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Making time for fitness!

The summer has come and gone, and the kids are back at school. Whoa, what a whirlwind!

Our schedules were far more relaxed. We spent many extra hours in our pajamas, eating far more extravagant breakfasts, didn’t always adhere to bedtimes, and indulged in a little too much ice cream. The activity levels were higher than usual, though I’m not sure that has anything to do with putting in extra time at the gym, rather just spending more time running around after the kids.

So in one sense, it’s a relief. The kids will be in school and there will be quiet around the house again (unless you have toddlers and babies at home). On the other hand, there is something about the school year that is not always easy. There’s earlier wake-ups, lunches, and scheduling everyone’s everything, including the dog and cat.

The hope is that now that the kids are back in school, you will hopefully make more time for fitness. I use the word “make” not find, as the time is always there, and you won’t find the time unless you make it a priority and schedule it in.

I am a self-employed mother of two, with two dogs and a self-employed husband. Managing our schedules can be extremely tricky. Most days I work early mornings and do 3:00 pm pick up. If I don’t get my sweat in before my work and family day begins, I will make every excuse not to get it in afterward. Not to mention I am a much happier woman, softer mother and kinder wife with all the post work out endorphins and glow. So, I set my alarm for 3:50 am and make it happen.

What works for me may not be what works for you. And the idea that making it work should be an easy transition is far from the truth. Be honest with yourself and be realistic. A 3:50 am wake up call isn’t always easy, but it works for my family and I. It didn’t happen overnight, and I didn’t suddenly become the fittest or strongest woman, but I am on the journey to be my healthiest self, all while setting a good example for my kids. After all, it’s not what we say, rather what we do.

I believe as the primary role models in our children’s lives, parents have an enormous impact on how kids view exercise, fitness, and nutrition, and the example they set is often for life.

There is no magic formula; you need to discover what you enjoy, and what works for you and your family. Here are some tips to get you started on creating a fit friendly family.

Start with a Plan

The biggest mistake busy moms and dads make when beginning a workout protocol is going in blind. They have no real plan for success. Your life is already hectic so try to limit the amount of thinking and mental energy being used on fitness planning.

Schedule It

Look at your calendar, including all the school activities, work hours and other obligations. Search for little gaps in the day, whether it’s early in the morning before anyone wakes up, after the kids go to school, during lunch break or evenings. Just find some time, even if it’s only 10 minutes at a time. A few short exercise breaks during the day add up: 10 minutes of yoga stretches or stair climbing when you get up, a short walk at lunch and a bike ride with the kids after work.

In my experience, morning routines are an excellent way to get productive work done before the hectic pre-work and school morning begins. What’s more, is that it allows for a few small wins to start your day off right (with nutrition falling in tightly behind). It doesn’t have to belong either; a quick 15-30 minute routine will do. If need be, start with things like meditation, reading, and mobility in the morning while everyone else is asleep.

Make It Routine

We sometimes forget how important it is to move throughout the day. There are studies on the outcomes of people who walk, cycle or take public transportation to work – they have less body fat than people who drive. If driving is your only option, park farther from the door. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk your kids to their bus stop and do some stretches as you wait. If possible, even walk them to school. While watching TV, helping the kids with homework or talking on the phone, do exercises like planks, leg lifts, bridges, squats, and lunges. If you have a desk job, set a timer to remind you to get up and move around. Spend five minutes every hour walking or doing simple stretches. Your muscles will thank you.

Any Space is Fitness Space

With all the online workouts available, you don’t need to go to the gym to get fitness in. For little to no cost, many websites and apps offer workouts that you can do in your living room, back yard or even local park, anytime that works with your schedule with little to no equipment needed.

While the Kids Play, You Play

My kids aren’t at an age where they have long stretches of activities that afford me the ability to go for long walks or join a class, so we go to the park. We swing on monkey bars, climb ladders, run, jump and just have some good old fun. If your kids are at an age where they are in activities with long stretches, learn to use their practice time to take walks around the fields or parks where they practice or through nearby neighbourhoods. And if you are fortunate enough to be afforded with a couple of hours at a time, join a nearby fitness class, or start your own!

Play With Your Kids

Don’t underestimate the importance of doing physical activities with your kids, whether it’s kicking around a soccer ball, pitching a football or baseball, riding bikes, hiking, jogging or practicing martial arts. An old fashioned family game of badminton or dodge ball can be fun. With the real young ones, get down on the floor and play with them or go out together to swing or play chase.

Make Fitness a Priority

This is the tip that no one wants to hear, but that is necessary for long term success. If you fail to make your health a priority, you’ll never develop the grit and dedication needed to succeed in your endeavours.

Life can get stressful and following through on a fitness plan will prove to be challenging at times. Remember why you have decided to add fitness into your life and dedicate yourself to living a healthier life. It will prove to be a powerful motivator in times of stress. Remember, you’re working out because you love your kids and want to see them grow older. You’re also working out so you can go on hikes, travel to soccer games, and walk around amusement parks, or explore your city pain-free. Yes, you’re doing this for yourself… but mostly for them!

Every approach requires sacrifice, habit change, and willpower in times of stress and frustration. I’m not going to tell you that balancing a job, kids, and fitness will be easy, rather I want to provide you with practical strategies that can help make things “less stressful.” Above all else, remember WHY you are doing this.