In 2012 I became a single, working mom and my already hectic schedule got pretty chaotic. At the time, I was working a 40hour week with another 10+ hour commute…not conducive to having a life, let alone having any free time to exercise.
I totally understand the time crunch. It’s a daily struggle, especially if you have kids.
The first thing I realized is this: I had to prioritize my time and my life…period. In the past I often spread myself thin, trying to be everything to everyone, but forgetting to take time out to take care of myself. This did my health no favors, nor did it make me a better mom. In fact, learning to prioritize my life freed up valuable time not only to exercise, but also extra time to spend with my daughter. Bonus!
Putting my health and physical fitness as a top priority in my life gave me a life. Instead of making excuses, I made changes to my daily routine to make time for fitness…
Limit Social Media
Back then, my Facebook use was over an hour a day! Crazy! I took a 3-year hiatus and guess what? I didn’t miss it. All social media is a time suck. In many ways, it’s a valuable communication and networking tool; on the other hand, it’s literally time spent in a vacuum. Studies show people spend 1 hour or more per day browsing the internet. Turn off your notifications so you won’t be tempted to just “pop on for a second” cause we all know where that leads. Better yet, delete the apps from your phone!
Turn off the Television
I don’t know which is worse, watching other people live – i.e. reality shows – or wasting your life glued to the sofa! The day I got rid of cable, hence no regular tv, I suddenly realized I had tons of free time! I’d become a food channel, home improvement junkie and neither pursuit made me Martha Stewart, but they certainly wasted countless hours of my day. TV is addictive, like food, but it won’t help you get fitter. It’s a choice.
Streamline Your Hair and Makeup Routine
Every day we are inundated with photos of models with amazing hair and makeup. The truth? It’s takes them about 3-5 hours to create those looks…I know, I worked in the modeling business. Ladies, let’s get real! I’m as girly-girl as the next, but I cannot abide unnecessary time wasted to look perfect. Nothing is prettier than healthy skin. And, a good cut and color is invaluable for easy to maintain hair.
Shop for What’s Necessary – Not Entertainment
I realize this is a huge bugbear for most people. Before you hate on me, though, hear me out. Shopping has hijacked most people’s free time. Buying new things can be a rush, a “feel good factor” that brightens your day. I totally understand! The problem arises when it becomes a habit. Besides, living with less can actually be very liberating. When I really want/need something, I shop online or go directly to that store. I resist the urge to browse; saving me tons of money and time (and kiddo’s sanity).
Meal Prep and Freeze Leftovers
As a mom, I love cooking for my kid. It’s a fundamental part of who I am. That being said, I do not cook every day. Time-consuming recipes are relegated to weekends or holidays only. On the flip side, I also rarely buy “fast food” – saving time and money. Each Sunday I prepare key staples, like roast chicken, baked oatmeal and quinoa, to mix and match for meals throughout the week. Make extra portions of your favorite dishes to freeze for readymade dinners. My kid loves the food we eat – it’s delicious, healthy and quick to prepare. Me, I’m thankful not to be a slave to the bloody cooker (or the “stove”).
Adopt a Flexible Approach to Exercise
When starting a new exercise regimen, people often get overwhelmed with the time factor. Fitness comes from consistency, not excessive hours in the gym. A good balance of weight training (strength) and cardio (endurance) is the optimal combination. Adopting a flexible schedule (see my article on rotational training) is also easier to stick to in the long term. I weight train three days a week, lasting an hour or less. Cardio is more time-consuming, so I limit it to 2-3 days per week. To save time, I also workout at home doing HIIT (high-intensity interval training) or calisthenics.
Prioritizing your time for the sake of your health is the best investment you can make. It takes sacrifice and dedication, but I promise you…once you start, you’ll never look back!