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Spring Training For Moms — Quick workouts for women

It’s spring. Birds are chirping outside my window. Sunshine is pouring down like warm honey. It’s time to pack up the sweaters and pull out the tank tops, which means, if you’re at all like me, that it’s also time to stand in the full-length mirror making skeptical faces at your belly sagging out under the edge of that cute tank top.

Time for spring training. When the weather warms up, I’m eager to move my body, not just to shape up for tank-top season. I love feeling healthy, having more energy and settling my mind. Looking great is just a perk, but one I’m happy to indulge in.

I wish I was the kind of hardcore mama who ran year-round and hit the gym four times a week, but I’m not (especially not since we moved away from the wonderful, cheap YMCA whose spinning classes got me through many a winter morning).

In fact, while I feel the urge to move in spring, I’m actually not very good at doing it. I’m not exactly swimming in free time or spare cash. I take care of little kids all day. I’d rather be sitting at my desk writing than out running pretty much any hour of the day. Right now, for example, I am sitting here writing about exercise instead of doing it.

What can I do to get fit without spending a ton of time or money? Plenty. Moms all over are hitting their exercise routines with new vigor since the weather started to turn warm. Here are some of the programs they’re rocking to get their bodies back to peak condition:

  • Couch to 5K: This is my favorite. The Couch to 5K program promises to get you off your couch and running an entire 5K race in three months time. Their approach is simple and gentle: you start out mostly walking, with short intervals of running. Over time, you run more and walk less. Pretty soon you’re running miles. There’s no class to sign up for, no membership fees to pay. Just you, sneakers, and an iPhone app. The iPhone app is actually optional, but you’ll want something to time your running and walking segments.
  • 30-Day-Shred: This is kind of the opposite of the Couch to 5K approach. Jillian Michaels, who apparently has a TV show called The Biggest Loser, does not mess around with gentle approaches. She’s in it for results. Her 30-Day-Shred workout video drags you through a daily workout routine that is downright Hobbesian: short, brutish and mean. At the end, though, you feel great, look fabulous and can bench-press your kids.
  • 100 Pushups: This is just what it says it is, a training routine to get you doing 100 pushups in a row – seriously. I can’t do even one pushup. My sweetie started doing this last spring and I kind of rolled my eyes. Oh, guys and their push-ups, right? This year, all my strong, hot women friends are doing it. And they’re getting buff, fast. Not just their arms. My housemate reports that her abs are reporting for duty after only a few weeks of daily pushups.
  • Tutus for Tanner: This isn’t an exercise program exactly; it’s more like an accessory program for your exercise routine. Catherine Connors, a.k.a. Her Bad Mother, is losing a nephew to Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy. To raise awareness about this terrible illness, Catherine spent the past year running in a tutu and traveled with her family to Disney for their annual Tiara-thon. To support her cause, a group of bloggers and runners have taken a pledge to run in tutus all summer long. Doing my part, I hosted a tutu-making party at my house the other day for half a dozen kids and some of my running buddies.

I need to play mental tricks on myself to get my butt out of the chair and into my workout pants. This is why I love workout routines that tell me exactly what to do when, so I don’t have to think. (Even better if they come with cute names and cult followings and best if they involve many, many yards of tulle.)

My last trick for getting in shape: I hang out with people who are more into exercise than I am. I’m lucky to live in a neighborhood where I have friends who will show up at my house at 7:30 a.m., ring the bell, and drag me out for a run. When they’re not around, I turn to the Internet. Here are some of the fun, funny, and supportive sites I’ve found:

  • Shredheads: This blog is mainly dedicated to the 30-Day-Shred program but mixes in bits of wisdom from an array of other exercise programs, ranging from running to kickboxing. The best thing about the blog is how nice everyone is. There’s a supportive community of bloggers and writers who come together here to support each other in their fitness goals.
  • EatBlogRun: This group blog is written by a team of women bloggers, including BostonMamas’ Christine Koh. These ambitious women are prepping to run a 200-mile relay race in California. Between runs, they fill this blog with great running tips, tricks and stories that are well-written and useful.
  • Diet-Blog: This site features informative articles about weight-loss, exercise and diet. It also has an active, supportive forum section where people can post questions to the crowd and get support for their exercise goals.

Whatever you do, the important thing is just to start. Spring is the perfect time to turn over a new leaf. The weather is mild, and there’s an aura of hope and new beginnings everywhere. Take advantage of the moment by getting out and moving. Your body and your health will thank you.

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