It’s the most common response I hear when I ask people how things are going and it’s the most common response I give when asked that question. We live in a world that keeps us moving and, if you’re like me, you feel a little awkward when your schedule actually slows down for a few days or a week. I’ve seen so many discussions about whether or not our busy schedules are a good thing—and it’s a valid conversation to have—but busyness is a reality for so many and it doesn’t appear as though that will change anytime soon.
I eventually took the approach of trying to work with a busy schedule, instead of trying to fight it or waiting until things “slow down” when I want to make changes in my routine. One of the big changes I wanted to make was working out. I feel better, sleep better, work better… I live life better when I move my body. But if I’ve fallen out of a workout routine, it can feel overwhelming to add it back in. I don’t have time!
When overwhelm hits, these are the steps I take to work it back into my schedule.
1 // Start Small.
This is probably key. My instinct is to say, “I’m going to start working out!” and set a goal to workout for an hour a day for five days each week at least. My goal is always what I put down on paper, but really… I’m going to work out every single day right? When I add exercise into my routine, it means that I have to adjust my schedule in other places, so if I set a big goal one of two things will happen: 1) I won’t accomplish the goal and will feel discouraged, or 2) I’ll frantically adjust my schedule and routine, but I usually adjust it in one place I shouldn’t. Sleep. There are some people in my life who would tell you that I already don’t get enough sleep—and they might be right—so sleeping less, isn’t an option.
When I say I start small, I mean I start small. I set a goal to workout at least one day a week for at least 20 minutes. The first time I started small, I literally worked out one day that first week. The next week I worked out two. The third week I worked out three and by the end of the month I was working four days a week for a half hour to an hour. Now, whenever I’ve fallen out of that routine (because life happens… I’m actually working on incorporating exercise back into my routine after taking a month of illness) I set my goal for that one day, but I usually get in at least two or three days that first week.
2 // Simplify the Process.
Make sure you have everything you need handy. I always make sure that I have clean workout clothes (including workout bras—I always lose them!) and that they’re easily accessible. I put out the clothes I’m wearing the next day before bed every night and if I know that the next day will a great day for a workout (I’ll be home right after work for the entire evening) I put my workout clothes out too. If I went to the gym, I’d carry my gym bag with me. Since I workout at home, I make sure that my favorite DVDs are handy and that if I need weights, a yoga mat, or other supplies they’re within reach. If I have to search for things, it doesn’t work, but I can easily make sure I’m ready to workout as I prepare everything that I need for work the next day.
3 // Find Enjoyable Workouts.
Another thing I hear is that working out isn’t fun—and there have been times that I’ve agreed. Running is not my thing and, to be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of going for walks either. I get bored pretty quickly. If you’ve tried different workouts that don’t excite you, keep looking! There’s some form of activity that you will enjoy, I can guarantee it. The human body wasn’t made to sit all day long; it was made to get up and move! So there’s something out there, you just need to find what those enjoyable workouts are.
For me, it’s dancing and kickboxing. I need a workout that captivates my mind and these are the two that do it. Dancing engages me as I learn the choreography and once I have it down I like to dance my heart and perform… for Little One, since she’s the only one in the room. Kickboxing allows me to kick and punch out my frustrations. Or, if I’m feeling pretty good about life in general, it gives me an opportunity to live out my childhood dreams of being Jane Blue. Either way, kickboxing is always therapeutic and a lot of fun.
4 // Listen to Your Body.
There’s the practical: I don’t want to start working out and injure myself. You should listen to your body that way too. If something doesn’t feel right and causes pain, stop. See if you can modify the move or if it’s something you shouldn’t be doing. We all have different bodies with different quirks. I was born with clubfoot, and while it was corrected when I was younger, it’s had some lasting effects that makes running painful. (One of the reasons running isn’t my kinda workout.)
There’s also the motivational: when I workout I feel better. I’m more settled, I sleep better… I feel so good that I want to keep working out. That’s one huge motivator for me to get that workout… but it’s most motivating once I start working out and actually feel how good it feels to workout.
5 // Plan Ahead.
I like to start the week by taking a look at my calendar to see what’s coming up. Getting up to workout before work doesn’t work for me, so I know I need to plan on working out in the evenings. Every other Wednesday I go straight from work to a church group, so I don’t get home until nine. Sometimes I still manage to get a workout in, but I usually plan out my week so that I get my workouts in other days. I have another church group every other Thursday, so I know that if I’m going to work out I need to be sure I get home from work early enough to get it in before I go. I don’t actually put my workouts into my calendar (although it’s probably something I should do), but I definitely take a look at what my schedule looks like and plan when I want to fit them in.
I also make sure that I start getting them in right away at the start of the week, that way if something comes up at the end of the week I know I’ve gotten some workouts in.
The cool thing is, once I find a workout that I love and get into the routine of exercising, it becomes a habit. It becomes such a routine that I’ve even worked out on days I wasn’t planning to (so I could focus on other things) just because it’s what I do and it feels good!
WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR INCORPORATING EXERCISE INTO A BUSY SCHEDULE?