Time is priceless. Finding a few extra moments in our busy lives can unfortunately be a difficult task. All of our daily responsibilities can leave us with little time to spend on things we enjoy. For many, that often means that exercise falls by the wayside. But it doesn’t have to. We all have time- 24 hours to be exact- every day. It’s just a matter of how you choose to use it.
At one point, I worked six jobs for a total average workweek of around 70-90 hours. I was a plus-size fit model for a maternity clothing company, where I wore a fake baby belly and acted as a living mannequin for designers and pattern-makers to check the fit of the clothes they manufactured. I worked at a bead shop, selling gemstones and teaching people how to make jewelry, while also selling my own on the side. I worked for Benefit Cosmetics as a freelance makeup artist, traveling to different Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and Sephora stores in the Philadelphia region to perform makeovers and host events. I babysat for two different families. I transcribed raw VHS footage into text documents for a cable network home improvement show. And I worked as a server at a corner pub several nights a week. I was always going, going, going. Health and exercise were at the bottom of my list, and if I managed to make it to the gym one day a week, it was an achievement.
To say I was exhausted was an understatement, and being overweight compounded this exponentially. I couldn’t take the daily grind, and some days I would call out of work just because I didn’t have the energy to get up out of bed. On top of all that, I couldn’t make ends meet with my finances because my bills and student loans and credit card debt outweighed my income. I could feel myself falling deeper into a hole that I couldn’t climb out of. I had to cut corners somewhere so I could pay the bills, so I decided to stop taking the bus and walk to work instead.
I started waking up half an hour earlier and walking the two-mile route to my morning job. I was out of breath and tired when I got there, but I got there. Then I’d walk to my job at the bead store. Afterwards, I’d walk to my job at the bar. When I had to babysit, or work at the Macy’s in the city, I’d walk. On any given day, I could get an extra hour or two of exercise in just getting to where I needed to go. I didn’t have a ton of free time to begin with, but I found that cutting back on my sleep to get more exercise in actually made me require less sleep overall. I was much less tired, and within a month, I had lost four pounds.
Soon after, I moved out of Philly and went to England for grad school. Walking became my primary mode of transportation abroad as well. I walked to and from class every day instead of taking the bus, and whenever I traveled throughout Europe, I found that exploring new cities was much more enjoyable on foot. I’d map out the sights I wanted to see and spend a whole day walking from one to another. There were days I walked upwards of 10 to 15 miles while exploring a new country. I found the time to exercise while doing what I was already going to do, and it felt great.
Now, I drive to and from work, so I have to fit exercise in other ways. In addition to parking far away from my office or store entrances and taking walks during lunch, I get in at least an hour at the gym five to six days a week. This may not be possible for everyone, but for me, I make it work, because I want to spend my time that way.
If you can’t find time for traditional exercise, you can find other ways to move, even if it’s only five minutes here and there throughout the day. Short bursts of exercise have been proven to be very effective for weight loss and can fit into your busy workday. When my dad is away on business trips, he sprints up and down several flights of stairs for a few minutes to squeeze in some exercise. When my sister Kathryn travels, she does YouTube workout videos in her hotel room. She also does squats while brushing her teeth most days, and sometimes even does pull-ups on the subway at 3am.
No matter how you find time and put the effort in, it will add up and make a difference. We all have time. We just have to work on choosing how to use it.
For more ideas on how to squeeze in some quick exercise, check out these ideas from Prevention.
Feel free to chime in! Have you ever felt like you didn’t have time for fitness? How do you get exercise into your day, even on days you can’t make it to the gym? Let me know by adding a comment below.