Getting back on the (healthy) horse: Fitting It In

If you have been reading for a while, you will know that this year I’m hoping to get my health and fitness back on track on year – it’s not been the easiest journey but I’m getting there!

One of my biggest concerns about hitting my fitness goals this year was fitting in workouts. For the first half of last year, I had my ex at home in evenings (because, duh , he wasn’t my ex yet) so I could dash out to the gym once the little guy was asleep. As work dried up and CJ’s dad was no longer living with us, gym and the extremely cheap gym creche became a way to fill up the days. Working out was easy, and going to the gym was something that made both the little dude and I happy. I know that for me, I’m far more motivated to exercise if I’m at the gym – I can have the best of intentions when I’m at home but it doesn’t happen. As a full-time worker and single mum, however, it’s just not that simple anymore. I’m not an expert and I’m not going to pretend that I’m anywhere even close to perfect, but I’ve got a few solo mum followers, and it’s a question I’ve been asked, so I thought I would share how I’m making it work:

  1. I accept that not every week is going to be easy. I sit down with my diary at the beginning of the week and set a realistic goal of how many days it will be possible to hit the gym. Some weeks it’s two, some weeks it’s four. Some weeks I manage to sneak in an extra workout, sometimes I don’t but as long as I hit my goal I don’t beat myself up about it.
  2. I pay to have CJ in care for a bit longer in the afternoons than I necessarily need, so that it gives me time some days to squeeze in the gym between work and daycare pick up. It’s not the two hour workouts that I used to fit in when CJ went to the gym creche, but it’s a good solid hour of cardio and weights.
  3. I guilt myself by keeping my gym bag in the car – I get home after the gym, swap out the dirty gear, clean gear goes in and it goes back in the car. My gym bag is a bold leopard print so it sits there glaring at me when I think about being lazy. In some ways I’m lucky that my time is limited because I know that it’s now or not at all today.
  4. I try to make use of the times when I have my dad staying overnight at my place. From the start of the year he’s stayed overnight about one night a week because it is a lot closer to his work if he has an early start. I don’t expect him to look after the little dude very often (he’s got enough on his plate, and CJ is ultimately my responsibility) but I’ll take advantage of the fact that there’s a legal adult in the house once the little dude is asleep and head to the gym for a longer workout. Sometimes I’m too knackered to do it, or there’s too much to do at home, but it’s nice to have those longer workouts when I can.
  5. I look for other opportunities to exercise, because I know that I can’t gym as often or for as long as I’d like. I’ve offered to take dance rehearsals at work on a Thursday which means that I have a guaranteed half hour workout if nothing else. It’s an imperfect solution but it beats doing nothing if it is all I can do that day. I’m also eager for when I can fit a fitness tracker into my budget (after I shrank out of my last one) as it will highlight those days when I really haven’t been active enough at all.

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Really, imperfection sums up the whole thing… There’s weeks where I’m sick or CJ is sick, or I’m running up against deadlines. There’s days where plans go right out of the window because life happens or it’s the first beautiful sunny day in a week and I decide I’d rather go for a quiet stroll in the botanic gardens than head inside to sweat it out in the gym. The biggest thing for me this year is to still feel like I’m moving forward with my goals, even if it isn’t as fast as it was, or as fast as I would like. It’s what works for now, and things will continue to change as life changes. August will mark the end of any lengthy night workouts as my father heads off on his extensive honeymoon; the summer will bring more changes still. I’ll work it out, because hitting this goal is really important to me. Hope that helps, solo parent friends!

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