How To Find Time To Work Out Even When You're Super Busy

By Melody Rose··  7 min read
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So. You set some audacious fitness goals on New Year’s Eve, and now we’re wrapping up the first chapter of our brand new 365 page book, and you’re realizing, “Wait a minute! My life is still as busy as ever! How am I going to meet these goals? I have no time!”

We get it, and you’re not alone. Whether you're working full-time in corporate (and crunching those after-hour deadlines), balancing being a student and part-time employee, raising children while creating a beautiful home for your family, or quite possibly doing it all, there seem to be fewer and fewer hours in the day somehow.

And let’s be honest, the winter season is drastically unmotivating. With the sun setting early and rising late, not to mention the colder weather, it’s all too easy to want to do absolutely nothing…nevermind an intense workout!

But, maybe…just maybe…we’re overcomplicating it. There are still so many ways (some simple and some silly) to meet your fitness goals, stay motivated, and keep up with all your other obligations. 

For about seven years, I worked all day, every day (sounds miserable, but I actually really enjoyed it!). That’s right, no nights or weekends off (just that glorious Monday afternoon when I had a gap between shifts). I was out the door by 7:30 am and wouldn’t get home until after 10 pm.  I was working a consistent 4+ jobs and navigating ways to keep up with my own health routines, so trust me when I say I get what it’s like to have very little time.

During those years, I was teaching kindergarten, instructing women’s fitness classes (despite the myth, this doesn’t automatically make us super fit!), waitressing, working as a barista, and tutoring. The fitness perk? Being active and on my feet all day fell in my favor! In fact, now that I’ve changed careers and have a desk job, I’ve noticed how differently my body responds to sitting all day in comparison. And while I thought having a predictable and more practical schedule was going to make committing to a consistent workout plan easier, it still takes diligence and discipline. The day still gets busy, and it’s a choice I have to make (and have to remind myself to make). 

The truth is, there is no perfect time/career/schedule. Everyone assumes celebrities get to be in great shape because they have personal trainers, private chefs, nannies, etc. And while it’s true they may have more resources, the one thing money will never buy is discipline and commitment. We all have fair access to that essential, innate tool. 

With that in mind, let’s get into how to make our discipline and commitment count when we don’t have much free time to exercise.

Make Every Second Count

Time is tight, so who says we have to block off an entire slot on our calendars to dedicate to a full, consecutive 40-minute workout? While it may be ideal, it’s not always feasible. So let’s burn the rule book and break that full workout up over the course of the day. How? By making every single second count. 

We all know our basic exercises, right? You’ve got squats, lunges, wall push-ups, wall sits, calf raises, standing oblique crunches…the list goes on. And the best part? These all require zero equipment and can be done just about anywhere. Challenge yourself to get in the habit of doing one of these exercises during any glimpse of idle time. For example, do wall sits while you’re waiting for your morning coffee to brew, calf raises while getting dressed, lunges when waiting for dinner to cook, squats while standing with your child at the bus stop, and those golden moments when you get to sneak away to the bathroom, do a few jumping jacks. 

Challenge yourself to do a basic exercise during any glimpse of idle time. 

If you’re home with your kids, get active with them. Go outside and have races up and down the driveway, or make up games where you have to run and move in some way. This is a win-win because it helps your young ones release energy and moves you closer to your fitness goals. At the office? Take a walk on your lunch break. If you have a friend at work, invite them to join you to make it fun and keep each other accountable. Work from home? Walk to your local coffee shop in the mornings instead of driving. Not only will you support small businesses and get out of the house, but you’ll fit in a little extra “you time” your body will thank you for. 

You start doing these seemingly insignificant things, and you’ll surprise yourself with how significantly they add up over time!

Use Digital Resources

We’re in the digital age, which has its convenient perks. I love a good go-to fitness app! Especially ones that plan my week out for me, taking the stress out of having to plan ahead or schedule in advance. This also saves the commute time it typically takes to get to a gym, which can easily be 40 minutes in total. Your workout medium is definitely a preference, but it’s good to know you have options! 

I was actually a fitness instructor for years and that was always on the top of the list for the women I worked with. I can’t tell you how many times I heard “I just couldn’t get to class.” Life happens – your kids need something, a meeting runs late, or your friends planned a dinner you forgot about. There are many unexpected scenarios that come up and keep us from making the trip. However, when you have at-home workouts at your fingertips, it’s much easier to fit in that workout.

There are numerous free workouts on YouTube. Just bookmark your favorites!

There are numerous free workouts on YouTube if you’re looking for resources that are cost-effective. Just type in the search bar what kind of workout you’re looking for and bookmark your favorite ones for convenience throughout the week. If you’re interested in apps to purchase, a couple of my favorites (which also have incredible trainers who promote healthy fitness mentalities for women) are Sweat and Tone It Up, both of which cost no more than $20 monthly. 

While both programs schedule your week for you, I love that Sweat has a range of result-oriented strength programs for minimal equipment. And what I love about Tone It Up is the variety of workouts as well as the recipes and meditations. You can find an immense selection of clean, healthy meals and snacks to spice up your time in the kitchen – bonus!

Become a Member of the 5AM Club 

You’ve heard the term (and perhaps have dreaded it). But the best way to ensure you definitely get a workout in is to utilize that beautiful part of the day when it feels like the rest of the world is still sleeping – the morning. 

Get up 20 minutes earlier and sweat it out, you’ll be so happy you did! If you’re a night owl, the late evening works too. Stay up an additional 20 minutes to dedicate to your fitness routine. You know, those hours when your family is asleep and your co-workers have powered down…ahh, bliss.

Get up 20 minutes earlier or stay up 20 minutes later to exercise.

I’m personally an early bird, but I like working out at night. Through experience though, I’ve discovered nights are insanely difficult to stick to. When you reach the end of a busy day, the last thing you feel like doing is a high-intensity activity and sometimes you get caught up with other unexpected tasks. So my advice is to make that morning workout happen! It’ll get easier the more you commit to making it a habit. You’ll feel much more energized knowing you’ve accomplished so much before your day has even started, plus you won’t be stressing about fitting it in later. 

Closing Thoughts

Life is life. The beautiful part about that is we get to design it. By making our health a priority, we allow ourselves to show up fully for our careers, our kids, our husbands, friends, and family. It really does start with the decisions we make daily. So start small, integrate the tips above, and give yourself the permission to feel amazing!

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