You are a NEAT Mom…
Mom’s are what I call phe-“Mom”enal.
They can prepare a stir-fry, do laundry, answer emails, help with homework, and schedule a pap smear appointment on the phone all in the same minute. After being a mom for over a year and half now, I have realized just how much goes into to being a mom and how much more I move than ever before! (And I used to teach 4 fitness classes a day!)
And I’ve also realized that many moms, myself included, are underestimating just how much activity they are getting in a day.
If you’ve ever been referred to as a “NEAT” mom, it’s fitting for more than one reason.
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is a termed coined “N.E.A.T.” for short, and in my opinion some of the best examples of what it means to engage in some N.E.A.T is the example of a busy mom. But what exactly is it, and especially the last word that you can barely pronounce, let alone understand? Well let’s break it down…
Non-Exercise, obviously that means you aren’t doing Jazzercise, but you certainly aren’t sitting on the sofa eating bonbons. From standing and cooking, to sweeping, to folding laundry, to squatting and standing with baby up and down all day, to bouncing a fussy newborn, to walking the sidelines cheering on your little soccer player, to walking around the grocery store fast since it is so dang cold in there, to stripping and re-making beds, gardening, loading and unloading in the parent pickup and the groceries day in and day out, and let’s not forget standing for hours on end cooking, washing dishes, and prepping for the next day, the activity is endless…and underestimated.
That non-exercise activity leads to the last word (thermo-what-isis?) which simply is the heat that is generated in your body for calories burned to fuel that light activity. With all this multi-tasking, it’s no wonder you hardly have energy left for your end of the day power yoga class…you’ve burnt up your energy already! Especially since many moms tend to cut calories in order the cut the fat. Sadly, with all this unnoticed activity, all they’ve really cut when they reduce calories is energy to keep going.
Take a look at this. Here are some basic things you might engage in throughout the day unaware of how many calories you are actually burning in a day:
(Based on an average height, 150lbs woman)
- You get up, get kids up and start breakfast…standing on your feet, bopping around the house, and cooking for 1 hour: 102 calories
- Get kids gone, wash dishes, some light cleaning and straightening up, and tripping over barbie-dolls for about an hour: 104 calories
- Laundry, folding, putting away, loading and unloading for 15 minutes: 17 calories
- Make the bed: 17 calories
- Sweeping the front walk, water plants, tending to a garden for an hour: 204 calories
- Head to the store, shop for an hour for food, pack food in an out to car: 88 calories (carrying a small child + 136 calories to that)
- at home, unload groceries and put them away for 15 minutes: 26 calories (add + 100 extra calories if chasing toddlers around in the midst of it).
- Rocking small child for 15 minutes, or bouncing baby to sleep, or simply bouncing around doing more “to-dos”: 34 calories
- Prepping dinner, giving baths, organizing for tomorrow for an hour: 136 calories
- Cleaning up afterwards for 15 minutes: 22 calories
- Finally sitting down to rest, and fidgeting thinking about the next day for an hour: (fidgeting burns an extra 50 calories an hour for people who are fidgeters).
- Plus, the man wants a little roll in the hay at the end of the day….(okay that doesn’t count, since it only really takes 45 seconds….ha.)
- Grand Total of NEAT: 800 Calories (1036 if carrying a small child throughout it all).
And you thought felt guilty when you couldn’t make your weekly Cardio Blast class?
Now let’s go back to what most moms are eating? Coffee for breakfast, maybe a handful of cereal or toast that was left on the plates of some picky-eaters, then something quick to grab and go as they run errands, like a sandwich or a wrap. Maybe a snack in the afternoon of some dark-chocolate covered almonds (yah, you think they are healthy, but I’m here to be killjoy and tell you they aren’t). And then dinner is somewhat more balanced, but it’s the “after the kids go to bed” be-witching hour that tends to send some moms back into the kitchen to eat more than they did all day. While the trend is eat slim to none during the busy day time, the body wants to catch up for lack of nutrients at the day’s end, especially with all that NEAT burning.
You are doing a lot. You give a lot. You take of a lot. You are burning a lot! You are active and you are working! Sure maybe it’s not heavy volume training in the gym, or a focused power vinyasa class, and yet for many of you, you are cramming that in as well! My point is, it’s time to recognize all that you do, and recognize that your body need proper fuel to do it with – not more activity. Give yourself some slack and cut back on the extra to-do’s of classes, and bootcamps, and runs, and instead, spend that time preparing a quality, balanced meal for yourself, some gentle relaxation techniques where you STOP for a second and slow down. Perhaps spend that extra time getting an extra hour of sleep that most of us so desperately need as moms. And recognize the give your body the respect and admiration with healthy habits that it deserves, rather than feeling guilty that you didn’t get your workout in, because trust me…you did.