Tips and systems to help you squeeze physical activity in your busy day
In the a recent post I shared how you setup or updated your family calendar and hopefully scheduled in your recurring appointments for your fitness. In the last post, you learned how to be a goal digger and defined some specific personal health goals.
Lace up those sneakers! Now it’s time to take action!
Rise and Shine
Getting up early, particularly in the weekday mornings, is beyond a habit for me – it’s now just part of my lifestyle. I’d be lying if I said I never hear my alarm go off at 5 am and rationalize skipping a workout that day. But, I’ve learned from doing this a few times that I hate the feeling of skipping my morning workout more than I love the feeling of sleeping in an extra hour, particularly since I end up sitting in traffic and just don’t feel as good about starting my day – it just feels like something is missing all day. So on the days I struggle to get up, I may mumble something to my sleeping prince charming like ‘time to make the donuts’ or ‘this is what commitment looks like’.
The key to fitting in the time to exercise for most busy moms is to get up an hour earlier. Make an arrangement with your husband for him to take care of the kids on the mornings you plan to exercise or get up an hour before your children usually do. I prefer to workout at the gym so I have access to more equipment and can focus on my fitness. But, there are times when I need to be home and use the equipment in my basement or do a walk/run in my neighborhood. One system that works for me is to lay out my gym clothes the night before. I have even slept in them before! Pack your gym bag the night before as well. Select your outfit for the next day and have everything ready to go – if you put it by the front door or in the car you will be less likely to sleep in and skip your workout since it’s such a pain to go get everything and unpack it.
Don’t forget you need enough sleep to make getting up a possibility. You know what time you need to get up. Back that time up 7 hours, add in a little time for your evening bedtime routine and stick to this for 21 days to make your new habit.
Once your alarm goes off, whatever you do, don’t fall in the trap of looking at your social media or emails first thing in the morning. Just get up, get dressed, grab some water, and get wherever you need to be to start your exercise. I promise the emails and news feeds will still be there an hour later. Focus on taking care of you first. Seize the day before it seizes you!
I know not everyone feels they are a morning person and I also know that I have found it really tough, if not impossible, as a busy mom to fit in my workout in the evenings unless your spouse or partner is willing to take over the evening activities like the carpools to get the kids to activities, preparing and cooking dinner, or the evening bedtime routines for your kids.
My Current Routine
Working out is cheaper than therapy and if I miss a few days of exercise, I get crabby. I love the way I feel about myself when I exercise regularly. I have more confidence, I feel more beautiful, and I feel more at peace. Who doesn’t want that?! Physical activity has been a part of my life for several years now. I aim to exercise six days a week so that I can achieve my current fitness goal of 20% overall body fat. I complete at least 40 minutes of cardio on 5 of these days. Variety is key for my workouts. I love group fitness classes but my only option at my gym is a spin class early in the morning so I rotate this cardio class with my own cardio equipment routines. On most of the cardio machines such as the elliptical, Stairmaster, or the Precor you can choose a program called ‘Fat Burn’ (yes, please). When choosing this program, the machine will ask you your age and target heart rate. I put 135 in as my target based on my personal trainer’s recommendation. I also strength train 2-3 times a week for 30-60 minutes. Sometimes with my trainer Ashley and sometimes on my own. I usually have one full body strength day and then an upper body workout day and a lower body workout day. This is my current routine and may not be the best for you but wanted to share where I am on my journey so you can see that I’m still actively working on achieving my personal goals.
(Please note that this post contains some affiliate links which means that if you click on the product and decide to purchase the item, I receive a small commission as a thank you at no extra cost to you.)
Music is so motivating for me. I love to crush a cardio workout with my Spotify playlist. If I’m walking or strength training solo, a podcast or audio book is my go to. Another great idea – my neighbor only watches his favorite Netflix show while exercising on the equipment in his basement.
Old Navy or TJ Maxx has great workout clothes that won’t break your bank. There is something about wearing cute workout clothes that I find motivating. It’s also a much better reward for your consistent hard work that doesn’t impact your waistline.
Signing up for a 5K, mud run, or other community event is a great way to stay motivated. There are so many fun themed runs now to choose from! Bubbles, dirt, foam, color, glow sticks…oh my!
Investing in a fitness device, like a FitBit, could help keep you motivated. It’s a great way to identify how much you are actually moving in your day. If you want to start out with a less expensive device, use a pedometer. I recommend one that has a cover and a safety strap to prevent accidentally resetting your daily steps or having your pedometer drop off your waistband and break.
Start a 30 day fitness challenge. It gives you something specific, yet short term to follow for a month and you can really see how much stronger you are getting.
Sneaking in more fitness in your day
I’m a working mom. I’m a working mom in a fairly sedentary job. I sit at my desk or in meetings most of the day…5 days a week. I’m constantly looking for ways to fit fitness in my workday. Here are a few tips of things I do consistently, have tried, or plan to try!
Take a brisk 10-15 min walk at lunch and soak up some Vitamin D.
When you are meeting with one or two people have a walking meeting inside or outside the building.
Ask your company if they will reimburse you for a standing desk. I have a Varidesk that I love!
Park far away from the office entrance so you get extra steps on the way in and out of the office.
Take the stairs instead of the elevators or escalators.
Drink water to make lots of bathroom trips and force yourself to get up and move.
Program your Fitbit or similar device to remind you when you have been sedentary for too long.
Start a fitness challenge with your coworkers.
Sit on a stability ball or stand on a stability disk.
Ride a stationary bike while checking your email.
Workout during kids’ practice or activity times.
Do wall squats while you are blow drying your hair.
Do some ab work while watching TV.
Pace the house or office while you are talking on your cell phone.
All of these little changes add up!
Involve your friends & family
On the weekends, I try to stay out of the gym and get outdoors! I love to hike a Kennesaw Mountain trail or power walk the neighborhood with a friend. This gives us time to catch up and encourage each other.
My whole immediate family now owns a Fitbit. The kids got our old versions that didn’t have the heart rate monitor and Jason and I upgraded. We should have done this long ago as the kids are more receptive to walking the dog when they are getting credit for their steps and beating their parents’ step count in the process! I try to follow all my friends and family that have a Fitbit now that they have these great workweek and weekend challenges. My daily goal is 10,000 steps which is approximately 5 miles.
Fitness is not something that we can outsource. It’s also not something that we can put off or think that it’s going to magically happen on its own. I’ve witnessed first hand with both my parents what putting off your personal health can do. I am choosing a different path. Particularly for a busy mom, it has to be scheduled on the family calendar. Make your plan for your specific workouts this week. Share this plan with your spouse and children. Prioritizing your own health so you can better take care of your other responsibilities is a good thing.
Why not try a couple of the sneaky fitness tips above and incorporate them into your routine?
‘They’ say that it takes 21 days to make a new habit. I challenge you to commit to your 21 day stretch starting now. My recommendation is to determine which days are going to include your focused fitness, schedule them on your family calendar, and stick to this new routine for 21 days. I’m cheering for you!
What do you struggle with most regarding fitness? What other sneaky small fitness tips can you share that are adding bits of fitness in your daily routine?
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