Whether it’s the holidays, crunch time at work, or you’re busy with kids (or all three!), there’s always a rationale for putting exercise last. However, the simple trick to getting in better shape and feeling confident about your fitness level is to make exercise a priority even when you’ve got a dozen other things to do.
Yes, you can schedule weekly workouts into your day planner or phone’s calendar—and you should, if it’s a matter of reserving those times for exercise—but if you’re prone to skipping exercise already, you might need a stronger push in the right direction. To set a precedent for exercise, try these steps for making fitness a priority in your busy life.
1. Start the day off right
Your best bet is to exercise whenever your busy day allows it, but if you have scheduling wiggle room, plan on working out in the first half of the day. Getting exercise done early means you don’t have to worry about casting it aside later in the day if something throws you off course. The more successful you feel about sticking to your workouts, the more you’ll want to keep up with that rewarding behavior.
2. Buddy up
When you’ve got one or more friends cheering you on and expecting you to show up and exercise with them, you’re less likely to blow off the workout. You wouldn’t want to stand up a friend or miss out on the social time of exercising together. While any supportive friend can make a good workout buddy, one who’s already motivated to exercise can help you jump-start the same habits and a similar mindset.
3. Priority by payment
Exercise is easier to skip when you’ve got nothing riding on it. That’s why laying down cash makes a lot of sense, fiscally and physically. Once you prepay for a personal trainer or an ongoing class or boot camp, you’ll want to get your money’s worth by showing up.
4. Look for windows of opportunity
There might be windows of opportunity for working out during times that you thought were out of bounds. For example, could you squeeze in a 10-minute DVD workout right before your morning shower? Is there a gym at the community center where your kids take dance, painting, or martial arts classes? Maybe you could drop in there for a quick workout while your little ones enjoy their own activities. You’ll get your exercise in and set yourself up as a role model of fitness for your kids.
December 2011, web exclusive