5 Workout Hacks for the Busy Mom (or Cat Lady)

Bust A Move!

All over the Internet and in almost every “women’s” magazine you can find articles, tips, posts, and pins for quick cellulite obliterators or five-minute moves or fat-buster workouts.  Let me condense all of that and then make it real.

Read on, fellow Woman with Life-Goals!


Before kids, when I was still gainfully employed in a cubicle, I came up with a series of workouts to help me burn calories, keep toned, and not fall asleep at my desk, drooling on my keyboard.

I have tried different  “workouts”, targeted different “problem areas”, and felt “the burn” in different muscle groups.  I am not a fitness expert by any means.  What I am is a woman in her 30s with two kids and a nice physique, ready and willing to help my readers slough off a few extra calories, maybe a few extra pounds, and certainly a few extra mental and emotional blahs.

So you know, I am 33 with a 3 year old and a 9 month old plus a body that some days feels 23 and some days feels 93.  However, I stand at 5’7” and carry 120-some-pounds that seem to settle around my hips.  You can read more about my weight history here, but I think you should know we chucked out the bathroom scale years ago; I have no idea what my current weight is.


RARE SIGHTING! Bikini photos from mid-summer

What I do know is that I am physically healthy, and I feel mentally and emotionally healthier when I’ve done some exercising.  How do I weigh so little?  How do I find the energy and time to exercise?  How is this possible?

You ask all these things, so I give you three answers:

  1. Genetics play a HUGE factor so please please please don’t beat yourself up (or do 30 extra burpees) thinking you can obtain my figure and weight. Or any other woman’s figure and weight.  Be realistic.  If you can’t be, stop reading “women’s” magazines and start reading self-help books about accepting yourself for who you are.  Moving on…
  2. What you put in greatly effects what you get out of your body. Here’s how we eat.  Here’s why we eat it.  And the recommended daily intake of water?  Yeah, I drink roughly 80 oz of water a day.  That doesn’t include coffee, almond milk, juice, beer, wine, or anything else I might enjoy; I’m talking filtered water right from my fridge.
  3. Engage in these five exercises at least once a day, seven times each. For your body.  For your brain.  For your sanity.  For your family.

The Exercises

These were developed when I had a desk job. I would either do these in the spacious one-seat bathroom that was across the hall from my office or right in front of my computer, behind my desk chair.  You have to keep your blood pumping to your brain and extremities or that office chair might truly be the death of you.

None of these exercises requires anything other than your body and a little bit of space to move.  You don’t need a gym membership or bulky equipment or even a sunny day.  Squeeze in all five of these at least seven times a day to feel results that you will one day see.

Disclaimer:  if you have an injury or a medical condition, please consult your doctor first.  If you feel like you’re in good health and will take the advice of a fit woman who isn’t a professional, keep reading.  Remember that I am not a fitness guru, health expert, or running coach*.  Those professionals are out there so seek them if that’s what you need.

These all happen organically, right where you are, wherever you are.  Just do them!

  1. Vertical Push-Ups
  2. Squats
  3. Lunges
  4. Standing Bicycle
  5. The Toddler


First, the Vertical Push-Up:


Found online since I can’t get a good picture of myself.

  • Not to be confused with the hand-stand push-up
  • Sculpts, tones, and strengthens your arms, shoulders, and chest
  • Does a favor to those flabby underarms
  • Keeps you off the floor where littles (or cats) interrupt your efforts
  • Won’t force you to literally face the fact that your floors are filthy

Face a wall, standing a little farther than arm’s length away, feet shoulder-width apart. Lean your body forward and put your palms flat against the wall at shoulder height and shoulder-width apart.  Now bend your elbows and get your nose as close to the wall as you can without touching it.  Slowly push yourself away from the wall, straightening your arms.

Next, the basic Squat:


Teaching the Angel fractions with laundry-folding techniques

  • Sculpts, tones, and strengthens your thighs, hips, and buttocks
  • Doesn’t require anything more than the space you’re already taking up by standing
  • Helps with developing core strength

With your hips back and feet hip-width apart, bend your knees to lower your torso.  Perform at varying depths without letting your buttocks touch your heels, the floor, or a chair.


The Modified Squat includes 23 lb weight.

Then, some Lunges:


A slight twist as I attempt to placate a baby at dinnertime


  • Gain flexibility, balance, and strength while toning your backside and legs
  • Entertain your kids (or cats) with this move by using it to walk to the bathroom, where you will inevitably have an audience to the tasks you perform in there

From a standing position, take a step with your right foot.  Lower your body until your right knee is as close to a 90 degree angle as you can get it without hurting yourself or falling over.  Hold it.  Hold it!  HOLD IT!  Now push yourself upwards with your right leg, back into the standing position.  Repeat this process with your left leg.  That’s one.  Do it again seven times (that means seven times for each leg).  Keep your back straight and your shoulders back, mentally focusing on each muscle group. 


Lunging my way back to the stove

To make this fun for your “audience”, use lunges to move about your house.  Instead of pushing yourself back into the standing position, lift the leg that’s behind you and bring it forward into a Walking Lunge, and walk to the bathroom or kitchen or washer or backdoor…

Now for the Standing Bicycle:


Bad hair and demon eyes not required for optimum calorie-burning

  • Lovely abdominal exercise… that will help with the muscle but maybe not so much with the loose skin that was generated in the creation of your beautiful children
  • Don’t need to get on that floor you’ve been avoiding since the first exercise
  • Do this in front of the stove or microwave while you’re prepping dinner
  • Again, the kids (and cats) can’t climb on you while you’re standing

With feet together and knees slightly bent, place your hands behind your head and slightly lift your left heel.  Pull your abs in tight, being aware of each part of the muscles, and lift your left knee up as your right shoulder rotates to bring the right elbow to the knee.  If they don’t touch, don’t worry; be normal and pain free.  Repeat this process with your right knee and left shoulder and elbow.  That’s one.  Some would say you should consider doing this twenty times to call it a “rep”; I say if you do both knees to both elbows seven times each, you’re done. 


Again, an extra 23 pounds does wonders for the physique


Finally, the Toddler

  • Again, no need for an expensive gym membership, special mat, or weights and tools; just a toddler (or any child or cat, really)
  • This is more of a mind game than a bodily exercise, but your whole body will get one heck of a workout
  • Whatever toys or laundry or housework you have on hand can be incorporated with minimal effort

Mimic.  Whatever they do, you do.  But the adult version.  If the 3-year-old wants to squat, hop, bounce upright, run for 10 steps, drop to her knees, crawl 5 feet, roll onto her back, pick up a ball, then twist her torso as she runs back to the starting point, do that.  If the cat rolls onto its back, stretches, then brings its head to its pelvis with one leg in the air, do that.  If the 9 month old crawls as fast as he can to the next room only to roll around, stand up using a chair, and bounce in place for a solid 30 seconds because the song on the radio compelled him to, do that.

Once, I followed the Angel for a solid 40 MINUTES as she walked “round and round” these doorways in our foyer with a ball in her hands.  She had the best time once she realized I would do whatever she would do, just the adult-sized version.  My calves and abs got a good workout and my brain had to keep up with all of her motions so I could mimic every move.  It was exhausting.  My thighs got more of a workout in that 40 minutes than they do on Laundry Day.**

Add in the folding of a load (or two or twelve) of laundry.  Or while wiping down the kitchen counters.  If you’re in an office with no kids or cats and trying to do this, practice Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks as you move towards the copy machine, coffee maker, break room, bathroom, etc.  It sure is a conversation starter!

Hydrate and Contemplate

Get yourself into the habit of using all your muscles every day, throughout the day.  And drink plenty of water!  Personally, I have an H2O intake of 7-12 pints a day.  That doesn’t include the water in coffee or juice or almond milk or beer.  I have a nifty Murphy’s pint glass that I keep next to the fridge, on the side where the filtered water comes out with the press of a lever; I fill and chug at least 7 times a day, if not more.  Sure, that means lots of trips to the bathroom, but that also means plenty more chances to do my Walking Lunges or practice the Toddler moves.

How are you feeling today?



*Shameless plug:  Abby over at Back at Square Zero is a nice starting point for those interested in a running coach.

**Picture this:  3600-sq-ft house with bedrooms upstairs, bathroom on main floor, washer in basement, and clothesline on the farthest corner of the ½ acre yard.  Now, do 3-7 loads of laundry.  I once counted and learned that on laundry day, I can climb the stairs 14 times (that’s just climbing, not including going down, the other walking, and how heavy the baskets are that I’m carrying…or if I do it with a baby on my hip).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s