You are amazing! You find a way to run kids to all of their sporting events and various school activities, volunteer at school, and still cook dinner. You have an amazing work ethic in which you selflessly give to others even when you are completely exhausted. But when do you take care of yourself and your own health? I know there are a thousand things that need to be done, but you are so overwhelmed that you would not even have the energy to keep going if it was not for Starbucks. I’m not suggesting that you quit taking care of your kids, but I am suggesting that you take care of your health. It may seem selfish to take time for you, but it is actually just the opposite. By taking a little bit of time to take care of you, you will have so much more to give. You will have the energy to keep going, be more mentally focused, become a role model for your kids’ health, and feel better about yourself too. I know you are doing the best you can with everything going on, and the last thing you need is something else on your plate, so let’s make this process quick and easy so you have plenty of time to take care of all of those who depend on you.
Be Positive, I Dare You
The most important thing you can focus on during this process is how you feel about yourself and your abilities. I want to challenge you to only say positive things about yourself and your abilities. You might think this is easy, but try it for just 24 hours and see how you do. Instead of insulting yourself, find something positive about your capabilities. Instead of saying that you aren’t capable of achieving something in particular, say what you are going to do … and do it. If that goes well, include other aspects of your life. Speak only positive things about other people, and don’t get caught up in conversations that are condemning and gossiping. Give it a try and see how much of a difference it makes with your mood.
The 30 Minute/Day Challenge
For some of you, this is going to be a big change, so let’s start with just a 30 minutes/day commitment. If the thought of that already overwhelms you, it’s okay. The 30 minutes you put into yourself will save you more time in the end. Here’s how it works.
Take 30 minutes, one time a week, to sit down and plan out the family meals for the week. That includes your breakfast, lunches, dinners, and even your snacks. There are probably many meals and snacks that will repeat, and that is great because it makes it easier for you. Don’t forget to plan out your own meals too. Be as specific as possible. If you are going to eat at Panera Bread, what do you plan to order when you get there? Not only are you more likely to pick something healthier for yourself, you will also save yourself the time of having to decide after you get there.
Faster Cardio in Less Time
The last thing you have time for is running for several hours a day, so let’s make this quick and easy. You are only going to spend 30 minutes, 3 times a week focusing on your cardiovascular health. And while you are probably not at an immediate high risk of having a heart attack, focusing on your cardiovascular health will help you clear your mind and trim your waistline.
Choose a type of cardio: treadmill, elliptical, bicycle, walking/running outside, etc.
Make sure you can focus on your exercise. You are probably not going to be able to read a book while you are doing this.
Warm up for the first 5 minutes.
Begin exercising at a moderate pace for 90 seconds.
Speed up to a high intensity for 30 seconds. You can also increase the resistance or the incline depending on the type of cardio you are doing.
Continue this for 10 rounds or 20 minutes.
Slow back down to a cool down for 5 minutes.
You are done! This is just three times a week, so it shouldn’t take up too much of your time, and you should feel really great throughout the day.
More Effective Strength Training
In order to keep your strength training short, but effective, you have to focus on intensity and the number of muscle groups you use at one time. A 30 minute strength training pro-gram can be very effective in getting results.
Beginners: If you are only comfortable using machines, consider using a Tabata style training method. Tabata is the concept of doing 20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes on the same activity. If you are exercising your legs by doing squats, this would mean that you are doing 8, 20-second sets of squats. It is very repetitive so it is imperative that you use proper form, but it can make a simple exercise much more effective. If you have a smart phone, you can often download “Tabata Timer” from your phone’s App store that will help you keep track of time.
Intermediate: If you are accustomed to pushing yourself, you might consider doing circuit training where you are alternating between lower body and upper body exercises. This is a good way to train because you only do “active rest.” Active rest means you are working out another part of your body while you are resting from a previous exercise. An example of this type of circuit training would be if you choose to do walking lunges while you are resting from a set of push-ups. Immediately go back and forth between the two activities without resting.
Advanced: As you progress you can begin to incorporate total body exercises. A total body exercise is when you exercise multiple muscle groups at one time. These types of exercises are great for working out 2 or more muscle groups at once while also working the cardiovascular system. By choosing to do walking lunges while you are also doing overhead shoulder presses, you can fatigue the muscles and increase the heart rate at the same time. To enhance this routine even more, use the Tabata training method at the same time.
As you continue to get in better shape, make sure you increase the intensity of your cardiovascular and strength training exercises. You should also find that the more you exercise, the more time you have to exercise. It’s rather interesting how that works. Also notice that we only used 6 of your days, so if you missed one day, you have one make-up day built in to your week. Keep trying and do not give up. You are capable of accomplishing your goals!
As with all exercise advice, make sure you consult your physician before beginning an exercise program. The exercises are just examples and may not be for everyone. Consult a fitness professional to learn which exercises are appropriate for you.
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