Image from lululemon
Shazam writes this week:
I was wondering, do you have any tips for how to fit exercise into a
busy week? What is your weekly exercise schedule like?
I think the best way to fit exercise into a busy week is like anything else you want to make time for - you make it a priority and set aside time for it. If you enjoy it, you're far more likely to want to do it too!
Sometimes when we say "I'm too busy" to ourselves, what we're really saying is "this isn't really a priority". It's a way of letting ourselves off the hook. It might be a pain to do, but if you take a cold hard look at where your time is going each day, I reckon you can find 30 minutes in there somewhere. For good health and fitness, we should aim for a minimum of 30 minutes a day to exercise. If you think about it, that's an episode of a tv show - so not a lot of time in the grand scheme of things. As Kathrynoh said in one of her kick-arse posts, "do you want to watch TV, or do you want to work out? It's your choice!"
Find the time of day that works best for you. Mary, for example, knows that her best time of day to exercise is first thing in the morning - 5am. I myself can barely function at that hour so I know that would never work for me!
Looking at my time, and weighing up what is both realistic and convenient for me, I have found that my best time to exercise is straight after work. The minute I get home. I don't allow myself time for any distractions - I throw my bag down, dress in my running clothes, find my iPod and keys, have a drink if I need it, and then I'm out the door. I don't even give myself the option of flaking. Unless it is snowing, I'm out there.
Obviously if you have longer to exercise, great! But if you only have a limited amount of time, then make it the highest intensity exercise possible. Run, don't walk. If you can't run, just jog or walk really really fast (think Jane Saville!). Sometimes exercising harder for a shorter amount of time can have just as good an effect as a longer but less intense session.
I love to exercise, but I also love to do other things as well. I know I could exercise a lot more than what I do (like I used to) but that means not as much time for other things in my life that are important to me. But exercise, and the benefits it brings to my life, are a big priority for me, and that is why I fit it in, no matter how busy I am. Because ironically it's when you're busy that you should be making time to exercise and eat well, because it will give you so much more energy.
Exercise is also a wonderful way to set and achieve some tangible goals. Take my triathlons for example. It wasn't just about getting fit, it was about getting confidence. Confidence that I could get out of my comfort zone, and not only survive it, but enjoy it! Confidence that I could do things I never thought I could do. When you set and achieve a goal like that, no words can describe how amazing it feels. It is so worth the effort.
My basic rule is to exercise 5 days out of 7. If I can do that, then I'm happy. I have stepped up things a lot since deciding to do a half marathon, but I'm finding it isn't encroaching on my time too much at this stage. The closer I get to the event, the more focused I'll be. Long distance running is also amazing for sorting out my head - the difference that running regularly has made to my mental health is amazing. I find I think about all the things that are bothering me, and I "run them out"! All the stress of my day gets pounded out on the pavement. I come back and do my strength work, and gaze at the slowly forming ripples on my tummy in the mirror with a smile, and then get in the shower and come out feeling amazing.
When I think about all that, I want to go for a run! I want a six pack! I want runners legs baby! It might sound a bit vain, but if you are a bit 50-50 when it comes to prioritising exercise, you've really got to seize all the motivation you can.
Here was my week last week:
Monday: 40 minute run + strength work
Tuesday: 35 minute run + strength work
Wednesday: Walk at lunchtime and then yoga for runners when I got home
Thursday: 35 minute run + strength work
Friday: Walk at lunchtime
Saturday: 4 hour walk + aerobi in the park (it was such a lovely day, TS and I walked for hours around our borough)
Sunday: 30 minute run + strength work
I would have run on Saturday too if we hadn't gone for a long walk. On Wednesday and Friday I was out in the evening so went for a brief walk at lunchtime to compensate...ish! I've had better weeks than this, but all in all it wasn't a bad effort, considering what a nightmare of a week it was work-wise. 4 runs in a week I am happy with.
I also don't have a car, so if I want to go somewhere I have to walk there, or walk to the tube station. All the incidental activity really helps, so if your week is looking busy at least try and do some incidental activity - get out of the bus or train one stop early, go for a walk in your lunch break, that sort of thing.
It's ok to have really busy weeks every now and then, but if you let it be your excuse indefinitely, then sooner or later you'll see someone going for a walk and think..."when was the last time I did that?" and you won't be able to remember. That was me, sitting in the car at the petrol station, in March 2005. Pretty tragic, isn't it?
Remember the saying - "if you don't use it, you'll lose it!" and that definitely applies to your fitness. If you've worked hard for something like that, don't let it go just because you're too busy. You will be kicking yourself later, trust me!
Inspiring exercise links:
Mary at A Merry Life shares her Top 10 Ways to Motivate Yourself To Exercise
Cool Running Australia
My triathlon and marathon links
My running links
About.com has heaps of articles on how to fit exercise into your day
Yoga for runners - I love this lady!
[sorry, I know I quote this all the time, but it's the quote that got me to goal, and I believe every word of it!]"When you really want to do something, in your heart of hearts, you will find a way. But if you don't really want to do something, you will always find an excuse."
- Pat Farmer
Have a happy, exercise endorphin-filled week everyone - especially you Shazam!