Fitting Fitness into Parenthood – Part 1

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One of the challenges for helping clients with kids achieve their fitness goals is to give them guidance on fitting workouts into their busy schedules as parents. I hear it all the time: “I need to spend time with my (spouse, kids, etc.)” “I’m too busy.” “My kids have to go to (insert any sport or other activity here).”

We all have the same amount of hours in each day. Yet, those hours are split differently between work, school, family, extra-curricular activities, social time, etc. Not everyone can pencil in a solid hour in their schedule for fitness everyday. So how do we figure out a way to stay healthy and fit?

  1. Rise and shine! Setting the alarm a few minutes earlier in the morning will make all the difference in the day. Not too long ago, I read an article headline that shouted that you could lose more weight by getting up earlier. While the headline was deceiving and there is no magic in getting up earlier, you do burn more calories because you’re up and moving about for more time in the day. This was the basic premise of the article even though it made it sound like you could magically lose weight by just getting up early. While I value my sleep as much as anyone, balancing out getting up earlier with going to bed earlier will help. But, wait. I know there is so much to do at night that didn’t get done during the day, which brings me to the next tip.
  2. Let it go! I hate waking up to dirty dishes in the sink. But sometimes it will just have to happen. I’d much rather spend those 10 minutes in the morning or at night by either energizing for the day with a quick workout in the morning or by stretching and doing a 10-minute yoga routine in the evening to wind down. While I don’t recommend leaving dirty dishes in the sink the entire week because that could get smelly, it’s ok to address these things every other day or enlist some help.
  3. Delegate! If you’ve got kids old enough to assist with chores or a spouse who can  help on those mornings (or evenings) you need to work out, then ask them. Even if it’s not 100% to your satisfaction or expectation, let go of the high standards and let them help you the best way they can. And don’t forget to show appreciation so they’ll want to keep helping!
  4. Pencil it in! I’m as guilty as the rest when it comes to writing things down and just relying on my head or the clock. Scheduling in times when you can work out is important. I live and die by my calendar when it comes to my appointments and clients, but I don’t always write in times to work out like I should. This can be very helpful especially if you think you can’t fit it in. We have time during the day, we just don’t always use it wisely. And don’t rely on how you feel. We’re not always going to feel like doing a lot of things and yet we do them. After all, would you rather be uncomfortable working out or uncomfortable in your jeans?
  5. Make a long-term game plan! Just like penciling in your workout for the day, if you sit down before the week gets going or month even, you can find the time for fitness around those moments where other things are happening. Even if you take 10 minutes three to four times a day to be active, that is better than nothing. Are you a heavy plane traveler? Speed walk between gates instead of taking the train, if possible. Do you have to be at all your kids’ sporting events and/or other activities? Take 10-20 minutes to do some laps around the field or building – or more, if you can. You can still show support for them and watch, but let them know you’re going to spend the first part of their activity unwinding from work also. I’m sure they’ll understand and be proud of you for being such a great fitness role model! Better yet, grab another parent and work out together while your kids are busy! It will make the time go faster and be more enjoyable.

The reason so many of us say we don’t have time for fitness is that we simply fail to plan for it. Creating a more structured schedule and analyzing just how we spend our time is the key to fitting it in. Not relying on our feelings but rather approaching fitness as a task to be marked off the list for the day (even if it’s in several small increments during the day) is a great approach to just getting it done. And the earlier the better in the day whenever possible. Too much can happen during the day to sidetrack our fitness goals.

Take the next couple of days and write down everything you do and when, just like a very detailed diary. I bet you’ll find that getting caught up in watching TV or surfing the Internet mindlessly could be those times that you have to do a quick speed walking workout or run or even a few push-ups and planks.

Stay tuned for my next post on Fitting Fitness into Parenthood!

Need some help planning quick workouts? Email me at sher@divasrun.com for more information!

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