Friday, November 11, 2011

Change It Up Report (Oct): Exercise

  
(picture from fabfitsquad.com)

Last month's Change-It-Up Challenge was all about learning to incorporate exercise into a (very) busy lifestyle. During the summer, I got into the habit of going to the gym just about every single day; it was relatively easy, because I would just go right after work (around 5:30) and get back home before Matt ever even got back from his job. Since I would have just been sitting at home by myself doing nothing, it was easy to get into the habit of doing that every single day.

Then the school year started.

I went from just having to worry about a full-time job to taking a full-course load, working 32 hours at Robertson's, tutoring math twice a week, having a busy church calling, and having another tutoring job on the side that would up my total work hours for the week up to 60 whenever it kicked in. Keep in mind that throughout all of this, I have been a full-time student and a full-time wife. Needless to say, I had a full plate. Although I hated it, exercise started to take a backseat to everything else going on. It had to. 

But when I noticed that I started to put on a pound or two after having worked so hard to lose ten, I knew that something needed to change. I also was starting to get cranky more easily, and I was starting to get winded while doing everyday activities. The real question pressing on my mind was this: "How on earth could I possibly fit one more thing into my schedule? I'm already so stressed out as it is."

I didn't want to have to wake up earlier to get my exercise in, esp. since the fact that I average 7.5 hours of sleep a night is one of the few things keeping me sane. I knew that I couldn't regularly cut out the hour and a half it takes me to go to the gym. So what could I do?

After thinking about it all month, I came up with a couple strategies that really helped me (and incorporated them into my life). They're really simple and mostly do not involve intense exercise, but I figured that getting some exercise was better than getting none. So this is what I came up with:

*I bought a pair of 10-lb. dumbbells from Wal-Mart first thing after deciding that this would be my CIU Challenge for the month. On most days, I do a quick 5-minute toning session (flies, curls, etc.) whenever I can squeeze it in. Sometimes it's during commercial breaks (during the rare moment I have time to catch a show with Matt) or it's right after getting home from work or it's when I need a quick break from studying. The important thing is that I do it more days than not (which allows me to keep the toned arms that I worked so hard for in the summer).
*When I'm home alone and need a break from studying or cleaning, I'll turn on music really loud and do Zumba moves by myself. Once again, I figure even jumping around for 10 minutes is better than not doing anything.
*One thing I've loved is taking Matt's birthday gift out for a spin every chance I get (and every time it's not too cold). I love the feeling of the wind in my hair and of the cold in my lungs--there's just something about exercising outside that's a huge mood boost for me. Even if I just go for 15 or 20 minutes around a couple blocks, I feel a huge difference.
*For family night on the Mondays when I wasn't working, Matt and I would go play a couple quick games of tennis for about 45 minutes while dinner would be cooking in the oven. I find that this is one of the best strategies I came up with--because sometimes I don't want to go to the gym because it means time away from Matt, I love it when we can go and exercise together because it hits two birds with one stone.
*On a couple Fridays, I packed my gym clothes in my car and just headed to the gym straight after work. This couldn't be a daily occurrence, but since Fridays are less busy I can sometimes afford to go then.
*I've invested in a couple short exercise videos (like a short dancing video, a Tae Bo video, and I have a Yoga Meltdown w/ Jillian Michaels video on loan), which allow me to just pop one in and work out for as long or short as I can.

Overall, what I found from my experience was that despite how busy I was, I DID have time to fit in a little bit of physical exercise on most days. Also, it goes without saying that I felt better every time I did. I'm excited for next semester, when I should have a little more time to invest in working out, but for now I'm grateful that I've come up with some strategies that have really worked for me in incorporating exercise into my busy daily life.

What kinds of strategies have worked for you in fitting in exercise?

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