How to Start Working Out as a Parent
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Where can you find time to work out when you've got kids that require a lot of attention? I'll be honest, it requires sacrifices in other places of your life. Below you'll find some common strategies that I've found have helped many of the people that I know to find some time for working out.
What I need to do
Unfortunately, time is not something you generally have a lot of as a parent. Especially when you have young children, they need a lot more attention. As such, the hardest thing you need to do is to find some time to work out. There are so many minutes in the day, and finding the time to get in a quick workout be your first major challenge to overcome. Second, you need to find the motivation to workout. Taking care of kids is a lot of work - you'll often be exhausted by the end of the day. If you don't have a solid motivation for working out, it's going to be very easy to skip doing so. Until you've got yourself in a very good and solid routine, skipping workouts is the number one way to not continue working out in the future.
Turn off other media
At the end of a long day, it's so much easier to just turn on your favorite show, browse social media, or play a game on your phone. The big problem here is that you are going to have less time to actually work out. The decision between sitting around and vegging out on the couch and getting on your feet and moving is a tough one. What you need beyond turning on the media a reason to do so.
Find something truly motivating
A lot of parents start working out for their kids (to show them a more health lifestyle). If that's you, then great. However, there are a multitude of other reasons that you may be motivated to start working out. The most important part here is to find something that's truly motivating. As previously mentioned, you're going to be tired, and find it hard to want to work out. If you've figured out what your goal and purpose are, they will be strong motivators to get you going.
Ignore the Instagram models
However, some motivations are not the best when starting. When beginning, many people become depressed because they don't have the look of those social media models. However, these people make their money by marketing their lifestyle and working out for more than an hour a day. The looks they present can be attainable through normal means (at least in some cases), but only with a lot of time and dedication. And let's be honest: almost none of these people have kids. While it's possible to get a body close to what they're showing off, it also will require an amount of dedication that you will likely not be starting off with. Once you're in a routine that you feel comfortable with and are doing on a consistent basis, then following and striving for those looks will become more motivating. Starting out by watching these people is going to be tough for most people though.
Find something you enjoy doing
I can't stress enough the importance of finding something that you enjoy doing. If you choose a workout that you hate, you're not going to do it. It's the exact opposite of finding your motivation to work out - you'll instead want to not work out because you'll dread it. I typically recommend that people start slowly and try a variety of activities. You may find that you really love to run, but can't stand a treadmill for doing so. On the other hand, you may find that running is not fun at all and you'd rather be on a bike. Or you could find that lifting weights is what you feel the best with. Whatever it is, you need to find something you like as you start out.
When to workout
Everyone has a different time for working out that works for them. I know what works for me, and I know what works for my wife - we spent several years figuring it out though. What's important in the following sections is that you figure out what makes it easiest for you to get your workout in. Beyond your kids, another major complication to this could be what you find that you enjoy doing. The reason for this is that you may need to get to a gym in order to workout, and that's going to usually be tougher for most people. Ultimately, knowing what you're doing and when you can find the best time to do it will go a long ways in getting you in a consistent routine.
This is definitely the best time for me to work out. Early mornings are without distraction as my kids are still asleep and I'm definitely a morning person. My wife on the other person would rather just skip workouts altogether if she had to do them in the morning - she is not a morning person at all. You'll have to figure out if an early morning work out will work for you.
What this really means for me is that when my kids go down to sleep at night, I'm not too long after them in my bed. Staying up late is going to make it impossible (or at least very detrimental) to waking up and working out in the morning. Another thing that may help is to lay your workout clothes out in the morning so that when you wake up in the morning, they're all ready to go.
Late at night
This is when my wife loves to work out. Kids go to bed (as do I) and then she gets into her workout. She doesn't have to worry about the kids getting in the way (or me), and she can do her thing. The biggest downside to working out at night is that you're going to be a bit amped up after you finish, so make sure you start early enough so that you can cool down a bit before bed. It's the other quiet time that you'll find throughout the day when you've got kids at home.
During your lunch break
This is another popular time for working out, especially if you work outside of the home. I used to go with a group of people that I worked with to a local gym during lunch to work out. The gym was located close by (we now have a gym in our building, so would be even better), and it was quick to get in and out. The downside here is that you lose your lunch time (and may have to eat at your desk), but it may be hard to find time otherwise.
Before or after work
Similar to working out during lunch, some people find it's just easier to go to the gym on their way to work, or on their way home. If you are going to a gym that's closer to your work than your home, then this strategy is likely easier. Just make sure that before you sign up for an expensive gym membership, you actually are going to go.
While the above strategies will help to get you started on your workout journey, it's ultimately going to come down to you being motivated enough to make it happen. Each little piece to get you there will help, but if you haven't truly committed yourself, it's going to be too easy to find reasons and excuses to not make it an actual routine and part of your life.
Would love to hear what others have to say on this topic. Leave your comments below with recommendations and strategies.