When I was in high school I clearly recall joking, “I’m allergic to exercise.” That was easy to say when I was a skinny teen who had to work to gain weight. But now that I’ve had two kids and my metabolism has figured out just how old I am, exercise has become a necessity for maintaining what I’d call a decent figure. Exercise also keeps me sane. A good workout takes the edge off of the stresses of being a parent and helps me stay in a good mood throughout the day.
When my oldest child was just born, I quickly realized that finding time to exercise wouldn’t be easy — but I had to do it for my own health and wellness. So I made a commitment to myself to do something physical every day, no matter what. Sometimes that means I wake up early and sometimes I go to sleep late, but I’m happier, healthier, and certainly more fit, because I stick to my plan. And my family is happy knowing I feel good about myself. Here’s how I squeeze exercise into my day…
1. I hit the gym at 5 a.m. It may sound crazy to go to the gym this early, but I’ve been doing it for years. It’s the only time of day I can count on the kids being taken care of (they’re still asleep) and urgent work matters not being an issue. Plus, I always get a great parking spot!
2. I stick to a gym close to my house. Before I had kids, I’d drive across town to take a class from my favorite yoga teacher or I’d go meet a friend for a workout at her favorite place. Now I go to a gym five minutes from my house. I save the driving time and use it in the gym.
3. I switch up my schedule if I need to. Because I work a freelance schedule, I can sometimes work before my kids wake up so I can work out after I drop them off at school. I can get my work done and knock things off my to-do list, as well as take a class with one of my favorite spin teachers.
4. My workouts are short and difficult. Since I don’t have a lot of free time, I try to pack a lot of exercise into a short amount of time. I love taking a spin class or lifting weights.
5. I use my time without the kids wisely. I try to prioritize the kid-free time I have, which means I use it for things I can’t do when I’m with them. I can’t work or exercise when my kids are home, but I can fold laundry, make dinner, and/or grocery shop.
6. If I have to, I exercise at night. I’m a complete morning person so I hate to exercise at the end of the day. But if I have to, I’ll pop over to the gym while my husband puts the kids to bed. Sometimes putting the kids to bed can take as long as working out!
7. We schedule weekend workouts. Both my husband and I like to exercise on the weekends, so we try to structure our weekends so that we both have the time we need, despite the endless parade of birthday parties and play dates.
And while exercise never gets easy, I’m always happy I did it. Turns out it’s not so impossible for me to find a bit of time to let off some steam and break a sweat!