How to carve out time to exercise, even when it seems impossible.
Spry editor Lisa Delaney is one of the rare souls who know what it’s like to be an “after.” This journalist and author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girl shed 70 pounds—and six dress sizes–and has kept it off for 20 years. She answers your questions here each week.
QUESTION: I have a very busy work schedule and a 4-year-old. I am having a hard time figuring out when I can work out consistently. I prefer mornings but have a difficult time if my daughter wakes up while I am working out. I tend to blow off night time workouts by the end of the day. Thanks for your help!—Margaret
DEAR MARGARET: I know what you mean about those after-work workouts: Even though my son is now 10, I still hate to take time away from him to exercise in the evenings. Plus, I find myself thinking about it all day … will I? won’t I? Drives me CRAZY. You are lucky in that you LIKE morning workouts, unlike most people. How do you keep up your routine, though? Here are some pointers.
Keep your kid corralled. I have a friend whose son has always been an early—and I mean early—riser. They have a rule that he can’t get out of his room before a certain time (unless it’s to go to the bathroom). Not sure if this will work for you—maybe you can make sure your daughter has books she can read or toys she can play with at the ready if she gets up early.
Ask for help. You didn’t mention a partner—if you have one, make sure you’re being supported in your efforts to exercise in the a.m. So, if you can’t keep your child from slipping out of her room before you’re finished sweatin’ to the oldies, make it a rule that she snuggles in bed with her dad instead of interrupting you in the middle of your grapevines (excuse the ‘80s workout allusions—I’m in that kind of mood today).
Change locations. Instead of working out at home, hit the Y or community center (they’re typically pretty affordable), or walk or run with a friend from the neighborhood. That will keep interruptions at a minimum.
Involve your daughter. Don’t think you have to stop doing your thing just because your little one is stirring. Invite her to join you; if she balks tell her she’ll have to wait until you’re done to have your full attention. Who knows—she might be willing to jump around with you, or at least sit quietly and watch while you go through your paces.
Consider lunchtime. I know you said you’re busy at work—but, really, who isn’t? Just consider whether you could do SOMETHING at lunchtime, other than tossing down a sandwich at your desk or heading out with colleagues … or working through the stack of paperwork in your in-box with no break at all. Could you commit to a lunchtime workout three days a week, or even two? Could you even do a 10 to 15 minute walk? No, that won’t make up for missing half of your Insanity workout when your daughter demands your attention, but it’s SOMETHING. And the whole thing here is that something is better than nothing when it comes to exercise.
Set new boundaries. All of these ideas require you to step up and claim some time for yourself—from your child, your husband, your boss, your co-workers. That’s tough for us girls, I know. But until you can do this, you can’t take care of yourself the way you need to, the way a true Former Fat Girl does. Setting boundaries, making ourselves the priority (if just for an hour a few times a week), saying “no” to others and “yes” to ourselves a little more—those are the real solutions here. Yes, a live-in nanny and independent wealth would do the trick too, but we’re talking reality here. Believe me, you will feel better about yourself if you step up for yourself, for your health. I hope this helps!
Lisa Delaney is editor of Spry magazine and Spryliving.com. Ask her your question here.