One of the questions I get asked, quite a bit is how I manage time for exercise/stay fit, with small children and a hubby who works ridiculous hours in the fall.
My response: it's not easy
I am a runner at heart and I absolutely love to run. But, at this point in my life, running mostly consists of a double jogger with two girls (one of which is standing in her seat, screaming that she wants to "get out and run, too") and it's either done mid-afternoon or in the evening. Not so fun. If I could pick the ideal time to run, it would be in the morning, after a cup of coffee, probably 8:00am. No distractions. A great friend to talk to. And a nice paved trail. Ha. That's why it doesn't happen very often, anymore.
In 2009 I joined a running club and trained and ran both a marathon and half marathon. I've done others as well. That was one of the best things I could have done for myself. Being held accountable by a group of people, having a place to meet on the same day each week, and working towards a goal, led me to accomplish more in my running career, than I ever thought possible.
This is me after running my first marathon. One of the proudest moments of my life.
And this is 6 weeks later.....
The other advantage I have, is that I teach fitness classes. These allow me to work out with my students. Imagine that! Working out and getting paid to do it! It's a huge motivating factor for me, and one of the reasons I love my job so much. If I'm going to teach students about nutrition and fitness, I sure as heck better be a good role model!
Here are some tips I came up with for those of you, especially with small children, who want to get in shape:
1) Have an accountability partner. This is where it gets difficult. I used to have the BEST running partner ever (hi, Angie!), but we've got 7 small children and a 30 minute car ride separating us, these days. My accountability is with my hubby. We try to provide motivation and encouragement. He'll also totally support me by watching the kids if I want to go running or head to the gym. Problem is, he's not available during my favorite workout hours, so I have to be more creative. My recommendation: find a workout buddy, group fitness class where people know you, or at least a friend or spouse who will encourage you, daily. Heck, there are probably even online support groups that you can join! Either way, you'll have better success if there is someone you have to "check in" with each day.
2) Don't make excuses. This is where I fall guilty. I'm tired, I've been up in the middle of the night, I'm busy, all I want to do is put on my sweats and hang out on the couch. But you know what? You can't and I can't! Just yesterday, we had a half day of school and it was the perfect time for me to get a workout in before I needed to be home for our nanny. I got in the car to head to the gym and every single part of me wanted to drive straight home. I was tired, I knew we were heading to the fair for the afternoon and it was a little overcast and gloomy. Instead, I dug deep inside me, fought the voices in my head (ha!) and drove to the gym. You know what? After my workout, I was SO glad I did it! I can almost promise you that you won't regret it, if you just get out and do it! It's especially invigorating to finish a workout that you didn't even want to start. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that there are people out there who are physically not able to work out, who really want to! I'm doing it for them!
3) Find an activity that you LOVE. Trust me on this one. If you don't love it, you probably won't stick to it. That's why I run. And especially why I love to run with friends. I'm a social girl and if I can talk and workout at the same time, it's like combining two of my favorite activities. I've tried workout videos at home and I feel trapped and claustrophobic. We have an elliptical in our bedroom and it sits unused most of the year because it completely bores me. What I know about myself is that I need to be around people when I workout. I'm pumped up, motivated and inspired. I love running races because there are people cheering and yelling. What better environment to keep going?!! Group fitness classes are often a fan favorite because you are surrounded by people who are fun and hold you accountability. Win, win!
4) Set goals. This may seems silly, but believe me, it's helpful. Write them in a journal, tape them to your fridge, use lipstick and write them on your mirror. Whatever. But most of all, shout them to the world. Or just post them on Facebook. ;-) The more people you tell, the more likely you will be to stick with them. When I first signed up for the running club, I remember looking at Angie and saying, "OH MY GOSH....I CAN"T BELIEVE WE ARE GOING TO RUN 26.2 MILES WITHOUT STOPPING!". In a pure panic. And then I told everyone I knew that I was going to run a marathon. My students, my friends, my co-workers, the social media world, etc. There was NO WAY I was backing out of this one. And you know what?! It worked! I was motivating myself. Each week, Angie and I would post a picture of ourselves holding up the fingers of how many miles we ran. I remember thinking it was far when we were doing 8. Little did I know that suddenly 20 miles wouldn't seem that far! #lifeofalongdistancerunner We stuck with it, received encouragement along the way. Lots of "how's the training going" wherever I went. And it totally helped me to keep my focus. Your goal doesn't have to be to run a marathon, it could be something as simple as "go to the gym 3 times a week." What you need to remember about your goals is this acronym...S.M.A.R.T. I teach these to my students, as well.
For example, I'm going to do a 40 minute cardio workout at the gym at least 4 times a week for the month of September. I'm also going to spend a minimum of 20 minutes lifting free weights on those same days.
5) Reward yourself! Normally, I like to reward myself with some sort of a sweet treat, but that seems counter-productive to this, so find another reward. I love to shop and rewarding myself with a shopping spree at Lulu Lemon or Nordstrom would be my idea of heaven. Pick something you really love and use it to motivate. We are heading to Hawaii in a couple months and I plan on buying a few things before we go. If I hit my goal weight before then, I'll allow myself to buy without guilt. If you are looking at a longer term weight loss goal, go big on the reward! Maybe even a trip somewhere to celebrate. Trust me that the bigger the reward, the greater the investment!
6) Realize that all women are not created equal. As much as I can inspire and excite and encourage you to workout, the reality is that some people have to work harder than others to achieve the same results. Genetics does play a role in this and you are right, it's just not fair that some people are built with naturally tiny bodies and they don't have to even break a sweat to stay that way. Others of you, work your hiney's off and struggle with your weight, daily. Embrace your body, especially if you've gone through childbirth. You created a human being and deserve to give yourself some grace. This isn't an excuse to let yourself go, but it's definitely an encouragement to keep a positive mindset and continue pushing forward. Remind yourself that you aren't just working out for the outward benefits, but keeping your heart, lungs and mind healthy are equally, if not more, important.
So with that said, it's time to get moving. There is no better time than now! Set a small goal....even walking, just to get moving. As I've gotten older, I've realized that our health is all we have. If we aren't healthy, we can't be there for our families and the people we care about. I know you can do it...do you?!!
Please share your favorite workouts and tips for staying healthy. Maybe it will help to motivate someone else!! XOXO