Question: How can I get in shape and stay in shape while working a full time job and raising three kids under the age of ten?
Answer: First off, I commend you for seeking advice on how to get in shape when you have such limited time. Most people would say “Why should I bother trying, I just don’t have time.” Already, you’ve won the first battle, Desire. Now what’s next?
With any of my clients I start with the obvious, 168 hours. That’s the number of hours in a week. I like five days of commitment to exercise because with anything less, you won’t see results. I know it’s hard to find this time, but break it up throughout the day. If you burn an average of 400 calories per exercise session (cardiovascular or resistance training) and you exercise five days, that’s 2000 calories - almost one pound of weight! 3500 calories = 1 lb, so if you want to lose a pound, burn 3500 calories. Depending on how much you want to lose, you need to see how much you’re burning.
Now, you know what kind of commitment you have to make, so let’s fix an easy part – your eating. If you know that you need to eat healthier, plan your meals one week at a time. On Sundays, we cook our meals for the week. It takes a couple of hours but it makes every breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks super simple and quick. We will grill or bake: 12 chicken breasts, 6 sirloins, and 6 hamburgers (lean, ofcourse). Then, we separate 6 salads, 3 servings of green beans, and 3 servings of broccoli. Finally, we’ll get 6 apples, 12 protein shakes, 12 protein bars, 6 Ziplock™ bags of nuts (1oz each). Between the two of us, we have our lunches, snacks and dinners already done (except for the veggies at dinner). The refrigerator is stacked with Tupperware already portioned out with great, healthy meals. Sometimes, I even make a casserole dish full of egg beaters with vegetables, or dry oatmeal portioned out in containers. It seems like a lot of preparation, but it’s so easy with a freezer full of already “serving sized” food!
Ok, now that we got the food taken care of, let’s exercise!
I would love to say go to the gym and get 20-30 minutes of resistance training, but driving to the gym takes time. So, if you can, try body weight exercises at home such as squats, step ups to a stair or chair, lunges, push ups, dips off of a chair, bicep curls and shoulder presses with gallon water jugs (or ½ gallon), sit ups, leg lifts, flutter kicks, bicycle crunches, or reverse crunches. Pick five or six exercises and cycle through them with two or three sets of 12-20 repetitions. Change exercises every other day for variety.
Now, for your cardiovascular exercise, walking, jogging, biking, swimming, and jumping rope are all great activities. Maintain a moderate to moderately challenging pace during those activities for 30+ minutes and you will get you the best results. How do you know if you are doing this? Give it a talk test. If your best friend calls you while you are doing one of the above activities and you can talk without difficulty, work harder! Tennis, hiking, walking and playing in the park with the kids are great things to do as additional fun activities…but they are not part of your five days. Plan structured exercise to achieve maximal results. Add fun activities with the family to burn bonus calories!
Good luck! Stay focused! Stay positive!