Sustainable Fitness: Fitting It In

>> Tuesday, January 21, 2014

One of the hardest parts about completing workouts and, therefore, keeping fitness consistent and sustainable is finding time. Our days fit together like puzzle pieces, and those jigsawed edges are constantly morphing depending on a number of life factors. No matter what, we all need to assess our unique situations to form some realistic expectations and be sure to take care of ourselves first and foremost.

Finding time and desire to move often requires adaptability and creativity. We can forge paths to the places we want to go with our fitness goals -- even big goals. But it's not always simple or straightforward.

I think we all can relate that sometimes fitting in exercise is easy. When the weather is nice and the sun lights the sky for long stretches, those hours for activity seem infinite. Everything feels brighter and lighter, even the number on the scale slides in our favor. Our motivation is boosted in all regards. We move more because it feels good -- and -- a body in motion tends to stay in motion.

Then there are those darker periods of time when work or home or other extenuating circumstances get in the way. When it's cloudy and icy and beyond frigid almost every single day. No one loves going out in that mess. We skip exercise one day -- and -- it somehow landslides into the following week or even month. Hibernation feels good at first, but eventually it manifests in this nagging emotional weight + makes us feel stagnant.

The good news: I strongly believe that most people can fit in at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, not matter the time of year or level of stress or busy schedule at work or insanity at home.

The tricky part: It takes effort -- and that doesn't always feel good/comfortable/worth it.

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I think one of the most commonly shared tips for fitting in regular exercise is setting the alarm clock earlier. How far back is up to you, but even 45 minutes could allow you to exercise and shower before you start your day. It's not always fun to transition to morning workouts, but -- from personal experience -- it can be done.

Just make sure to get enough sleep and adjust on the going-to-bed side accordingly. And if you're waking up super early and still plan to do some serious moving, you'll want to eat something so you don't bonk halfway through your workout!


If you know your day is going to be crazy, a simple walk during lunch can do the trick. I've had a variety of work situations, from working on a campus with awesome trails to working in an industrial park where I walked indoors, etc.

A walk usually doesn't work up too much of a sweat, but if you have shower facilities (or can go home!), you could even do some more intense stuff like running or biking. Just be sure to pack a portable/simple lunch so you don't skip your nutritional needs for the mid-afternoon.


We used to be members of a gym, so working out whenever childcare was offered helped tremendously. You may have that option -- and it's worth going through a potentially rocky transition to earn it. Otherwise, consider swapping childcare or asking the grandparents or other relatives to watch children.

If you don't have children, think about walking/biking/running to work. There are a number of ways to find time or reasons to move no matter your stage of life. I'm sure you spent enough time thinking, you might discover some awesome opportunity you never considered before.


I actually prefer working out at night. I always have. After all tasks seem completed for the day, lace up and head out for a jog around your neighborhood (here are some tips for running in the dark). Or after you put the kids to bed, pop in an exercise DVD from Jillian's Shreds to Barre to Yoga.

Stephen even does core and body weight exercises in the late evening because they're quiet and contained. When I exercise in the later evenings, I eat a lighter dinner and then munch on more after I've completed my training.


Ever notice how much time you might waste on social media? Consider cutting that out for even a week and see how much time it frees up. Or do you have a TV habit? If you don't think you have time to exercise, examine what IS taking up your time first before you restate it as fact. We all engage in things that suck time away from us . . . it's just a matter of identifying what these activities are an shifting accordingly.


One of the more frustrating parts in my own experience is balancing out my goals/workouts with Stephen's. He's at a higher level and, as such, runs many more miles/hours than I do each week. Since I work in the mornings and we quit our gym membership -- we're sometimes at odds with who gets to run first and who gets the priority when it comes to time.

So, we worked out a schedule where we've both had to compromise. Long runs sometimes happen on Saturdays or Mondays depending on who is racing or wants to go with the group that week. Stephen might want to do some hard workouts every single day, but has decided to keep it between 5-6 so I can get my 4-5 and we can still eat dinner together. It's such a balancing act and can be hard to figure out -- but it's worth the effort!


Another option is to exercise more when you have larger chunks of time to devote. For a lot of people, this means the weekends. Say you need to skip a lot of days during the week due to a project for work or other responsibilities. Start making Saturday mornings your gym ritual. Spend time doing cardio and weights. Maybe add a yoga class for stretching, too. You can also simulate gym stuff at home with DVDs.

Or do an extra long run or ride, provided you've worked your way up to whatever the distance is already (to avoid injury). In other words, take advantage of the time you do have and move the most you can with it. Just be sure to get in at least one or two shorter workouts in the week to balance things out.

How do you find time to move?

If you're catching up:

#1: Sustainable Fitness: Assessing Your Unique Situation
#2: Sustainable Fitness: Redefining Success
#3: Sustainable Fitness: Thinking Holistically

Automatic Healthy Eating Tips:
#1: Stock up on frozen veggies 
#2: Buy greens and actually USE them 
#3: Create simple, go-to meals
#4: Learn to love alternatives
#5: Prep, Make, and Store
#6: Add In: Convenience to your advantage
#7: Eliminate Food Waste
* 20 Ideas for Make-Ahead Meals

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