This article originally appeared in “Chicago Tribune”
“Instead of saying ‘I don’t have time,’ try saying ‘It’s not a priority,’ and see how that feels.”
I love this quote from author and time-management expert Laura Vanderkam. So much so that I smugly declared to my husband after reading Vanderkam’s “I Know How She Does It”: “I’m not putting away the laundry because it’s not a priority.”
Nope, I’m not concerned about wrinkled clothing and unmatched socks, but what if folding laundry were a healthy, lucrative thing for me to do? What if stating “I’m not putting away the laundry because it’s not a priority” left me feeling salty because I knew that it SHOULD be one.
Do you see where I’m going with this? Yes, I’m talking about exercise. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say they want to exercise, but just don’t have the time.
If you haven’t regularly exercised in the past, suddenly making it a priority can be kind of scary. Prioritizing means putting it on the calendar, being accountable, and possibly feeling defeated when it doesn’t happen. But I don’t think we need to set ourselves up for failure to be successful.
To make exercise a priority, we first need to stop thinking of the results and start thinking of the action, Secondly, we need to stop thinking of this action as something that happens at a gym, and start thinking of it as movement that can happen anywhere at any time. Finally, we need to find a form of movement that we enjoy doing.
My workouts fall into four categories:
• Planned, me-time workouts (1-2 times per week)
• Short sneak-it-in workouts (as often as I can)
• Workouts made possible by multitasking (4-5 times per week)
Here’s how prioritizing fitness looks for me, plus some tips to make it work for you:
Planned, me-time workouts
These are the only workouts I have to make time for in my schedule. Compared to other bouts of movement, these workouts are more focused and allow me to work on specific skills that either my body needs or that I personally want to master.
Start by finding something active that you enjoy doing. If you hate exercise, you simply won’t do it.
Start with just one day a week of doing whatever it takes to carve out your me-time. You might need to get a sitter, wake up earlier or start working out after your kids are in bed.
Find a workout buddy or connect with a tribe of people who like the same activity as you. They will lure you out when you don’t feel like moving and give you extra incentive to show up.
Multitask in other areas of your life so you free up time for workouts. For instance, listen to an audio book while driving instead of sitting down and reading it, or fold laundry while watching TV.
Short sneak-it-in workouts
These are not necessarily workouts, but rather bouts of movement interspersed throughout the day: A set of pushups while I’m watching TV, a few sprints while I’m at the park with my kids – every little bit counts.
Whenever possible, wear clothes you can move in. I live in spandex for this reason.
If you have gaps in your schedule, instead of using them to grab more coffee or check Facebook on your phone, perform a few body weight exercises, such as squats, lunges, pushups, planks, bridges or yoga poses.
Take the long route – whether it’s going up and down the stairs to change a diaper or claiming the farthest parking spot on your way into work. Consider using a pedometer or other fitness-tracking device for motivation.
Make sure your house has open areas to move and keep fitness equipment strategically placed so you’ll use it.
Workouts made possible by multitasking
These workouts also are interspersed throughout my days, but they tend to be longer and more strategically planned.
Run, walk or bike your errands.
Work out with your kids. Some ideas: Play a game of tag with them at the park, pull them in a wagon and run intervals, have a dance party in your living room, take them on a hike, get down on the ground with them and pretend you’re a bear or a crab.
Use the time your child has soccer/baseball/etc. practice to do calisthenics or agility work on the sidelines, or volunteer to help coach the team so you run alongside the kids.
Instead of going out for dinner, make date night a physical activity. Ride bikes to the park and have a picnic, play a game of tennis or go for a run to your favorite bar and take Uber or Lyft back home.
Now get moving!
Nicole Radziszewski is a freelance columnist. She lives in River Forest and is a certified personal trainer and mother of two. Check Nicole out on Facebook at Facebook.com/mamasgottamove.