I Workout For 9.5 Hours A Week, And My Routine Is Way Easier Than You Think
If you have told me a year ago that I would be working out for almost 10 hours a week every. single. week., I would have laughed in your face. It’s not that I wasn’t an active person, I have always loved walking and attending the occasional free trail class at a boutique gym, but it was more like how would I find the time to do that? Between working full-time (plus usually overtime hours), chores and errands, spending time with by boyfriend, friends, and family, and anything else that requires my attention, how on Earth would I find nearly 10 hours in the week for workouts?
Actually, it turns out that it was really simple. Sure, there are some sacrifices that I’ve had to make, which I’ll get to in a minute, but really it was a matter of reframing how I looked at my time and, more importantly, what was worthy of my time. I used to spend a lot of my free time where I wasn’t at work or out doing something watching television. Rewatching old shows, channel surfing, binging—you name it, I was doing it. That’s not a bad thing on occasion, and I’ll never turn down a Big Bang Theory binge session, but I was doing this every day until 1 or 2am. When I really took a minute to think about why I spent so much time doing this, what became clear was that it was the only time in the day where I could do something for myself, where I was the boss of what I did, and that it made me happy.
But, it turns out, it didn’t make me really happy. Sure, I enjoyed the episodes very much, but when I woke up exhausted in the morning from too little sleep and rushed around trying to get things done and get everything in order before going to work, I felt stressed and anxious. When I skipped a workout because I was too tired and instead watched TV on the couch until I fell asleep, I would wake up feeling sore and uncomfortable with my body and unmotivated. Yes, in the moment, I loved my TV routine, but in the mornings I felt like crap, and that would set the tone for the rest of my day, which usually felt rushed, anxious, and exhausting, ultimately leading me back to my couch that night, to reclaim some me time.
That’s when the reframing started. I was feeling particularly motivated after successfully completing Whole30 and wondering what other things I could improve in my life and make it a little healthier, a little calmer, and a little more productive. I zeroed in on my TV time and came to the conclusion that it had to go. Not forever, but not every day, either. I replaced that time with evening workout classes, trips to the nail salon for mani/pedi treatments, date night or time with friends, and a nighttime routine that would ultimately set me up for a peaceful sleep (which started at 10:30pm the latest, unless date night or time with friends ran over). The night routine wasn’t crazy, just a shower while listening to some podcasts or some relaxing music, a face mask, followed by my nighttime skin routine (just two products, serum and moisturizer), brushing my teeth, and throwing some mousse in my hair. That’s it, then I was off to bed.
But it didn’t end there. This is where my new workout routine kicks in. See, by taking control of my nighttime activities, I was waking up 2 hours earlier and feeling more well-rested and productive. I now use this time as my ultimate me-time. I make a quick breakfast and a cup of tea, I pick out my outfit and spend time getting ready for work (as a makeup junkie, I love having time to really play with my products), and I make my lunch for the day (which has saved me a lot of $$$). But before I do all that, I work out. Yes, as soon as my eyes open, I throw on my workout clothes and grab my jumprope and head to the backyard where I jump rope for 500 jumps (this usually takes me about 3-5 Beyonce songs, or about 15-20 minutes). Then, I come inside and set up my yoga mat, 10lb weights, and resistance bands in my bedroom, turn on my TV, and do five 5-7 minute workout videos from YouTube (I have been enjoying Love Sweat Fitness’ Spring Slim Down series, the videos are quick and have really been working). After that, which usually totals to about 40-50ish minutes of high-intensity exercise, I go about getting ready.
But I’m not done with my workout yet. Once I’m all ready and I leave my house, I walk to work. Now, this is not realistic for most people, I know, but I am lucky to be able to work close to where I live, so I walk about 30 minutes to the ferry across town, take the ferry to my office, and then my day really begins. For the record, I am not viewing this walk as a power walk or my last big workout of the day. I’m just walking to work at my normal pace. But this counts as a workout! I’m being active and getting outside, enjoying nature and a podcast before I get to the office and tackle whatever is thrown at me there. I have really come to cherish this part of the day.
So, by the time I get to work, I have been physically active for almost and hour and a half at varying intensities. But I’m still not done yet. I mean, on most days, that is all I do, but I’ve recently taken up aerial yoga and take four 1-hour classes a week, two in the middle of the week and two on the weekend. I love these classes so much because it is so fun and doesn’t feel like a workout, but I can feel myself getting stronger thanks to all of the climbing up the aerial silks and holding different positions in the air. Plus, you get a great stretch and there is a 5-10 minute shavasana at the end, where you just lay in the silks and meditate, and it is my favorite part of class.
By doing this routine week after week for about 6 months, I have definitely seen results. I am 30lbs lighter, I am way stronger than I used to be, but also I feel happier when I stick to my routine, I’ve made great friends at yoga class, and I have turned my me time into time that actually benefits my mind, body, and soul. But just because I’ve hit my groove doesn’t mean I’m done improving. I’d love to hit 1,000 jumps on the jump rope in the morning someday, and I have some different aerial moves I am practicing to try and get better. I still fluctuate with my sleep sometimes, so I want to work on finding ways to be better at that (maybe reading before bed?), and I definitely need to work on my anxiety management for the long term, like taking up daily meditation or finally finding a therapist. Plus, I’d love to finally gain control over my love of sugar.
So, yes, I still have some areas I can improve on, but when I look back on where I was a year ago, I can’t believe the progress I’ve made. It’s amazing! But that doesn’t mean you have to work out for as long as I do. The moral of this story is that little incremental changes help, so adding a morning or evening walk into your week or day, stretching in the morning, or changing the time you set aside for workouts can really help. We don’t all need to be fitness junkies, we just need to find movement that feels enjoyable for us and naturally fits into our daily lives. That’s how to ensure that we will keep moving well into the future!