Rolling with the punches

Aaaahhhhhhhh. No, that’s not a scream (though if I had written this post a couple of days earlier, it might have been). Rather, it’s a deep exhalation. What a week. Most people dread Monday, but I’m thinking this week can only get better.

First of all, Mike is home after a two-week stint in Brazil, for “work.” Nice for him, not so nice for me.

Fishing for peacock bass in Brazil

I struggle to keep a good schedule while he is out of town, so though I still get my workouts in, eating, sleeping and early morning wake-ups get all off -kilter.

So there we were, one week down, one week to go, feeling a little tired and grouchy but managing ok. Then Graham got a cold. Then I got the cold, then Garrett got the cold and strep throat. Workouts? Ha! We were just trying to get through the days.

Mike got home on Friday, and the weekend went much better. Until last night. I was downstairs talking to my mom on the phone, and I heard a colossal thud followed closely by a major scream. I ran upstairs to see Garrett laying on the floor, crying, blood flowing from the back of his head. Long story short, he cracked his head on the platform of our guest bed and required three staples to close it. He’s fine. I might not be totally recovered yet.

Besides venting, what is the point of sharing all of this? The point is, it’s been two weeks of less than stellar wellness on my part, and I’m feeling kinda crabby about it. Especially because I was doing really well prior to Mike’s fishing work trip. But you know what? That’s life. Stuff comes up, you get busy, you get sick, or hey, maybe you need a few staples in your head.

Here’s a little fill-in-the-blank for you:

It would be so easy to get/stay healthy if I just                                      

Just what? Just had a simple, unchangeable schedule? Just didn’t have to work? Just had a housekeeper or a nanny or both? No, it wouldn’t. Having all the free time in the world would change absolutely nothing if your health isn’t a priority for you.

A friend told me recently that while she loves all the ideas on this blog, she doesn’t understand how a “real” person fits exercise into a busy life. While I love the implication that I am somehow unreal, and therefore must have super powers of some kind, those close to me could quickly tell you otherwise (though I do stay super cool when the blood is flying).

Nope, I’m no better at managing my time than anyone else, and probably much worse than many. And sometimes crap happens, and I don’t workout for a week. But then, I get back to it. Because exercise is essential to me. Trying to improve my fitness, my health, my sleep, my diet, it’s all a top priority, so I have time.

Now you may say the exercise part is easier for me than some, because it’s my job, but I still have to make time to actually run the miles or lift the weights. I’m also lucky to have a husband who understands that my exercise time is non-negotiable, and in fact encourages me to fit in workouts. I don’t feel guilty about leaving my kids when I go to the gym, either. Not even the tiniest twinge. Ever. Because I know working out is necessary for me to be a happy person, and showing them that I value my health is so, so important.

Yes, I have time to exercise. Does other stuff slide? Sure. Sometimes we rush around at night, throwing together dinner and skipping bath-time for the kids because I’ve been at the gym. My house could be cleaner and more organized. Years of photos might be put in albums and baby books might be complete. Honestly, there is a ton of excess time-wasting I could trim from my days if I wanted to be more productive.

I just have to make it a priority.

If exercise, or healthy eating or whatever else is important to you, you will make the time. You may only have a couple of 10-minute slots a day, but 10 minutes here and there can be surprisingly effective. You may have to skip your daily dose of Kardashians, or ask your spouse to put the kids to bed a few times a week while you pop in a fitness DVD, but it can be done.

In fact, here are a few more tips for fitting in fitness:

  • keep track of how you spend your time for a week. You don’t have to account for every second, but record enough to see some patterns emerge. Do you notice a big time-suck anywhere? Are you spending too much energy on something that is less important to you than your wellness? Start there.
  • if you work at a desk, try to move more. Can you take the stairs instead of the elevator? Do you have time for a couple of 10-minute walk breaks? Are you willing to eat at your desk so you can use your lunch hour to exercise? Even just one day a week is enough to get started.
  • take your kids with you. You can put a baby in a jogging stroller or carrier (find them used on Craigslist), and an older child might be able to ride bike while you walk or run.
  • find a gym with a childcare you like. It’s a win-win; you get to exercise while your kids get some great social time.
  • schedule your fitness. No matter how good your intentions, if you don’t plan ahead, a busy week can easily slip by with no exercise. Take the time to mentally walk through each day to find the best opportunities for activity, then put it on your calendar. If you miss a day, schedule a make-up.

I’m not saying it’s easy to make changes. Believe me, I struggle with my own stuff. You have to be ready, and only you know when you are. But when you are ready, you’ll know, because it suddenly won’t seem quite so impossible, and you won’t think I’m such a smarty-pants.


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