The Busy Mum’s Manifesto To Getting In Shape

The Busy Mum’s Manifesto To Getting In Shape

The ultimate guide for busy mums who want to improve their health and fitness through practical training and nutrition advice designed to get in and stay in shape!

Ivan Gavranic Ivan Gavranic · Dec 13th, 2021

Nutrition Beginner
20 Mins


    Time is our most valuable resource and this becomes ever so apparent when kids come into the mix. At RNT, we are all about the 80/20 rule meaning we are always trying to give YOU the biggest return on investment by focusing on the things that really matter.

    We have written about this here and a lot of the principles from that article can be applied when trying to juggle responsibilities between self care, family, career and social relationships. 

    Being a parent is hard. In fact, it is reported to be one of the most challenging obstacles anyone can go through and in the short term, can drastically lower quality of life. Survey data conducted on 900 women showed that many of them reported feeling more satisfaction watching TV, shopping or preparing food than spending time with their children. This is not because they are bad mothers, it’s just the reality for many during the first few years.

    Also, many parents experience a lot of unhappiness and marital distress after a child is born that doesn’t seem to completely disappear for years on end. This doesn’t apply to everyone of course but it just goes to show, parenting can be a really hard time for many people.

    Interestingly enough, many mums feel this way due to lack of overall self care and research does show that interventions that prioritise physical and psychological well being of the mothers postpartum, demonstrate higher levels of positive feelings towards their child, their spouse and to themselves.

    So, what are the biggest “bang for your buck” actions that any busy parent should prioritise looking to get in shape? From what we have seen in the trenches of working successfully with thousands of busy mums, these were the commonalities that showed up amongst all of them..

    Stopped Making Excuses

    You have the time, you just may not have the right systems, strategies and structures in place to make it happen. 

    Every mum that has managed to transform made the conscious decision to stop letting their situation be the reason for not making a change. It’s extremely easy to justify poor decisions when you’re a parent and because you don’t get called out on it, you think it’s OK. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you can still be a great parent AND look after yourself. In fact, the two go hand in hand.

    Busy mum and oncologist Seema thought she had no time until one day, she raced her son up the stairs and realised just how unhealthy she was. 

    “I knew if I continued like this I would be in the hospital in a few short months! I needed to make a change, a lasting change, one that would change my life.”- Seema.
    Her situation didn’t change when all of a sudden, all this time opened up. Instead, her perception changed. She finally made it a priority and stopped with the excuses. 

    Every mum wants to be the best mum they can be and from what we have seen, once the priorities shifted to looking after oneself they were able to show up at their best for the people who truly matter.

    “I really regret getting into the shape of my life and having the energy to be the best mum I can be.” - No mum ever.

    Planning & Preparation

    Become A Master Of Meal Prep

    Regardless of who you are, you simply cannot achieve a successful, lifelong transformation without the ability to plan and prepare for what’s ahead. As a busy mum though, this literally is the most powerful tool at your disposal and must be used accordingly.

    We have discussed the most important factors to prioritise when life gets busy previously and a lot of the same principles can be applied here, especially on the nutrition front. Not only does a strong nutritional strategy give you the most “bang for your buck” from a fat loss perspective, it’s also the one component where you have the most control over too.

    Knowing exactly what you’re going to be eating during the week and meal prepping on the weekend accordingly means that you will always have a good option to fall back on, no matter how crazy the week gets. To keep things even more streamlined, many RNT’ers have found that as long as their protein is prepped, they find it much easier to piece together a quick meal during the week.

    Mum and physiotherapist Shalini uses this exact approach after learning just how beneficial protein is throughout our educational resources. She also realised a huge bonus here and that was having the ability to prepare her kids meals too! This was truly a gamechanger and opened up so much more time for other things.
    “When I eat the right foods, when I meal prep,, I don’t feel as hungry. Only if I skip a meal or if I didn’t eat my protein when I should have had it, I start to feel hungry. I also realised the importance of having the structure and eating the 5 meals that were in my plan. Now I follow the recipes on the RNT website and even my children eat that food now.”- Shalini.

    There are many other iterations of how this can be done but the main takeaway point here is that you need to find a system that allows you to stay ahead of the game and worst case, you always have a good option to fall back on.

    Granted, for this to be successful you need to have a good understanding of nutrition along a plan to execute. We have a ton of free resources available where you can read about setting up your own fat loss diet while learning the ins and outs of meal prep. This can be a great start but if you are looking to really take your results to the next level, RNT Pro covers everything you will ever need to know about getting in the shape of your life and finally learning how to maintain it without going insane.

    What About Workouts For Busy Mums?

    Scheduling workouts into your week as a non-negotiable can work for a lot of busy mums, especially if there is some cadence of predictability. Even then though, life and other unexpected events can come into play meaning that you need to have back up plans in place.

    We know that going to the gym multiple times a week is just not realistic for many busy mums. Interestingly enough, we have come to realise that this doesn’t mean much at all as so many of our mums got incredible results by training from home.

    Sanjeeta is a perfect example of this as she has built her entire physique from home training alone. That’s right, she started her journey as a complete newbie to weight training and managed to get into incredible shape not only once, but twice after going through a lengthy investment (muscle building) phase. 

    Her toolkit consisted of some adjustable DB’s, a bench, a barbell, some plates and some elastic bands.
    “Being a working mum can be very unpredictable.  You can plan as much as you can but chances are that something will always crop up that disrupts your plans and all your positive intentions.  I have learnt that whilst it's great to have non-negotiables and routines and they serve me very well. What works better is having a general framework.  I plan the week in advance the next time I can, this includes meals, training days and when I will get out for a walk.  This has been one of my saviours, getting out in the fresh air whether  it's hot, cold, wet, windy.  This is my time where I can switch off by myself.”- Sanjeeta

    Julia got into the shape of her life with even less but both women shared another common trait that seems to be the best option for many mums. They trained first thing in the morning before their children woke up which served many purposes:
    • Allowed them to get their “me time” first thing which is extremely important for ALL mums.
    • Set themselves up mentally to tackle the day and be the best version of themselves.
    • Gave their days more structure.
    “I have never been an early bird, if anything I have always been a late bird. I go to bed late and I wake up late. But after I joined RNT and was asked to go on my morning walk, I set the alarm for 6am, drank a cup of coffee and went for a walk in the forest. And it was the best thing I could possibly do for myself! It was so quiet, I could hear the birds and I didn’t have the kids constantly needing me. It was AMAZING! I thought I would dread waking up so early but now I absolutely love it! If I didn’t go for a walk I would use that time in the morning to meditate, journal or read a book.”- Julia
    If you know what time your kids wake up each morning, aim to wake up 30-45 minutes earlier every morning and get something physical in. Whether it’s a resistance training session, a follow along class, some light cardio or even just a walk, make it a habit to get some movement in before the chaos of the day starts.

    Yes, this will mean going to bed earlier each night but we both know that you don’t need that extra hour of scrolling through social media at 10:00pm. Put the phone away, get some sleep and hit the ground running the next morning!

    I Have A Newborn And I Don’t Know What Is Real And What Is A Dream

    All jokes aside, this can be an extremely hard time for many new parents meaning that other factors need to be considered.

    First time mum Komal not only had the constant awakening to deal with, but she herself suffered many complications postpartum that made the entire ordeal that much more difficult.

    “I’ve really enjoyed working with the RNT process as it’s not just any plan. The plan was structured around the time I had available to me whilst being a mum. Injuries not a problem they can be worked round, socials not a problem these can be worked around. A plan has to be realistic & this is exactly what RNT delivers.”
    If you can’t dedicate the time to a morning workout, then doing your best to find some time during the day will be the next best option. If that isn’t possible, incorporating more “movement snacks” throughout the day and breaking up your workout can be much more doable. 

    Many fall into the trap of thinking that their session needs to be done all at once meaning they either do it all, or do nothing. As with everything, there is a middle ground and in this specific scenario there is nothing wrong with doing 3 to 4, 10 minute mini workouts spaced throughout your day.

    Everyone can find the time for these and there is A LOT you can do in 10 minutes with no equipment, especially if you get creative! Give the below routine a shot and you will see exactly what we mean. 

    Perform each exercise for 30 seconds with no breaks in between. Take 30 seconds rest between each “superset”

    1A- BW Squats/Squat Jumps
    1B- Push ups
    1C- Alternating Reverse Lunges
    1D- Mountain Climbers

    The main takeaway here is that there is always something we can be doing. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to be complicated and it doesn’t have to be a burden. Find a way to get at least 30 minutes of purposeful activity within your day and we are sure you will reap the benefits!

    The Busy Mum Tier List

    We are all about the 80/20 rule here at RNT as we want to help all of you get the best results possible within the time you have available. Once you understand what gives you the most “bang for your buck” from a results perspective, you will realise that there are always strategies to continue moving in the right direction.


    If after reading all of the above you still feel like getting in any exercise is virtually impossible, you can still make fantastic progress by paying some serious attention to your nutritional strategy.

    The power of nutrition cannot be overstated here and for the time investment, the return is absolutely worth it. It’s also the one component you have the most control over but unfortunately, can also be the most difficult due to the level of adherence required to see results. To make your life easier, we highly recommend adopting the following strategies to give you the best chances of success.
    1. Meal Prep (as mentioned above). This includes your food and if possible, meals for the kids to save you even more time throughout the week.
    2. Remove any “treats” from your immediate environment. We understand other people in the house want to consume them so keep them somewhere that is not visible when you walk past the kitchen or even open the pantry. Out of sight, out of mind!
    3. Educate yourself on the basics of nutrition. RNT’er Tanya credits a lot of her success to this and it's how we empower all our clients to “catch their own fish”.
    “My biggest lessons are to do with nutrition. I now know what my plate needs to look like for each meal. I’ve developed a real love for vegetables. I learnt how to recognise true hunger from an emotional urge to eat and how to manage both. I learnt the skill to cook food that tastes good using healthy substitutes and without a lot of oil. I learned about macros and portion control but most importantly, I learnt a degree of self-control I never thought I’d have. My relationship with food has changed. Rather than addictive and soothing, I’ve come to appreciate it more for its nourishing, healing and performance driving properties.”- Tanya.
    1. You don’t need to finish your kids' meals. Just throw it away or save it for another time if possible.
    2. Stick with three square nutritious meals per day with some fruit in between as a snack. Keep it simple, efficient and effective.

    Sleep & Recovery

    In an ideal world, sleep would be right at the top but telling a busy mum of a newborn to get her 7-8 hours per night is horrible advice. Let’s be honest, each evening is a game of Russian roulette. You just don’t know what the heck is going to happen! 
    For those who have children who sleep through the night, get those hours in as it's not only going to make it easier to get in shape, but your overall mood, productivity and patience will be much higher. Outside of a consistent bedtime with good sleep hygiene there is not much else you need to do on this front, just make it a priority.

    Half Hour Of Power

    After you have taken care of the above, try to find at least thirty minutes each day to dedicate to some form of exercise. Whether it's some weight lifting, some cardio, some HIIT or a brisk walk it doesn’t matter. Just get moving!

    Remember, this doesn’t need to be done all at once and can be split up over 2 x 15 minute or 3 x 10 minute blocks across the day. This flexibility can be great, especially when days take an unexpected turn.

    What we are looking for here is to make moving more just a part of your day, regardless of what life throws at you. As this does become more habitual, you will find it easier and easier to find even more time. 

    If you are struggling to get started on the exercise front, this is definitely a great starting point.

    Training From Home

    A home workout set up is going to be the most practical approach here for many busy mums. You don’t need fancy machines, equipment or even a lot of space to get some good quality, intense work. 

    What you need is a plan that is accustomed to you and your own unique situation, guidance from experts on how to execute each lift and most importantly, the desire to really push yourself.

    Single mum Karen illustrates this perfectly by training in the corner of her small conservatory with limited equipment while still being able to take herself to what we like to call “the void” every session.

    “Lifting heavy weights for me is like therapy. It is one of the times I can’t think. When I am at the bottom of my squat and I have my hands in the air with my heaviest dumbbells I can’t think about anything else other than to make sure my muscles are working properly to lift or lower the weight. I am a very placid person, really quite laid back. But when I feel my muscles shake during a lift, my anger really comes out and I roar or shout just to get it done.”


    We truly love working with busy mums and shattering their preconceived beliefs with regard to getting in shape. Unfortunately, many do fall into the trap of thinking they have no time, doing nonsensical diets, listening to unsolicited “experts” and jumping on the next fad train. It’s no surprise they feel defeated.

    If you’re currently feeling this way, hopefully after reading this article along with the numerous successful transformations throughout, you can see that there is absolutely no reason you cannot do the same. All of these women have kids, are busy, working full time at very demanding jobs and in some instances, don't have a partner to support them. 

    Don’t ever think that your situation is irreversible. You have the power to make the change right now. Start small, learn the basics through all of our free content and start taking action. 

    If you were looking to get a more personalised approach, a more in depth educational experience while also being surrounded by other like minded individuals then jump on the waitlist for our next intake here.

    “This personal journey is for all the super mums out there, juggling family life, running the household and work, and dealing with the information overload age…” – Arwinder.
    Ivan GavranicIvan Gavranic

    Ivan Gavranic is RNT’s Head of Applied Research, where his focus is on translating scientific research into real world practical applications for our members. As one of our leading coaches based in Australia, Ivan has lived and breathed transformation for over ten years, staying now at sub 6% body fat year round, he continues to focus on attaining calisthenic and gymnastic skills you only see in the movies!

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