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7 Tips for Finding Time to Workout (from your fellow readers!)

I come to you at 9:45 p.m. from the couch. We just finished dinner. Tanner is cleaning the kitchen and I am just getting to blog stuff for the first time today. I got tied up at work today and ended up skipping my workout in favor of a) walking the girls and b) going to the grocery and cleaning the house. My mom guilt kicked in something fierce after being gone all day so I used the window I had to run to walk them instead. And then after I taught my evening yoga class, I could have stayed and practiced in another class or gone for a quick run but I needed the grounding of making dinner and tidying my nest.

The perception is that because my job is centered around fitness that I must workout all the time but the reality is that I have to fight almost every day to carve out the time to get it done and 50% of the time it’s not exactly what I planned or hoped it would be.

It is HARD to juggle working long hours, being a dog momma, a relationship and a social life. I can’t even imagine adding a child into this mix. The number one struggle I hear my post-partum students and clients speak of when it comes to fitness is fitting it in.

7 Tips for Busy Women on Finding Time to Workout

So…

One of the women in my PBR Facebook group posed the following question this week.

Hi everyone! I have a question that’s been on my mind a lot recently that I’d love any and all feedback on! I just got a new job as a hospital social worker at a hospital in Boston and work 8:30-5 Sunday’s through Thursday’s. I live about 30 minutes from work, but in rush hour that turns into about 40-50. My question is for those who work busy schedules/long hours and still find the time to work out: how did you find the right balance/meet your goals/stay active even with long working hours?!

I am really stressing out over how I’m going to work a full-time job, plus work out 5-6 days a week, plus feel like I have time to be with my fiancé after work. Him and I also just recently got an older dog, who needs to be taken out/attended to once we’re home from work…so there’s just a lot right now. Does anyone have any particularly helpful advice or stories of their own that could help me out?

So far I belong to a gym and yoga studio…I just am someone who really prioritizes working out/staying active throughout the week, and I’m concerned that working out after work will mean I come home and pretty much eat dinner then go to sleep. Can anyone relate to this?

I thought that we could all benefit from the responses to this question. There was some really great advice offered.

1. Something is better than nothing.

My mantra is always something is better than nothing. It’s a bit easier for me because I’m a morning person but I find getting my workout in before work (which is 8 a.m. for me) is so much easier. I get up and go around 5-5:30 but I also make sure that I’m in bed by 9ish. Don’t kill your self over it. Do what you can on work days, even if it’s 20 minutes, and maybe do longer ones or yoga on days off? If I’m short on time it’s high intensity or HIIT to maximize. – Courtney A.

2. Join a gym near work.

When I had this situation I joined a gym near my office. I would workout or go for a run right after work (when I would be sitting in traffic anyway). By the time my workout was finished some of the traffic had died down and I was getting home only a little later than if I’d gone straight home. – Casey G.

3. Communicate.

Dedicate one night a week after work to yoga or a run. Tell your fiancé in advance. “Every X I will be home late because…”- Anne Marie R.

4. Give yourself time to adjust.

It really is about what works for you! I also think once you are settled into your new job, you will be able to manage your schedule better too – give yourself time to adjust! – Jessica S.

5. Preparation and habit.

I used to have a regular 8-5 and it was so hard but I did the early mornings. The key for me was preparation and habit. If you prepare a breakfast like over night oats or something you can heat up quick when you get to work then you have that taken care of. Also, prepare your lunch the night before. Have your gym bag ready to go so that all you have to do is get up and go before you even have time to think about it. And definitely a gym close to your work! When I would get up early the first week ended up being a lot of failed attempts. Give yourself a break but keep trying. It’s always hard to get out of bed but once you realize how good you feel throughout the day and happy you already got your workout done then it will start becoming so much easier. You may feel more tired at first too but that will get much better! – Kristina M.

6. Know you’ll never regret it.

Through trial and error I learned working out early in the morning works best for me. I go to crossfit at 6a but if I want to run 6 miles before class starts I’m out of bed by 4:30a. I never wake up with energy (nor excited to leave my warm bed) but I know it’s what I have to do. Afterwards I always feel great and never regret it. – Kristin R.

7. Use your lunch break.

I have found that the last thing I want to do after commuting home is work out. If you can workout near your office before or after or during a break I would recommend that! Luckily there is a gym in my building so I workout during my lunch break. I save yoga and outdoor running for weekends. – Katie H.

Have something to add? Comment below on how you balance a busy work and personal life with working out.

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{ 20 comments… add one }
  • 1
    Dana star November 30, 2016, 10:40 pm

    Great post! I work the 9-5 gig/ teach yoga/ in a relationship– wow, a lot to juggle !
    I joined a gym close to my work. 2-3 days a week I take a 30 minute break to run or walk on the treadmill. Also, I get inspired teaching yoga, to honor my own practice. The biggest thing for me is meal prepping and gym bag packed!
    As far as the boyfriend, we do active things on weekends together-like hiking and swimming at the gym. It keeps us both happy:)

  • 2
    Catherine November 30, 2016, 11:30 pm

    For the last two years I’ve made a conscious effort to turn my commuting time into exercise (during the work week). So instead of sitting down im active. I know this isn’t practical for everyone but we chose to buy a house within walking distance to work so I walk to work (60mins) and run home,sometimes stopping at a park to do a 30min body weight strength session. Twice a week I do a 45min yoga class at lunch time. My daughter will soon start day care and that’ll be close to home so I can still fit in my run home. If my husband and I have been out somewhere on weekends I have also been known to run home 😁.

  • 3
    Kate O November 30, 2016, 11:31 pm

    Make fitness a social event! I’m a masters student so between classes, a job, homework, and general life responsibilities life can get pretty crowded (I agree Jen, I don’t know how people with kids do it, kudos to all of you parents out there!). This semester a few active friends and I made a commitment to meet on certain days and times for what I like to call social fitness (ie. runs, swims, and workout classes). Having someone to hold me accountable (but who also understands the flexibility needed to balance life) has been a game changer! The even better part is that I also get to spend some quality time with the people I care about before/after a stressful workday.

  • 4
    Jenny December 1, 2016, 8:36 am

    Wonderful to read all of these and it’s certainly a challenge for all of us!

    I am currently a sahm to 2.5 month old and 2.5 year old though I used to be a personal trainer, group fitness instructor and health coach. The three things that help me the most are…

    1) getting up early (5:40am which turned out to be a good time to nurse my little girl who usually falls back asleep in bed with my husband until 7 when he gets up. I’m a morning person anyways but if I don’t get it done early it is so much more challenging to fit in with my kids activity, nap, nursing, moods, meals etc.. I also love to early user me time when I get to listen to NPR and do something for me usually uninterrupted which definitely doesn’t happen for another 13 hours each day!

    2) working out at home. I’m super fortunate that my mom gave me a treadmill and we have select tech weights and resistance bands. I love and miss crossfit but 1.5 hours of class plus driving time is just too much and I need to be close by for my baby girl.

    3) getting everything ready the night before. I ready the coffee maker, put out my clothes, plan my workout, prep my breast pump, etc so I can get ready ASAP and get working out! 🙂

  • 5
    Jenny December 1, 2016, 8:43 am

    Reading the comments above I’ll add a couple notes re fitting in workouts with parenting…

    It’s super important to be flexible and just go with the flow of the stages of parenting. I’m pleasantly surprised that my youngest is sleeping pretty well and in a somewhat predictable Schedule so that I can fit in a pretty predictable workout. My first daughter was completely different so I just had to fit it when I could a few days a week at home aiming for 20-30 min of whatever felt good and I had energy for.

    Figuring out a schedule with your partner and supporting their ability to workout. Between his full time jo. And grad school my husband has very little time to himself but I make sure to encourage him to get to his eve crossfit classes 3x week by doing bathtime and dinner prep for us. He isn’t motivated enough to workout at home so he needs those classes. He gets evenings and I have mornings so that helps.

  • 6
    Julie Running in a Skirt December 1, 2016, 9:11 am

    Great tips from everyone! I’d add to schedule it like a meeting. Write it down or put it in the phone!

  • 7
    Carolyn December 1, 2016, 9:26 am

    Someone told me when I started my 8-5 that there’s a “season for everything” and that I may have to just accept some changes with such a full schedule. She was right; I used to have the time to run everyday and incorporate strength training 2-3x as well. These days, my workouts usually involve intervals on the treadmill, elliptical or bike (intervals = faster and more bang for your buck) a few times a week and strength training on the other days. I just don’t try to do everything anymore because it’s not realistic. The change has not been bad, though. Just different! 🙂

  • 8
    Catherine December 1, 2016, 10:03 am

    This post really is great! Definitely something that I have been thinking about the last year. I started my first job as a nurse working 12 (even 14 hour) days 3 days per week. I have found that working out before work can make me exhausted at the end of my shifts, to the point I do not feel like I may make a mistake. Granted I still get a short workout in a couple times a month before work, I have found it just doesn’t work super well for my body.

    Instead, I have readjusted my expectations on how many days I SHOULD be working out. Now, for my 4 days off I focus on quality. I also really enjoy my workouts now, unlike when I would force myself out the door 6-7 days per week. I also try to double on my workout days, maybe a run and lift or run and yoga combo.

    Readjusting workout expectations has made me learn a lot about listening to my body. I am grateful for the days I can workout, and I feel happier and healthier with the change!

  • 9
    Laura December 1, 2016, 10:27 am

    Great tips above! I work 7:30-4:30 and have 2 dogs and 2 kids (2 yrs and 5 months old). Agree with the others who say advance planning/prep is crucial. I’m up at 5 to pump and work out before work everyday, so I get EVERYTHING ready the night before. Breakfast, lunch, coffeemaker, breast pump, clothes for both working out and work, bags packed. I also usually plan my workouts in advance (one week at a time) so there’s no wasted time figuring out what I’m going to do. Though I do allow flexibility should my schedule or body tell me the plan isn’t going to work that day – always have a plan B or way to rearrange my planned workouts for the week. My final thing to add is to stick to doing what you love. You will absolutely find time to do what you enjoy, so don’t stress about the other stuff you feel like you “should” do to stay more well-rounded. I LIKE to swim, cycle, and do yoga but I LOVE to run and strength train. I used to try to fit it all in but realized that’s more stressful than it’s worth. So now I plan my workout schedule around running and strength training, and if I feel like and have time to squeeze in anything else, great. If not, there’s always next week.

  • 10
    Jessica December 1, 2016, 11:46 am

    Love all these tips! I would add: Be creative and look to incorporate movement throughout your day. Look for shorts breaks (5, 10, 15 minutes) when you can squeeze in walks or stretches. It may also help you stay alert and energized through long days.

  • 11
    tara December 1, 2016, 12:47 pm

    these are all great reminders ! i work a minimum of 50 hours a week and have all the other jazz to deal with everyone speaks of. i have gone through phases of AM workouts (i am NOT a morning person) and PM ones. i have even worked out on and off at lunch (you need a good routine and plan to deal with a sweaty mess lunch workout – read – do not wear panty hose on these days! it is impossible to get panty hose on with even a tiny bit of residual sweat. learned the heard way ! and people will ask whats wrong cuz your face is so red no matter what!).
    i would say mix it up as you see fit. when i workout in the AM i gotta pre prep the night before a ton. if i work out at night i have to go straight to the gym after work or i will get lazy. also i had to give up some things like so many yoga classes. it was just to much time. a 60 minute class turned into a min. 90 mins time because of drive time, etc. compare that to going to the gym at my work to get in a 30 min run and it was just a no brainer for me on most nights. one thing for me…AM workouts were a small problem running wise. i was not properly warming up (time factor) and it was very easy to tweak something and i also didnt take lots of time to stretch after so then i would have soreness later in the day. just a thought.
    im not sure if there is a true secret ? we just do what women do…find a way and get it done !

  • 12
    Hillary December 1, 2016, 1:06 pm

    That picture of you is such inspiration: fit & happy!

  • 13
    Jen December 1, 2016, 2:14 pm

    I think the key for me was two parts.

    One I paid for it, which automatically made me way more accountable with myself because I could not fathom spending that much and getting nothing.

    The second was finding something I loved. I have always enjoyed running but I LOVE weightlifting, which really shocked me because that was the part of CrossFit I thought I would have to tolerate. And the other thing I love are my friends at class. So maybe really three parts. Because they will all be asking me where I’ve been when I start slacking and so that keeps me on track. Even when my 3 year old has been up in the middle of the night and I have an early meeting and all of the other things that can throw off the best laid plans!

  • 14
    Alicia December 1, 2016, 7:33 pm

    With a 5yo and a 9mo, it’s tough! I get up early and go. Simply no other choice. But you’re right Jen, kids add a layer of intensity to scheduling that’s hard to fathom!!

  • 15
    Kathryn December 1, 2016, 9:57 pm

    Thank you!!!this is exactly what I need especially after the daylight savings.

  • 16
    Brenna December 4, 2016, 7:40 pm

    I love all of these tips and wanted to give a plug for what works for me–morning workouts. I live in Boston too and have a similar work schedule: 9 AM – 6 PM with a commute of average 60-70 minutes. For the past few years I’ve worked out in the morning, and although it can be unpleasant at times to wake up early (especially in the dark and cold), I love the foundation it sets for the day. And, coming home from work and not having to go work out makes a world of difference for me! I usually get up at 5, work out 530-630 and then (to your point about your dog!), spend 6:30-7:30 playing with and walking my dog. I leave for work at 8 AM. A couple of things that work for me are what others have mentioned: prepping on weekends and the night before, setting the intention of working out, finding something you love to do and consistency–is it much, much easier for me to wake up early every morning then it is to do every other! Good Luck–I am sure you will make it work! 🙂

  • 17
    Audrey December 5, 2016, 2:10 pm

    Hi Jen (and fellow advice givers!),

    I so appreciate this post (as you could venture to guess!) All the feedback on this question was SO helpful, and to be able to post about this topic in a community like the Facebook PBR group was especially comforting. I found a gym on my way home from work that does small, group classes (8 people max) and think I’m going to do two of their LIFT classes a week and one of their HIIT classes a week. Then I’ll supplement that with yoga/other cardio like running or spinning. I’m hoping it works out ok, but more than anything I’m just excited to get back into a weekly workout routine 🙂

    Lastly, a HUGE thank you to you (!!!) for setting up the Facebook group — like I said, it was so reassuring to hear other people’s experiences and get some ideas from them! What an awesome support group that I’ll definitely continue to keep in mind to voice questions/concerns.

  • 18
    Kellie December 6, 2016, 12:23 pm

    I am struggling so much with this since having my second child last January. I have daycare drop-off at 7am, followed by work (I’m a high school teacher) until 4 and then picking the kids up. By the time we do the dinner and bedtime routine it’s often 8:30pm and I am exhausted from being “on” all day, so tend to collapse versus using that time to work out. And before work isn’t really a realistic option- I need to get the kids and myself ready by 6:50 and I’m NOT a morning person.

    Trying to carve out one night a week to at least start but am certainly struggling!

  • 19
    Laurie December 12, 2016, 12:39 pm

    I think it is important to get at least a little bit of physical activity in each day, especially if you have a job that requires you to be at a desk. There are different ways that you can find time to get a workout. You can set your alarm a little earlier every day so you can get in a workout before work, you can take a walk or do lunges and squats in your office on your break, or get some activity in with the family after work like taking a bike ride or playing basketball. Great tips, thanks for sharing!

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