Laura asked, “I was wondering if you could possibly give me some advice about exercising. I’m struggling at the moment in finding a balance with work and my personal life. I often get very stressed and find it difficult to switch off. In 2011, got into running (inspired by your blog!) and did two 10K races. I felt really good. However then I got a promotion, which was of course great, but I suddenly found I had less time. Whenever I do have free time, I feel really guilty about exercising. I always feel that there is more I could do at work (there is always more I could do) and that exercising is self-indulgent when I could be fulfilling my other responsibilities better. However, I hate sitting down most of the day. Also, one of my colleagues has started to run a lot recently and he said that he felt so much less stressed now he felt fitter. So I wondered if you could give some advice on how to find the time when busy, but perhaps particularly, how do you make it a priority when there are so many other things that are priorities as well?!?”


This is a great question!  I’m going to weigh in with my thoughts on making fitness a priority, but (and this is a big BUT), I don’t think I’m 100% qualified to completely answer this question.  Yes, I work part-time and I’m a stay-at-home mom (which is awesome but isn’t exactly a cake walk, either).  And of course I’ve worked full-time before.  But it’s not like I was or am working 50 hours in an office (at least not in the last five years).  There is a BIG difference with working from home/creating your own schedule and working in an office environment.  There are loads of women out there who are eons busier than I am and still manage to work out.  I bet some of you reading this fall into that category. Smile


So, that being said, I would REALLY love for readers to weigh in; this way, we’ll be able to give Laura lots of great suggestions.


Some of my ideas for Laura…


#1 – Never feel guilty for taking care of yourself.  Easier said than done, I know. But you have to think about short-term costs v. long-term benefits.  EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in your life will suffer if you don’t take care of yourself.  Your job, your kids, your relationships.  I take note of how much more balanced and happier I feel after workouts.  It’s crazy how I can feel like a colossal ball of stress prior to a run and be a happy-go-lucky gal after four miles.


#2 – Stop thinking of exercise as optional.  It’s fine to take a few days or a week off every now and then (of course!), but I try to remind myself that exercise is not optional.  It helps make you stronger, happier, and healthier – all of which are important for excelling at work or at home.  To me, exercise is like brushing my teeth.  I have to do it!


#3 – If possible, multitask.  That all being said, there are only so many hours in the day.  And even if exercise is a non-negotiable, it still never comes first on the list of priorities – personally, exercise comes after family, work, and sleep.  So that’s why I suggest multitasking. Maybe Laura can read documents while she peddles on the stationary bike.  Maybe she can brainstorm ideas for the next meeting while she walks on the treadmill.   She could even buy a DeskCycle Exercise Bike! <— I want.


Back in the day… Doing squats with my cute little Henry weight. Smile


#4 – Look for wasted time.  I think a lot of us talk about how busy we are but then spend two hours in front of the TV every night (guilty as charged).  It’s not that there’s inherently wrong with TV zoning… everyone needs to unwind.  But maybe that’s not the wisest use of your time, especially if you’re struggling to fit in exercise.  Again, this is when an indoor bike or treadmill works wonders. 


#5 – Join a gym close to work.  When I did work in an office, I joined a gym next door even though I lived 30 minutes away.  It was GREAT because I could pop over before or after work – sometimes, I even managed to go on my lunch break (which I realize may be harder for some people as some companies really frown on leaving for lunch). 


How do you make fitness a priority?  Do you feel guilty taking time away from work or family to exercise?



  • Patience November 6, 2013, 2:38 pm

    Joining a gym that is close to work is key for me. I walk to the gym from my office and then walk home from the gym. That way working out becomes a part of the workday and seems like less of a chore. It’s so much more difficult for me to exercise after getting home from a long day when I just want to relax.

  • Angela November 6, 2013, 2:49 pm

    What made the difference for me was actually making space in my home to exercise. I belonged to a gym less than a mile from home/work, but after I had a baby and returned to work full-time, I never made time to go to the gym anymore. Making space for a treadmill and small stretching area has made a world of difference to me! It’s easier to get up 30 min early and do a quick stretch and run on the treadmill than get dressed, drive to the gym, park, etc. which can easily take an hour for the same amount of exercise. If you have space in your house, it’s a worthwhile investment (you might be able to find a cheap piece of equipment on Craigslist)!

  • Chattynatty November 6, 2013, 2:50 pm

    Couldn’t agree with you more. Exercise should just be part of your day’s work, just like all the other “jobs/chores” we do throughout the day. Multitasking, definitely agree with this, but also think we all need some needed down time and don’t feel bad about this, because the more energized, stress-free you are the more productive person you will be. Make taking care of yourself a priority!

  • Andrea November 6, 2013, 2:54 pm

    There’s 24 hours in a day. A helpful thought process for me when I’m feeling like there isn’t enough time to do everything + exercise is: 23.5 hours of my day can be dedicated to “more productive things” and just 30 minutes can be dedicated towards exercise. When you look at it that way, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal at all!

  • Verna November 6, 2013, 3:05 pm

    I have a hard time with this one also! I stay home with my 3 small children and I’m having a hard time fitting exercise in. Especially with snow season coming. It’s going to be really hard to go for walks then. I’d like to try and take advantage of nap time but I love just relaxing a little then.

  • Katie P November 6, 2013, 3:07 pm

    I definitely agree that you need to think of it as a priority and not feel guilty for taking time for yourself. I am married and work full-time, so want to spend every minute after work with my daughter. After she goes to bed, I want to spend time with my husband. I make it a priority to get up in the mornings to get my workout done before either of them get up for the day. I never regret getting up and getting my workout done, but ALWAYS regret it all day long when I skip.

  • Penny November 6, 2013, 3:09 pm

    Make YOURSELF a priority!!! I workout when I want. Those that love me know that I am better when I have exercised. For years I worked out before work but a recent change in work led to a long commute, so now I workout at lunch. It’s the best part of my day. Stop with the guilt- it’s just wasted energy. Put that energy into yourself!

  • Ali November 6, 2013, 3:14 pm

    I don’t feel guilty for taking time for myself. My husband works out (it was his goal for the year), so I never do. I think it makes me a better mom and wife too.

  • Jackie November 6, 2013, 3:25 pm

    I workout in my lunch hour. It’s the most stress relieving hour of the day!

  • Sara @ LovingOnTheRun November 6, 2013, 3:26 pm

    Agree with not giving yourself an option. Not saying that when you are exhausted it’s not OK to take a break or a rest day but you should always make it a part of every day even if the smallest things. Before you know it – it will be a MUST have part of your day!

  • Mary November 6, 2013, 3:27 pm

    Maybe Laura should ask her coworker how he fits in exercise, with a similarly busy and demanding work schedule. He may have some tips she can apply to her own life, and may serve as a workout partner, may recommend a gym, and stand up for her if anyone says anything negative about her taking time to exercise.

  • Jill November 6, 2013, 3:34 pm

    baby sqauts, love! totally have done these while babysitting my nephews.

  • Shannon November 6, 2013, 3:48 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with all of these! especially #2 =p

    I know it’s not possible for everyone, but I started biking to work so now my commute time and exercise time are combined! And it’s much more fun than sitting in traffic :). When i’m training for a race, sometimes I also bring two lunches and an extra change of clothes one day, then run home from work that evening, and run to work the next day. It’s actually not as stressful/crazy as it sounds – though it helps a lot that my building has showers and lockers available.

  • Jamie November 6, 2013, 3:56 pm

    I also tell myself that exercise is not optional. I have an autoimmune disease so that keeps me motivated because I know that I have to take care of myself. I also tell myself how much better I will feel after I workout. Whenever I’m the busiest or the most stressed I know that is when I need exercise the most!

  • June November 6, 2013, 4:00 pm

    What companies FROWN on employees leaving for lunch!?!??!?!?!

    • Caitlin November 6, 2013, 6:49 pm

      Oh man, you are lucky you never worked at an eat-at-your-desk company!

      • Lucy November 7, 2013, 7:48 am

        I worked for a big company (which will remain nameless, ahem) and we worked 50+ hours every week and 75+ hours most weeks AND I never once took a lunch break the entire time I worked there. Or a dinner break. Never mind being allowed to actually *gasp* leave for meals.

        • Caitlin November 7, 2013, 8:00 am

          I’m glad this is past tense!!!!

    • Ellen @ Wannabe Health Nut November 7, 2013, 2:03 pm

      Oh yeah…way more than you think! I am scarfing my salad down at my desk right now while I read my fave blogs for 10 minutes. I do always make time for exercise though. Plyometrics saves me when I can’t get to the gym. Star jumps, burpees, squat jumps, plank variations…you can get a serious workout with those exercises. It’s all about intensity…really pushing yourself for 15-20 minutes is SO much more effective than running on the treadmill at a slow and steady pace for 45 minutes. I get lots of HIIT and plyo workout ideas on Instagram. 😉

  • K @ Finding a Skinnier Me November 6, 2013, 4:03 pm

    I got a lot of equipment from yard sales to work out at home. I was heading to the gym after work each evening but it was time consuming. By the time I got to the gym (after fighting 30 minutes of traffic), changed, worked out, changed again and drove home, it was late, I was starving and I didn’t get any time to walk my dogs (I don’t have kids yet but I have 3 dogs that love walks in the evenings). I was guilt ridden, so I stopped working out until my hubs got the idea to start bringing home different equipment for me, things like a punching bag, stability ball, kettle bells, just simple stuff, small stuff. We set up a little area in the spare room. Now I can go home to work out, take a walk afterwards to catch up with the husband/give the dogs a nice walk/get some cardio, eat dinner, clean up and still get to bed at a decent time.

    I try to involve my little family in working out with me so I don’t lose out on time with them. Most of the time the hubs works out with me and we are starting a running program soon (couch to 5k) that the dogs will be joining us on. I personally wasn’t a fan of working out in a gym anyways. Make it apart of your daily routine and make it non negotiable. Some people aren’t evening work out people either, do it in the morning and make it a point to go to bed earlier at night. Whatever you do, don’t feel guilty for taking care of yourself!

  • Jenny O November 6, 2013, 4:04 pm

    I think it is a matter of realizing what regular exercise can do for you in all areas of your life. I know that when I have had a great run in the morning before I head into the office, I feel so much more energized and productive. For me, it is a way to wake up and think about my day and what I want to accomplish. On the flip side, a run after work can help me shake off a long day.

  • Abi November 6, 2013, 4:22 pm

    exercise is the best form of health insurance! I’m sure any job that provides health benefits will end up paying less if their employees are exercising, so really you’re just helping the company save money =)

  • Jenny November 6, 2013, 4:23 pm

    I think a lot of this depends on your office culture. I started a little health challenge with my immediate co-workers, and gradually it’s grown as people have asked to join in. Even the boss plays. We have an excel spreadsheet where everyone chooses their own goals which can be as simple as ‘drink a liter of water a day’ or ‘eat 5 portions of fruit and veg’ to ‘exercise 5 times a week’ etc. Everyday all the members declare out loud whether they met their goal and they get a green square if they did, a red square if they didn’t or a blue square for a planned day off.

    People will commonly get up at lunch time and say ‘I’m going to get a green square’ meaning ‘I’m going to the gym’. So it’s become part of our culture. Each month there’s a winner, and some months we pick a charity and put a dollar in the box for every red square.

    It will depend on your office culture though. So long as the job is done, my company don’t mind what hours we work and promote a healthy lifestyle and healthy work-life balance.

  • Karen November 6, 2013, 4:38 pm

    I don’t have kids (yet) but I did recently move from a home that was walking distance from my downtown job to a home in the ‘burbs that requires an hour commute each way. Losing those two hours per day has made it really hard for me to keep exercise a priority!

    For now, I’ve found that making running date or gym date with other people is key – lucky for me, most of my running buddies are people from work. Somehow, going to exercise with other people from my job helps reduce the “I should stay and do more” mentality. It also helps that another person is counting on me, so I HAVE to keep our date…and since we go running right from work, going home and accidentally sitting down on the couch isn’t an option. I usually just say to my husband “I have a running date with so-and-so after work, so will be home a little later.” We’ve both learned that I am much nicer to be around when I get my time to run, so he’s supportive. However, I do fear that I’ll lose this time when we have future kid and have to seriously re-think how to balance this!

  • EmilyF November 6, 2013, 4:48 pm

    I always put gym time on my calendar as an “out of the office” private appointment. Sometimes, I need to come back to work afterwards to finish things up, but I treat it like I treat the rest of my calendar – with punctuality and respect. I’ve found that every office I’ve worked in has been really accepting of this strategy.
    It can also be really helpful to adjust your schedule – come into work later in the day so you have time for a workout in the morning, or come in early and leave early to hit the gym. I find a lot of things can get left until the end of the day, so I’ll come in at 7am, hit the gym at 4pm and then come back to the office to touch base at 5:30.

  • FitBritt@MyOwnBalance November 6, 2013, 4:50 pm

    When I was still at my law firm almost no one worked out and thought of health is a priority but from day 1, I let it be known that it was a priority to me. Everyone has a thing that keeps them from being the best employee ever (aka a robot) whether it be kids, family, spiritual restrictions or working out. The key is being clear about your priorities and letting everyone know (in a professional manner) that while you are very committed to your work you have another priority for one hour a day at [insert] time. Just being clear about your boundaries will lead people to respect you more anyway.

    Personally, I got up early and did my workouts before work. I got into work a little bit later but I also stayed later so it was NBD. This was helpful because I almost always had to stay late for something that “came up” but I almost never was required to come in extra early. I also use lunchtime to take walks. I walk around the neighborhood and generally just stretch my legs. Weekends are also the perfect time for a longer workout.

    If you still have a hard time squeezing it in, consider requesting an alternative workstation like a standing one or a treadmill desk or try to motivate your employer and co-workers to be more cognizant of health by organizing a “biggest loser” competition or lunch-time walking and/or yoga groups. It also shows initiative.

  • Cortney November 6, 2013, 5:02 pm

    HIIT and circuit workouts at home can be great. You can get just a few basic pieces of equipment (bands, weights, mat) and get a great workout in a short amount of time. Early AM is best for me and I find that no matter how busy I am, I can almost always find 20 minutes!!

  • Breanne November 6, 2013, 5:26 pm

    I love your point about exercise being a non-negotiable – like brushing your teeth!

    For me, doing group exercise classes is a great because then I’m “multi-tasking” in the social aspect. I can’t cut hours out of work, but I can visit with my friends WHILE being active. I have the accountability of “we missed you last Sunday!” and the bonus of getting to spend time with the people I care about (and people that care about the same things).

    I’ve also just started doing hovers at lunch with two of my co-workers. It’s currently 3 minutes (and hopefully eventually 5) of our 30, but it’s great for our cores and gets the blood flowing to reboost the day.

  • Coco November 6, 2013, 5:27 pm

    This is SUCH a tough one. It really depends on your work environment. I used to have an incredibly stressful job, with little to no time for exercise. Now, although my new job is just as stressful, my organization emphasizes the importance of health–physical, spiritual, emotional.

    I am blessed to be able to use a gym AT MY OFFICE–which I know not everyone has the luxury of. My boss encourages activity. In fact, today I took a run on the treadmill and was at my desk all sweaty and gross–and he stopped by to tell me he thinks it’s great that I’m getting my stress out through exercise. He firmly believes that exercise helps us focus better at work, and I couldn’t agree more.

    That being said, I think what everyone else is saying is true–you have to make it a priority and also make it as easy as possible. For example, I pack my gym clothes and shoes the night before, PLUS have an extra of everything at work so that I can’t have that excuse to say no to a workout. Finding a gym either close to home or work is also essential. Put your gear on before you leave work so that it’s easier to just go for it once you actually get to the gym.

    And, every little bit of activity helps–take the stairs, get up and take a walk at lunch time, use some light free weights, sit on a balance ball while at your desk, park farther away…those little things really add up.

  • Ems November 6, 2013, 5:46 pm

    I’m doing the whole grad school/work thing…so for me that’s my current mega full time job! For me, it helps to have a lot of options. I have a gym membership at home, on days when I have long breaks in classes I try to pop over to the school rec for a quick swim, workout DVDs/Pinterest workouts are great for those days when leaving the house to workout seems like the worst thing in the world, and then there’s always bundling up (at least during this time of year!) for a run outside! If I don’t have variety, I lose motivation quickly.

  • Ashley November 6, 2013, 5:51 pm

    I’m a high school teacher and there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. On nights I know I have to stay late at school I bring workout clothes and a workout DVD. I pop in Insanity or Jillian Michaels and workout for 40 minutes in my classroom and then get back to work. It usually does double duty- gets my heart rate up and energizes me to tackle the rest of my to dos.

  • Mandy @ Eat Pray Grow November 6, 2013, 6:10 pm

    I love these tips, Caitlin! It’s the type of thing we all know but need to be reminded of now and then.

    I’m in the same boat as far as working from home and having a flexible schedule – and having perviously worked a busy, in-office job prior to this, I learned one key thing from the switch: if it’s not a priority when it’s tough, it’s not going to be a priority when it’s easy, either.

    What I mean by that is, it’s easy to tell yourself “If only I had a more flexible schedule,” or “If only I could work part time and/or from home,” thinking your current situation is to blame for your lack of commitment to exercise. I’d go on a limb and say for most of us, it just isn’t. For me, working from home didn’t magically make fitness a higher priority, which was quite humbling to realize: it wasn’t my situation, it was ME that got in the way. I’d encourage anybody who wants to make fitness a priority to be brutally honest with themselves about what’s really standing in the way – external factors, or internal factors?

    • Liz K November 7, 2013, 11:31 am

      Thanks Mandy. This was a really good reminder for me- if it’s not a priority when it’s tough, it’s not going to be a priority when it’s easy, either. I definitely get in the mindset that my full time job (and family commitments) is what keeps me from working out better. If I was “lucky enough” to get to stay home with my son (or work from home) I would easily get my workouts in, but if I’m honest with myself, that’s really just an excuse. Thanks for the reminder. The grass is always greener :). You have to choose to do it, no matter what your circumstances!

    • SuperCutePetContest November 7, 2013, 4:13 pm

      That’s SO the truth! I recently started working from home and while I can work at any time, I still have trouble scheduling working out because it hasn’t been a priority. I tend to go through cycles where I totally don’t care about working out and cycles where I do.

  • Christine @ BookishlyB November 6, 2013, 6:23 pm

    Fast forward thirty, forty or fifty years in the future when you’re not going to be able to get anything done because you’re overweight, have high blood pressure, poor circulation, weak muscles, osteoporosis- the list goes on and on. It sounds harsh, I know, but taking care of yourself is about the short and long term.

  • Kathleen Ojo @ My Ojos November 6, 2013, 6:24 pm

    I’m not sure if this is relevant specifically to your reader who asked the question, but I have written a couple posts on the work-life balance I struggle with, being a full-time working mama with a baby, Graduate student, runner, etc.

    In terms of finding the balance between work and exercise, I think you’re right – it’s a matter of priorities and being honest with yourself. The last couple months have been a struggle for me at work because, on the one hand, I’ve been super busy and putting in overtime would help me get caught up and make me look really good. But on the other hand, I’m training for a marathon. Though everyone tells me I “should” work more on my career, because the money and the status are important, to me personally my fitness goals are more important for a variety of reasons. So, I have cut back at work and been putting in only the required 40 hours/week while I focus on running. And I feel amazing.

    If your reader is feeling really guilty about not getting enough exercise, maybe her mind and body are telling her that she’d be happier if exercise were higher up on her priority list. In that case, it might mean finding a buddy and getting out for a run on her lunch break, or never scheduling a meeting before 8am so she can get in a morning run (it sucks, but it’s possible – I get up at 5:30, run 5 miles, shower, get my daughter up and off to daycare, and have myself at my desk by 8am!)

    There is always, ALWAYS a way.

  • Mary November 6, 2013, 6:31 pm

    Two quick things to add – first, your health is absolutely the most important and most valuable thing that you have, so it’s important to take care of that. Many companies now are making a big push to get their executives to lead healthier lives – it’s good for the employees and the company! Secondly, when I go through periods at work where I am super busy, I scale back a bit but still carve out a little time to run. The Runner’s World run streak idea is a great model – run everyday, at least a mile. Somedays will obviously be longer runs, but a mile is only 10 minutes, and so I I’ve always found it much more manageable. I don’t feel guilty about taking 10 minutes in the morning to do a quick run before work, and it’s a good way to keep up a base fitness level when work is really busy.

  • Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs November 6, 2013, 6:36 pm

    I am so lucky — we have a small gym in our work building, and we are allowed to take an hour during the work day to exercise! Of course, there are days where there is just too much to be done, so I don’t make it there, but in general, if I’m on top of my work, I can workout guilt free!

  • sarah (the SHU box) November 6, 2013, 7:58 pm

    morning, morning MORNING.

    getting on an early to rise, early to bed schedule is my #1. it’s so much more natural to run in the AM (to get the day started!) before parenting and work duties take over, and natural to relaaaax at night.

  • Tracy November 6, 2013, 7:58 pm

    I’m a teacher and the mom of an 18 month old. When he was 9 months old, I realized I hadn’t regularly been to the gym in over 10 months (I had lost 130lbs from diet and working out 3 years before I got pregnant). I weighed as much as I did the day I delivered my son. I felt so guilty every time I went to the gym. I didn’t get any “me” time. I didn’t deserve it because I worked full time, and therefore didn’t deserve any other time by myself. I loved him, but I hated myself. I started going to the gym at 5:30am and leaving morning drop offs for my husband. I told everyone I knew that it was because “I had to leave too early for work anyways, so I never saw him to begin with.” I justified my hour to everyone I could. And you know what? No one ever questioned it. No one ever even asked why I wasn’t dropping my son off at his sitter. No one thought I was a bad mom because my husband did it. And then I started dropping weight. And being happier. And fitting into my clothes. And it was ok. I was less anxious because I was planning better- I had to. Sure I was more tired getting up at 4:50am, but then I could dedicate my afternoon/evening to him. I don’t get my haircut often, or my nails done weekly, or anything like that. But I do go to the gym. And that’s ok. What is with this guilt that women have- that if we do what we really want and need for ourselves once in a while, that we are failing somewhere else? If being fit and healthy is a priority, you have to make it one in your life. And not feel bad about it. Find the time. Go in the early mornings or the late evenings. Or go at 5pm and do work afterwards. Find what works for you and don’t apologize. I love my son so much, and I love spending Saturday mornings with him eating pancakes and just hanging. But I shouldn’t have to jam everything I want or need to do in the 2 hours of his nap. So I make working out a priority on Saturday morning. And I don’t feel bad about it anymore. And I don’t tell my husband I’m sorry. And I don’t look at my son and feel like a bad mom. I’m a better mother, wife, teacher and friend because I take 1 hour a day for myself, and in that hour, I choose to go to the gym. I may not be meeting friends regularly for drinks, or going out to dinner often, but that’s ok because I know if I want to be happy, I have to spend my “me” time at the gym, and my other time with my son.

    • Melanie November 7, 2013, 1:45 pm

      Thanks so much for posting this! It is exactly what I needed to see today! My situation is almost exactly the same – I think after seeing this I can finally start exercising again and feeling like me!

  • Lee November 6, 2013, 8:28 pm

    I go to a gym that’s 5 minutes from my office. Even if it’s only a 30 minute workout during lunch, I try to get it in.

  • Kristen November 6, 2013, 11:55 pm

    I’m single with a demanding job and no kids so this is what I’ve figured what works for me. What finally clicked for me was taking time to realize how I felt after a workout (clear headed, stronger, accomplished, happier, etc) to make working out non-negotiable. Some weeks are crazier than others so then I have to re-evaluate what my workout will be- sometimes its walking home (3+ miles up and down the hills of SF works up a sweat!) or yoga at home to fit it in. My daily goals are: 1) work up a sweat 2) take 10 mins to breathe/meditate 3) eat well and 4) drink tons of water. There will always be more work to do (and your boss will never tell you to slow down!) so you have to learn to set limits for yourself or you’ll go crazy!

  • Amber November 7, 2013, 12:34 am

    Morning workouts!! Lifesaver when you’re busy at work because then you don’t have to worry about pushing it off later in the day because it’s already been done! I know I’d have been able to train for three marathons while working full-time if I didn’t do the majority of my running in the morning!

  • Sarah @ Yogi in Action November 7, 2013, 4:11 am

    I love this article so much!

    I can definitely relate- as I work a job that often has me working 14 hour days (or more). I find that after such long days, I want to go home and spend a little bit of time with my fiancée before crashing into bed and starting the same cycle again.

    At times like that, I find working out from home is the best option. Even taking 20 minutes and doing some gentle yoga in my living room helps me to sleep better and makes me a better employee the next day. Flexibility and shorter workouts are definitely key for me!

  • Victoria Wade November 7, 2013, 5:52 am

    I too, work 50+ hours a week. I also have a 1hr+ compute to and from work each day. I’m a field engineer on a construction work site. My day starts at 4:05-am and finishes up after 10 each night (at the earliest).

    I definitely get what you’re saying with feeling guilty, as sometimes I feel like I’m missing out on life.

    Things I feel I could be doing instead of exercise:
    catching up on reading
    cooking supper/preparing lunches
    socializing with the girls
    ..obviously much more

    So what do I do:
    I incline walk at the gym WHILE I read my latest book
    I have a gym membership and a treadmill so I’ll prepare food THEN run 1-mile. I jump off, check on my food, throw in some laundry, THEN run 1-mile. I pack my bag for the next day, hang a few articles of clothing up (tidying) THEN jump back on the treadmill and run 1-mile.
    When I haven’t seen the girls in a while, a short text with “gym date?” kills two birds with one stone.

    Anyhow, this might not work for everyone, but it sure as hell has been working for me 🙂

    Good luck with it! You’ll 100% figure it out 🙂

  • Runner Girl Eats November 7, 2013, 6:24 am

    I remind myself that working out makes me happy and it is important for me to be happy in order to do well in my other areas of life. I also focus on how important it is to be healthy and take care of my body.

  • Sara @ Zero to Sixty November 7, 2013, 9:13 am

    It can be super hard to fit a workout in!! I defiantly go through weeks where I take one off or days I didn’t mean to take off but it happens.

    I agree with Caitlin when she said that working out is completely 100% not selfish. For example… I have friends who I think should exercise not to be fit and skinny, but because their confidence is so down and they are always so depressed about something. Always thinking the worst thing is/or going to happen. I feel like getting active instead of coming home to watch TV/take a nap would make them so much happier. Sometimes to be honest, it gets hard to support them because they talk about how “bad” and “stressful” things are every-time I talk with them… I think finding time to exercise is definitely a stress reliever and confidence builder…. and if you are happy person… you are happy person to be around!

    Anyway my biggest trick is working out in the morning… (Note: unhealthy habit I have is probably do not get enough sleep) but my alarm goes off at 5:15 to Britney Spears Work B*tch (amazing motivational song ha-ha) and I stubble out of bed around 5:20-5:40 pending on what I am doing at the gym. If I were not going to the gym I would get out of bed around 6:45 which is WAY later then I should to get to work on time. The crazy thing is, even though I am packing more into my morning, I get to work earlier the days I work out vs. getting their later from when I do not. So I look at it as I can be early to work and workout or late to work and sleep in! Although the rather is very inviting, it feels so much better when I choose to workout! 🙂 I also look at it as using time that I would be throwing away either (not that I should look at sleep that way) but if my alarm is going off at 5:15 anyway and I press snooze until 6:45 5 times… what quality of sleep am I getting anyway? Also Fridays I give myself my off day! Fridays are good for that. 🙂

  • Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution November 7, 2013, 9:30 am

    I am struggling with this right now, especially with the weather changing and it getting darker earlier. Between work, my husband and my dog, I don’t feel like I have enough me time. I really want to get back into a routine but I’m struggling, and I know it’s making me stressed.

  • Tiff November 7, 2013, 10:20 am

    Find a way to make your commute an active one. I started biking to work and it has been the best change I have ever made. I feel fit, energized and calm. My commute is 24 miles round trip, so once I get home I don’t have to worry about fitting in a workout. Good luck! 🙂

  • Andrea B. November 7, 2013, 10:39 am

    I agree with you Catlin, but one other thing I would mention is to workout in the morning. It is rare that the office calls you into work at 7:00. I found that it interfered less with my life if I exercise in the morning; my kids aren’t up, and I don’t take time away from my job or my family.

  • Megan M. November 7, 2013, 11:25 am

    I just began working full time and this post was full of great ideas and also a huge motivation and reminder that I DO HAVE TIME! haha. Thank you so much! 🙂

  • Sharon November 7, 2013, 11:34 am

    As my little girl is going through all sorts of developmental changes, sleep at night is sometimes rough. This makes my morning workouts pretty challenging sometimes. I’ve been keeping up, but pondering an alternative for those tough mornings when I just need a bit more shut-eye. Reading this post just made me realize, I started spending about 2 hours in the pm (4 to 6ish) playing with my daughter in the living room. We’ve baby proofed the whole area – which is also where my workout equipment is. Aha! If I’m too tired, I can just fit in a workout in the pm while she plays around.
    Thank you for that! lol

  • Kimberly November 7, 2013, 3:24 pm

    My view of exercise as an indulgence changed when I realized “I HAVE to do this to stay healthy and happy.” When I first started exercising regularly I noticed a huge difference between the weeks where I worked out regularly and those where I didn’t. When I worked out consistently I was happier, more confident, felt healthier and felt more positively towards my job. To be able to work out regularly, I started going to bed earlier and waking up earlier to work out before work. It helped that around this time I made friends who are into being active and can serve as a support system and to keep me accountable. Good luck!

  • Marni November 7, 2013, 3:26 pm

    These are all such amazing tips! I think the best suggestions are to always think small and to consider the investment to your own health. There’s a saying that if you don’t take time for your health you have to make time for disease/illness. As a clinical dietitian, it always makes me sad to see patients in the hospital. Sometimes for weeks or even a month or more! I couldn’t imagine having to sit in a bed, inside and be waited on for even more than 24 hours. I also realize that my body is the only place I have to live for the rest of my life. I don’t feel that a person has to sign up for a race or belong to a gym but I think everyone needs a goal. Even if just exercising for health, there needs to be something intrinsic, similar to the feelings one would receive at work, that keeps you motivated and excited. I believe in short and long term goals so perhaps every 12 weeks, having a new goal so that the exercise routine doesn’t have to be the same for 12 months long. Life is going to change and so with the diet and exercise routine. But in order to live life to the fullest, diet and exercise are two pieces of that puzzle. Everyone is different so when you wake up every morning, think about your own goals and how you can make progress (not perfection).

    Planning ahead is key – especially with meals and some type of plan for working out. I think almost everyone has an hour total to spend toward moving the body and meal prep, every day. The bottom line is that all you need to do is move the body to be healthy but that little bit of intensity, sweat or moving forward toward a goal can make the body and mind feel a bit more accomplished.

    Enjoy your body, thank your body and always have fun!
    -Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, LD/N

  • molly November 7, 2013, 8:02 pm

    These are all great tips! I feel like my life is definitely packed – I work about 60-72 hours a week as a medical student (almost resident, gulp) and also have a 1 year old and another on the way… so yeah, exercise isn’t always easy.

    One thing though, in addition to all these great tips and emphasis on making it a priority is that you have to accept that sometimes you cannot “workout” in traditional sense and should just try to do what ever you can in small terms. I spent over two months on a surgical rotation where I was in the hospital at 4:30am (yes, that means leaving my apartment at 4:15am) and would stay til around 7pm (occasionally later, but usually I was lucky enough to get out by then). Technically, I could have worked out when my husband was home by 8 but after the long day and putting my son to bed, I prioritized dinner with him and being in bed myself by 8:30 (I will never sacrifice sleep). However, during this time, I did my best every day to make things healthier – I always took the stairs in the hospital and occasionally would do lunges in the hallways (um, an advantage of scrubs), or would find myself squeezing my glutes during hours of surgery. The key was that I had to accept that during this time, I might not be able to go for a run or hit the gym but that every little bit counted. In the end, I actually found that I was in much better shape than I thought and really had only lost some of my cardiovascular shape but not too much of my strength. Overall, do what you can and realize there are tons of ways to make a long work day still work for you!

  • Angela November 11, 2013, 7:19 pm

    I definitely struggle finding the time too. I’m a graduate student so there is always more work to be done. I spend about 16 hours a week commuting, 16 hours in class, 4-5 hours in meetings, seminars, etc. That’s already 36-37 hours and we haven’t even touched on homework yet!

    I have yet to master my crazy schedule but I’m slowly seeing places where I can better utilize my time. For example, I get home “early” on Monday’s around 5. When I get home, the hubs is at the gym and I eat dinner alone. Well, why the heck don’t I pack and bag and join him?! I might be tired and a quick snack will curb the hunger but I think it would be fun to show up at the gym after a long day and get to see him for a bit 🙂

  • Tricia April 16, 2015, 4:31 am

    I have to make working out a priority. A few years ago I had a really bad health scare, nothing to do with my diet or how much I exercise, but it made me realize (I hate to say it!) YOLO!!!! I want to live my life as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Now granted that doesn’t always happen. My PT told me to lay off my weights for a while… But I found that if I took time to invest in me that I was much happier and more effective in other areas. I found a gym that teaches classes and started going there. That way I wasn’t just wandering around the gym trying to figure out what I “wanted” or “felt like” doing.

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