The last time I was ready to get into a good fitness routine, I started setting my alarm at 5:30 so I could do it before anyone else woke up. About a week into this, my youngest started waking up earlier than normal and disrupted the whole plan.
Everyone in my house is an early bird except my husband. He can sleep through anything (convenient) and struggles to get up with his alarm. So while I may still be tired every morning when my alarm goes off, I usually still jump out of bed and face the day. My kids—10, 8, and 2—are the same.
With that level of energy so early in the morning (and with having the youngest who needs near-constant attention), it’s hard to get in a morning workout. And like many of you, my day just spirals from there with a million things to do, and by the end of the day when everyone is done with sports, dinner, and in bed—the last thing I want to go is get on a treadmill or do a workout video.
I work full-time, but for the last 18 months, I’ve been doing it from my home instead of driving into an office. That level of flexibility has made it so much easier to squeeze in movement throughout the day. So while these tips may be a tad harder to use if you are working outside the home for a full-time job, there should still be some good nuggets you can use!
Tip #1: Go for a walk
I was listening to a podcast this week, and the host was talking about how she was tired of working out with a trainer. She just wants to go for long walks, move her body, and appreciate life. What a novel idea. In fact, going for walks was one of the first COVID habits I picked up last year as the weather was getting nicer. I used almost every lunch hour to listen to a podcast and walk the trails/sidewalks through my neighborhood. I was hitting 10,000 steps a day consistently, and even though my eating habits were terrible, I wasn’t really gaining weight. If you have a dog, it may be easier to take the dog and break this into 2 or 3 shorter walks. If it’s hot in the summer, it may be easier to do this at 8am before you start your day but after you (hopefully) have your little ones off to daycare or camp. And if you’ve got some in-between ages like me, I’ve started leaving my 8-year-old home for short periods knowing he can FaceTime me from the iPad or even call me from the Alexa in our kitchen.
Tip #2 Find on-demand workouts
I hate cycling, so I haven’t joined the Peloton cult; however, I am a huge fan of on-demand workouts with a variety of trainers. My personal favorite has been the NEOU app. They have live classes and on-demand programming for almost any category you want, and you can stream to your tv, phone, or tablet. I’ve done 5 minute stretch classes and 45 minute HIIT workouts. Last Christmas, I did a 12 Days of Christmas Naughty and Nice workout with a Ukranian trainer who is so silly and his accent is everything. They have barre, dance, kickboxing, yoga—you name it! I’ve even done treadmill workouts that make me feel like I’m in an Orangetheory class! And since the workouts can be sorted by how much time you have, there’s no excuse! Get in a 15 minute strength or yoga session, and you don’t even need to break a sweat.
Tip #3 Play
Wouldn’t it be great if we could run around outside for hours on end in the summer like our kids, eat icees and chips and not have a care in the world? My daughter is phasing out of this, but my 8 year-old is elbow deep. He’s always tan and red-cheeked and asking for water. How much fun would you be to your kid if you ran around with them? Played tag or taught them Red Rover, Red Rover or Mother May I? 10 minutes of that will fill their emotional buckets for a whole week!
Tip #4 Family Walks or School Pick Ups
This is different than a solitary walk for yourself, with ear buds in or just the sounds of nature. This walk is time with your people. Depending on your family’s schedule, this may look like an after dinner walk to the playground or around your neighborhood. Someone pushes the stroller or the kids go ahead on their bikes. It’s leisurely but gets everyone moving, and gives you time to connect. Similarly, if you’re able to park near the school (eg. there is a neighborhood across the street or down the block), I’ve seen tons of parents start walking their kids to and from school instead of putting them on the bus. This was due to COVID and when we went back in person, the spacing requirements on the bus made it so that you were basically discouraged from taking it. So many families started walking. I’m hoping it’s a trend that keeps up this fall.
Tip #5 Stand
When I was in the office, I had a standing desk, and I loved it. Some days I was lazy and sat all day, but usually I would stand, and I even had a balance board like this one that I’d use on days that I felt ambitious. Just being on your feet instead of your butt is going to burn more calories and naturally have you working harder. And it definitely doesn’t feel like a workout!
So that’s it! You’ll notice only one of those tips includes actual workouts (2 if you count the long walk—which I definitely sweat and work hard on mine!) and the rest incorporates fun and movement into the day. I think the big switch we all need to make is to focus on the movement our bodies crave and less about the time spent on the treadmill or lifting weights. If you’re moving during the day and the tv is off, you’re probably okay.
Be sure to keep up with your annual physicals to be tracking your blood sugars, cholesterol, and more. These are great indicators of overall body health that don’t rely on what the scale says about your weight!
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