Why is it so hard to squeeze in a workout? Because it’s not really squeezing it in. Workouts are typically a time commitment, because if it’s a good workout you need to shower afterward. And if you workout at a gym, you need to factor in travel time. If you are a stay-at-home mom and prefer to workout at home, it can become a huge ordeal with the kids. What should be a thirty minute workout can quickly become a full hour if you’re constantly interrupted. It’s hard to just squeeze it in.
The question is always how do you find the time to workout? There just rarely seems to be enough time in the day.
Non-Negotiable. First, we need to discuss your priorities. We can call your priorities “non-negotiables”—pieces of your daily life that are required for it to function well.
For example, some obvious non-negotiables are sleeping and eating, right? These things are required to function well. Without sleep and food, you’ll crash. Another non-negotiable may be working (obviously), downtime, family time, or social time. Personally, for my day to function best, I need some silence and a nap every afternoon. If I don’t get this, my day is a mess. I just don’t function well.
Exercising should be on your non-negotiable list. You require regular exercise to operate at your best, to keep yourself resistant to illness and to provide energy for your other tasks. It’s a must-do. You can’t argue yourself out of it, and you can’t let other tasks get in the way. Just like sleeping and eating, it needs to happen.
There is no room for negotiation.
When you finally view your workouts as non-negotiable, the task then becomes fitting it into your schedule. How do you make it happen every single time?
Scheduling. Place it into your schedule at a time that is the least affected by other variables. What part of your day is the most predictable? You should know exactly what will or will not happen at that time of day.
For some of you this may be later in the evening. The kids are in bed, dinner is over and nothing ever happens between 8:00 and 9:00.
For others, your most predictable time could be early afternoon. You’re always home to make sure your kids have their naps, so this is your best opportunity.
And for many of you, the early morning is the only sacred time that is unaffected by busyness. The rest of your day, from the moment the kids wake up until you crash on the couch late at night, is packed full. Your early morning is your best bet for a consistent workout, completely void of other commitments.
The evolution of my 5:30 am workout...
For years, my own workouts happened when I had a free hour here or there. Back in my 8+ training session days, if I had a free hour I would “squeeze” in a workout. Then we had kids and I found myself home more. Workouts happened during morning or afternoon naptimes. It was never a set time, but the workouts always happened because they have always been a non-negotiable.
However, the problem with my free-wheeling was that I never found a groove. Yes, I followed a steady, well-designed workout plan, but my body was all over the place with the different workout times. One day I would feel fresh and energetic, but the next day I would feel blah.
I identified this problem and decided to always workout mid-morning, forgetting the afternoon or evening workouts altogether.
But two problems arose: 1. My kids were awake and with me, so to keep them off of my body for two minutes I had to plug them into the cartoons, practically intravenously. 2. My work and activity schedule sometimes changed, so this mid-morning workout became unpredictable. Sometimes it happened and sometimes it didn’t.
My selfishness and my selflessness collided.
I needed to be selfish a little bit. My workouts were non-negotiable, and I needed a set time that the kids wouldn’t bother me and it couldn’t be affected by other plans. Workout time is my time.
I also needed to be selfless and lay aside my comfort, because the only time I came up with that would consistently work was 5:30 in the morning! Ouch. It’s dark and cold, and the bed is so very warm and comfortable. Committing to workouts this early in the morning was not going to be easy, but I knew it was my only choice.
Thus, the 5:30 am workout was birthed. And believe it or not, I have come to absolutely love it. The house is still and peaceful. I see the sunrise every morning (well, not every morning because this is Oregon after all, not Hawaii). And by 6:30 every day, my workout is in the bag and I can move on with the rest of my day. This feels so good.
Consistency is Fitness' Best Friend
When it comes to being truly fit, you must be consistent. You can't play the game of three workouts this week and one workout the next. You just won't get anywhere and see any real results. If you're inconsistent, you're likely talking yourself out of it frequently. You're negotiating.
Your job, then, is to make sure exercising is a non-negotiable. This is a life requirement, therefore you must accommodate it. Look at your life schedule and determine what time of the day you can control the most.
Do you need to be a little selfish with your time, or maybe even selfless?
Are you holding on to certain comforts that are preventing you from being consistent?
If you need some more tips on how to fit an active lifestyle into a mom lifestyle, read How to be a Fit Mom. In this article, I give you practical tips for choosing the best exercises when you're crunched for time, whether or not you should get a gym membership, and what to do with the kids.