The morning workout all mums are doing - without realising it

 Photo: Getty Images

We all like to look and feel our best and, according to the internet (and just about every fitness magazine out there), there's absolutely no reason not to.

It seems like every which way I look, there's a picture of some beautiful woman with six pack abs, sculpted thighs and amazing shoulders.

Now, this wouldn't bother me so much if the goddess in question didn't have a 6-year-old at her feet, a toddler hanging onto a popping bicep and what looks to be a baby no older than 7 months perched on a perfectly slender hip. Add to this the caption "so what's your excuse?" and, suddenly, I'm not feeling all that confident about my post pregnancy body.

Even though I'm back in my pre-pregnancy jeans and I'm far from being classified as overweight, things still just aren't...quite the same. My hips and thighs have a little more padding than I'd like. My abs (which were just starting to make a comeback about 2 years after baby number one) are nowhere in sight and - even at 18 months after giving birth to baby number two - don't seem to be planning a reappearance any time soon. My once firm arms now have a bit of a (gulp! hangs head in shame) jiggle at the back and my butt would definitely benefit from a few (hundred) squats.

Before baby number two I was probably in the best shape of my life. I was eating right, working out hard and getting enough sleep to recover well. When I found out I was pregnant again, I vowed not to let myself go - I would continue to train and eat right. It turned out to be easier said than done.

For now, I console myself with the knowledge that I do, in fact, have a workout (of sorts, anyway), every morning - without fail. This is how it goes:

5:30am - warm-up

My morning workout begins at the crack of dawn. I like to "shock" my body by bounding out of bed to kill the alarm before it wakes my 18-month-old baby girl and peacefully snoring husband.

If I'm lucky, there's usually just enough time for a quick trip to the loo. If I'm super lucky, this is followed by a few stretches to workout all the strange aches and pains familiar to all mothers who co-sleep and spend most nights contorting their tired bodies into strange positions to accommodate their little angels. And husbands, who somehow still think they're entitled to half the bed.


5:45am - isolation strength training

Just a few minutes after my warm-up (more often than not, right in the middle of it), baby let's me know she's up with a loud wail of indignation - how dare I get out of bed and take her boobs with me?!

Yes, I am still breastfeeding. Don't judge me. After a quick sip, it's off to the kitchen to pack lunches for my six-year-old son and 15-year-old stepson. While she's perfectly capable of standing and walking, my 18-month-old has decided that using her own legs is a waste of time. Thus, my single arm, isolation strength training begins as I shift all 10kgs of her from left to right, while I prepare lunches and put the oatmeal on to cook.

6:10am - endurance training

After getting lunches and breakfast ready, I'm off to wake up the boys.

The moment my 6-year-old opens his eyes, endurance training begins: "I'm tired", "I need 5 more minutes! ", "why do I have to have oatmeal?!", "what's for lunch?", "I don't want that for lunch!" (after we spent 20 minutes discussing lunches the previous evening). I hate endurance training...

6:30am - HIIT

High intensity interval training starts as soon as the kids are sitting down to breakfast.

A mad dash to the boys' rooms to make the beds gets my heart rate up and my blood pumping. A quick trip back to the dining room to wipe up baby's spilled oatmeal is followed by a sprint back to the boys' rooms to lay out school clothes.

After a short pause to clean up the baby (who's decided oatmeal tastes better when it's eaten off her toes), I run to the kitchen, grab the lunches I forgot to put into the boy's backpacks, and breathlessly wish the kids a great day as they walk out the door.

7:00am - a combination of steady state cardio (running after baby) and weight training (carrying her). ALL DAY.

It's just too bad that, while this daily routine is utterly exhausting, it doesn't seem to burn all that many calories...