I generally know the what and the why of fitness-related things but I often get tangled up in the how. I overthink it or consider too many options or I just can’t figure out how to make all the pieces fit together.
So, I’ve taken to circumventing my brain loops by bringing my questions to the rest of the blogging team here at Fit is a Feminist Issue. I have gotten terrific and helpful answers that are based in how real people, living real lives, make these things work.
After reading everyone’s answers to a recent set of questions, the Team thought that our readers might find them useful, too. So, over the next few months, I’ll be sharing some of my questions and answers here on the blog.
Here is the first part of a set of questions that I asked back in August. That was a while ago, so members of the team may have some updates for you in the comments. Please feel free to jump into the comments with your answers, too!
Is exercise automatically part of the rhythm of your day or do you have to ‘make time’ for it?
Natalie: Movement is, high intensity is not and if I don’t schedule it, it doesn’t happen.
Sam: I have three spots available for exercise–morning break, lunch, evening–and I usually use one or two of them.
Mina: Working out is almost like eating and sleeping for me now, so it is definitely part of my rhythm. I take one day off a week, but I’ll often “move” that day, if I know I’m going to be encountering a day when I absolutely can’t fit a workout in.
Cate: A combination of both. I assume I’m going to work out every day, but I don’t know what that will look like from day to day. I schedule slots for Alex’ morning virtual superhero workout (830 M, W F and 730 on Tues) into my weekday calendar so no one books colliding meetings; I decide the night before if I am going to do it or not (I usually do). I fit random other workouts in when I can – a run or yoga between meetings, a long walk before bed. Covid means that I have to book things like spinning in advance, whereas in the past I did more of “hm, there’s a class at 530, I think I can fit that in today.”
Marjorie: I schedule my lifting days in advance. And then in the morning, as I’m planning out my day, I decide where in the day I need to fit it in. If I don’t do this, I will skip my lifting, now that’s it’s less fun and at home. (Pre-pandemic, the risk was getting overscheduled, so I had to plan in advance or risk having no time to get into the gym.) I schedule which mornings I will run, too, and that always happens after breakfast. I take a daily walk, and I have no trouble making this happen almost every day without much planning on my part. It is what I do before dinner.
Tracy: It’s part of the rhythm of my day but I make a rough plan the day before of when and what I plan to do the next day.
Nicole: I have scheduled exercise into my days/weeks for many years. Because it has been scheduled as such, it has become part of the rhythm of my day. So a bit of both.
Martha: I believe I was a sloth in a former life. As a result, I have to make time and schedule it otherwise I don’t do it.
What things do you put in place in advance to make sure you can exercise when you want/need to?
Natalie: A clean space, the right clothes (go all day leggings!) and a plan
Sam: I schedule rides and races on Zwift as the fixed points on my schedule and work around those. I lift weights, use resistance bands, or TRX at lunch. Walk Cheddar in the morning. Yoga is always an evening thing.
Mina: Moving my day off, as I mentioned above. I have the luxury of being able to have a say in a lot of what gets scheduled in my day, so I make sure I leave time. But if I get squeezed, then I’ll get up extra early.
Cate: The most important is making sure the people who manage my calendar don’t book over the class times I might want to do, so I have recurring times in my calendar whether I work out in them or not.
Marjorie: On lifting days when I feel myself dragging, I will put on my lifting clothes far in advance. I feel silly wearing tights and a sports bra for hours without any purpose, so that makes it far more likely I’ll get it done.
Tracy: For an early morning workout I set my clothes out ahead of time to make the morning easier.
Nicole: I am all about routine. I book classes in advance on the days I usually do certain classes and I mentally book certain days/times that are my usual times for certain things – i.e. Saturday mornings are always Conditioning workout. Sunday mornings are always my long run day.
Martha: I block out the time in my calendar four months in advance.
When do you exercise and why did you pick that time?
Natalie: The morning before I run out of self discipline.
Sam: It’s the time I have! My workday starts at 8 and I’m often working until 7 or 8. Long days. But I always take lunch and I usually take breaks in the morning and afternoon.
Mina: I’m a bit all over the place, because I have a flexible schedule. I love a workout before breakfast, but I also like sleep, so that’s not always possible. And when I’m signed up for a class (now on Zoom), I worry less about a workout later in the day, because I know the class-ness (and cost) of the workout will inspire me to attend.
Cate: I am not an early morning person – my ideal time to work out is like 11 am, after I’ve been awake and fed and digested and mobilized for a while and need a little break. However that rarely works – sometimes I can fit a run in then. So I compromise with pre-work virtual classes (730 still feels early most days), runs throughout the day if I can fit them in and post-work classes. I rarely manage to actually work out in the evening if I don’t book something or commit to it with a friend.
For me food is kind of tricky – I need to have some food in me, but I think I digest slowly, so I can’t eat lunch and go for a run or spinning an hour later. Similarly if I’m doing a class at night I can’t eat dinner first – I end up feeling nauseated.
Marjorie: (answered in part in Q1 plus the following comment) Cate, I really relate to what you say about timing exercise around food! I have to do it just right to feel good–enough food to give me energy, not too much (or too soon) or it can lead to indigestion. Running requires the most care, so I always do it the same–eat a lower fiber, lower fat breakfast (less fruit, butter, etc, than usual), then wait until my body tells me it’s digested enough that I can safely head out without distress.
Tracy: I like to exercise first thing, at 6 or 7 or 7:30 a.m., the earlier the better. I do that because it gives me a sense of accomplishment before I’ve even had breakfast. And also, with running, I go early in the summer because otherwise it’s too hot. But I can and do exercise at different times of day, like at the end of the work day or at lunch. The only time I don’t workout is in the evening after dinner, unless a wind-down yoga class.
Nicole: I prefer working out in the morning, or earlier in the day, whenever possible. I find it benefits me for the rest of the day if I exercise in the morning and I like the feeling that it is done for the day. If I can’t for some reason, I will schedule it later in the day, but that is a back-up. One exception to this is a long walk at the end of the day. It’s “easy” and therefore welcome at the end of the day.
Martha: I prefer the mornings. If I have it in first thing, it gets done.