Healthy, Happy and Motivated: Let’s Get Started!
How many times have you hit the snooze button to skip your morning workout? How often does something come up during your work day that causes you to miss your evening workout? Maybe you once were an avid gym-goer but you are struggling to find the motivation to get back into it. Or maybe you haven’t been able to stick to an exercise program for longer than it takes to Google search “how to get fit fast.”
Whatever hurdles you’ve faced, the barriers to exercise are real. Lack of time, lack of energy, lack of motivation, lack of support, lack of enjoyment and many many more.
As we begin a new year, now is the time to set yourself up for success, both personally and professionally. In this FitBliss 3-part blog series, we will discuss how to find time and motivation to stay active while you juggle work, personal, family and social commitments.
But first, where does motivation come from?
There are two types of motivation – intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is doing something because you enjoy it or you are interested in it. Think of something you like doing, whether it’s reading, cooking, or catching up with friends. You probably don’t have to think twice about doing these things because you genuinely love the feeling you get from doing them. Extrinsic motivation is doing something for an external reward. If you join the company steps challenge solely to win that Amazon gift card, you are extrinsically motivated. And hey, there is nothing wrong with that!
Research has shown that intrinsic motivation is favorable for long term adherence to an activity. However, intrinsic vs extrinsic is not a story of good vs evil. In fact, external rewards can be used as motivation to try new activities that wouldn’t have otherwise caught your attention. Over time, as these new skills are mastered, the activity becomes enjoyable, personally rewarding or even exciting, and there is a shift towards intrinsic motivation to engage in the activity. Keep reading to find out why intrinsic motivation is so important.
FitTip: Always ask yourself “why” you do what you do. External rewards will eventually fall away so make sure your “why” has more internal motivators because they will be what keep you engaged in the long run (literally!).
Whether you are a new parent, a single parent, or a parent of teenagers, you’ve probably come to terms with having less time for yourself. If you’re up all night with a sleepless baby and off to work in the morning, you hardly have enough energy to turn on your computer, let alone the energy to exercise. If you’re up at 6am fixing breakfast, packing lunches, driving your kids to school, barely making it to work on time, picking the kids up from soccer practice and making dinner (phew!), when is there time in the day for a workout? In this second FitBliss blog series on exercise motivation, we will look at how to juggle family commitments with staying active.
As a busy mom or dad, time, motivation and family commitments are probably standing between you and getting the recommended amount of physical activity. The good news is you don’t have to exercise for 60 minutes at a time to reap the benefits of regular exercise. From reducing stress and risk for chronic disease, to improving mood, energy levels, and sleep quality, it’s extremely important for parents to be active. It’s also important to set a good example for your children. If they see you exercising and valuing your health, they will be much more likely to do the same. Even though you might not have as much time as you used to, doing something is better than nothing so here are a few tips on how to make exercise an essential part of you and your family’s life.
Have a plan
Family vacations and doctor's appointments take prime position on the calendar, so why not add your plan for physical activity? For the upcoming month, write down all of your family and work commitments on the calendar. Then, identify your free weekends and schedule specific activities as a family or on your own when the kids have plans. Next, look week-by-week and pick 2 or 3 days that you can schedule an early morning yoga class, a lunchtime run or an evening HIIT session. If you build physical activity into your schedule, it will be easier to stick to it. Things will come up that throw off your plan but don’t beat yourself up if you miss a workout. Try your best to reschedule or just turn your attention to the next scheduled activity.
FitTip: Get your kids involved in adding to the calendar. They might come up with some fun activities that you hadn’t thought of!
You don’t need a gym and fancy equipment to get your heart rate up and your muscles burning. At home, while you’re waiting for the water to boil on the stove, do 10 jumping jacks, 10 squats, and 10 push-ups for as many rounds as you can. If you are in need of a calming workout, try baby yoga before bedtime. In the office, use your desk or chair to do 10 tricep dips and 10 elevated push-ups for 3 rounds, with 30 seconds rest in between, followed by walking the stairs for 5 minutes. You've just created a "gym" out of what's around you and you didn't have to spend a dime!
Exercise before your kids wake up
Set yourself up for a productive day before anyone or anything can get in the way. Trust me I know, becoming a morning person isn’t easy. But neither is being a parent and you’re amazing at that! Set your clothes out the night before and start by waking up 30 minutes earlier 2 mornings per week to go for a run or workout in your living room. Pretty soon you’ll find you have more energy from your morning workouts and you’ll undoubtedly appreciate all the peace and quiet before the little ones come bounding out of their rooms. If you’re struggling with a baby waking up early, grab your jogging stroller and take a few laps around the neighborhood.
FitTip: Keep a glass of water on your nightstand and drink it right when your alarm goes off. It will help you wake up and you’ll get a head start on your daily water intake for the day - bonus!
Use your lunch break
It might be tempting to go face first onto your keyboard during your breaks from work, but try using your time to get your body moving instead. Grab a colleague and go for a short run, choose a healthy salad spot 5-10 minutes away and walk to pick it up, or find a gym that offers 30 minute express classes. You get the added benefit of boosting your Vitamin D by getting outside!
Be active with your kids
After a busy week of ballet practice and homework, it’s important to spend quality time together as a family. Use the weekends to be active with your kids by setting up obstacle courses in the backyard or at the park, planning a family outing to the soccer field or the tennis court, or taking the family on a nature walk to spot the wildlife. You will feel great that you got your physical activity on top of spending time with your kids and setting a good example.
Find a support group
Use the FitBliss platform to connect with other parents and see what they do to balance a healthy lifestyle with their work commitments. You should also share what’s worked for you (and what’s been a struggle!). Look for fitness classes in your neighborhood where you can bring your kiddo along and meet other families or gather a group of parents at your child’s soccer practice to walk, run, jump rope, or set up a fun circuit.
Ask yourself “why?”
We've already talked about extrinsic vs intrinsic motivation and recognizing your “why.” Everything we do, for ourselves and for our families, should have purpose. Whether you push yourself to win the company fitness challenge for the trophy and the bragging rights (extrinsically motivated) or for the personal satisfaction of accomplishing something that got you out of your comfort zone (intrinsic motivation). Always ask yourself “why” and try to identify your internal rewards because you are more likely to engage in activities long term if you feel fulfilled and you know your "why!"
Motivation is something so many of us struggle with so do your best to identify your intrinsic and extrinsic motivators and try to avoid being hard on yourself. Every day is a fresh start and an opportunity to get back on track. You got this!
Check out part 1 of this FitBliss motivation blog series on the busy business traveler and stay tuned for part 3 where you will find ways to stay physically active without ditching your social life.
Kelsey Radloff, CPT
FitBliss Customer Success & Program Manager
Kelsey is the FitBliss Customer Success & Program Manager. Kelsey is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and an ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist. In addition to her full time work with FitBliss, she teaches group fitness classes at a variety of studios in San Francisco and also trains clients individually. Kelsey graduated from UC, Santa Barbara with a BA in Business Economics and a minor in Exercise and Health Science. She continued her education to obtain her MA in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University. She is excited about helping people balance health and wellness in the workplace and at different stages of life.
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