This is a guest post written by Sheena Bell, the lovely author of the blog Embrace The Fitter You.
Did I complete all my tasks for today?
This is the number one question busy professionals ask themselves. I mean there are only 24-hours in a day. I, a 34-year-old Northern California native, ask myself this very question quite frequently.
When life gets busy, exercise seems to be the first item dropped from our long to-do-list. Exercise, however, is one of the most important items on the list. Exercise helps maintain our weight, fight diabetes, depression, and high blood pressure. It improves our mood and gives us a burst of energy.
Our careers, specifically, can get in the way of exercising. We struggle to find time to work out, yet, we can’t afford not to exercise because it’s vital to our physical and mental health. I am a Communication Specialist who works in Oakland, CA. I have a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule and I live about an hour away from work. So, how do I integrate exercise into my daily routine?
I get up at 4 a.m. to get dressed for the gym (I prepare my protein shake, gym bag, and water bottle the night before). I arrive at the gym no later than 4:30 a.m. and workout for 45-minutes. I then head back home, shower, get dressed, eat and make my way to work. I commute to work, so I have a 45-minute train ride into the city. I arrive at work no later than 9 a.m., work until 5 p.m., and then face the same commute back home. Oh, I also have a 15-minute drive from the train station to my home. So my total commute time is actually an hour. I repeat this routine 4 days a week.
I’m sure most of you can relate to my hectic schedule in some way. It’s not ideal by any means, but it allows me to exercise and get to work on time. I’m not saying it’s easy because it isn’t. But, it’s doable. The key to my success is using self-motivation to make exercise a priority.
Here are my tips for busy professionals such as yourself.
1. Make exercising on Monday a priority.
It’s extremely important to start your work week on the right foot. Exercise can help you do this. There’s nothing like a Monday morning workout that gets your heart racing and increases your endorphins. Most importantly, completing your workout on Monday will motivate you to continue your fitness routine throughout the rest of the week. If you can’t work out before you go to work, find time in your schedule to work out mid-day. I know Mondays are filled with meetings, but block out 30-minutes to an hour for exercise.
2. Write down your WEEKLY goals
I write down my exercise goals at the start of each week. Your goal can be as simple as saying, “I will work out four days this week”. Be specific on how you define a “week.” Is a week Monday through Friday or Monday through Sunday? Look at your calendar prior to setting your goals, so you know the optimal times to exercise.
3. Create a workout schedule and commit to it.
Often, we don’t make exercise a priority because we don’t integrate it into our daily schedule. I strongly advise you to write down your workout schedule and hang it on your wall or bulletin board at work. What’s my secret to committing to my workout schedule? Creating a schedule that works for me! You are in competition with only yourself.
There’s no specific rule on how many days you should exercise (although it’s recommended that adults exercise three days a week at minimum). If you can only workout four days a week, great! Three days a week, that’s fine too. List the type of workout you will do each day. For instance, Monday is yoga, Tuesday is Zumba, and Wednesday is cycling. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you enjoy, and go do it.
The important thing is to create a habit of working out. Once you create a habit, commitment shouldn’t be a problem.
4. Track your progress.
Nothing is more motivating than seeing your hard work pay off. I strongly recommend tracking your progress. You can keep a journal or use an app. I use the MyFitnessPal app to track my progress. It's user-friendly, efficient, and allows you to log your meals, so you can monitor your calories intake. As you notice changes in your body, you won’t want to stop —trust me!
5. Turn your commute into exercise.
Is your job within walking distance? Can you ride your bike to work? If the answer to yes to any of these then leave your car at home and choose one of these two options. Commit to biking or walking at least three times a week. Feel free to choose alternate days. Walking or riding your bike to and from work provides you with the essential cardio your body needs.
6. Always choose something over nothing.
This is a huge one! I can’t tell you how many times I tell myself this over the course of a week. Never beat yourself up if you can’t work out for an hour. If 30-minutes is what you can do, fantastic! Something is ALWAYS better than nothing. Put all your energy and focus into your 30-minute workout, complete it, and repeat it the next day.
7. Use your lunchtime wisely.
Do you have an hour lunch? If so, take this time to work out. Take a walk or a jog. Does your job have an employee gym? If so, take advantage of it. I know lunchtime is typically a time to unwind and eat, so don’t feel like you must work out then every day. But, it’s a great option for those who have an hour or more at their disposal.
8. Include your children.
For busy professionals with children, I recommend finding a gym with a kid’s club. You can work out while your children are drawing, playing, and socializing with children their own age. It’s a win for everyone. If your gym doesn’t have a kids’ club, bring your children with you as you walk or hike. If you have babies, utilize a stroller and go for a jog.
Exercise is a form of self-love, a way to invest in YOU, and an important part of your overall health. Exercise not only helps you physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. Remember, it’s not about having the time, it’s about making the time.
Start your week off with a Monday workout, write down your goals, use technology to track your progress, bike or walk to work, a short workout is better than no workout, use your lunchtime effectively, and bring your children along.
From one professional to another, I hope this blog motivates you to integrate exercise into your schedule. Don’t forget, motivation gets you started, habit keeps you going.
Sheena Bell is a Communication Specialist, and the creator of Embrace The Fitter You, a fitness blog launched on October 2, 2017. Sheena started her fitness journey four years ago and hasn’t looked back since. Her passion is helping women live a healthier and more active lifestyle. Sheena offers a workout planner, a tool to help women organize their workouts. Just go to her website, and it's free to download.
Sheena is 34-years-old and lives in Northern California. In addition to exercising, she enjoys traveling, sports, writing, and hiking.
I think Sheena's story is one many of you dear readers can relate to. And, as it's the beginning of the year, something tells me you've got some fitness goals in mind. Tell me- which of Sheena's tips will you implement? Let me know in the comments.