Going to the grocery store is a workout. This weekly experience requires a mother to be at the top of her game, both mentally and physically. I suggest wearing tennis shoes.
A shopping experience can quickly go from this:
It is definitely a workout.
Why I consider grocery shopping a workout:
1. The workout starts with a mental task. You pull into the parking lot and your child begins asking for the special "drive car" cart....you know the cart that the grocery store owns exactly ONE of. You start explaining to your child that there is only one of the "drive car" cart, and you will have to look for it, but that you will probably not be able to ride in it this time, maybe next time, etc. The whole time you are explaining this, you are circling the parking lot frantically looking for that filthy, food-borne-illness-covered "drive car" cart. Meanwhile the child begins to cry. As you continue to drive down row after row, the cart is no where to be found. You must tell the children that they will have to settle for the regular cart, but promise that you will look again next time. Now you have 2 crying children. This begins your workout.
2. We live in Texas. It is hot. Especially in the summer. The unloading of children in the heat makes you sweat and burn additional calories. This is the warm-up of your workout.
Once you walk through those sliding doors, and the cool air hits your face, you smile because you almost forget that you are about to workout.
3. Time to throw in some strength training, focusing on the arms. You now have to hoist your 30 pound children into the front of the cart and get them securely strapped in before they realize they can walk in the store. Timing is everything, here, people. Gotta be quick. It takes muscle.
4. It's cardio time! Goal: Move through the store as quickly as possible, getting all the items on the list, and do so before your children start to freak out.
*NOTE: If you are shopping with multiples, you must allow time for the stares, stops, and questions that occur in all stores, including:
"Are they twins?"
"I bet you have your hands full!"
"Do you have twins in your family?"
"Are they identical?" (um, no)
"Did you want to have twins?"
"Do you always match their clothes?"
"My neighbors pet rabbit had twins!"
And this list could go on and on....
If you are in a hurry, and with multiples, my best advice is to keep your head down and do not make eye contact with anyone. It is fun to visit with strangers, though, and I love meeting new people, especially when they come up and tell me they are a twin, how great being a twin is, etc. Okay, back to the workout...
5. Interval training. When trying to get a good workout in, interval training is the way to go. It is where you do an activity at a high intensity for a period of time, followed by a low intensity exercise for a period of time, and then repeat. The grocery store is the ideal place for this to happen. Your high intensity training occurs when you sprint down the cereal aisle, carefully grabbing that box of cheerios, while your children scream "I want dis!" as they point to every sugar-filled cereal on the shelf. Now it is time to do a low intensity activity. I usually give my kids a snack at this point, and then I can casually walk through and read all 500 yogurt flavors,brands, and labels before actually choosing the same one I buy every week. It is relaxing, people. And low intensity. And definitely what my workout needs from me.
6. Now it is time for some stretching. This happens when your children begin to drop things out of the cart. A stuffed animal, snack cup, water bottle, the rock they found in the parking lot, etc. Bend over, pick up dropped item, and continue shopping. This will get you a good stretch in your hamstrings. If you feel you need an additional stretch (and I always do), go down the cookie aisle and find your favorite cookies. Quickly place them in the basket and hide them under the other foods, all while keeping your kids occupied so that they don't notice the cookie package. This takes some dexterity to be able to configure your body in such a way to hide this purchase. Once you have completed this stretch, you will feel very accomplished.
7. It is time to head to the checkout. Take a deep breath. It is the finish line of the big race, and will take everything you've got to finish. Swatting hands away from the candy/magazine/gum/books/gadgets will take some practice, and you can do it with a smile all while unloading your groceries (by category, of course) onto the conveyor belt.
8. Groceries are bought, your children are still alive, and it is time to head back to the car. It is time to start the cool down of the workout. At this point, you will be feeling some fatigue, but happy that the hard part is over. You load your children and the groceries and head home.
9. Arrive home, unload groceries and children, and then patiently let them "help" you put them away.
Congratulations, workout complete!
It is now time for the children to take a nap. Get them all settled in with their favorite blankies and lovies and bears and water bottles and trucks and snugglies and everything else they insist on taking into their bed with them (or is it just my kids?)
At this point you should sit on the couch and relax for a minute. Be proud of your workout! After all, you burned 850 calories! Now, where are those cookies?