As you may have read, I just recently completed my first half marathon – 21.1km. If you had said to me last year or even the start of this year I would run a half marathon I would have laughed heartily.
Up until January this year I had never ran past 10km and would usually run no farther than 6km at any one time. Since running the half marathon, one of the questions I get asked frequently is how do I find time to exercise?
Exercise is important to me in many ways, one being that it helps me be a better mum. It clears my head, it gives me energy and it recharges me when I have time on my own. So sometimes when I feel a bit self indulgent taking time out to go for a longer run, I remind myself that it isn’t just me that benefits from this – the whole family does too!
It has taken work to make sure exercise is part of my daily routine and it is so much part of my daily life, that I can even get a bit cranky if I have to miss it.
So how do you fit exercise into your regular routine?
Know What You Want From Your Exercise Routine
Exercising on a regular basis takes time away from the family, so it is important to work out what it is you really want from your exerciser routine. For me it has always been:
- To have some time on my own.
- To stay fit – so I have energy to run around with the kids!
For some exercise is a social thing, it may be a game of netball with friends or a yoga class with your best girlfriend. Knowing what it is exactly you want from exercise will help you choose an activity to suit.
Spend some time determining what it is you want from your exercise routine.
Set Personal Goals
Goal setting helps you turn want you “want” from your exercise into reality. At the end of 2010 I set myself a goal for 2011 that I would exercise 4 – 5 times a week. Prior to that I would exercise at most three times a week, less when things were busy (are they ever not with a family!).
When setting goals for exercise for the first time you need to be realistic about what is achievable with your family time and for your fitness level. You many not set a goal for a year, but set yourself a goal for three months to exercise three times a week. Once you have a win achieving that you can start challenging yourself further.
Setting goals, achieving them and gradually building up your goals helps to improve your motivation.
Get The Family On Board
Both myself and my husband exercise regularly and with little ones who cannot be left at home on their own, fitting exercise in is a family effort. Once I had set my goal of wanting to exercise for an hour a day, I needed to find times in the family schedule where it would fit.
This time is the early morning before my husband goes to work Monday to Friday. We talked to the kids about this and how it would mean if they were up before 7am, mum wouldn’t be home but would be at the gym.
Quite often I am greeted by the 3 and 8 year old at our back gate as I return home to lovely good morning hugs and kisses. They are now very used to having their dad help them with breakfast if they need it. We have the table set for breakfast the night before as the kids all rise at different times and can help themselves when they are ready to breakfast.
My husband tries where possible not to have early morning meetings. They do however occur sometimes, he lets me know as soon as he can, so I can schedule my exercise in another time.
On the weekends, due to the changing times of the kids sporting activities, I have to be more flexible about when I get my running in. By Thursday we have generally worked out the logistics for the weekend and when everyone has time for their sport, including my husband who still plays local footy on Saturday afternoons.
Create an exercise plan with your family and print it out and stick it on the fridge. It is a visually reminder to everyone in the family that you have activities too that need to be considered in the family schedule.
Having brought the family on board to fit my exercise time into the family schedule, I need to be disciplined and stick to it! This means not letting myself use excuses. Weekdays my alarm goes off at 5.40am and I get up when it goes off.
The photo above shows how dark it still is on the weekend when I am about half way through my run. To fit the run in on our sport filled weekends, I have to be disciplined and get myself out of bed very early.
A couple of years ago, I used to set my alarm at night, but if I went to bed late I would think to myself “I will see how I feel in the morning.” by thinking this I had already created an excuse for not getting up when the alarm went off. Now getting up is not negotiable (within reason of course!) and if I am tired, I need to fix the end of the day not the start, so I don’t miss out on my exercise.
Don’t make excuses! Stick to your plan.
Make It A Habit
Exercising regularly can makes a positive habit in your life. If for some reason I miss a session, I miss it terribly, so work hard so that this doesn’t happen very often.
To start making it a habit, try sticking to a predictable routine. You may start with exercising Mon, Wed, Fri. Stick to it and make it easy for you to do it. Get your exercise gear out the night before, fill your water bottle up, have your work out towel / mat etc ready to go. Make it as easy as possible for you to do your exercise.
The more obstacles you can move out of the way, the more likely you are to exercise as planned. The more regularly you exercise the bigger the habit it becomes and it just becomes part of your daily routine.
You Have To Make Choices
I have used this quote on the blog before, but I really love it so will use it again. It is from Seth Godin:
“You don’t need more time
….you just need to decide.”
And it is very true. When I decide to go running on the weekend for an hour and a half, I am making a choice. A choice that means I won’t watch any television that day. Actually I don’t watch TV at all, not because I am TV snob, but with the time I have available, I have decided it is not where I want to spend my time.
Making choices means you can’t do everything. Which is why working out what you want and setting goals are so important when it comes to exercise.
It can be really easy for exercise to be the first thing to go when times get busy. Always keep in mind the benefits received from exercise for you and your family when making decisions on how to spend your time.
Make the right choices so exercise has priority in your weekly routine.
Do you fit regular excerise into your routine?