You resigned yourself to lose a few pounds and get in better shape in 2012 – but you work full time, have two kids, manage the household, pay the bills and satisfy the 40+ volunteer hours required by the kids’ school, while still finding time for date night and your friends every now then. So how exactly are you going to make your New Year’s dreams come true?? I have the answer … pick the most convenient, not your favorite, form of exercise.
I don’t have a degree in kinesiology. I don’t work for a gym. I’m not a professional trainer. What I am is a mom of two young kids, who works full time and still has managed to work out an average of 5 days a week since each turned two months old. As you reach for your New Year’s goal, let me share a bit of the wisdom (if I dare call it that) that I’ve learned to make exercising possible when it seems there isn’t a moment to spare.
Here’s the thing that is most important: your frame of mind. Working out must, must be a priority. You absolutely have to want to succeed passionately or you will fall off the wagon before you’ve really started to see results. With little extra time in your life, it is too easy to find excuses not to work out otherwise. So, I’m not going to tell you to find a sport you like and that will make all the difference. That’s rubbish. All that matters is your intent to succeed. As a busy mom, you must pick the form of working out that is the most convenient for you to fit into your day NOT your favorite activity as many articles suggest. Here are a few examples that illustrate what I mean:
· Running. Don’t groan if you hate it. Running on the streets around your house is easy because all you need to do is put your shoes on and go. No extra drive time needed. If you have only 30 minutes per day to work out, running allows you to use the entire 30 minutes for exercise.
· That gym in your condo complex. Actually use it! Head straight to the complex gym on your way home from work. Spend 30 minutes there BEFORE you get into your house and are distracted, because you will likely not leave the house again.
· Lunch hour. Bring your athletic shoes to work, eat lunch at your desk quickly and then take a 30 min. walk along the streets surrounding your company.
· Your TV. With the hundreds of TV stations found on Comcast and DirectTV these days, you’re bound to find at least one fitness channel you can record. If not, use an exercise DVD. You may get tired of working out in your living room some days, but you have no excuse when it’s waiting right there inside your own home.
I hope you’re getting the point from these examples – all are scenarios that lay right in front of you for the taking each day so that you can fit in some exercise time, though they may not be your favorite form of exercise. It’s like being on Weight Watchers and giving yourself a “cheat” day to look forward to eating whatever meal you want. Do the same with exercise. Do the workout you must do during the work week and then do the workout you love on weekends so you can look forward to it as a reward.
Here are a few of the specific strategies I’ve used to squeeze in a workout over the years:
· Set a basic, achievable goal: You must begin with a minimum time per day and minimum number of days per week goal for yourself. For me, it’s always been to work out at least 30 minutes per day, at least four days per week.
· Wake up early to work out: I often wake up early and go to the gym before anyone else in the house is up. Or, I work out on the recumbent bike in my garage. This early in the day there aren’t any interruptions, nor is there a need to arrange babysitting since everyone is still in bed asleep. The added benefit is that since your body continues to burn calories after a workout, you maximize your weight loss results by burning more calories throughout the day than if you were to work out in the afternoon.
· Stick to a tight schedule: When I worked in a field with set 8 to 5 hours, I would take a 20 min. lunch at my desk, then leave at 4:20 instead. I would leave right on time and head for the company gym where I was changed and ready by 4:30 exactly. I left the gym exactly at 5 pm then commuted home to relieve the babysitter exactly at 5:30 p.m. and start dinner. Stress free it was not I will admit, but I knew it was the only way I would fit working out into my life. Scenarios like this are when the idea of passionately wanting to achieve your goal is essential.
· The beauty of the jogging stroller: On weekends, I take my kids in the B.O.B. jogging stroller. When they were younger, I’d often take them at nap time so they’d fall asleep in the stroller and I could go on a longer run. Now that they’re older, I run to the park, let them play on the play structure while I do lunges on a bench, then run back home. Bringing the kids with me actually affords me more workout time, allowing me to build in the lunges because they’re occupied playing. It also relieves any guilt I have of exercising instead of spending quality non-work time with them. Part of the success in taking them running is also that I’ve trained the kids to my running routine. They know the drill – no stopping once we’ve started, no expecting mommy to reply (because I can’t actually talk and run despite all of my years exercising), and no fighting in the stroller.
· Maximize the minutes you have: Try interval training. Interval workouts are those that alternate high-intensity levels with lower-intensity effort. For example, a 20-minute cardio workout that consists of 2 minutes sprinting on the treadmill followed by 1 minute of complete rest. I have come to love interval training whether on a treadmill at the gym or running on my neighborhood streets. Researchers have found that intervals burn three times as much fat as running twice as long at a moderately hard, steady pace. What's more, recovery from interval training forces the body to continue burning fat for energy. This all leads to an increase in post-workout calorie burning. It’s a winning proposition for a busy mom – spend less time and see greater results!
· Work out alone: Though working out with a buddy motivates many people, the problem is that coordinating schedules can be limiting to actually finding that workout time each day. Timing is key for a busy mom. Unless you are someone who is primarily motivated to work out knowing a friend is waiting to give you a swift kick if you don’t show up, I suggest working out alone. It allows you to accommodate your own schedule, fitting in a workout whenever possible and allows you to focus on a more intense workout that will you give you quicker results.