A question I constantly get asked, by readers of this blog and fellow colleagues and friends, is how I have time to work out amidst the daily demands of life. Working a busy job, being a graduate student and just typical self-care requires a lot of hours of the day, so how is there time to sweat in the middle of it all? Time management and fitness is always a strained relationship.
I find that personally, if I prioritize working out, it’ll get done. And if I find a way to balance it with other responsibilities, it actually works together quite nicely with everything else. I prefer to wake up early and get my workout out of the way for the day – I have so much natural energy in the morning that I’d rather use it then, than lose that momentum later on in the day. I also find that exercising first thing in the morning keeps me awake throughout the day as well. If I don’t get up and sweat (sometimes its a SoulCycle class, sometimes its just a walk) I get SO sleepy by noon, and then have no energy for a workout later in the day. You also never know what could come up after work or before class, so getting it out of the way just leaves so much more time for other responsibilities.
Another big thing is to always have food prepared, and if you have a delicious meal or snack you’re looking forward to, getting that workout in and refueling feels even better. Being busy and squeezing workouts in between meetings means you don’t have time to prep big huge meals all the time. I love meal prepping by cooking a bunch of chicken and salmon on a day when I’m not as busy, cutting up fruits and vegetables and packing my meals the night before. Protein bars are a necessity in my life as well. Some of my favorites are ONE Protein Bars, Perfect Bars, No Cow Protein Bars and GoMacro Bars. For a discount on your GoMacro bar order, use code “letsrunamegathon25” and enjoy some yummy, vegan treats after your next workout!
Regularly working out definitely requires time management – I’m not perfect and there are so many days I hit the snooze button instead of getting up and getting after it! I decided to put together some answers as to why I choose to prioritize fitness in the crazy haze that is life these days, and some answers to common time management questions. Just as a reminder, I am not certified in any way, this is just my experience and my opinion 🙂
Why it is important to have a regular exercising schedule?
Having a regular exercising schedule – meaning working out at the same time every day or workout out on a consistent basis (every other day, every two days, etc.) – can ultimately be very beneficial to your body. Waking up and going to sleep at the same time can improve the quality of your sleep, so if you get in the habit of consistently waking up early to workout before work or school, eventually it won’t feel as tiring as it does the first few times. Regular workout schedules also make it easier for your body to recover (imagine going from 48 hours between a workout to 8, your body won’t know what to do!) and it regulates the way things move through your body, if you know what I mean.
Essentially, the human body has a circadian rhythm and likes to follow routine. If it knows it can expect waking up at a certain time and exercising at a certain time and eating at a certain time, it’ll respond well. I’m no doctor by any means, but I definitely do better when I eat foods I normally eat and workout every morning as opposed to sleeping in some days and not others and not prepping food ahead of time or skipping parts of my routine.
How to make time for workouts when you don’t have any time?
So this is where the morning workouts come in handy. I start work around 7:30/8 a.m. and usually don’t log off until 5:30/6 p.m. After that, I either have class, homework or other work to do. Sometimes, I go for a run or take Coco for a walk, or have time for something else, but it’s usually not the best and I’m quite tired. Sometimes, I’ll start a run and turn around after just a few minutes because I’m not feeling it. Sometimes work pops up that I didn’t expect, so then you really don’t have time!
So much of our day is spent responding to other people – responding to emails, getting a project in for someone, answering a question, the list goes on. I find working out to be my time when I respond to me, I respond to my body and what it needs that day. That could be a long, slow run or an intense lift or a bike ride, literally anything, but it’s my time. I enjoy waking up and starting my day off with a workout because it sets my intentions for the day, it means no matter what and above all else, I took some time to listen to and care for my body and my health. It means I value taking care of myself before I take care of anything else. When you think like that, it really changes your whole perspective on waking up at 5 a.m. to run versus 6 a.m. to roll over and just get dressed.
If you seriously are not a morning person, then block time on your calendar and leave your phone in a different room – be disciplined with the time you take for yourself. Make it a calendar appointment, write it down, whatever it takes. If it’s that important to you, then you’ll make time for it. And if you want it to be that important to you, then you’ll experiment and find the schedule that works best for you.
How to make working out a habit?
Okay, for this one, there’s no magic pill or secret trick, you just have to be disciplined with yourself. It takes 21 days to form a habit, so you need to stick with whatever schedule you decide on for three weeks in order for it to feel natural. Ever heard the expression that staying in shape is easier than getting into shape? It’s true! You need to stick with those first few weeks and then the habit will be there – one day you’ll wake up and get to it without even realizing!
What are the best workouts to do in the least amount of time?
You don’t always need two hours of your day to get a good sweat and burn some calories! When you’re short on time, the whole idea is to get your heart rate up and keep it up. This could be a 20 minute run at a hard pace, or if 20 minutes won’t cut it for you, do some fast intervals! This could also be intervals on a bike or rowing machine. Essentially, any type of HIIT workout where your heart rate gets elevated quickly as opposed to steady state cardio that doesn’t shock the system at all, will have the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time.
How exercising can be a stress reliever?
This is one of the biggest reasons why I make time to exercise every day, even if some days its an hour and a half while some days its just 20 minutes. The release of endorphins and the feeling of a good sweat literally makes any stress or anxiety go away. Countless times I can recall having a rough night of sleep or being anxious about something big coming up, or even just having a bad day, hitting the gym or the streets and literally melting it all away…and that’s why I make time for it. Even my parents will tell me if I’m worried about something, to just go for a run and we’ll talk when I get back. It’s been scientifically proven that you’re happier and more relaxed after a workout, so why leave that out of your day? Sometimes its a run, sometimes a SoulCycle class and sometimes a yoga flow in my bedroom, whatever it is, I’ve never felt worse after a workout.
Hope you enjoyed! Is there anything I mentioned you want me to go more in-depth on? Is there anything you have questions on? What do you want more of? Remember, I’m just speaking from experience but I love sharing my experience and learning new things!