“I’d love to lose weight…but I just have NO TIME!”

Sound familiar?

I was sitting with a friend talking about my journey, and this classic line came up. It comes up a lot. Besides the questions about how many carbs I eat a day, this is by far the number one question I’m asked. Everyone, including me, struggles with finding time to work out.

I’ll admit before last year this was my number one excuse as well. I can remember watching friends post running group Facebook posts, or “Off to the gym” posts, while I was sitting in my mini-van waiting to pick up my child from one activity to take another one to the other. I was in awe. I kept telling myself that I simply had no time to work out. And I kept wondering? How on earth do they have the time?

I’ll let you in on a secret. They don’t have the time. They are just as busy as you, if not busier. Their secret is that they are MAKING the time in their day, restructuring their lives and prioritizing things.

I’m a partner in a very busy law firm and a civil litigator who has a to-do list that is insane. My daughter dances 5 days a week, my sons have sport practices several times a week. My husband doesn’t get off until 6:00 p.m. I cook, clean, and cart around my kids.  And I work out. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Trust me I’m as shocked by this as you.

So how am I seemingly adding hours to my already packed day? Well, I had to a major shift in my life.  A shift away from Mommy Mandi and toward…well just Mandi.

When I started this journey, I realized that working out was as crucial, if not more crucial than changing my diet.  But I like so many others literally had no time.  There was no way I could set aside time to work out everyday. Then, I sat down and took a hard look at my schedule. I started questioning my theory:  Was I really too busy to work out?

And thus began the giant shift in my life. The truth is we all have time in our day to do things, it’s just how we prioritize stuff. And prior to July of last year, my priority was 101 percent my children. I simply was a Mom and did everything for them. I took them to all their practices, and often sat there and watched their practices. I took everything upon myself for the care of them in the evening. I never relied on my husband.  I never asked anyone for help. I had to do it, because somehow I felt if I wasn’t doing these things, I was going to fail as a Mom.

I did nothing for myself, except maybe watch TV before going to bed. But when I started taking a hard look at my schedule I realized that if I just relied on others I could make some Me time. I had to start putting MYSELF first. And if you are a Mom you know how absolutely hard this is, because it somehow feels like you love your kids less if you love yourself more.

I started with a piece of scratch paper and honestly outlined my day.

7:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.                Get kids up and off to school/Get ready for work.

8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.               Work

Okay, looking at that – it was clear that I couldn’t work out in the morning. I’m not a morning person so getting up at 6:00 a.m. to work out before people wake up wasn’t going to work. These things were pretty set in stone. No getting around that.

But, it was when I got to my evening that I started to take a hard look.

(1) Making dinner

(2) Carting the kids around.

(3) Helping kids with homework

(4) Cleaning up

As I wrote each of these down…I started to think to myself, do I really need to be doing some of this stuff? My husband is home after 6:00 p.m. and although before July I was always the main chauffeur I realized that that was not because he wouldn’t do it…I just never really asked him to do it. But he could easily cart the kids around and do their homework with them. It didn’t need to be me.

So I made the switch and made the evenings my workout time. I plan out my meals carefully so that I get dinner on the table by 6:00 p.m. and then after we eat I go and work out for about 1 ½ hours each night.

At first, I felt incredibly guilty doing this. I kept thinking I was somehow a bad Mom, because my kids kept asking me why I wasn’t dropping them off at dance or baseball. I literally felt like I was cheating on my kids each time I walked into the Y.

But a strange shift started to happen in my family after I put myself first. I became happier, less stressed, less anxious, and my family started to notice. So less time with them in the evening meant that I was actually happier to see them when I got home from working out.

Then my kids started to notice what I was doing and wanted to start coming along with me to the Y during my workouts. So, if they do not have activities you will find my kids at the Y with me. My sons shoot baskets while I work out. My daughter will come and work out with me. They watch so much less tv, and have no much less screen time on devices since I made this switch.

Now, I’d love to tell you that I magically get to have my evenings to myself everyday to work out. But, that’s not reality. There are nights where I simply have to do stuff with the kids. There are certainly the nights I don’t get the full workout in, or the nights that I stumble in to the Y at 9:00 p.m. and I literally close it down and am the last person running out as they are locking up. But I still go.  I still make it a priority.

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Yep, you will my van the sole vehicle at the Y many many times!

Weekends are a little tougher for me to make work, because my kids are really busy on the weekends. So I try to work out in the mornings before we start our day, or when the weather is nice, walk outside at night. I even walk around the gyms and fields at their baseball and basketball games. I have to be more creative on the weekends, and yes I miss a day or two sometimes. It is just life.

Committing an hour and half to myself everyday is an imperfect struggle, but its one that is actually changing my life. It is making me happier and healthier. I never complain anymore that I don’t have any time to myself, because my hour with Bruno Mars blasting in my ears on my treadmill is simply one of the greatest parts of my day.

So if you are struggling with the “I don’t have any time”, I understand. Trust me I do. It is hard. It takes sacrifice, but what I want you to see is that it is worth it.

Start by looking at things differently. Stop saying “I don’t have the time” and change it to “How can I make the time?” Start looking at your day and finding holes where you can fit in some time. Maybe you are a morning person and can get a quick walk in before the sun rises. Maybe you can walk on your lunch break. Maybe you are like me and can rely on some help in the evenings and get your workout in then. But I promise you, if you make working out a priority – you will be so happy you did.

R.C.

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