To exercise yourself to your full potential you need more than time – you need grit


Time is not enough. This week I have time to train myself. I am not limited in time (within 1-1,5 hours per day). And while every day I head to gym with pleasure I struggle to “work myself out” to the full. I enjoy rowing, cycling, running but within comfortable levels. The moment I need to take myself towards stretching objectives (5k in my case today) I start contemplating, finding excuses. Am I being just lazy?

I realized that once I find time to exercise regularly (a big job by itself) it is only half of job done. I need to build a habit of pushing myself beyond comfort boundaries. I thought it is more difficult for working mothers. One of my friends, an accomplished professional leading a department in large multinational for last 10 years is sharing “I am operating at full at work which takes a lot. Beyond that I am not pushing myself on purpose.  I need to be in control and save some energy as I never know what awaits me at home”. And I find myself in a similar situation. I rarely push myself towards and beyond my limits. When I exercise in the morning I think of the day ahead that I still need to go through, knowing I will not have a luxury of another break during the day. For me exercise is still a break rather than a workout.

I remember doing my first 10K – a big challenge for me –  and being so happy Maks was taking our 2 years old son to a business trip with him on the same day. I could not imagine how I return home, exhausted after my exercise challenge and continue to manage my family. And that is why I and many of us working mothers are often on the “saving mode”.

Is this a working mother problem? I was surprised as I discussed this with Maks and he said – “I also think of the day ahead when I exercise. I think who and when picks up the kids, when is my next meeting and how will I get through the day. But I learned to train myself out of these thoughts and challenge more than I think I can”. So it is not a working mother problem, but some i.e. men are better in pushing themselves.

I want to learn how to push myself a bit more when I exercise and get more out of this 1 hour carved from busy schedule.

  • Starting Point: Any exercise is better than none. One of my ex-colleagues, a marathon runner said “How do I push myself out of the house? I know I will never regret if I go for a run
  • Exercise with a personal trainer. It is expensive. It requires planning. But it pushes you to your limits and helps you get the most out of your limited exercise time.
  • Go for a group exercise with the trainer. Less expensive than a personal trainer. Still requires planning and does push you to the limits.
  • Put challenging objectives. Exercising towards objectives helps to put this extra mile in. I learned it myself and so far this is the only technique that works for me. Challenging objective can be achievement or “look good again” but both need to be quantified and measured
  • Find a way to measure progress. In crossfit training, there is a concept of monthly progress check. Every month you are doing same activity and measure your progress. This motivates and helps to see results of your efforts.

And no less important though has nothing to do with grit or challenge – plan your downtimes. I find it easier to exercise to the full if I know when I will have some rest. My husband now is doing an evening- weekend MBA program, which means that often he is busy on Thursday, Friday evening and then Saturday full day. First 6 months I planned activities with children for Saturdays, but lately I started calling a nanny for 3-4 hours and doing activities in the other half day. After intensive working week I need few hours of my time. I run/ exercise for 1 hour, I go to swimming pool where I can also relax in café afterwards. Knowing I will have this downtime helps to switch controls off and challenge myself more in the hour of exercise.

So time is big part of the problem – you need time to exercise and time to recuperate. But having time enough will not advance further. You will also need a mindset change –i.e. grit. And it’s not only working mothers challenge – but we tend to rely on “saving mode” more.

So think of your challenge –and if you already exercise put some challenge in. If not – back to “how to find the time to exercise”

Thank you to Maksym Dovgopolyi who challenges me to do moregrit

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