There was a time — a long, long time ago during my overexercising, disordered eating phase — when I used to think people who said they didn’t have time to exercise were just being lazy or mismanaging their time. After all, we all have 24 hours in our days … and that’s a lot of time. In my mind, if I could find time to squeeze in one or two workouts a day, why couldn’t everyone else?!
Please, hold the laughter … I know. I know.
I was completely naïve. and completely ignorant.
I wasn’t running a household. I wasn’t working long hours at the office. I wasn’t yet a pet owner. A wife. Or a mother. I was a 20-something in DC, living it up. Essentially, I had zero responsibility. I was in an international long distance relationship with Luis at the time and though I had lots of friends and a robust social life, I also had a lot of free time on my hands. Too much free time. Aside from work hours, I could literally exercise whenever I wanted to — there was no one relying on me for anything. So I threw myself into fitness. While initially I just wanted to lose weight for my health, my focus — vain as it is — quickly changed to getting a thin, fit physique. Which I did, dropping 35 pounds in 8 months on Weight Watchers.
As we all know, idle hands are the tools of the devil — and in my case, having so much free time only fueled my ability to overexercise. It wasn’t healthy and rationally I knew it, but yet I couldn’t stop. “Exercise = good” was how I justified the obsession. How could something so good for you be bad? I developed this holier-than-thou attitude — as though each workout I did made me a better person. (Note to self: it did not. It just made me insufferable to be around).
I gained some weight back and maintained a couple years at a decent halfway point between my pre-WW weight and my lowest weight — my body’s natural weight which doesn’t require a ton of effort. Then I turned 30, and losing weight became next to impossible — and I wasn’t about to go back to ugly behaviors to do it. Then I got pregnant and had two babies. Now I’m 34, and a thin physique isn’t a priority. Yes, I want to lose the rest of the baby weight and a couple more for good measure, and yes I want to be fit … but I won’t go nuts trying. I look back at photos of when I was thin and don’t recognize that person. She was me on borrowed time; I always knew that she couldn’t exist forever … not unless I intended to run myself into the ground forever, spending hours upon hours at the gym and eating the same things every.damn.day for fear of gaining weight because heavenforbid! I deviated from “the plan.” I was ridiculous and while sometimes I miss that body … I don’t miss that mind. Not. At. All.
What I do miss is my drive and motivation. While I don’t want to go back to 7-days-a-week at the gym, today I’m lucky to squeeze in three workouts a week: Zumba Sat and Sun, and then one or two weeknights a week I try to hit the gym after the kids are in bed for a little cardio. These are the only opportunities I really have. Ben wakes anytime between 5 and 6:30 and since I nurse him in the morning, I can’t get to the gym in the mornings. And I’m not willing to give up our dinner hour during the week, or the couple hours we have with the kids before they go to bed — so that means I miss my classes. As a friend and I discussed over lunch this week — right now, our priorities are our kids; our families — not our bodies.
So I work out intermittently these days: #wycwyc, right?
Except sometimes it’s hard to accept that this is really the best I can do. Because I do want to do more — exercise makes me happy. Makes me feel good. It’s just not something I can commit to every day like I used to do. So I have to find little ways to build fitness into my day — take the stairs, walk when I can … you know, the things they always preach to people who say they don’t have time to exercise.
So now I get it.
I get why people — especially those with kids — say they don’t have time to exercise. Every day feels like two shifts: work shift, home shift. By the time you’re done for the night, it’s like 11 pm and the thought of a 5 am wake-up call for the gym is damn nauseating — if not impossible. And while I did early AM workouts throughout my pregnancy, now that we have two kids — and especially an infant — I just don’t have the drive or desire to set the alarm — even if I wasn’t nursing.
One thing I know for sure: I will never judge another person who claims they don’t have time to exercise, because now I’m that person who has to force herself to carve out time for it. Those days where exercise used to be a given — like brushing my teeth — are long gone. My kids are completely worth it, though, and that’s what keeps me going.
How about you? Do you find making exercise a priority easy or challenging?