Hey busy moms, dads, & all caregivers,
Today, I want to share with you how I prioritize getting my workouts in with my super busy schedule. Between work, kids, and everything that goes along with being a working parent, it is too easy for working out to go on the bottom of the list, making it impossible to get done without any consistency or results.
It wasn’t easy for me to get to this place where I can fit between 3-5 workouts a week. And on super crazy weeks, I’m still lucky if I get one workout in. Now that got into the groove and made working out a habit, I’m addicted to it and don’t feel as good when I can’t get as many workouts in.
My advice is to start slow and work your way up. At first, I could only commit to my Sunday spin workout and then moved up to Sunday plus one night during the week, so on and so forth. I’d say that 1-2 workouts a week are recommended to maintain your body composition. If you’re also looking to lose weight, aim for between 3-5 times a week.
- Plan ahead! We need to plan our workouts just like we need to plan our meals for the week ahead to avoid getting stuck during the week after a long day, not knowing what to make for dinner that night, and end up at the drive-through. Take a few minutes on Sunday to look at your work, kids’ and social calendar and determine what are the best days/times to work out. Then, add it to your calendar like any other important commitment.
- Determine your body clock and find something you love to do. Figure out if you are better working out first thing in the morning, in the evening, or somewhere in between. I commute to work and am not a morning person to begin with, so those 5:45 am classes, as much as I’d love to be done with it first thing, are not right for me. Figure out when you have the most energy/time, and plan your workouts accordingly. If you hate running but love the structure of classes, then take a look at your gym’s class schedule as you plan your workouts for the week. It is hard to feel motivated to do exercise week in and week out if you are not enjoying yourself.
- Try Groupon for fun and switch it up! If you do the same type of exercise all the time, your body will get used to those same movements and is more likely to plateau. Adding variety to your workout is not only fun, it also keeps your body in check as it doesn’t know what to expect. Getting the Groupon or Living Social app and searching for workout options in your area is both cost-effective and low-risk. For example, I just signed up for a ten-class kickboxing package where each class is only $5. And if I don’t love the place, type of workout, or the overall experience, I can just finish up my classes and move on to something else without any cancelation fees, etc.
- Join a gym that has a babysitting option. It is especially hard for parents with younger kids to get out of the house and work out. None of us want to have to pay a babysitter to go the gym (we’d rather save those luxuries for going out for dinner and drinks!). By joining a gym or community center where the membership comes with babysitting, you can get your kids out of the house for a gym playdate while you work out. A win-win for all involved!
- Workout with friends. There is no stronger accountability partner than your friend asking when you will be working out this week so that you can sync up your classes. I recently tried Barre class after my friend, Patty, raved about it. Taking classes together definitely made it easier for me to attend, and I went more often than I would have if I was just pushing myself to go alone.
- Workout with your significant other. Couples that sweat together stay together. Or in my case, spin together. Every Sunday for the last few years, my hubby and I go to spin class. No matter how hectic the week has been and how little quality time we may have had, at least we can look forward to our Sunday class, where we catch up on the car rides, feeling good that we are both doing something to improve our health and boost our metabolism together. Meet Chuck and Joy, pictured above, who are in their late 80’s, married 61 years and working out together since they were in their 40’s. They are in my Sunday spin class and are an inspiration to us all.
- Incorporate family quality time and exercise. Quality time with your kids doesn’t have to be limited to the dinner table. Getting outdoors with your kids can teach them that exercise is a priority and something that can be fun. In the summer, we love to ride bikes or walk on the beach boardwalk. In the spring and fall, we love going on hikes, and in the winter, we’ve become avid skiers. Bonus for incorporating a good cause with your walk – every year, we support our friend’s daughter who has Diabetes at the JDRF Walk.
- Walk as much as possible. Even though I can take a subway to work, unless it is pouring rain or less than 32 degrees, I walk 25 minutes each way to my office. I love the energy of NYC and soaking it in first thing in the A.M., and at the end of the day, recharges me. Plus, that is an extra 5 hours of low impact exercise I can sneak in every week without thinking twice about it.
- Take advantage of job work-out perks. I’ve worked at companies that offer weekly Yoga or Pilates and have always tried to take advantage of those opportunities. Also, a lot of corporations offer gym membership discounts, and some health insurance companies even offer financial incentives to work out, so inquire with your HR department on these great work perks.
- Don’t work out every day! We all need to rest and recharge, and not giving your body those days to do so lead to burnout and possible injury. I also think our bodies get used to amount of working out we do and expect it. I know I never want my body to expect needing to work out every day since that isn’t sustainable for me.
Wishing you many fun, sweaty workouts in your near future!