My life is incredibly busy these days. I love every minute, though there’s no doubt that some days I have to take a very deep breath before diving into my week. I work full time at a fairly demanding (yet flexible) job and also run a growing side hustle. This means that I get up early to work on my side hustle before going to my full-time job and am regularly working after work too. This can look like starting at 5a and closing my laptop at 9p or later. Amidst all of this, I lead a happy life and exercise is a key part of this happiness. I exercise 5-6 days per week.
How do I fit it all in? It started with a recognition that I needed to make a change. I made a conscious decision at the start of 2017 to invest in my health. I wasn’t happy with the way I looked or felt physically and it was impacting my happiness and my outlook.
I realized that if I don’t have my health, I have nothing.
I started off going to a personal trainer to kick things into high gear, which I highly recommend. Being accountable to someone who pushes your limits is key to jolting your system and breaking up habits that are not serving you. A few months after that, I joined a gym that had just opened in my neighborhood – I was ready to lead my own fitness journey after several personal training sessions. Since that time about 10 months ago, I’ve developed routines in strength training, yoga, and cycling. I just started running a couple of months ago and am now training for a half marathon…for the first time in my life…at age 30.
Exercise is not optional for me. I need it. It is now part of the fabric of my week. There are a couple of ways I make sure I get this time:
Make a schedule
I make a workout schedule at the start of each week, including what classes I want to take and rest days. Having a map of the week helps me to prioritize my days. I map my exercise schedule first, then build around it.
Set a goal
I have learned that I am REALLY good with goals. If I have something I care about achieving, I’m really good at shaping the path to get there. When I have a goal, I find it easy to prioritize what I need to do to achieve it without feelings of guilt. Running and finishing the half marathon, for example, is my latest goal and I have a solid plan in place to get there (Thanks, Runner’s World!). Of course, it requires some sacrifices in other areas (e.g. an extra hour of sleep or a happy hour), but those are things that I’m okay to miss out on for the sake of that winning feeling when I achieve what I want.
Make it hard to cancel on yourself
It is really easy to stay at the office too late or not to get off the sofa on a Saturday morning. For many boutique fitness studios, you must sign up for the class in advance and there is a monetary penalty for canceling beyond a certain time. I never want to lose money, so even if I have no other motivation to go, I go because I care about where I put my $ and have an aversion to throwing money away! This works for me because of my views on money. What motivates you? In other words, what would make it hard to cancel on yourself?
Find a little work/life harmony
I love walking check-ins and I strongly dislike sitting down for extended periods of time. This makes office work difficult for me! Whenever possible, I take calls and check-ins with my colleagues while walking outside. At a minimum – even on rest days – I get in 10,000 steps usually through walks I take throughout the day. Not only is this good for me physically, it is good for me mentally – the benefits of fresh air and a non-office space for check-ins are very real.