Friday, June 10, 2016

#OneSwap: Making Time for Fitness

Before I launch in today, I want to tell you how much your words on my last post mean to me.  I know that both abortion and religion are fraught topics, and as always, you guys are amazing at showing love and grace, to me, and to each other.

We are going to shift topics pretty hard today, to a new series that I am calling "#OneSwap", inspired by this post, which I totally relate to.  There is just too much information out there, too many 'MUST DOs or else,' too little actual authority on what is essential and what is optional.  Every article seems to be screaming about how dangerous the world is.

Well, Mama don't play that.  Are there some issues that we will, in 20 years, realize we should have been more careful about?  I'm sure.  Is every single thing out there going to kill our babies, or us? Phhhhh.  Scare tactics.

In that light, in this series, I am going to highlight some topics that many of us struggle with, and suggest one simple swap you could make in order to move toward a healthier choice.  One thing. That's it.  If you have time and energy and interest in doing more, awesome!  I will give five ideas.  If not, we are going to really boil this down to the essentials, so you know what you really need to be focused on.

Today, our first topic in this series is going to be finding time for fitness.

I already gave some tips on staying healthy while traveling, but what if your everyday life is equally jam-packed?

I get that, I really do.  Five little kids, homeschooling, farming husband, my own business....each day has more to do than I could ever do well.  But being a fit and active mama is really important (to me, and many of you too).  Our kids are watching us.  So how can we make sure we are fitting it in?

5 Tips on Making Time for Fitness

1.  Exploit Your Advantage

Whether you work out of the house, or stay at home, whether you have kids or not, your personal situation has an advantage in there somewhere.  Your job is to find that advantage and USE it.  So, let's say you are a working mama.  Could you drop the kids at the sitter early and exercise before work?  Could you workout during your lunch hour while the kiddos are at daycare?  Could you arrange with your nanny to stay late twice a week while you hit the gym?  Don't say "I couldn't possibly".  Really think it through.  Don't be quick to dismiss the possibilities.

If you are a stay at home mama, your advantage is that you have more control over your schedule (whether you feel like it or not!)  Put that sweet baby in the exersaucer next to the treadmill, get a good quality jogging stroller, or make use of that dusty bike trailer.  Which leads me to....

2. Make the Investment

If you have a busy life, the key to being able to fit in exercise is to have all the equipment you need immediately on hand.  Any lack of preparation will derail you indefinitely, and you don't have time for that. What equipment you must invest in will be different for each of us, but some of my most useful fitness investments are: a good treadmill, hand weights, kettlebells, a used Garmin, exercise mat, double jogger, double bike trailer and bike, excellent workout gear, and streaming barre classes.  I couldn't bike ride with my kids before I bought myself a bike and trailer for the littles.  I couldn't run during the day before I bought a double jogging stroller.  I couldn't run in the winter before I bought a treadmill.  I don't have access to exercise classes all the way out here on the farm, so I couldn't do barre before I bought a subscription to streaming classes.

Your investment might be unlimited classes at your favorite studio, a Y membership, childcare....whatever it is, do it now, so that when can squeeze in fitness, you are prepared.  If you only have 30 minutes for exercise today, that doesn't mean you have 15 minutes to find your running shoes, 90 minutes to research jogging strollers, 30 minutes to exercise, and 30 minutes to shower.  In my world, 30 minutes means I have exactly 30 minutes before the baby wakes up and needs to be nursed (those days are finally passed, phew!), or we need to leave for swimming lessons, or my husband needs to leave for work.  Be ready, have all your equipment together, prepare ahead of time as much as possible.  The happy news is: most of this can be purchased used, for an excellent price, if that is a consideration for you.

3.  Have a Plan, But Be Flexible

If you have a truly insane schedule, it can really help to sit down with your calendar and schedule your workouts by week.  In writing.  You will see where you can fit in a lunchtime run versus where your day is so packed that your only option is a 5am workout.  I find that on busy weeks, if I don't do this ahead of time, that means I will not exercise at all.

That being said, the opposite is also true: allow yourself to be flexible.  For a long time, if I didn't manage to get up and workout at 5, as planned, I decided that I missed my chance and I didn't work out that day.  And sometimes that needs to happen.  But just as often, I could have still fit it in somewhere that day, if I had let go of my idea of the perfect schedule.  Last January, I committed to a "no matter what" resolution of exercising every single day, for 30 days.  And I found that even if I did miss my scheduled workout, I could make it happen in another way or at another time.  I could always find 30 minutes of empty time somewhere, even if they weren't ideal.  A couple of nights that meant I walked on the treadmill in my pjs, but it happened.  Try committing to that type of attitude for 30 days, and see if it sparks a new habit.

4. Find Your Passion

Exercise will feel like just another awful adult thing you have to force yourself to do, if you don't take the time to explore what you love.  I really believe there is a form of being active out there that every single one of us will love (or at least not totally hate).  If you can find what you are passionate about, it will feel much easier to squeeze that workout in!  I don't always feel motivated to run in that exact moment, but you should see me if I don't run regularly-my mental health disposition suffers.  I daydream about running when I am stuck inside.  That's how I know I found my thing.

There are two parts to this:

     1) Becoming proficient.  

It is hard to know if you love a workout if you are still at the beginner stage, where everything feels strange and hard.  Give any activity that interests you a good trial period before you decide you don't like it.

     2) Know yourself.  

Are you super competitive?  Do you need to be alone more?  Do you hate team sports?  Do you love being outside?  Do you have legitimate physical restrictions?  If you are an introvert with lots of little kids at home all day, a loud team sport with a strict schedule is an activity that you will probably dread, not look forward to.  But you could learn to crave solitary hikes.  On the flip side, if you are an extrovert at home with one tiny baby, you may desperately need team camaraderie and some healthy competition.  Maybe a sand volleyball team or Crossfit is a better choice for you.

5. Everyday active

This is especially essential if you really can't dedicate a block of time to exercising on a regular basis. You can make being active a part of your daily life (again, if you have the proper equipment).  I may not be able to ride 20 miles on my bike today alone, but I can convince the kids to ride to the red barn and back, with the little boys in the trailer (and then I will very quickly realize that I have taken on more than I can handle, but consider that the push you need!).  This can double as character training for the kiddos, if you take the time to discuss why staying active is a family value, and how "Wenzels never whine" is a family motto.

This can be true of anything the kiddos do - you can participate and get into it if you are prepared.  I have noticed that I am so much more willing to get really into their activities if I am wearing my workout clothes all day than a real outfit.  That sounds silly, but it is true.  You can burn a ton of calories playing soccer with your kiddos, if you are are all in.  Trampoline?  Get up there.  Playing at the park?  Don't sit on the bench!  Run the tiny park loop around the playground, or use the equipment for a quick circuit of body weight activity.

If you don't already have a fitness tracker, that can be a useful tool to see how active you truly are every day.  Before I had my Fitbit, I would have said that I was moving all day long, so therefore very active.  That turned out to not always be true.  Start with 10,000 steps as your baseline, and see how your day stacks up.  You can compete against friends and see how active you really are!  From there, work for higher step goals.  I have had my days of walking loops around my house to make it happen.

6. Stop Making It So Complicated

So, all this is too much for you.  What ONE thing can you do to make fitness happen?  Start small. Commit to making movement happen, no matter what, every single day for 30 days.  Go buy "Seven", the seven minute HIIT app.  If you are not familiar with HIIT, it stands for "high intensity interval training".  The app will help you, from home, get in a comprehensive workout.  HIIT (also called by other names, like Tabata) has been proven to be an effective method for improving your cardiovascular fitness and lowering your insulin resistance.  If you cannot find the time or motivation for any kind of exercise, HIIT is for you.  Make one swap from the couch to seven minutes per day. You can do it!

Tell us, what is your number one obstacle to working out regularly? Share it with us on in the comments or on social media using #OneSwap!


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