It’s the busiest time of year. We all have a million things going on. Between October 28 and January 1st, my family celebrates at least 20 special occasions that require preparation and extra effort on top of our normal day-to-day madness. We know it’s coming every year, and I’ve gotten quite good at balancing the chaos, but this year I have something even more essential in my arsenal.
Sports and fitness have always been a big part of my life. Exercise has also always been the first thing I let slide when I get really busy or overwhelmed, and that is the worst thing I can do to myself. When I exercise — whether it’s a hard core workout or just a walk to get some fresh air — I’m a far better person. No matter what is going on in my life, nothing relieves stress and gives me energy like exercise can.
I know it seems counterintuitive on these most exhausting days. Between all of the planning, prepping, shopping, celebrating, excitement, change of routines, treats, and colder weather, it certainly feels like there is no possible way to cram one more thing into the schedule. But trust me; you can, mama. You’ve got to fit it in. (A little extra motivation: You know that yearly New Year’s resolution to lose weight? This study found that it takes five months to lose weight gained over the holiday season!)
Here are some fool-proof ways to FIT it in during this crazy season of life:
1. Put your workout clothes on when you wake up
I’m not talking about your trusty yoga pants that we’ve decided are high fashion. Sports bra, hair in ponytail, workout ready. This will serve as a reminder that you have to workout. Even on the busiest of days you can squeeze in a few things and still reap the benefits. Do push-ups between every few items of clothing folded, do squats while prepping dinner, take a few extra trips up and down the stairs. Throw in a few centering sun salutations. Stop, breathe, and stretch. Do ten jumping jacks every time your child asks for something…
2. Don’t call it “Me Time”
Don’t think of exercise as a splurge or something frivolous. Make it a necessity, like eating healthfully. It is something you truly need in order to be your best self for your family. “Me time” indulgences are also important to grab, but please make sure your exercise time is completely guilt free.
3. Play with your kids
Put down the phone, get off the bench, and literally follow your kid around the playground. Do every single thing they do. Chances are you’ll get a better workout than you can at the gym. You’ll be amazed at how much squatting, shifting of balance, and strength training you will fit in. Humble yourself by attempting to do the monkey bars as an adult! If your kids are older, challenge them to a soccer match, play an active sport together and don’t go overly easy on them. My kids and I love doing Cosmic Kids Yoga together. Go out for a hike, play in the leaves/snow, jump on the trampoline. Every single dance party, game of catch, or active activity counts!
4. Rise and shine
Get up early and get it done. As much as I was never a morning person, waking up and getting in a decent workout has become something I look forward to. Morning workouts have myriad benefits. You are revving up your metabolism for the day and any additional things you do (playing with your kids, doing housework, etc.) are just bonus burn. On non-workout days I get some of my best reading, writing, housework, or quiet time in before the rest of the family is awake and I get pulled in a million different directions.
5. Find an accountability partner
Share your goals with a friend and keep one another in check. You can physically meet up to work out together (you are less likely to bail if someone is waiting for you), or check in across the miles. A friend and I recently held one another accountable as we trained for our first triathlons in separate states. It made a huge difference and rekindled an old friendship at the same time!
6. Keep it simple
You don’t need an elaborate fitness plan. Simply aim to workout at least three times per week and keep those days as consistent as possible to ensure success. There are tons of free apps that take you through a full body routine with no equipment needed. Don’t worry about the type of exercise. You can fine tune your workouts and goals at a later date. This season is just about moving, staying active, and fitting it in where you can. Longer workouts aren’t always better workouts. In fact, your body requires different exercises as you age.
7. Stay at home
Although I have a gym membership, I don’t always have the extra 20-30 minutes to drive there and back. I have found several FREE at-home options that I love. Yoga with Adriene on YouTube is awesome. In fact, you can find pretty much any type of workout on YouTube: Piyo, Bootcamp, Kickboxing, Pilates, Zumba, Barre, etc. Fitness Blender is another great one.
8. Do what you love
You will never stick to something you don’t enjoy. That said, try out a few different things — you may surprise yourself! I always played high-energy team sports and was shocked to find that I LOVE yoga! Try a new class at the gym, join a rec league, train for a race, or listen to an audio book while walking. Once you find something you enjoy, keep it in the rotation!