Finding time for exercise when there is no time to spare

I know I’ve been mentioning here and there that work has been busy lately. Well, basically July is going to be hell for me. I have more projects/reports than days left in the month and I’m hoping that somehow it all just clicks and I’m able to accomplish everything by the deadline. I will, however, have to put in extra hours. A lot of extra hours. Late nights at work means less time for cooking and exercising. The only problem is that I don’t feel well when these two things are not a part of my life and that actually impacts my performance in other areas… including work.

Obviously I’m going to eat (hopefully some super quick meals that are more “assembly” rather than “cooking” will still be satisfying) but exercise is the easiest thing to push off the schedule when life gets in the way. So how do you find time to exercise when it seems like there is no time to spare? My answer for now is going to be “You have to make it a major priority“. My deadlines are not for a few weeks but it’s a lot of work and I have to have the discipline to work with this in mind. The last few days may get tough, but until then I’m willing to do whatever it takes – that may mean waking up early on some days, or working until very late because I want to go to the gym during lunch. I also will try to increase the intensity of my workouts so that less time at the gym still provides me with a quick burn that I crave. Finally, that also means that some other things will have to suffer. I am sure my DVR will miss me dearly (or maybe not, I know I’ll miss it) and as previously mentioned, elaborately cooked meals will be out of the window for the next few weeks. Some healthy take-out once in a while will also give me a little extra time. Lastly weekend work will surely be required. It’s easy to get so stressed out about work that you don’t allow any time for other activities and burn out quickly, but I’m going to attempt to still take care of my body in the meantime. Do you have any other tips?

Onto today’s eats…

BREAKFAST

Raspberry apricot scone, siggi’s vanilla yogurt, fresh raspberries and strawberries

I froze this scone last week and microwaved it for a minute this morning. Unfortunately the microwave totally fried it. This was a little softer than a rock. 😳

MID-MORNING SNACK

I had 1 almond stuffed date form the little batch I made last night. Here is how the whole “process” looks…

(From left to right): whole medjool date, medjool date cut open with pit inside, date stuffed with almonds, date stuffed with pecans, date stuffed with one of each. :)

A few closeups… easy, right?

So yeah, I had the guy on the left this morning. He tasted oh so sweet. 😉

LUNCH

Leftovers from last night’s dinner at Panza saved me time today as well. :)

“Free form lasagna” black pepper pasta sheets, chicken, mushrooms, spinach, plum tomato ricotta sauce (I had mine without the chicken)

Panza was a really great restaurant (casual, yet inviting, great service, delicious unpretentious food) and this dish was fantastic. I loved the fun shapes of the pasta and the chunky tomato ricotta sauce. If I go back there and order this dish again (very likely!), I’m going to ask for extra mushrooms.

After taking this picture, I also added a handful of cannelloni beans for protein. It was a great lunch! 😀

WORKOUT

After all this talk about finding time for exercise, I did in fact find some time for a bootcamp class tonight. I’ve gained weight recently and its impacting my performance at the gym but it’s not going to stop me from keep trying. In fact, I’m using it as a challenge to get back into it and get even better than I was before! 😀

DINNER

Super quick! Beet greens, diced tomatoes, pesto potato salad, roasted beets, goat cheese and pecan fritatta

Quick side note: the pesto potato salad I made for the pool party on Saturday. It’s this week’s CEiMB recipe hosted by The Not So Skinny Kitchen (recipe here). I am not a fan of the mayo-based potato salads but this one was quite delicious. The fresh peppers were an especially delicious addition – they added a great crunch and lots of brightness to this dish. Pics from the pool party set-up…

So yeah, I threw some of the leftover potatoes/peppers into the pan for some extra heft and carbs. I also pre-roasted the beets end of last week (sliced, at 350* for about 20 minutes). Tonight, I sauteed some beet greens in a sprayed skillet, then added 1/2 can of diced tomatoes, roasted beets and potato salad, cracked 2 eggs and finally threw a few pecans in. That was on the stove for a few minutes, then under the broiler for a few more. Done!

Another un-photogenic meal that was really delicious. Obviously beets + goat cheese go well together. The rest of the ingredients enhanced this combo further. Look at all these veggies!!

This was the perfect quick dinner… and the perfect ending to a great day of eats. I will say I’d love something sweet right about now but it’s getting late and I can probably do without. Maybe at least a sweet apple is in my future. :)

What are your go-to recipes on a super busy night? Mine will have to be sandwiches and stir-fries.

How do you fit exercise in during super busy days/weeks/months? I’m all ears! :mrgreen:

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25 comments to Finding time for exercise when there is no time to spare

  • I agree with waking up early. But also, you have to realize that sleep is important, so maybe going to bed early some nights will be a must.

  • the only thing i tell myself is that everyday has to be my ‘playground’.. so i let go of my old thoughts about gyms and schdules and just walk walk walk everywhere i go. and if i feel really adventurous hehe.. i do leg lifts or squats or bits of yoga postures throughout the day… otherwise i think it TRULY is hard to find time to exercise!

    xoxo <3

  • Crazy and stressful! I like to block it out attached to another time commitment so I view it as an unchangable part of my schedule (like, this 45 minutes right before class or this hour right before work is gym time and then schedule my other activities around that). Also looking for incidental exercise–if you have a little time to spare, walk instead of drive, take 15 minute walks when you need a mental break, etc. little things add up and really help to clear your head.

  • I go to the gym before work! That way it isn’t looming over me all day. If I’m not feeling the gym I make a long walk a priority or bike to my destination!

  • In order to ensure I make it to the gym on busy days, I assemble a gym bag in the evening and toss it in the car, which makes it easier to stop off at the gym on my way home the next day. I also tell myself that 20 or 30 minutes of exercise is better than nothing!

    I have rediscovered my love for stuffed dates; in fact, I just posted two “recipes” that I made for a get-together last weekend. I think I need to make another batch to keep at home!

  • I don’t make the gym an option. It’s a priority for me. Otherwise I’m one crabby girl! :)
    And if I absolutely can’t get there, I will take the dog for a walk, do push ups before bed, play with my son, anything to break a sweat at least once every day.
    Good luck!

  • Jon

    My wife and I both wake up at 5:30am and get home at 5:30pm, and have a one year old to take care of, so there’s certainly not much time for cooking or exercise!

    We did find a routine that works perfectly though. On Sunday we cook one big meal as well as one full crockpot meal. The two meals from the crockpot and the Sunday leftovers means we have healthy home cooked meals Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday is take out night, and Friday we throw together something easy like a pizza.

    Even then it’s challenging! We put the baby down at 7:45, my wife works out until 8:15, and I’m done at 8:45.

    This schedule does mean less cooking, but otherwise it would mean sacrificing exercise which just can’t be an option!

  • No matter what, I always make some time to work out. If I don’t, all my stress builds up inside and that’s not good for productivity! If I’m super busy I take the “somethings better than nothing” approach. Work out 3 days instead of 4… do 30 minutes instead of an hour etc.

    Best of luck to you with your busy month lady!

  • I’ve barely been exercising the past month. I just don’t have the time right now. My life is completely wrapped up in grad school, and it’s starting to effect me.

    I have lots of stress that isn’t being worked out through any healthy channel. I’m doing nothing to take care of my body, and I’m gaining weight like crazy. Kyle and I have tried running, but it’s very intermittent and isn’t really giving me the results I like to feel at the end of an intense workout.

    Once this summer semester ends, I have to get back into a routine! I’m really excited for it, actually! It’s an endpoint :)

  • Right now I’ve only been able to keep up my workout routine by getting up at 5:00 a.m. But I’m a morning person by nature, so it’s not too bad. I like your idea of adding some more intense workouts so you get more for your time!

    I’m totally craving medjool dates now, by the way! Fortunately I have a whole container of them. Unfortunately they’re at home and I’m at work…

  • It is really hard to keep a balance, when I was in grad school and working about 50 hours a week my goal was to go at least twice during the week and one to two times on the weekends.

    Mornings seem to work best and if you look at it with only getting up early two days a week it really helps!

  • Hi Elina, I know what you mean about having a hard time squeezing in exercise, but I think you already have a great mindset about it (“you have to make it a priority”). My only advice is to not be too hard on yourself… let yourself rest or even slack off on some days – you can pick up again when you’re more energized/more rested. Also, I think yoga is one of the best stress-busters (and bikram is one of my fave workouts) :) Good luck this month!
    Oh and on super busy nights, I usually eat breakfast foods for dinner (scrambled eggs or oatmeal) :)

  • Ahh! I’m so behind on my blog reading! I just saw your wedding anniversary recap after reading this and thought I’d comment on both here, hope you don’t mind. :) Your wedding pics are GORGEOUS!!! And you two look super-happy and in love. LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!! And second – your question about fitting in workouts when work and life get crazy, I’m a HUGE fan of the early-AM workouts, even though it means an earlier bedtime and takes adjustments, its much easier to do in the summer since its light earlier. AND it’ll make you feel better at work, knowing you’re “done” with your workouts for the day already and can focus on tackling that to-do list without that added stress in the back of your mind. Good luck!!

  • i agree, you have to make it a priority, and schedule time in. maybe mornings will help so that you don’t feel guilty about it later in the day?

    you dinner looks amazing, so many bright colors!!

  • Liz

    Thanks for cooking along with me this week! I’m not a fan of mayo-based potato salads either which is why I was excited to try something different. It was a big hit here, and I agree that the crunch of the peppers was a great addition.

    Good luck over the next few weeks! My best advice is try to get plenty of sleep and keep hydrated – those two things help keep me sharp even when I’m swamped.

  • I workout in the morning so I never miss a workout if something comes up. It’s so much easier and I eat healthier during the day.

  • I’m always coming up against a similar schedule in my job. It used to not bug me so much but now I find myself craving balance more and more. I will admit I have been the WORST role model when it comes to the gym lately and am just starting to get my act together so I am not the one to ask for advice. I will say I enjoy it more when I am busy because it feels like a little sanctuary.

  • i think you really hit the nail on the head. you have to decide it is important and some days it’s not the full workout that you hope for, but at least it’s something!

  • Fitting exercise in is always a challenge, especially these days as my partner and I are on a “sustainability” tour and living out of a car…..I find that I’m turning the errands I have to run and places I need to be into my exercise routine – lots of speed walking and trekking about town (I’m actually in Boston at the moment – hello from nearby!)
    I wish I was one of those 5:45 am kind of people – would make fitting in the gym or yoga studio so much easier, but alas, I am not. I think when things are super busy, you just need to be flexible with the amount of activity you’re getting, knowing that things will eventually calm down, and most importantly, not allow yourself to feel bad or guilty because of it.

  • If you could wake up a little earlier and maybe add an extra 20 minutes to your work commute, that might help. Or doing the same in the evening if it isn’t too dark and you feel safe. 25 minute yoga downloads from i-tunes are a great way to start the day as well and don’t require leaving home or anything. Most of all, be forgiving of yourself. There will be times that takeout and sleeping in an extra 20 minutes will feel best. I know that when I travel tons for work, it REALLY helps if I don’t beat myself up or freak out. It will all balance out when things slow down.

  • Wow – they are some tasty loking eats!
    My go to meals would be pasta or risotto…..
    re exercise – when I know I am going to be busy I try to get up and workout at the very start of the day. Works for me most of the time – although there are those days where you simply can’t fit anything in too….

  • I prefer morning workouts personally. It gives me energy and a good mood to persist through the day. You could divide up the day, though. A bit of cardio in the morning, and then maybe some strength training in the evening while watching TV or something like that! :-)

  • Elina

    Thank you all for your wonderful comments. I definitely need to readjust starting next week and will try to include a few workout mornings. It would be nice to know that I’ve accomplished that and that no matter what happens, I won’t have to sacrifice a workout from my schedule! :)

  • […] fine meals out that someone else cooks for me. I’ve even blogged on many occasions (like here, here and here) about quick meals when life gets hectic and in every post, the most frequent suggestion […]

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