So, I get this question a lot from my clients — especially busy working moms — how am I supposed to find time for exercise (and meal prep)? It’s true, as moms, we’re so busy taking care of everyone else that we often put our own needs last. We wake up with good intentions to find time to exercise, but then someone else’s needs take a front seat to our own, yet again. This cycle repeats itself over and over again because we’ll never find time to exercise if we don’t make time to exercise. Let me explain.
If I’m trying to find time to do something in my day, there most definitely won’t ever be any—there are always lots of errands, events, and needs that are going to take up my time and leave little time for anything I’m simply trying to FIND time to do. And, when I do have a minute of downtime, working out is the last thing on my mind.
There is where the idea of making time comes in. Think of it this way—if your child needs a doctor’s appointment or a dental visit, you always make time for it. No matter what how busy your schedule might be, you can make time for important appointments. And, even better, once these appointments are made, you rarely cancel them because something else came up. Why? Because they’re on your schedule and you feel obligated to attend them.
Making time for fitness (or meal prep) follows this same principle. You need to put it on your schedule ahead of time. Something that I find works really well is to plan my schedule out at least a week ahead of time. Anything that makes it into my planner is non-negotiable, even if it’s an appointment I’ve made for me. These are the times it’s most important to remember (and repeat to yourself)—I’m important too. I have needs. Sometimes those needs have to be put before anyone else’s needs. It’s ok to make time to take care of you.
Ok, so with all that being said—how do you MAKE time in your schedule for exercise? I’ve read many times and I honestly really believe this—“when you get discouraged and feel ready to give up, the one thing you have to do to be successful is the one thing you absolutely don’t want to do.” Now, this one thing is going to be different for everyone, but I find that it’s usually that one thing that stands in your way. So here are a few examples:
- Get up early before the sun. Love sleep? Me too. But, sometimes when you can’t find time during your regular day to exercise, waking up at 4:30am to get your workout in is the one way to make time for exercise. Now, you may be thinking, but what about sleep—isn’t that important too? Yup, you’re right. But, guess what—as you get into the routine of waking up early, you’ll slowly start to go to sleep earlier at night. It will all equal out. TIP – set yourself up for success by having everything ready when you wake up: clothes out, pre-workout snack set out, and routine planned.
- Set a time and put it on your calendar. Ok, so not everyone is going to have to wake up at the crack of dawn to fit in a workout. Sometimes it’s just a matter of picking a time and making it a non-negotiable appointment. You wouldn’t skip a doctor’s appointment because there were so many other more pressing things that you just couldn’t make it happen, right? Think about your workout the same way.
- Make it a routine. Now, that you’ve picked a time—the hard work begins, and I don’t mean the workout. The hard work sets in after the high of those first few days wears off and your motivation begins to wane. THIS is when you need to force yourself to get up and do it, no matter what. Routines and habits are both difficult to form and difficult to break. Right now, you’re doing both—you’re breaking the habit of giving up and forming the new routine of doing something for yourself everyday. Stay diligent, it will pay off.
- Learn to be okay with letting some things go. There are lots of things that are important. Some things are more important than others to each person. It’s important to learn to let go and be ok with letting some things become a lower priority. For example, if your house is a mess at the end of the day—and this is your scheduled workout time—let that be ok. Set a time for tidying the house in your schedule. Learn to be ok with the fact that it might not be everyday.
- Start delegating. If you’re a mom, like me, you probably take on a huge portion of everything that needs to be done. Not always because you have to, but because you’re the one that thinks of them, so you just do it. Make a list of all those things that need to be done and start divvying up the workload. This will give you time in your day, but also give you space in your mind.
- Get a workout buddy. This is a great strategy if you’ve tried to set a routine and still have a really hard time keeping that appointment with yourself. Now, you’ve got someone else that you need to show up for and that may be just the motivation you need to keep going when you feel like giving up.
Lastly and most importantly, stay positive. At times, you’re going to feel pulled in a million directions. At times, you’re not going to feel like working out. At times, someone will most definitely be calling for your attention. It’s in these moments that it’s most important to stay positive. I love using positive affirmations—in fact, I have them posted all over my house to keep me going when things get difficult. They help to keep me motivated, but also remind me of my purpose. Sometimes you just need a reminder of the big picture.