My relationship with my body has always been a journey. Probably 90% of the time, it has been a severely challenging struggle. But after 25 years of experimenting with food, exercise, and every diet known to man, I really understand myself so much better.
I obviously feel better when I eat real foods, don’t stuff myself and limit my alcohol. But those things can slide a little in either direction without immediately impacting how I feel.
But when I don’t exercise, I am a raging bitch.
Exercise is Addicting
I remember being in eighth grade, doing the Cindy Crawford workout VHS tape every night after school. At school, I would literally go over the exercises in my mind. I would get myself psyched up and excited to work out when I got home. I remember thinking, “This is so weird how I keep thinking about exercising all day.”
Of course, not every day was like that, and there are many days during which I’m even more motivated to sit on my ass.
But I consistently feel better when I don’t.
For years, I was a 3-mile-a-day jogger. I didn’t care about races, I didn’t care about my pace. I just jogged. Even after I had my first son, when he would wake up at 4:30am and wouldn’t go back to sleep, I’d bundle us up, put him the stroller, and go out for a job.
How Can Busy Moms Find Time to Exercise?
But after having my second son, I stopped working out. There just seemed to be so many other things to do and not enough time in the day. I couldn’t keep up with half of it. I couldn’t even catch a shower most days, so what made me think I could find time to work out? I always felt like if I started working out, something else would slide.
And yes, there is a balancing act to finding enough time to get the stuff done that you really need to accomplish and taking time to reconnect with yourself. There is definitely some give and take.
But that give and take doesn’t always have to be your responsibility.
How Sitting On Your Ass Takes a Toll On Your Body
About a year and a half after I had started my own business—where I was working 8-12 hours a day, 6 days a week—I was at my heaviest weight. My ankles ached when I woke up in the middle of the night and in the mornings. I was tweaking my back out every month to the point where I couldn’t turn my neck. I couldn’t pick up my kids. I needed to exercise.
The REAL Reason You Don’t Have Time to Exercise
For so long, I had given myself so many excuses:
- My kids wake up at 5am, so I can’t exercise in the morning, which is the ideal time for me. Therefore, I don’t have time to exercise.
- I can’t afford a gym, so therefore I can’t exercise.
- I have to think about my business 24/7, which means that I don’t have time to exercise.
- I can’t work out after the kids go to sleep, because that’s when I catch up on emails and TV, so I just can’t exercise.
- I have to take care of dinner and bedtime to make sure that my kids are healthy human beings, so therefore I can’t exercise during that time.
There will always be an excuse to NOT exercise. I know you know this.
I felt like I had to trade something important for exercise. Like, I had to give up my kids’ health or ability to eat. Or I had to give up work. Or I had to give up my alone time.
The Truth Is, You Don’t Have to Give Up What You Think You Do
I was telling myself that I was 100% in charge of everything else in my life. Including work or taking care of my children. But the truth is I had help.
I have a husband.
He had never made dinner for the kids that didn’t involve a box of mac n cheese, so in my mind, that meant that he couldn’t. I actually told myself that he must be incapable of making dinner for the kids, so I couldn’t work out at what would be the most opportune time for me: after work.
You know what, though? I never even asked him.
I told myself that I didn’t ask him because I didn’t want to add any stress to his life. I didn’t want to make him feel stressed or put out. Us moms, always thinking about everyone else, right?
But the real, honest truth was I didn’t ask him because I was giving myself an out. I was giving myself a reason to uphold my excuses as reality: I literally do not have the time to exercise.
When I finally hit rock bottom with my weight, energy and body image, I got to the point where my excuses weren’t even cutting it anymore. Something had to give. So I just told my husband: I’m joining a gym, and you’ll have to bring the kids home from work and do dinner.
Do you want to know what his response was?
No telling me that this would put undue stress on him.
No worrying about what he would feed the kids.
He is a perfectly capable adult, and he is a great father. He was totally cool with it. It was a nonissue.
I realize that not everyone has a partner in crime to help with the parenting, but there are other options. I ended up joining a gym that had childcare. You can swap childcare with a friend in order to exercise. You can exercise after the kids go to bed. Nothing is impossible; you just have to shift your mindset.
And you know what? Starting a new habit is always going to be uncomfortable no matter what you do.
So I went from never working out to going whole hog. I joined a gym. It did have childcare, so I could bring my children, but the most convenient time to exercise was after work, when my husband could take the children home.
So my husband did dinner. Working out in the evenings made me want to work out to start out my weekends, so I also went to spin class at 8am every Saturday while my husband stayed with the kids. Sometimes I stayed and lifted weights afterwards, because OMG it felt amazing to be around humans every Saturday morning instead of irritating cartoons and even more irritating monkeys (my kids).
I was doing something for myself, and it felt luxurious.
I Did Have to Give Something Up for Exercise
Like everything else in life, exercising was a balancing act. But I wasn’t giving up the thing that I told myself I’d have to give up in order to do it. I wasn’t giving up my alone time. I wasn’t adding stress to my husband’s life.
What I did have to shift in my mindset was the value I placed on what my kids ate for dinner. So you know how I said my husband could really work his way around a box of mac n cheese? That was true. He extended his repertoire to fish tacos (fish sticks, tortillas and salsa), chicken nuggets and fries, and spaghetti.
And you know what? I wasn’t there to see it. I was losing weight, gaining confidence, improving my body image, and getting some time to myself. So I stopped giving a fuck.
And you know what else? My husband started giving a fuck because he was actually involved. That’s a story for a whole other time. But his repertoire expanded to chicken Caesar salads, chicken and rice, steak and veggies…
None of what I didn’t want to happen actually happened.
What did happen was that my life really started to turn around. I had energy, I had time to myself, I felt sexy again, I started having sex with my husband again, my mind felt clear, and I was less overwhelmed. And I didn’t have to deal with my crazy kids at dinner time.
The REAL reason you don’t have time to exercise is because you’re telling yourself that you don’t. That’s it. The time is there. Rework it. Rethink it. Shift your mindset about when to exercise, how to exercise, what exercise means. You don’t have to join a gym—maybe exercise means doing a Yoga in Bed YouTube video (they exist, and they are fabulous). Maybe you do squats in the shower.
But don’t keep telling yourself that you don’t have time. That is such a silly excuse.
And…That Brings Me to the Conclusion:
When you tell yourself that, you’re letting outside circumstances dictate your life. And when you let that happen, you will never, ever live.
If you’re not honest with yourself, you are never going to feel like that amazing, motivated, fit, energetic person that you know is inside of you—that were before you had kids.
You really can change this. And if it feels uncomfortable, that’s because it’s actually making a difference in your life. As soon as you get past the discomfort, you’ll find a whole new way of living. Which is a whole other blog post for a whole other time.
Do This For Yourself
Want to take a teeny, tiny, but totally doable baby step toward getting some time for yourself and shifting your mindset? Anyone can do this, even if you have two crying babies on your breast and a gaggle of toddlers taking over your life.
Sign up for the Find More Time in 7 Days Challenge (IT’S FREE!) and get that slight glimpse of the possibility of finally getting that freedom and time that you need.
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Do you want to walk numbly through the rest of your life, changing diapers, feeding faces, and yelling at your kids?
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