How-To: Make Time for Exercise, and Make It A Priority

We’re all busy people, aren’t we?  We’ve got jobs to go to, kids to take care of, meals to make and eat, workouts to do, and somehow, we’re squeezing in sleep and quality time with our spouses and ourselves.  Wait – what’s that?  You’re NOT getting workouts in?

I get it. You’re a busy professional working mother (like me). It’s amazing that you keep your tiny human(s) alive and fed and clothed and you meet your deadlines each day. Who’s got time for exercise?

I’ve shared about ways to sneak more activity into your day.  I’ve come up with suggestions to juggle parenthood and fitness.  I’ve even told you what to do when you finally find yourself in the gym!

If you’re still struggling to actually MAKE the time to exercise, this post is for you.   I’ll share my top tips to not only squeeze it in, but also make it a non-negotiable priority in your schedule.

Multi-task

Normally I’m actually opposed to multi-tasking.  Multi-tasking is a myth when it comes to cognitive tasks.  We’re either paying attention to something, or we’re not.  Multi-tasking can lead to multi-mediocrity at its best as you spread your attention across competing priorities OR multi-failure at its worst – if you’ve ever tried to compose an email while talking to your mother-in-law on the phone, you know what I mean.

However, when it comes to certain forms of exercise, we are NOT combining the same kinds of cognitive function.  So, we can actually successfully walk and talk at the same time (usually; sometimes this feat requires caffeine, if you know what I mean).  When it comes to making time for exercise, pick a low-intensity cardio machine where you can safely catch up on your emails or social media feeds and posts while you improve your cardiovascular fitness. In fact, if people don’t mind your heavy breathing, you can also knock off some phone calls during this time.

Great choices for safe cardio include treadmills (use the handrails) and stationary bikes.

 

Schedule

Just like all of your other important appointments (doctor, dentist, hair, nails), put your workout times for the week into your planner or calendar app or notebook. Even better if it effectively blocks your time so that others cannot double-book you during this sacred time.  I had a supervisor who had a clear sign on his office door, noting his “out of office” hours: 11:30am – 1pm each day, to allow ample time for a workout and a shower before returning to the office.  You might not have the luxury of ninety minutes, but you can certainly establish a routine.  The more consistent you are with the timing, duration and frequency, the less people will come to look for you at this time because they know it’s YOUR time.

Then, just like you keep all of those other appointments, keep these appointments with yourself to exercise.  You wouldn’t blow off your root touch-ups, so don’t blow off your workouts.  No one else will make your health and fitness priority for you if you don’t make it a priority for yourself.

 

Workout and wash

No washing your hair until you work out: wanna make it a priority? How’s this for motivation? You have to wait until after your sweaty workout to wash your hair.
Now, if you’re thinking, “Lauren, that sounds grody,” that’s the point! If you’re starting to feel kind of grimy you’ll be extra motivated to work out just to take a nice cleansing shower with shampoo afterwards!

Plus, showers after workouts are way more time effective than just showering at home. You’re already having to change your clothes from gym gear to your daily wear (unless your daily wear IS gym clothes – you still gotta go from the sweaty duds to the non-sweaty duds).

 

Work out with a friend

This is great on so many levels. You get time for social connection, which is important for your emotional health. You get exercise, which is good for your physical health. And you do it all in one block of time, which is efficient and saves your sanity and mental health.  It’s a health trifecta!

Plus, when you have plans to meet a friend for a workout, you’re far more likely to keep the commitment. You might blow off a workout if it’s just for you, but you’re not going to let down a friend, are you?  Of course not!  You’re a good friend.

You might also find the atmosphere of a group exercise class to be motivating and fun, which will keep you coming back for more.  Maybe you’re the intensely competitive type, and the group setting is just what you need to kick it up a notch.  Try it and see!

 

Pay yourself

Your time is valuable! And your workout time is valuable! So, for each workout you do, pay yourself a pre-established amount – will it be $2? $5? $10? Put the money in a jar or even transfer it to a separate savings account. You are actively showing that exercising is investing in yourself – both fitness and financial!

When you reach a threshold, treat yourself to a non-food reward. Maybe it’s a massage or a nail appointment. New workout clothes or regular clothes. The sky’s the limit!

Have a fit day!

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