Thursday, December 16, 2010

An exercise in work life balance

I can’t get no… exercise. That’s what went. It left me sometime around the second trimester, about 7 years ago. Previously near daily jogger and once even a marathon. I have the rest of the balance, most days, between what I do at work and what I do at home with daughter, son, and my life partner. As an outpatient pediatrician I only rarely have weekend or evening obligations such as taking phone call, but as an academician I am working for fun (ha!) from home during the late (after the kids go to bed late) evenings because I’m often productive at that time. And then it “frees up” more time during the work day to 1) drop off my kids at a reasonable hour, 2) pick up my kids at a reasonable hour, and 3) interact with other people at work.

But back to the exercise, that is what I gave up, and I am feeling off balance about it. When I read my MIM peers who carved out that time, I am jealous, but the other thing I can’t do is get up early to do it. Love my sleep in the morning, right up until and including those little snugglers who, well snuggle in with us most mornings. I can stay up late at night, too late, easily, but other than using our brand new Wii, I don’t have exercise equipment at home to use in the wee hours. I think for my next big birthday I’ll get a treadmill for our basement. Or maybe Wii bowling will do the trick. Doubt it though. A recent development, while both kids are in non mommy-and-me swim classes I do get to use the workout machine, overlooking the pool at the Y, so that's once a week. Not enough, but have to start somewhere.

Got to get you into my life, exercise.


  1. I started exercising regularly less than a year ago. We had a treadmill in our basement that was being used as a clothes rack. Finally, worried about my weight, I started using it and have been exercising 2-4 times a week since then. I usually exercise after putting the kids down, and may start the treadmill anywhere from 8pm - 9pm usually. One time I even started close to 11pm! I can't wake up early either, so this is my compromise!

  2. I've never found time for regular exercise. I walk daily, because I trek across campus and up and down a lot of stairs, but not *real* exercise. I know I should, but there are so many other things I'd rather be doing when I have the time. Sigh.

  3. I would get a couple of exercise videos that you don't need equipment for, and do those -- Beachbody Fitness makes some good ones. I just started P90X recently, and they're killer workouts that aren't very long (they're hard enough that you could even cut a lot of them short at 30 minutes and still get a good workout). Our apartment is so tiny that there's no room for any equipment -- that's no reason not to exercise! (Not wanting to get up in the morning, on the other hand, I totally understand).

  4. In the past I was in the exact position that you describe. Exercise has benefits, but getting started can be very difficult especially when you have little free time. Once you get into a routine it is much easier to maintain.

    A challenge to starting again can be overcoming the feeling that you have so far to go to achieve the level of conditioning similar to when you were in good shape. This can lead to negative self talk. It is also easy to compare yourself to others and start to feel discouraged.

    I overcame these challenges by forcing a change in attitude. When feeling discouraged I focus on the moment (instead of the past). I imagine that my heart and muscles can remember how good it feels and are glad to be moving. If my surroundings (and fit people) are making me feel inadequate I instead imagine that I am part of this healthy "club" and celebrate being in the presence of so many happy people.

    Finally if unable to feel good about exercise, pay someone to make you feel good. I figure if I am missing sleep or arranging work in order to exercise it is worth the expense for a personal trainer. This way you can get a lot out of each session and accountability once a week can keep you on track.

    Good luck and have fun!

  5. Thanks for all your great suggestions, I am feeling motivated (just in time for new years??). I like that I can imagine being in a healthy club. Thanks!

  6. I second (enthusiastically) the suggestion to get workout videos. Jillian's (from Biggest Loser) are also short/effective/require little equipment. There is no way I'd be able to have any semblance of an exercise routine if it weren't for my cheezy vidoes.

    And a positive effect is that one of my 2 yr old daughter's favorite things to do is "go exercise". She lifts weights and jumps and does pushups with me. I hope it sticks ;).

    Good luck!!

  7. Kyla - I definitely take the stairs at work every chance I get, like a trek across campus, it has to count!

    MLR - that is so adorable and I'm sure the positive role modeling will help... both of you :-) Oh, and can you send her my way?

  8. I love my treadmill. When I sold my house in August and worried I wouldn't find a new one to move into by mid-September, I had anxiety attacks that I might live somewhere where I wouldn't be able to exercise while my kids were sleeping.

    Then I found a house, but the movers said there was no way they could move the treadmill. I spent a sleepless night worrying and when they brought it over the next day I almost hugged them with elation.

    The happy healthy body, for me, is a nice side effect to my happy brain. I started exercising at night, when I moved, but I got overstimulated and couldn't sleep, so I had to return to morning hours. Good luck, T!

  9. I, too, lost my daily or near-daily exercise mojo during my first pregnancy (after attempting to continue with spin class wearing a HR monitor) until my love of sleep and physical inertia took over. I have since resurrected it on a much less-intense, but still near daily scale, only made possible by our home elliptical machine. I use it in the morning before getting ready -if kids get up, they watch tv in my room until I'm off - I can only handle/make time for 10-20 min/day but doing it makes me feel productive. I would never otherwise get to exercise regularly -highly recommend investing in a home piece of aerobic equipment to supplement weekly Y!

  10. I have the Wii Fit and love it, mostly for the weighing in and graph functions. Starting the day thinking about health and fitness motivates me to eat well and seek out physical activity.

    As for the actual Wii Fit exercises - jogging in place in my living room around a virtual sea wall with the remote in my pocket made me feel so ridiculous (even with the blinds drawn) that I never attempted it again.


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