Hi friends! Happy Monday! I hope you enjoyed the weekend. We baked a ton of of cookies, met up with friends, and spent a lot of time at the park. It was a good one!
When I posted my annual survey last week, I asked about your biggest fitness struggles. This helps me to get an idea of what feels challenging to you so I can create content with the goal of helping you out as much as possible. For this particular question, there was a wide variety of responses, with two prevalent themes: finding time, and motivation.
Oh, do I hear ya.
I feel like these both warrant their own post, so for today, I’m going to talk about the most valuable commodity and how to maximize it: time.
Please keep in mind that I’m NOT an expert at this. Even though I am type A, I tend to wait until the last minute for a lot of things because that’s when I do my best work. I feel like I’m juggling a lot, especially right now, but I’ve gotten pretty good at making the most out of the time I have. With everything that’s going on, something that’s super important to me is getting in my weekly workouts. I feel like a human when I’ve sweat a little that day, and sometimes it’s my only time all day that I’m alone and doing something for myself. I feel selfish about my 30-45 minutes of sanity, so I really do what I can to preserve that.
Here are some of my tips and thoughts for getting in a workout when you have kids and/or a busy schedule:
1) No one is going to care if you get in a workout, but they’ll notice if you DON’T. For example, no one around is going to be like, “When were you planning on working out today? Do you have childcare figured out?” It’s just not something that’s on a normal person’s radar. At the same time, everyone will notice if I’m crabby and on edge, or tired because I didn’t sleep well. (I sleep SO much better on days that I work out.) This is something I remember often. No one is going to prioritize my workouts except for me, so it’s my job to make sure I have a plan for when and how it’s going to happen. I know how great it makes me feel, how much more productive, sane, and patient I feel afterwards, and that it’s worth taking a little time each week to create a workout plan/strategy.
2) This one is more centered towards the kiddos, but I try to think of things I have to do while I’m alone vs. things I can do while they’re here. For example, I can’t lift weights very effectively with them home. Someone always needs 18 snacks or water, they end up jumping around and then someone ends up crying — it’s just a whole thing. Weights happen at the gym, usually when they’re at school. If I have the option of catching a workout while they’re at school or catching up chores, chores wait. It’s been hard for me to let some of that go until later, but I realized I can easily fold laundry while they’re playing or put the dishes away. It’s way more difficult to get in a solid block of workout time.
3) Make the time realistic for you. I could set my alarm for 5am every day, and we all know that I would never actually get out of bed. The same goes for later evening. After the dinner and bedtime routines, I’m ready to tap out for the night. My best bet right now is to do it while they’re at school even if it’s just a 20-minute blitz. Back in the day when I worked full-time out of the house, many shifts were 7am-7pm. So, I was at the gym at 5:30am. I made it happen because it was important to me, but it was rough haha.
4) Allow other people to help you out! If you have something you can outsource to free up more time for your workouts, assess the cost vs. benefit for the situation. Maybe it’s using a meal service or online catering a couple of nights a week so that the time you’d spend prepping dinner and cleaning up could be spent getting in a workout. Maybe it’s hiring an occasional cleaner so you can get a break with cleaning and use a little of that time for yourself. For myself, a huge obstacle is gym childcare. P suddenly hates the barre3 play lounge (which used to be our Friday go-to), so I’ll usually work out while they’re at school, catch a Peloton class during nap time, or sandwich my workout with occasional babysitter time. We have a babysitter come twice a week (once on the night when I teach, and again sometime over the weekend for 3 hours so I can catch up on work stuff). If I’ve been swamped with daytime work stuff, I’ll usually use one of those hours for my workout.
Some of my runner mom friends will also help each other out with childcare for their runs. One mama will watch the kiddos while the other goes on a long run, and then they switch. This is an awesome FREE option if you’re looking for help with childcare for your little ones.
(The barre3 Play Lounge is excellent. I’m hoping P likes it again one day!))
5) Remember that you don’t need a ton of time to work out. It can be easy to find yourself in the mindset that if you don’t have a large bloc of time, it’s not worth it. So so not true. You can get in an AMAZING HIIT workout in just 15-20 minutes if you challenge yourself. Also, don’t be afraid to split up your workout during the day. 10 minutes here and there really does add up, and a benefit of splitting up your workouts if that you get multiple EPOC sessions. After strenuous workouts, our body has to work hard to restore our bodies back to pre-exercise levels (through increased oxygen consumption, decreasing tissue temperature, etc.). It burns extra calories in the process. So, if you get in 2 or 3 challenging 10-minute workouts, you get 3 EPOC sessions aka 3 opportunities to boost your metabolism. We talk about this thoroughly in my interview with Dr. Len Kravitz here.
Also, be kind to yourself. Some days and weeks are crazier than others. Just try to focus on making your workouts as effective as possible when you have the chance to hit the gym.
So tell me friends: does time stand in the way of your workouts? What’s something that you could eliminate or outsource from your routine to give yourself extra time?
Friends who work full-time + have kiddos, when do you usually work out?
If you’re looking for some SHORT workout videos, here are some of my faves: