I have finally started working out again, although not quite on my own terms. Sadly, I have gained 50 pounds over the last 10 years. And that’s after working out really hard to lose 30 lbs before then.
It’s hard figuring the time to workout consistently as a busy career mom, but I promise you it is achievable. In this post, I will share with you my personal challenges with weight loss, and what I have started to do to address it.
Weight Loss is Often a Life-long Challenge
This has always been the case for me.
I was a chubby kid growing up—chubby in elementary school, chubby in junior high school, and upgraded by my peers to “thick” in high school as we began sexualizing extra weight in the 90’s. Although my weight always fluctuates due to overeating, a short stint with bulimia, and sometimes starving myself for 2 to 3 weeks thinking I was “dieting”, I was on the heavy side for most of it all.
While I am all about body positivity, I am also all about living a healthy, long life. So, no, I didn’t like how some of my excess weight loss sat on certain areas of my body, like my thighs and lower stomach. But I mostly didn’t like how the extra weight made me feel.
It wasn’t until after college I started learning how to lose weight in a more healthy way. I discovered the BeachBody exercise company and purchased the Power 90 discs. Together with meal replacements using Slim-Fast shakes, I finally lost weight and gained strength.
No more being winded taking a few flight of stairs. No more fighting lethargy from morning into night. I had more energy than I had ever had in my life. I felt strong and powerful. I finally got how people could become addicted to fitness and working out.
Fast forward to a few years later, two new careers, marriage, mortgage, and two kids later, to be exact. I struggled to incorporate my newfound fitness routine into my life that practically changed overnight.
And now, I’m practically back to square one.
Challenges of Nailing Down a Workout Routine
Before I was a married career mom, I had tons of time on my hands. At the time, it didn’t quite feel like it. But looking back, I really did have time to fit in a good workout.
Now, every hour of my day seems tied to the needs of others, either my boss, clients, family, and friends. What’s worse, my ideal workout involves being able to get into the zone uninterrupted—not quite a reality trying to do that at home.
It honestly seems like every time I come up with a workout plan, it gets derailed.
And because starting a workout plan takes sheer willpower (I may like the results of working out, but I am definitely not naturally inclined to do so), it gets really hard to get over the feeling of defeat enough to switch gears and come up with a new plan.
I have seriously tried so many different things.
First, I started working out at 4 AM for six days a week…but my husband was worried about the sketchy area where I worked out, even though I did so with a small group of runners. So, I stopped.
Then I tried running around my neighborhood…until an older gentleman was killed near-by. So once again, my husband worries as well as mine caused me to stop. Plus, I absolutely hated my neighbors dogs waking up the entire neighborhood every time I went out in the morning.
For my next attempt, I tried working out at an expensive gym on the opposite side of town after picking up my kids from school. That meant late nights after finally getting home to make dinner, do homework, and get ready for bed. And loads of money. Not ideal.
I tried signing up for the CrossFit Gym close by my job, until it became impossible to get to classes before work because of my kids school schedules, and afternoon classes coincided with the times I needed to get my kids from school.
At this point you might be saying, “Well Val, why not just work out at home?”
Well, remember how I said I need to get in the zone to work out. That’s difficult to do with my kids underfoot and my husband constantly worrying about me not getting enough rest, voicing that opinion in the middle of every, single workout.
So, once again, I stopped.
But, one day I was talking with a colleague about another coworker of ours who really loves working out. We were basically saying there was no way we would be for hours at a time like she did, dragging our bike on planes and ferries to get to marathons.
And I said, “Well, you know, I guess you really do just prioritize what is important to you, and figure out a way to make it work.”
How to Come Up with A Tailored-for-You Workout Plan
I know that when you want to do something badly enough, that thing makes it to the very top of your list of priorities. I mean, that’s exactly how I achieved a better balance in my family life. I came up with my three priorities and scheduled my time accordingly.
Make Working Out a Top 3 Priority
So first, you have to determine how important being healthy and fit is to you. If this resonates as deeply with you as it does with me, then you have to make it one of your most important 3 things.
If it goes any lower on a long list, you chance never getting to it consistently every day.
Learn How to Compromise a Little
Second, you have to make some type of compromise. When you are trying to find a way to squeeze a workout into your busy schedule, you need to accept that everything about that plan will not be perfect.
For example, I need to workout away from my family without jeopardizing my job or parental responsibilities, my workout time and location had to remain as consistent as possible, and there had to be strength training equipment involved.
Working out away from my family meant doing so when the kids are in school or at extracurricular activities. It also couldn’t interfere with my career.
The best time of day ended up being during my eldest’s soccer practice, which takes place for 2 hours 3 times a day. It does conflict with pick-up time for my youngest, which means I end up with 1 solid workout hour. But, that’s actually ideal, as long as I stay on schedule.
After figuring out the best time, it was time to nail down a place that I could get to really quickly after soccer drop off, and still allowed me to get to my youngest after my workout. Here’s where my need to compromise came in.
It just so happens that there’s a gym 5 minutes away from my son’s soccer practice. It is also a gym I would almost never look at twice if I had my way.
This gym is small, not super clean (although not filthy), the equipment has obvious wear and tear, and there is no real locker room to use to change out or shower.
But…right now this is the best option for me. And if I say no to this, I will spend another two years complaining about not having an opportunity to work out, all while gaining even more weight.
Come Up with a Simple, Enjoyable Exercises
The last step of this plan is to determine what are the minimum exercises you need to do to achieve a full-body workout, that won’t absolutely bore or annoy you to tears.
For example, I abhor bikes and stair climbers. Any workout involving those two pieces of equipment makes me want to turn around and drive home.
But I love anything related to strength training and can tolerate comfortable jogging on a treadmill.
So, my quick, effective workout routine consists of 5 minutes of jogging (at 4-5 mph) on the treadmill at a slight incline. Followed by chest press and triceps, and two leg machines (preferably leg press and leg curl). If I have more time, I would do squats, leg extensions, or some upper body exercise.
Each of these I do at 3 sets of 10, at a slightly challenging amount of weight. The goal is to work out the major muscles of my body and get a bit of cardio in as well.
Getting Fit and Healthy is an Imperfect Journey
For me, getting fit and healthy is more than just a goal, it is a lifestyle. And my steps to achieving it truly is an imperfect journey. Sometimes you have to accept that perfection may not always be possible in your workout journey.
But the most important thing is taking action, because doing something is better than not doing anything at all.
And as a busy career mom primarily responsible for two little ones, choosing the rinky-dink little gym close by my son’s soccer practice is currently my best bet to having a consistent and effective workout plan that I can at least reasonably enjoy.
I’ll keep you posted.
What about you? What’s your workout struggles?
Comment below, let’s chat!