Carving Out the Time to Move

timeWow, it’s been a few weeks since I last posted – where did the time go? I hear this all the time and in my own head. When I coach people on physical activity, the topic of time management invariably comes up. It’s certainly something that’s come up for me lately as I’v put the focus on my creativity with workshops and rehearsals. It’s more important than ever to make a plan and stick with it.

What I’ve been finding is that for the most part, folks are not taking taking enough time for themselves. The desire and motivation to get moving are there – from feeling more energized to losing weight and relieving stress, but one big barrier gets in the way – time. Today we are going to strategize on ways you can carve out time for yourself to get the physical activity you want and need.

Time management is a whole topic in and of itself, and getting a handle on it can be a big stress reliever. It’s the cornerstone to getting things done (aka reaching your goals). Let’s look at it in relation to exercise. The poorer you manage your time, the less likely you are to find the time to exercise and the consistency to keep it up. You may have the best intentions in the world; you bought a new bike, joined a gym, or finally cleaned off the treadmill in the basement – unless you consciously make the time for it, it ain’t gonna happen.

Chart Your Time:

happierWork, commute, kids, volunteering, hobbies, and other important commitments can compete with our fitness goals. The first step is to make a Time Chart. I first found this strategy in an exercise from Tal Ben-Shahar’s book Happier and I think it translates well here. Get a piece of paper and make seven columns and label them for each day of the week. Below each day, fill in your day (you can break it down in rows morning, afternoon, night) with your standing commitments – everything except your exercise. Then, see where your free time is on your chart.

Next, decide on how many times of week you’d like to exercise and for how long. Also take into consideration time for any hobbies that are not exercise related (we don’t do that often enough). Remember, to make it stick, choose physical activities that excite and motivate you. If you hate getting on the treadmill, it’s time to explore other things. I recently had a session where my client said she loved to roller skate. A quick Google search revealed a number of indoor rinks in the area and now she is excited to go.

Remember, too, that one of the best ways to get started and to stick with a routine is to make it a habit.Sure, things get in the way like recitals,a cold, or social functions, but the more your can work out at the same time and day each week, the better. Now, go back to your schedule. See where you have those open spots where you are MOST likely to add in your exercise. Be mindful, that even if you have a shorter amount of time than you like, ANY exercise is better than no exercise at all. If you haven’t heard, the jury is out, shorts bouts of moderate to vigorous activity spread out over a day is just as effective as one longer bout.

Be Realistic

If you haven’t been consistent with your workouts, it’s better to ease in to it than crash and burn. Look at your schedule and book in two workouts instead of four to get started. Try it out for a couple of weeks and see if it’s working for you and your schedule. Maybe there is some time you can devote on the weekends if you are having trouble during the week.

Switch It Up

Never say never unless you’ve tried it, and even if you did, try it again! You may think you hate to workout in the early morning, but have your ever done it? You never know, once you drag yourself out of bed you may fall in love with the way it makes you feel for the rest of the day. You may love the fact that you have some more free time after work.

Yee Wa Kung Fu

My awesome cousin Yee Wah

Are you doing the same old thing? Does exercise mean stepping onto the treadmill day after day? SWITCH IT UP! Be creative and think about all of the things that you loved to do or would love to try. My cousin has fallen madly and passionately in love with Kung-Fu and signed up for classes and attends demos – who knew?! It just takes a little research and a little courage – and just in case you think you might bee too embarrassed to jump into that hip-hop class that’s always intrigued you, there are two things to remember:
First, nobody cares what you look like (they are too busy looking at themselves in the mirror)  and second, give yourself permission to be terrible. I mention hip-hop because I feel that I am particularly terrible. I am way too modern dancer and I missed the boat entirely in the 1990s and 2000s – entirely. I don’t run to a hip-hop class for sure, but I do love my hip-hop Zumba class and give myself A LOT of leeway and have a great time.

Find the Why

find the whyLastly, let’s look at the motivation you have to get moving. If you are not really motivated, no matter how precise your schedule looks and how well you’ve planned, you might never get moving. It’s time to FIND THE WHY. Dig deep. What will your life look like if you added exercise into or back into your life on a consistent basis? One thing is for sure, you would’t constantly be letting yourself down that can really chip away into your confidence. What influence would that newfound pride have in other areas in your life if you DID make the time for yourself. What would life look like of you tried new things that seemed daunting before (hip-hop included)? What would life look like if you had more endurance, more strength and more flexibility?

I believe that exercise is a great metaphor for how you want to live your life. Carving out the time to take care of yourself in this realm is the blueprint to take into other areas of your life. Think of exercise as your playtime – and nothing is more fun than play, and something that we adults can use WAY more of!

Happy moving!






New Horizons and Letting Go

It’s been a while since I last posted. There has been an exciting change in my life. I am now the Health Coach and Wellness Program Manager for American Express here in New York City working for the wellness company StayWell. I missed the one-on-one coaching from my days as a personal trainer and I am thrilled to be working individually with employees where I coach on a myriad of topics from weight management and  nutrition, to physical activity and stress relief.

letting goNow that I am settled in to my new job and my new commute, there has been another big change, I have given up my group fitness teaching and only teach yoga on the weekend. I have to admit, as much as I love teaching, in the end, I didn’t feel like teaching group fitness was my thing. It didn’t come as naturally as personal training did. Don’t get me wrong, I still love being in front of a crowd and do see myself one day as a motivational speaker (more on that down the road). I simply chose to LET GO of an identity that didn’t entirely feel like my own.

no sweat segarAs I get older (I recently turned 48), I am finding it important to let go of things that no longer serve me. Instead, I am embarking on a journey to fill my life with things that I truly enjoy which ultimately help to shape who I am (if you recall from prior posts, 40% of happiness are the things that you choose to do that bring you the most meaning and satisfaction).

I recently read a great book I came across called No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness by Michelle Segar, Ph.D. I thought it would be a great addition to my wellness arsenal and would quench my thirst for all things behavior change (coincidentally my Aunt was reading it and asked me to help her make her own fitness changes). The big take-away: redefine the word exercise more in terms of physical activity to broaden your horizon and make this activity  something that you truly enjoy doing to increase your motivation to do it. She explains how to transform physical activity from something perceived as chore into a something perceived as a gift. Read the book to find out how!

I not only took her fitness advice and enjoying exercising outdoors, I am also taking this advice into other areas of my life. For example, I really miss hearty cooking and just bought a new cookbook to explore my love of Spanish food (which brings back memories of my father’s unbelievably delicious cooking and a way to explore my heritage). Once you begin to look at things in your life as gifts (how about life itself!) it’s made me really think about all the things that I love to do that I have put on the back-burner.

This is the fun part. Although it may be hard to let go at first, the one gift you can give yourself is the gift of time to explore the things that ignite your passion – that intrinsic motivation is the key to change. Let’s not sit on the fence any longer.

What are the things that you are ready to let go of to make room for the things that you love to do? What things can your shift from a chore to a gift? You may want to start with exercise, but don’t limit yourself, take a look at your whole life. Whatever the change may be, make the most of it!






change aheadI was driving home from work the other night and the word ‘adaptability’ popped into my head. It was no coincidence, for the second day in a row last week, I was on the treadmill adapting my cardio workout to accommodate this groin pull and what I believe to be a strain in my piriformis. Although I may not be able to go full out in the way I envision, I was able to get on a sweat, raise my heart rate and even take a small jog. I took the opportunity to listen to my Spin playlist for class this week and have fun with the changing BPMs (beats per minute) and hill levels. I particularly enjoyed my five minute jog to an inspiration song, “Racing Against Myself” by Haik Naltchayan (and a pain free jog at that!). I was really proud of myself for accepting my limitations at the moment when it comes to certain types of exercise. Let’s get real, it’s still a bummer and at times I want to stomp my feet in protest and rail against the fitness gods. So I think about all of the things I can do at the moment: I can take and teach indoor cycling at a pretty high intensity, I can do a full-out upper body strength training workout, and there are some lower body exercises I can do such a abductions on the floor and glute raises, and a slew of core exercises. I just have to be careful not to overdo any of the cardio and overstretching in yoga. The key to all of this is consistency and adequate recovery. I’m all in for the consistency piece at the moment.

It’s no wonder that adaptability popped into my head as I’ve come across the importance of adaptability in my studies of happiness and wellbeing. In this great article in the Huffingtom Post, “The One Trait that You May Not Realize Will Make You Happier,” author Catherine Pearson discusses the qualities of adaptable people such as analyzing one’s on coping mechanisms and reinventing oneself (I particularly like this one). She goes on to say that adaptable people don’t wait for happiness, they deliberately seek out positive experiences. I am also finishing up Flourish, Martin Seligman’s follow up book, his best selling Authentic Happiness. In particular, I spent this morning’s commute listening to the evidence-based argument that being optimistic is a good determinant of longevity, a better immune system, and  increased cardiovascular health.

Being optimistic also has some pretty great mental health benefits. Besides the boost in knowing that we will live longer, being optimistic makes us better able to cope with change and make us more adaptable. The two go hand-in-hand. It’s a great tango and one that I plan on doing for a long, long time.