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Yes, You DO Have Time to Work Out!

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How a busy mom can fit exercise into her day.

mom working out

JJ Virgin: The day starts promptly at 7 AM. You wake up, flip on the coffee, pack lunches, dress the kids, make breakfast, and then barely make it out the door before you start eight solid hours of work, followed by an evening of home duties and full-throttle motherhood. By the time you make dinner, do homework with the kids, and then struggle with bedtime, it's time to finally flop on the couch.

The idea of grabbing your dumbbells or doing a little burst training on the treadmill seems more like wishful thinking.

Is it any wonder that many moms tell me they simply can't find time to work out? They want to do it, but there are only 24 hours in one day.

I laughed when I read Kate Hudson, mommy to little Ryder, tell a magazine that she barely has time for a 10-minute shower on certain hectic days. It's time to put a stop to feeling like a failure when it comes to your exercise plan.

The solution to your problem is simple. You must make an appointment with you -- and not break it. For any reason. Write it down. Circle it. Make a vow. You're out of the loop during your "no mommy, just me" time.

Why do you need to make a formal appointment with yourself?

In our busy, over-scheduled lives, it's easy to think you will find time later in the day to do your workout, but then one thing after another crops up, to the point where you're just struggling to fix it all, take care of it all, and do it all ... often with little to no help. Having this loose "I'll work out when I get to it" way of life usually means that more often than not, you will never get to it, because moms are often the last person on the priority list.

That ends today. When you have finished reading this column (and thank you for spending the time), I want you to get out your calendar or daytimer. I want you to look at the next five days and schedule at least 20 minutes on each of those days for you to work out. Think of this as if you're making an appointment with the OB/GYN. Ladies, all of us know that those appointments are hard to get, and you wouldn't think of just blowing them off. Think of your scheduled workout in the same way. Unless someone is bleeding or 911 is involved, then nothing gets in the way.

Most families have time for the kids and even Daddy time. This is Mommy time, and everyone needs to respect it because we want Mommy to be healthy and strong. You don't really need to tell them that you also have your eyes on those great black jeans that don't seem to fit yet. A few secrets are okay in this area.

Here are a few other ways to make sure that you get your workout in:

Set aside a corner of the house or part of a room that's off limits to everyone else. It will contain your workout mat, weights, journal for your progress, exercise ball, and the rest of the things you need for your program. Be dogmatic about the fact that this area is not open to the public. Even kick out the cat.

Try to do your workouts in the morning. If you need to, try to get up half an hour before the kids -- even if it's early. It might seem hard the first few days, but soon you will find it easy to wake up. You can also go to sleep half an hour earlier at night to make up for lost zzzz's. It's the best feeling in the world to start your day off with physical activity, and it gives you maximum energy for the day. It's also a great way to de-stress before the day begins. Studies show that those who do their workout in the morning are more likely to not skip sessions versus those who wait till later in the day.

Please don't try to work out later at night after the kids have gone to bed. Let's be honest. You're exhausted, and the last thing you feel like doing is working out. The other problem here is working out is far too stimulating an activity to do late at night before you go to bed; it will keep you awake. You want to get your maximum sleep for good health and cell repair, so don't work against yourself by working out too late.

Make sure that you take the time on weekend days to do your workout -- even if the day is crammed with physical family activities. It's great if you're going to hike as a family through the woods or do rowboats at the park. Consider that some extra working out time, but not your main workout. It's better if you stick to your regular routine and use the rest as "gravy."

Remember to not reward yourself with extra eating because you worked out earlier in the day. Research shows that you're not actually hungrier because you moved, and you don't need the extra calories. You can treat yourself with something else for your efforts -- like a long, wonderful bubble bath or that new cute workout outfit that you love. Don't make food your reward.

Every Sunday, schedule your appointments with yourself for the following week. It's important, and please don't forget to do it.

For those moms who feel guilty about focusing on themselves, just remember that you're not going to be so good for everyone else if you're not healthy. You are doing this for yourself ... and your family.

Oh, and then there's the matter of those new black jeans that fit. Congrats!

next: Fighting with Hubby? Get the SpatSolver!
4 comments so far | Post a comment now
PlumbLucky November 5, 2009, 4:29 AM

Yet another piece of advice telling me to get up earlier. And that I can make up the zzz’s by going to bed earlier. Live my life for a week and tell me how that goes…

I already get up at 0430. Thank you. Start the day at seven? In my dreams. I’ve been at work a half-hour already by 7. Go to bed earlier? I would love to…but if you could explain how everything will get put away, the kitchen half-cleaned, and everything packed for the next day, even with hubby doing roughly half the work, I’d love to know how.

I do manage to fit in a workout some days; others, not. (The reality is I can claim that appointment is not breakable, but if the stuff hits the fan at hubby’s work, heat for the five count metro area is far more important than my “unbreakable appt with myself” and he won’t be home til the gas distribution error is fixed)

Ha November 5, 2009, 9:30 AM

I could do this but I don’t. I should start doing it but it all falls on myself that I don’t. I would much rather surf the computer and read blogs. All my own fault.

Maybe Plumb if you or I spent less time on the computer posting random and in your case mean spirited comments? Just sayin’.

PlumbLucky November 5, 2009, 10:06 AM

Hmmm…”Ha”? I guess I don’t see what exactly in my posting above was “mean spirited”. Simply my take on the advice, which is that in my life, some of the suggestions do not work well. And its a major point of frustration to me that when I look for advice on any given topic, they always seem to start out with “get up earlier”.

tabletki na pryszcze April 3, 2011, 7:28 AM

I’m glad, that i found your website, there are a couple of cool articles

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