Make Time To Exercise

Yesterday I presented a workshop at the Wellesley Wellness Retreat featuring my free workbook, Form a Fitness Game Plan. You can download the whole workbook here – and it’s been updated since originally posted on January 3rd to include some bonus content!

Below are some of the time management tips from the workbook. If you have strategies that work for you, please share in comments below!

Time is often the biggest challenge when it comes to making fitness a part of our lives. How you make time will be as personal as your goal itself, but here are some strategies that have helped me and others in the past.

Do a Time Audit: How do you spend your time now? For one week, write a brief summary at the end of each day of how you spent your time. Look for inefficiencies or things that can go.

Shift Your Bedtime: Go to bed earlier and get up earlier to exercise. Keep your waking time consistent and use the extra hour on non-workout days to complete other early morning tasks like getting a head start on your e-mails, reading a book, or meal planning. We often are less productive an hour before bed, so this swap can gain us productive time. (And maybe you can watch your favorite evening t.v. show on the treadmill instead!)

Eat Leftovers: Cook once, eat twice. When you’re making soup or lasagna set aside a portion prior to serving to go straight into the freezer. Designate a night of the week to be leftover night so you actually use the extra meals you freeze.

Partner Up: If you’re a parent, find a friend who will reciprocate playdates or school drop-offs to give you both extra time.

Reclaim Your Lunch Break: If you can work out on your lunch break and then eat at your desk, that’ll add a lot of potential workout time to your week. No shower? Maybe you can go for a walk and consider it active recovery, or use your lunch break to do a task you might save for after work or the weekend.

Know How You Procrastinate: How much time do you spend surfing the web or checking social media? See if you can create more time in your schedule just by focusing on the task at hand, whether you’re at work or folding laundry.

Use Your Commute: I used to run next to the kids while they biked to school, or push them to preschool in the jogging stroller. Some people bike to work. It may not be possible, but it’s wonderfully efficient if it is.

Do Two Things at Once: Get a headset so you can make phone calls while you de-clutter or fold laundry. Go to yoga class with your best friend instead of meeting for coffee and talk on the way there.

Schedule Your Workouts: Sit down in front of your calendar on Sunday and schedule your workouts for the week. Add them to the calendar.

Outsource Something: Childcare, grocery delivery services, laundry, lawn-care, housecleaning, errands… you name it, people have outsourced it. Bonus if you can outsource it to a coworker or to someone in your household for free. (Sorry kids.)

Be Efficient: Make lists and meal plan so you can grocery shop less frequently. Run your errands all together to reduce travel time.

What if it were tomorrow?

Here’s one way I troubleshoot my ideas for making time to exercise: I ask “What if it were tomorrow?”

It’s easy to decide that you’ll get up at 5 a.m. to run in the future, but what if it were tomorrow? Would you really get up? When would you have to go to bed tonight?

Are your challenges for doing it tomorrow the exception or the rule? If most days look like tomorrow, figuring out what you’d need to do to schedule this workout tomorrow will help you make a successful long-term plan.

What if you HAD to?

What if you HAD to get this workout in tomorrow? Imagine that it’s non-negotiable, at the level of a mandated court appearance. What would you do to get it done?

I’m not suggesting you initiate emergency procedures, but picturing it as a non-negotiable and then problem solving may lead you to some extra solutions. Maybe you don’t have to attend that meeting or be the one who walks your kids to school every day.

How do you make time?

Does your health insurance offer a fitness reimbursement?

Last night I filled out the form for our fitness reimbursement from our insurance company. We can get up to $150 back per family per calendar year. That’s not insubstantial!

It’s worth seeing if your health insurance or employer offers a similar reimbursement; many do as a commitment to preventative health care. Exercise decreases our risk of costing them money, so incentivizing it may benefit them in the long run.

Not a member of a club? Maybe knowing you can get reimbursed will help you add a membership to your budget. As much as I love exercising outdoors, being in New England makes it hard (and potentially slippery and unsafe) this time of year.

January can be a great time to join because many clubs offer New Year’s incentives like $0 initiations and bargain monthly agreements. Just be careful to read the fine print; you’ll want to know if you’re making a monthly or annual commitment, how much notice you need to cancel your membership, whether you can freeze it for travel or medical reasons (and how much notice and documentation you’ll need), and what’s included. Is childcare extra? Do you need to pay an additional access fee for that outdoor pool in the summer?

Speaking of membership fees, another way to add to your health budget is to audit your other monthly subscriptions. No longer watching House of Cards? Maybe it’s time to cancel Netflix. Are you still paying access fees for Sittercity even though you connected with a babysitter months ago? What about that quarterly magazine that still shows up because of auto-renew but never gets read?

Auto-renewing subscriptions are insidious and they add up. An audit of my own subscriptions revealed a few services that I didn’t even remember I had.

Whether it’s picmonkey,, or three digital news outlets when you only read one, combing through your credit card statements to find services you no longer find valuable could yield some extra cash to put into savings or invest in your health.

Download my free e-book: Form a Fitness Game Plan

Download the PDF e-book

Download the Printable Booklet Version

Have a love/hate relationship with your New Year’s Resolutions?

I can help!

Download my free e-book designed to help you make great fitness goals for 2018 and meet them. I’ve taken the best advice from this blog and turning it into a downloadable workbook that will help you apply it to your own life.

In Form a Fitness Game Plan I walk you through forming a thoughtful goal, making time for fitness, and coming up with a plan for success.

The included worksheets will help you to create your own custom plan for fitness success in 2018.

This e-book is designed to help anyone, whether you’re hoping to get moving consistently for the first time or are interested in tackling a new race distance.

Informed by research in motivation and habit formation and inspired by my own experiences, this workbook will help you take the great advice out there and turn it into an actionable personalized strategy for success!

I hope you’ll enjoy using it as much as I’ve enjoyed creating it.

Like what you see? Come to my workshop on the same topic at the Wellesley Wellness Retreat on Saturday, January 28th! In my 35-minute afternoon workshop, I’ll walk you through this workbook, answer questions, and prove bonus tips influenced by the psychology of motivation and habit formation. 


Come to My Workshop at the Wellesley Wellness Retreat!

Hi Boston area readers and friends!

I hope the end of 2017 finds you reflective and excited for a fresh new year.

For a great beginning, I hope you’ll join me in January at the 3rd annual Wellesley Wellness Retreat!

Learn More and Register for the Wellesley Wellness Retreat

Run by three local women, it’s a day of yoga, guidance on building a self-care practice, and informative afternoon workshops on topics like sleep, simplifying family time, sexual health, and the connection between food and mood.

Oh, and fitness!

Brought to you by yours truly in a 35-minute workshop/presentation.

There will even be a delicious, plant-based lunch catered from CocoBeet in Wellesley!

Not local but wish you could join me?

No worries! I’ll have the workbook we’ll be using available for download after the event and as always I’ll be exploring these topics on my blog.

I look forward to sharing what I’ve discovered in my own fitness journey.

Highlights include:

  • Tips for forming a “just right” goal
  • How self-compassion makes us braver and stronger
  • Setting our environment up for success
  • Being true to ourselves and not expecting other people’s fitness goals or strategies to work for us

It’s been a great joy to take my love of curriculum development and channel it into preparing for this 35-minute workshop.

I hope you can join me!

My 2018 New Year’s Resolution – And How To Form Your Own

Throwback! Their expressions are SO THEM. And yes, that’s cider.

With my 2017 New Year’s Resolution completed, it was only logical to think about 2018. What’s next?

Rather than making you anxiously wait with bated breath for over two weeks (as if the holidays aren’t stressful enough), I’m going to go ahead and reveal my 2018 New Year’s Resolution now.

You’re welcome!

(Ok, fine, the early reveal is for me. Delayed gratification isn’t my forte.)

First, the goal vetting process:

Questions to Ask Yourself When Forming Your New Year’s Resolution:

  • What do I want from this goal?
  • How will this goal help me live a better life and is this a good way to achieve that end result?
  • Who will I become by completing this goal? Does that excite me?
  • Is this goal a good balance of challenging yet doable?
  • How much time would it take per week to achieve this goal?
  • Do I have enough wiggle room for setbacks and distractions, or will one bout of bronchitis or minor injury completely derail me?
  • What’s the opportunity cost of this goal?
  • Will I have to give up other things I enjoy in order to focus on completing it, and if so, is it worth it?

My 2018 New Year’s Resolution:

To run 500 miles in the coming year.

Let’s walk it through my vetting process.

What do I want from this goal? To get back into running, and to have greater consistency in my workouts.

How will this goal help me live a better life and is this a good way to achieve that end result? Running will get me outside more, boost my mood, and is a time-efficient way to work out without always taking time to drive over to the Equinox.

Who will I become by completing this goal? Does that excite me? I will become a stronger and more consistent runner, and get faster by running more consistently. That does excite me! I miss being a runner. I ran fewer than 50 miles this year, and while surviving Tabata was awesome, I miss feeling like I could walk out the door and run five miles.

Is this goal the “right” balance of challenging yet doable? Yes… it’s going to be a push to average 10 miles a week for an entire year, but I’ve averaged 20-30 miles a week during half marathon training seasons in my past, so it feels doable. It’s averaging those miles, so I can play around with working up to it, earning weeks off, etc. This idea initially came from Greg, who runs 1000 miles a year and wondered if I wanted to do it also. That wasn’t the right balance – it would have been too challenging for me to go from running barely at all in 2017 to averaging 20 miles per week for an entire year. There was no way. But being half the runner Greg is? Yeah, maybe I could swing that!

How much time would it take per week to achieve this goal? Probably I’ll end up running between 10 and 11-minute miles, so if I average 10:30s this goal will take about 1 hour and 45 minutes of running a week. So let’s guess about 2 hours a week. That seems doable, but not effortless. I feel good about this level of commitment.

Do I have enough wiggle room for setbacks and distractions, or will one bout of bronchitis or minor injury completely derail me? I got this. I should get up to 25 miles per week for at least 8 weeks during half marathon training for May, so that’ll buy me about 10 weeks off if I absolutely needed it. And after going through plantar fasciitis last Spring and taking several months off from my Equinox class goal, I know how valuable that wiggle room can be.

What’s the opportunity cost of this goal? Will I have to give up other things I enjoy in order to focus on completing it, and if so, is it worth it? Well, there will be some busy weeks when all I do is run for exercise if I prioritize this goal. It will undoubtedly mean fewer yoga classes and less time cycling or swimming some weeks because I’ve prioritized getting back into running consistently. But averaging 10 miles a week will still leave room for other activities, especially if I run heavily going into the spring for the Maine Coast Half Marathon. I could run 3 days a week and still have time for a yoga class, bike ride, or both. I could go to the gym and run 3 miles and then swim for 20 minutes. It’ll heavily influence my workout schedule, but doesn’t prevent me from incorporating other things I love into my week.

This New Year’s Resolution seems like a good fit for me.

As you think about your next goal, you might also want to ask yourself how it’ll impact your personal life. I already work out more than 2 hours a week, I’m just shifting the nature of my workouts. Will you need to create additional time in your schedule to accomplish your goal? How will it impact your family and work life? What can you do to create the additional time you need to meet your goal? (Leftovers are your friend.)

Also consider your fitness history. Will you enjoy the process? Are you giving yourself the motivation to make time for something you love, or trying to force yourself to do something you don’t enjoy? There are a lot of ways to be healthy and live an active life. Your New Year’s Resolution should ideally be something that makes you excited to get started.

What do you have planned for 2018? 

Any questions I missed that you find helpful when vetting your goals?

Happy planning!