I'm often asked how I manage to keep myself physically active as a busy mom. My simple answer is that I take things one day at a time. Each day is unique, and brings different challenges. Occasionally on a morning that I plan a long outdoor run, I wake up to falling snow. Early morning workouts don't ever work when I've spent the entire night awake with a sick child (or healthy children who spend the night playing musical beds...our bed is NOT big enough for the 4 of us!) Things happen, so I try to plan accordingly. Here are a few of my secrets for planning around life:
- On a particularly hectic day, don't skip a workout just because you don't have a full hour to spare. Figure out how to fit in 10-minute mini sessions. Roll out of bed, and do some push-ups, jumping jacks, planks, and lunges. Later in the day, go on a quick, brisk walk. If you're reading something, find a wall, and squat while you read. Do seated Tupler's in the car! End the day with some pre-bed stretches. It may not seem like a lot at once, but throughout the day, you can easily squeeze in a full workout!
- You may be tired of hearing it from me, but wear a heart rate monitor! At the end of the week, it's extremely motivating to see how much time I spent working out, how many calories I burned, and what zones I trained in. I try not to ever go more than two days without a workout! My heart rate monitor keeps me honest with myself.
- Set goals for the ENTIRE year at the beginning of the year. Want to run a few races this year? Schedule them now! Even if the races aren't until late in the year, you'll have them on your mind, and will plan your training accordingly. For me, races aren't just about the race, but about the journey it takes to get to the starting line!
- Have a nice stash of fitness DVDs at home. Workout DVDs are almost always my back-up plan. When I just can't pull myself out of bed early in the morning, I can start a DVD nearly an hour later, and still be done with my workout at the same time I would otherwise be returning home from the gym. For one, I don't have to brush my teeth (or put on mascara) to work out at home, and I don't have to account for any travel time. I still get in a good workout (as long as the kids and husband cooperate), and the day can continue as planned.
- SCHEDULE your workouts. If you're always hoping to find time to work out, it's probably never going to happen if you have a busy schedule. You HAVE to plan it in. My workout schedule varies slightly from week to week based on my life schedule, but I always know when I'm going to work out the next day. I don't wake up in the morning hoping it will happen sometime that day. I wake up, and get moving. If you need to, put a reminder on your phone, write it on your calender, do whatever you need to do. I normally plan all my workouts a week in advance. Then when a day (or night) doesn't go as planned, I move to plan B.
- Add variety to your workouts. If someone were to watch me and my different workout routines, they would think I have serious workout ADD. I don't do the same things day in and day out. I love group fitness classes, because each class is never the same...and I try LOTS of different classes. I LIFT. I CYCLE. I YOGA. I CORE CROSS TRAIN. I POWER PUMP. I TREK. But my own workouts are never the same, either. I run outside. I lift weights with gym machines. I use free weights. I use my own body weight for resistance. I interval train. I do the elliptical. I climb stairs. You get the idea. Variety is key for keeping workouts interesting. Variety is also key for avoiding plateaus. If your body never knows what's coming, it will never stop changing and improving!
- Keep company with other fitness-minded people. If you try to place yourself in situations and with people where you won't have to compromise your fitness goals, you're much more likely to stay on track. At work, take breaks with the walkers rather than the donut-shop-frequenters. Eat with the brown baggers rather than with the fast foodies. Invite other health conscious couples over for a healthy home-cooked meal, and vice versa. Find a workout buddy, or an accountability partner. If you're not working out together, you can still report to one another and keep each other in check.
- Change your workouts with the seasons. Don't hibernate for the winter just because you refuse to run outside in the snow. Right now I'm SO EXCITED for spring to come because I can truly enjoy the outdoors. Working out indoors, however, is the only thing that keeps me going in the depressing month of January. Winter months are great for snow sports, while summer is great for swimming. If your workouts change with the seasons, you'll have more to look forward to every few months than just changing colors and temperatures!
- Forget the all-or-nothing mentality. Just because you may not always have time for a full hour workout doesn't mean you should skip the workout all together. 20-minutes is always better than nothing! The same goes for healthy eating. Just because you splurge at one meal doesn't mean that the whole day should go to waste. One healthy meal is better than a full day of indulging. (Unless indulging for a full day is planned. In that case, one bad day doesn't mean the whole week is shot!)
- Just do it! Stop making excuses, and get moving. Use each day as a step towards your ultimate fitness goals. So what if you have 10- 50- 100-pounds to lose. Losing the weight won't happen overnight. It will, however, happen with lots of small steps along the way. Whatever the obstacles, do what it takes to get up and start. You will get better with time. You'll find what you like. Just push yourself to take the first step, to climb out of bed in the morning, to schedule your workouts. Once you make fitness a habit, it will become a way of life, and you will be that much closer to reaching your goals!
What are YOUR fitness secrets?