If I google “how to find time to exercise for working mom” I find too many links and resources.
I read themes “impossible” “no time” but also “this is my time”. For me exercising 5 times a week is “impossible”, but I managed to get to solid 2-3 times each week after one year of trying to find “time for myself”.
3 things that worked for me:
- ! this one most important! Define why you are exercising and what goal you want to reach
- One month after having a second child I came to a fancy sport club and got personal trainer for 10 sessions hoping to get fit for summer. The trainer asked “what is your objective” and I responded “I just want to feel good”. He probed “do you want to lose weight? – “Not really , may be”. – “Do you want to make any specific area fit” – “yes, may be a little… but I don’t want to exercise too hard as I am still breastfeeding”. This conversation did not get me anywhere, I tried few activities, I felt better but that’s it.
My personal sports objective now is to exercise 2-3 times a week, run at lest 10K every week over these 2-3 times (to prepare for 10K), stay energized and weight below 60K.
2. Finding external commitments that force you to exercise
- I chose running because it is easiest exercise (just get out of the house and you are on a run) and because many of my friends were happily posting running progress on Facebook. It almost became an activity anyone should/can do. I started running little by little more than a year ago. At first I could not do 5 consecutive minutes, which I increased in 4 months to 20 minutes of consecutive running and it was always a pain. I was reading, asking for advice people who run but could not get beyond this 20 min barrier. Firstly, because each time I went out running I barely had time for 20 min run and 10 min stretch and then back home to family activities. Second, I did not have external motivation to push myself beyond my zone of comfort. I planned to do 5K in spring but never prioritized and it seemed feasible so no challenge. Then I chose to sign up for 10K run at Lausanne marathon in October (I was doing 2-3K maximum in August), it was very stretch, but with 2 months of preparation I was sure I could do it. My whole family was very supportive. We discussed with Maks the preparation plan, I was running while Maks was cooking dinner, I was running while kids were having breakfast, I was building my regular routine and forcing myself to do longer distances day after day. I did my 10K well, I am now running with pleasure 4-7K distances 2-3 times a week and everyone got used to me having my running time. This would not be possible without ambitious but feasible goal. My new goal is 10K in 2 months together with Maks and at 56 min time. It motivates me to get out for regular runs again.
3. Find activities that inspire you and that you are looking forward to doing.
- I love water activities and a thought of going to a swimming pool is making me smile. While I could force myself for power trainings, I rather do my swimming, running and yoga, but with pleasure as there are so many stresses in life. This is my almost only “me time” (except for driving to work) and I want to reward myself with something I enjoy.
What I tried and did not work
- Exercising on Mondays (get it out of the way early in the week). It is suggested in “happiness project” by Grethen Rubins where the author is writer with flexible working hours. It did not work for me as for a person with full time office-based job Monday is the most difficult day of the week. Also weekend running and Monday exercise routines are incongruent. So choose what fits your agenda best
And last tip for those who travel on business:
My exercise routine improved tremendously when I made a rule that while travelling on business I book the hotel with gym, or take my outside running clothes. When on business travel, my morning time is only mine (no waking up, dressing up and feeding the kids) so I am in full control of myself. 3 days business trip can give all your weekly exercise and to be honest, morning runs in Rome, morning fitness in Ritz-Carlton in Moscow are best memories from my business trips. After all I get something personally satisfying after aeroports, long business days and intensive travels and this makes me more happy about my job
Good luck in finding what works best for you! Start with the why and “sports objective”