I'm a runner -- right now I'm training for a half marathon -- and I have to admit that most days, I just toss on whatever of my running gear is clean and weather-appropriate, which often means I'm running in pieces that are not exactly pretty. But when I run a race, I want to look a little nicer -- not full-face-of-makeup nice (I'll never get why women show up for 10K runs in full makeup) but not quite as bedraggled as I look on my everyday run. So I have a cute tank and a running skirt that I save for group events. Call me crazy, but it makes me feel good, and that makes me run faster.
We work out in order to look good, but I'm willing to bet that most of you don't look particularly great while you're working out. I'm not talking about sweaty hair and red faces; I'm talking about the fact that our default workout clothes are often the leftovers from our casual wear closet -- old battered shorts, t-shirts we stole from our husbands, bras that have outlived their usefulness. If you're working toward a fitness goal, it's worthwhile to invest in a few really nice workout pieces, because having something pretty to wear will make you that much more likely to go to the gym.
Workout wear doesn't have to be expensive or technical; there are some great, affordable pieces available at places you probably already shop. I buy all my running bras at Target; they carry a nice range of sizes, styles, and colors, and they're all affordable (which means that when they start to break down from all the laundering, I don't feel guilty tossing them and starting over). If you're small chested, like I am, then really any sport bra will do; if you have a larger chest, look for something that will support your breasts. C19 by Champion makes some great supportive bras for curvy girls, and they retail for under $20.
What goes over your bra? I like a simple tank, both for running and for yoga. Athleta carries tanks that are designed for working out; they're stretchy and breathable and will keep you covered. Athleta's tanks are also pretty -- I love the color options for the Savvy Tank, as well as the racer-back cut. Old Navy carries a less expensive version of this tank ($12.94), but it's worth it to spend a little more; the Athleta version (at $50) is a more substantial material and will fit and wear better in the long run.
Old Navy is a good source for affordable athletic wear, though. If you're opting for yoga -- which is great for new moms, or any mom who needs a little peace and quiet in her workout -- I recommend ON's fold over yoga capris. The fold-down waistband is designed to accomodate a tummy, so if you're post-partum and still carrying a little extra baby weight through the middle (and honestly, who isn't?) these are perfect. Plus, they're $18! That's a steal.
If you're opting for something more active, or you're working out where it's hot, commit to some shorts. Getting a pair that fits well and looks good can help get you past the fear of working out in public in shorts omg! New Balance makes great running shorts that won't leave you feeling like you're flashing the world; the low-rise NP short comes in a basic black with pink detailing, part of New Balance's Lace Up for the Cure collection. And at $25, these are super affordable.
Once you're all dressed, think about your accessories. Yes, I'm serious -- you don't need to pile on the jewelry to work out, but having pretty things around will keep you motivated. Goody's Organic Waves hair elastics will keep your pony tail in place and look lovely all at once. I run in a lightweight ball cap from Under Armour; it keeps my face shaded and my hair covered -- and I love that the watermelon color is called "Success."
If you're committing to yoga as your workout, I suggest that you get your own mat; while most studios will have mats that you can borrow, it makes more sense to own your own. Treat yourself to a monogrammed mat from My Custom Yoga Mat; for $35, you can choose the mat color and the embroidery color. The mats are light and soft and just sticky enough, and the personalization is a really nice touch. Not a monogram kind of girl? Think about having an inspiring word embroidered on your mat instead, something to keep you going when you're not sure you can do one more downward dog.
Exercise shouldn't be a chore; it's a good way to break out of the routine of parenting and revive your body and soul. Make your workout special by choosing appropriate, appealing clothes -- you will feel better about how you look, and will be more invested in looking good and getting healthy. Promise.