: How the Gym Saved My Life


The gym saved my life as a new mom. I’ve always been an exerciser and gym lover. I exercised throughout my entire pregnancy. The night I went into labor, I was on a spin bike earlier that morning.

Exercise is part of my routine, and I’m big into routine. But it’s also something I love. Before I had Kate, I loved it for maintaining my weight, keeping me healthy, and the endorphin rush. But after I had Kate, exercise came to mean even more than all those things. It became my life preserver.

I went back to the gym four weeks postpartum. It wasn’t because I wanted to trim back that post-baby belly. It was because I needed the release. I needed something for me, or I would combust.

My gym time became the only “alone time” I got as a new mom. Every morning at 5:30 a.m., I’d drag myself out of bed and into my 6 a.m. group fitness class. I was tired, definitely sleep deprived, but something about getting back into my old, pre-Kate routine felt so good.

At the gym, I wasn’t someone’s mom (or back then, someone’s all day milk buffet), I was a woman. Just another woman at the gym, squatting and lunging and cycling and stepping. And I met other women who encouraged me as I made my way back into my pre-Kate jeans.

Moms ask me all the time, "How do you stay in shape?" "How do you make it to the gym?" "How do you have the time?"

I don’t have the time so much as I make the time. And I make that time a priority, guard it furiously, make it known to my family that this is my time for myself, and I need everyone to support me in making it happen.

My best advice to new moms—or any mom, really—looking to snatch back some time for herself and feel better about her body is this: make the time to exercise. Take a class. Hop on the elliptical. Walk with a friend. Jog. And keep that time sacred.

For me, the easiest way I can keep that time for myself is to go to the gym early. I’m talking 6 a.m. early. For those of you rolling your eyes at me, humor me and try it for a week. See if you can stick to it for one month. It’s been said it takes 30 days to create a new habit. Invest 30 days into yourself and see how you feel.

Motherhood’s a roller coaster. And no matter if you stay at home or work outside the home or some combination of both, all moms need time to themselves. Make exercise that time. Use it to check in with your body. Or work through a personal challenge. Try different things to keep your body guessing and your mind active.

Shift your perspective on exercise from a purely weight loss/weight maintaining endeavor and see how fitness can be a gift you give to yourself.

How do you find time to work out and stay healthy?

Feature image courtesy of Flickr.

Sarah Bagley is a wife, mother, and owner of a garbage-eating coonhound. She love getting up early, the color orange, and strong coffee. When she's not chasing her toddler, she's blogging (, freelance writing, and teaching group fitness classes.

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