The magic jar, AKA be your own personal trainer

Magic jar of exercises for moms

I’m pleased to present this guest post from our good friend and rookie mom, Karen, who invented her own way to get fit with a baby in the house:

After I gave birth last year, I lost a lot of my baby weight pretty quickly without a huge amount of effort. I did a lot of walking and hiking with baby and continued taking Pilates a couple times a week, plus I nursed around the clock- all of which helped a lot. But I’m still not quite as trim and toned as I want to be. My son reached a big milestone this past weekend: he turned one. I decided that a year was long enough to wait without getting a little more serious about attacking my baby flab. But like pretty much everyone in the world, I’m really busy, don’t have a lot of time to exercise, and find it hard to get motivated.

My solution? The surprise-laden exercise bingo jar! First, I spent a little time googling good exercises to target both post-pregnancy belly and my other bete noire, that flappy underarm flab (or “chicken nuggets” as my Pilates teacher colorfully calls them.) I picked 12 exercises and wrote them down on little slips of paper. I put the target number of sets and reps on each slip as well. Then I put the little papers in a jar in my kitchen. Every day I have to pull out five slips and do whatever they say. This makes it fun because I never know what I’m going to get, and it only takes about 15 minutes to get through all five exercises. Plus, I don’t have to do the most hated exercises every day –side plank, I’m looking at you– or get bored by doing the same routine over and over.

Magic jar of exercises for moms

I only picked exercises that required no equipment or equipment I already own (which is one set of weights and one magic circle) Also I only picked exercises you can do in your PJs, since I’m planning to do them on the living room rug right after I wake up each morning. I’m not expecting Jessica Alba results, but I feel great that I’ve come up with a solution that sounds doable and targeted… and maybe even a little bit fun. And I’d REALLY love to kiss those chicken nuggets goodbye before the weather warms up enough for tank tops.

Sample exercises for your jar of surprises (copy/paste/print or hand write like Karen did):

  • Alternating arm and leg lifts: 8 count / 2 sets
  • Bicycle crunches: 30 count / 2 sets
  • Mountain climber: 10 reps / 3 sets
  • Scissor kicks: 10 each leg / 3 sets
  • Single leg circles: 10 reps / 3 sets
  • Magic circle (ooh, where do you put that and for how long?)
  • Plank: hold for 15 seconds / 3 sets
  • Side plank 10 seconds / 3 sets on each side
  • Deep plies 16 reps
  • Standing kicks (front then side then back) 10 count each leg / 2 sets
  • Cherry pickers (reach high, then put ’em in the basket): 20 count / 3 sets
  • Floor effers: 20 count / 2 sets
  • Boxing for 2 minutes with jabs and uppercuts

Suggest more in the comments, ladies, this is a team effort!

Related: Naptime workout ideas, just add technology
[Photos by Karen Merzenich]