I'm no stranger to working hard, but that doesn't mean I'll ever let my long days keep me from working out. Exercise doesn't sap my energy — quite the opposite. It provides me with the pep I need to go from my part-time office job to my part-time side hustle to my freelance work without losing my spark. Yes, squeezing in a workout when working three jobs presents a challenge, but one I'm well up to. Here's how I make time for a sweat.
I Break Up My Workouts Into Sessions
When I spend a long day at the office followed by a few hours tending bar, the last thing I want to do when I finish is hit the gym for an hour-long spin class. I'm dedicated to health and fitness; I am not, however, Wonder Woman. Instead, when my day stretches for 12 hours or more, I break up my workouts into several shorter bursts.
Six 10-minute workouts can work as effectively as one hour-long session, if you allow yourself to really get into them for those short bursts. I begin each day with 10 minutes of yoga to clear brain fog and get my muscles ready for the day. Then, since I generally nibble at my desk all day, I use my 30-minute lunch break to get in a short run or do Tabata. During shorter breaks, I take a walk around the building (weather permitting) or climb a few floors of stairs. When tending bar, I keep moving enough, but still manage to fit in stretches when I get a breather, which you can easily work into your own routine.
I Pencil In My Workouts
Success at fitness requires planning. I make sure to keep an eye on which days I have off and schedule my exercise goals for the week just as I plan time to work on my deadlines. It works a bit like — and often in tune with — my weekly meal prep. I get everything into containers, but leave myself leeway to select which healthy precooked meals I'll eat daily. In the same fashion, I break my weekly workout goals into 10- to 30-minute intervals and insert anything from yoga to at-home HIIT workouts, then pick and choose which exercises to do each day based on which jobs I'm working which days and what my resulting energy levels will probably look like on those days. I usually plan two to three hours of cardio weekly and split the remaining time between strength and flexibility training.
I Get Creative — and Silly
Since I've always loved fitness, I get creative and work my muscles even when my concentration lies elsewhere. My office chair is an exercise ball, so even when I'm typing, my core gets a mini-workout. When on the phone, I get up and pace. Due to my hectic schedule, biking to work isn't always practicable, but I pedal to the farmer's market or convenience store whenever possible.
I'm also not afraid to make a bit of a show of myself. Yes, I enjoy seeing whether or not I can still make it across the monkey bars, so when I pass a playground, I'll often just do it! When I'm stuck in line waiting behind someone making their monthly Costco run, I will do squats, calf raises, or stretches in line. As far as dancing like no one is watching, let's just say I seldom refrain from busting into a few Zumba moves when someone plays a Pitbull jam.
I Make Sure a Balanced Diet Is Part of My Routine
It is so important to eat a balanced and sufficient diet. I could drive the best Ferrari (I wish), but it still wouldn't go anywhere if I tried to start it on an empty gas tank — the same goes for my body. To power myself through busy days, I chow down on healthy foods that keep my blood sugar stable.
I Prioritize Sleep
Sleep plays such an integral part in overall health. I'm human and have occasional sleepless nights just like everyone, but I do everything I can to make getting at least seven hours possible.
Try kicking your afternoon caffeine habit if you have one. Caffeine consumption too close to bedtime can cost you sleep. I get jitters after a single cup of coffee, so I err on the side of caution. I also take a few minutes to stretch and wind down before bed while sipping on chamomile, and I don't allow any electronics in my bedroom other than my Kindle. I've also been practicing meditation before bed to get better at relaxing my racing thoughts.
I often hear people with far more free time than I'll probably allow myself to have until retirement age complain that they can't find time to exercise. And everyone's different — some people really don't like being busy and must adjust accordingly, and that's fine. But if you find yourself having a hectic schedule, know that it is possible to keep up with your exercise routine. For me, staying busy keeps things exciting, and I'm living proof that grinding hard doesn't have to come at the cost of personal fitness or even happiness. Life in the fast lane can truly be a ton of fun when you get creative about how to keep up the pace.