Thursday, April 3, 2014


I get up every morning at 4am to workout.  Before you roll your eyes and diagnose me as clinically-ridiculous, you must know that I have always been a "morning person".  In high school, I was routinely the first car to arrive in the parking lot (back me up Saxons!).  In college, I searched for all of the 8am classes...intentionally.  At work, I'd be the one turning on the office lights in the morning.  So, when I became a stay-at-home mom and realized that I would never again be able to do anything by myself without interruption (may I please just use the bathroom once without an audience?!), I knew that an early-morning workout while the kids were still sleeping was my only option.  

No.  Let me be very clear.  I am not advising, suggesting, or recommending to anyone that they rise n' shine before the rooster starts calling just to fit in a workout.  I do, however, endorse and applaud the act of making a conscious effort of fitting exercise into your daily routine, regardless of your 'busy' schedule.  We are all busy.  We all have things going on that can impede on our accomplishments (like when you have to prepare for a presentation at work tomorrow but you couldn't possible miss the latest episode of Real Housewives, because then what would you talk to your co-workers about during lunch the next day?).  

Let's be honest.  Are you REALLY so busy that you can't even fit 10 minutes of exercise into your day?  If you do have 10 minutes to spare (or more), how are you spending that time?  Are you working out at all?  If you're working out, are you doing it consistently?  I can assure you that when I was working full-time and had two kids in daycare, I was not getting up extra early to squeeze in a workout before the kids woke up.  Heck, no!  Instead, I exercised every other night after putting the kids to bed.  Of course, they would get out of bed and interrupt my workout a hundred times before actually falling asleep but I stuck with it.  Despite the inconveniences of it taking nearly an hour to complete a 20-minute workout due to interruptions, I stuck with it because I made exercise a priority.  I didn't get to watch my favorite TV shows or read my favorite books on those nights but that was okay because I started seeing results...and that's the ultimate motivator!

Admit it, we really only get things done when they are important to us.  It doesn't help that we all struggle with time management occasionally.  I sometimes feel like I get more accomplished when I'm 'busy'.  If I have 10 things to accomplish in one day, there's a good chance I will get at least 8 of those items scratched off my to-do list.  If, however, I have an entire day to do just one thing...I may never get around to doing it at all.  If you have a to-do list, do you prioritize it?  If so, where do your workouts fall on that list?  Probably not as high as they should be.

Ah yes, time.  The #1 excuse for not working out.  But do we really ever have time?  Not really.  Instead of having time, you should make time.  When I had to schedule my Personal Training Certification exam, I discovered that I had to take the exam much sooner than I had planned.  I was very upset because I didn't think I would have enough time to dedicate to my studies in order to pass the exam.  I didn't have a choice though so I scheduled my test and I tried to feel better by telling myself that if I didn't pass, I'd just take a few more weeks to study and re-take the exam at a more-convenient time.  But something interesting happened.  I started studying more and harder than before.  I realized that if continued at this faster pace, I would actually be ready to sit for the exam!  I brought my notes with me everywhere I playgrounds, to my daughter's choir practice, and to my son's swim class.  Everywhere I went, I was studying.  And guess what?  It paid off.  I passed my exam (and did really well!) and all because I made time to prepare, even though when I scheduled the exam, I didn't think it was possible to fit it all in.  I got it done because it was important to me.  I made it a priority and suddenly, I had more time!

Let's stop looking like this:

...and be more like this:

The following is a brief list of suggestions for fitting exercise into your life.  Remember, I advocate small steps for big results (you have to start somewhere).  Let's focus on simple ways of fitting exercise into your life.

1. Half of the muscles in your body are in your legs so if you only make time for one exercise, work the legs!  Walking is one of the best exercises available, especially since you can do it regardless of your fitness level.  If you're just starting out, start slow and focus on form and posture.  If you're more advanced, try to walk at a brisk pace and focus on heart rate.  New mommy?  Get out that stroller and hit the hills!  This is great for the baby too because your little one will get an abundance of fresh air while you burn some calories! 

2. Workout first thing in the morning.  Again, I'm not suggesting a 4am workout (unless that works for you), but when you knock out your workout early in the day, you reduce the chances of other "obstacles" getting in your way.  Yes, this means your alarm clock will have to go off a little earlier than usual.  It may be rough at first but it becomes much easier once you get into a routine. 

3. If you insist on watching your favorite TV shows on certain nights during the week, who says you have to watch them while sitting on the couch?  Get up and lift some weights or do some stretching exercises while the tube is on.

4. Monitor your activity with a pedometer (step-counter) or other fitness monitor like the Nike Fuelband or Fitbit Force.  These devices can help gauge whether or not you are having an "active" day.  By the time dinner rolls around, you'll be able to see your progress for the day and determine if a little extra activity is needed.  The more-sophisticated devices can even tell you if you had a good night's sleep.  Pretty cool, eh?

5. Get social!  Sometimes we allow our social lives to take precedence over our health.  To avoid this pitfall, get your friends involved.  Go to the gym together or join each other for a walk.  Get fit while gabbing with your girlfriends!

This list could go on and on but we'll leave it short for now to get you started.  A little bit can go a long way when you become consistent.  Fit these little actions into your daily routine and the health benefits will begin to add up!


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