There are so many reasons to enjoy cycling, apart from the general fitness factor. There are also so many articles for women based only around weight loss and looking a certain way. This isn't one of them. I want to break this post down to a specific group of women- mothers. I’d like to share some tips as both a fitness professional and a mum about being active and specifically, cycling.
That said, this advice is not exclusive to mums at all- any busy woman may find it hard to make time for the things she loves to do.
After I had my kids was when I decided to incorporate fitness into my life in a big way. I didn't even own a bike before then! I’ve now made it my job to help and motivate people to real goals in indoor cycling and general fitness.
I believe in the importance of a holistic fitness regime that includes all aspects of training- including strength and conditioning, rest and relaxation.
I’m sharing my tips as it may trigger something within you, the reader, to make changes to the way you are prepared to live your life and treat your body and your wellbeing. You might recognise aspects of yourself in some of the story- perhaps you have dedication and determination in other areas of your life, as in, you make all the time in the world for your kids, but just need to be able to channel this into your goals around health and your spare time.
You might be able to take some tips as to how to make changes. An achievement, beyond a dress-size or an event- will keep you going and accountable for life. There will be days when people around you are sick, your legs are tired or you are not pedalling or lifting as well as you’d like. Days when you can see only the bad bits in the mirror, or somebody might get sick, or you get up to go for a ride and it’s absolutely pouring down. The difference between not reaching your goals will be how you handle these down-times. Ultimately, the most exhilarating moments will be the ones where you realise that you pushed through these feelings of doubt and just kept going, head down.
If you have children, thinking of how to be a good role-model for them is helpful starting point. They need to see their mother happy in her skin, confident and ready to tackle life’s challenges. If you don’t have kids – take the time to reach those health goals for yourself -there is nothing as sexy and gorgeous as a woman that grasps hold of life, winks and says ‘hey baby, I’m here and I’m strong and focused’.
So, where does cycling come into it?
The sense of freedom, just you and your bike, is like therapy (and a lot cheaper lol) The endorphins from exercise, the sense of achievement and the chance to catch up with friends as you do it will leave you with a more positive outlook on everything life throws at you- and you might even make some new friends while you’re at it!
If you enjoyed it before you had kids, that love isn't going to go away- and, why should it? As a mother, there are many components to life, but wellbeing and happiness can only stem when you also have time for self-care.
Self care looks like:
Fact is, with kids and work, and all the other components of life, it is easy to put yourself last- to neglect your training and your body- because it can make you feel guilty to be away and also, training can feel hard. It is important to find your own time. You may even start small, meet up with friends once every two weeks on a weekend morning, early, for a ride. Block the time out.
Coming into winter, find a studio near you and get some base fitness and leg strength in an indoor cycling studio.
This makes you a better mum- having even two or three hours distance refreshes your mind
Cycling is an excellent way to feel, even for a short time, that your biggest worry is the next hill or how to tackle a big headwind.
You can do it with your friends. If you're a new mum, it's a great way to maintain a sense of having a separate identity, in a group of like-minded people who will talk about a broad variety of topics. There are many group rides and you can take your kids to a velodrome or bike track and ride with them as they get older.
Your own time
You can leave from your front door- once you've got your gear, it's free.
You can even include cycling in family time
Kids to velodrome
Family on the bike track
Co-ordinated club rides and events
If your partner is into cycling, it may be something you can enjoy together if you’re lucky enough to be able to drop the kids off for just a few hours with a relative or friend.
Top tips for cycling mums:
* Don't worry about fancy clothing or equipment
* Make your health and exercise routine a key part of your life, as essential as anything else
* Find a support network to help with your kids- a gym creche, friends you can swap with, parents.
* Get that routine happening. If you can’t get out- find something you can do at home and make sure your diet is super tight.
* Visualise your goals- your body, your achievements- make them real in your mind
* Expect it
* Demand it
* Timetable- don’t deviate- 5am Saturday morning might have to become your time!
* Set out everything the night before, sock, shoes, keys, bike prepared – everything – it works to get you up and everyone in the house knows where you are going
* Get used to getting out of bed early- do the mundane chores of daily household- prepare breakfasts, lunches, uniforms or clothes in advance. Or if you procrastinate while doing this- leave the non-urgent chores until after your training/ride.
* Find someone who is going to help keep you accountable- somebody who you need to meet- an instructor or trainer or a friend on the road who looks out for you and monitors your progress
* Hydrate and fibre
* Fresh food- unprocessed
* Create social rituals that are not based around food- walking, cultural, sports-based, riding in the mountains
* Be honest with people- say you love catching up, but you are making some changes with your health and would they like to join you
* Stick to the outside aisles of the supermarket, the fresh foods and try to get as much rest as possible -even though, I know, with kids, this is HARD
* Get used to feeling a bit of discomfort as your muscles adapt, or as you push your threshold in your activities
Search for inspiration among those with whom you have the most in common- then it won’t seem such a leap to model yourself on their way – a group who meets and rides together is a brilliant start.