Fitting in Workouts

I saw a comment on the internet the other day from someone looking for blogs written by moms of young kids who work full time (not as bloggers or in fitness) and work out and try to eat healthy food. Nobody knew of any and I thought, hey, I don’t really blog about those things, but that’s me!

I’m not going to blog about my workouts all the time because I don’t find it a very interesting subject and I’m sure you wouldn’t either. That said, I do log everything on dailymile, and you can spy on my workouts by clicking the widget (at right on the sidebar) or here. (Please feel free to add me as a friend over there! I’m kind of lonely!)

Here's a bad picture of

Clearly, I don't waste time trying to look good while working out.

Anyway, I figured I’d share my general tips for fitting workouts into the busy schedule you have when you’re a working mom. Here are my top 4:

1. Make workouts a priority.

I’m probably a little obsessive about this. I work out 5 days a week and each workout takes an hour. Right now, I have a pretty good routine going. I know which days I’m going to work out and what I’m doing for each workout. On days I’m in the office, I go directly to the gym after work. (I even bring my gym bag to my office and change there. I got into the habit of changing in my office when I was pregnant and felt weird changing in the locker room, and the habit stuck. It’s also good because I read somewhere (I don’t know whether this is true but it stuck with me) that it’s bad to leave running shoes in your car because temperature extremes can damage them.) On days I work from home and go to the gym, I’m ready to run out the door the second Ben gets home. Sunday mornings, I go about an hour after waking up (I love my Sunday morning workouts and never have a hard time getting to the gym for those).

I almost never skip workouts for any reason, including illness (I have to feel really, really awful or be like coughing all over the place) or social engagements. That’s weird, isn’t it? The thing is, I’ve been working out for so long and it’s so automatic for me I feel terrible (in an “I’m missing something really important” way, not a guilty way) if I miss a workout unless I can make it up later in the week. My guess is that the automatic thing will happen for most people who stick with a workout routine. It might take a few years, but eventually you’ll get to the point where you’re someone who works out. At that point, you don’t have to drag yourself to the gym — going to the gym is just what you do.

2. Have a partner who does half the childcare and household work.

This is a good idea in general, at least if you’re someone like me who thinks that, assuming an equal outside-the-home workload, household duties should be equally shared by partners.

The benefit to being broke-ass hippies who don’t make any money is that neither Ben nor I work long hours. He gets off work pretty early and picks up Soren from daycare or comes home to take over baby duty so I can go to the gym. More often than not, he makes a delicious homemade dinner while I’m at the gym (it helps that he likes to cook). It’s pretty sweet. He knows how important my workouts are to me so he does what he can to make them happen.

3. Eliminate or limit as many obstacles between you and your workouts as possible.

I mentioned routine above. To tell you the truth, I don’t love routines. I get bored with them. That said, the good thing about having an established workout routine is that it becomes automatic (apparently “automatic” is my theme today). The less you have to think about your workouts, the better. For example, I don’t waste much time psyching myself up to run on one of my cardio days. I know that if it’s Monday, it’s “long run” day and I’ll go to the gym; get on a treadmill; tune the tv to ESPN; start some music; and run my “long” distance, which currently is 5.7 miles.

Of course, if you’re feeling stifled by your routine, don’t be afraid to break out of it once in a while. When I’m sick of the gym (it does happen), I’ll skip a Friday and go for a Saturday morning run outside with Ben, Soren, and Peaches instead.

One of the biggest obstacles to getting to your workout is your home. When I lived in Chicago and went home before going to the gym, sometimes I never got to the gym. I’d be all oh I’m going to have a snack oh I can’t work out now I just ate oh I better take a nap. Next thing it was “too late” and I never went to the gym. Lame! Going straight from the office to the gym eliminates the obstacle of home and its seductive food and naps. If you’re starting off at home, it’s good to have a set time at which you’ll work out so you don’t have to think about it. Now, I make sure I’m ready to go to the gym when Ben gets home. That way I know that, well, when Ben gets home, I’m going to the gym. You don’t want to sit around all day thinking about when you’re going to the gym (or when you’re working out at home or whatever). Just pick a time and do it. (I hate to get all Nike commercial, but they were onto something.) Eliminate how much thinking you have to do before it happens.

Also, if you go to a gym, make sure it’s one you really like and convenient. Your gym should never be an excuse for not going to the gym.

4. Always remember that working out is one of the best and most important things you can do.

Fortunately for me, I was born without the guilt gene and the concept of mommy guilt is lost on me. I’ve never felt guilty or bad about the time I spend working out. Yes, it’s time away from my kid. Yes, it probably could qualify as selfish. You know what? I don’t give a shit. My workouts keep me relatively happy, sane, and in decent shape. Hell, I’m at that age where terrible radio commercials tell you that it’s almost impossible to lose weight and I’m at what I refer to as my “yay rah happy weight,” which is 20-25 pounds less than I weighed when I got pregnant. I’m running longer and faster than ever and I feel fantastic most of the time with limited aches and/or pains once in a while. Being healthy is very important — not just for me but also for my kid, who I hope will be stuck with having me around for a long, long time even though I was all “advanced maternal age” when he was born.

I hope this is helpful and I don’t sound like a humorless workout freak! Have a great workout!