fitting in some fitness when it’s the last thing on your to-do list

Working out.

In theory it sounds so easy: I get to feel and look better, I sleep easier, I have more energy, and I gain mental clarity. And for those of you that aren’t good with straightforward talk: those are good things. No one really has to convince me that exercising is the bee’s knees.

But trying to convince my schedule, my children, my work commitments, and my tired, tired soul that I should go to the gym after school just isn’t happening. At this point, it feels almost foreign that I have spent the last two years going to the gym two to three times a week after work. Who was I? Where did I get that drive? And can someone bring me some more?

Now that’s not to say I’m not getting in exercise. I’m just not doing it in my normal after-school-gym-session way. I’m sneaking it in after dinner, on the weekends, and while my kids are outside playing. Because right now that’s all I’ve got. So here are some things I’m doing right now in this season of super-busy schedules and not a lot of time.

how to get a workout in

After dinner bike rides or walks

If I just *need* to sweat and raise my heart rate, I’ll load up one of the girls in the bike carrier and we’ll go around town for a half hour or so. With both Ellie and Harper plus the carrier, I’m pulling about 100 extra pounds and while that is QUITE the workout, it’s almost too hard at this point. So they take turns getting some one-on-one time with Mommy as I burn some calories. Ellie is good at entertaining herself by loading up the carrier with books and toys, but Harper just TALKS THE WHOLE TIME so I come back mentally and physically exhausted if she’s my partner. Still worth it, though. (If I do take both of them, I’ve shared before how I keep them entertained.)

Weekend runs

I get up on Saturday and Sunday mornings to run. I promised myself when I was done with all the half-marathons in the spring that I would always be in good enough shape to run a 5K at the drop of a hat. So I push through about 2.5 miles at least twice a week. That’s the minimum I’m doing, but sometimes it still doesn’t feel like enough.

how to fit in a workout

YouTube exercise videos

We survive solely on Hulu, Netflix, and good ol’ rabbit ears for all our television needs, but we’re got a few BluRay players that stream YouTube videos and there are approximately twelve million workouts to choose from. I do a different one every time and never regret it. Truthfully, there is a large part of me that still thinks I can’t get a good workout at home in my basement in front of the television and that I should be wearing my leg warmers and “singing the body electric” (if you get that reference, I will send you $5). But then every single time I get my butt kicked and I’m sore the next day. Sorry for being so judgmental, workout videos.

Hand weights and resistance band at home

I bought inexpensive two pound weights and a resistance band so that I could tone and sculpt. And then they sat in my closet for over a year because I am full of good intentions and less full of follow through. BUT I have started dusting them off and randomly using them when I need to move or expend some energy. There’s really no excuse not to use them since they’re so close and easy. So easy in fact, I feel ashamed if I avoid them which is nice because shame is a huge motivator for me. Cool.

Making it a family affair

I don’t know why, but my girls love to play in the empty hospital lot down the street from our house. So I can walk them down there while they ride their bikes and then run sprints, jog laps, or do some lunges while they chase each other around. It seems so simple but it works. Or we play tag and I’m always it, just chasing them around until their “shoes are tired” (Harper’s words) and we head home. This also works when we adventure a little farther to the middle school track. I can run laps (ugh) while they play in the infield or on the bleachers. It doesn’t sound fun to me, but it’s entertaining for a three and five year old.

In January I’ll start half-marathon training again. I’m going to do the trifecta I did this year: Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, the Geist Half, and the Indianapolis Women’s Half. Also, I’ve committed to running the Indianapolis Monumental Half-Marathon next November (I’m doing the 5K this year and the girls are doing the kiddie run!) so I’ve got at least four half-marathons on the schedule for 2015. I know I’ll get back into more running and training eventually, but it’s also nice to slow down when I can (or when the schedule demands) and find some other ways to stay fit.

What outside-the-gym workouts do you like to do?




  1. Heather says

    I feel like you are calling me out to join you in these 1/2 marathons, even though we don’t run side by side. Guess I better get in gear again! You did forget the drumstick dash on your list though. After all that’s where we starated right! How are those new shoes working out for you? Go GET SOME…it’s time!!!

  2. says

    Girl. I needed this. I need to quit making excuses and get serious! It’s SO hard for me when Kenley wants to snuggle, but i know it’s worth it. We have a basement now, so if I really need to get moving, I do a few rounds of stairs. And piyo even though it kills me.

    • mary says

      Have you tried getting up before the kids? That’s my next experiment. I did it this summer when it meant getting up at 7:00 (which wasn’t a big deal)…but now with school I’m going to try getting up REALLY early. Ugh.

  3. Glenda says

    Get that $5 ready! I love Margaret Richards and still have some old Body Electric tapes. Love your writing and particularly the “my husband is not my soulmate” post. You verbalized what I have always thought. Thanks for that. For what it’s worth, I’m 65 which might explain the Body Electric knowledge!

    • mary says

      GLENDA! I can’t believe you got that reference! You’re awesome. I used to do with with my mom when I was little, that song will be forever burned in my memory.

      Your $5 is in the mail…

  4. Leah Anderson says

    I wake up at 6 every morning and head out to run 3 – 5 miles before work. I feel great when I stick to this schedule even though it can be quite hard to get up. I used to work out at night but I can’t find the energy anymore to run after the kids are in bed.

    • mary says

      I wish I could do this. I leave the house between 6:30-6:45 so I’d have to be on the road by 5:00 and I just don’t think I have that kind of motivation. Although, I’m going to try and get to the gym in the morning for 5:30 boot camp. I’ve never done it before but it would be great if I could get a workout in before work.

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