A while ago a friend of mine posted a similar question on one of the forums on one of my SparkPeople teams. She, like me, had been made redundant and now found herself working from home. Like me, she had been used to a fixed routine of getting up, going to work and going to the gym at a set time on set days before or after work. What happens when you no longer have that routine? What if, like me you are suddenly at home all day and don’t have the structure of fitting in the gym or other exercise before work? Do you, like I did over the Summer, let it slide because you have to travel 30 minutes each way to the gym? Or think that you can do it later in the day? Afterall, you have all day, right? It’s amazing how quickly that all day slips away and you have none left!
Now, I’m no expert but after 6 weeks or so of trying to get myself back on track I thought I’d share my thoughts. If I put it down in writing I may actually manage to maintain this healthy lifestyle which I have, kind of, achieved.
When I was made redundant in June, it was fairly easy to maintain the exercise routine that I had put in place prior to leaving work. My son was still at school and I had a goal I was aiming towards (Run for All 10k on 1 August). So, I was running 3 times a week and swimming twice. I also had my gym membership which meant that I couldn’t use the weather as an excuse not to train. When the Summer holidays came and the Run for All had been completed, things began to slide. My son has a learning disability so leaving him at home while I go out for a run is not an option and taking him running or swimming with me may give him a workout but it wouldn’t give me one. To top it off my husband was working away from home a lot so I was a single mum during the week and then working (I had 2-3 part time jobs before I was made redundant from the main, best paying one) at the weekends. Anyway, the exercise routine took a nose-dive and apart from walking into town or to do the shopping on days when we only needed a few bits I didn’t do any exercise after completing the Run for All until my son went back to school 6 weeks later!
Another challenge has been when do I fit exercise into my day and how often. I have decided that since part time PA/secretary jobs seem to be very thin on the ground, I am going to set up my own business as well as continue to do all the administration/bookkeeping for my husband’s business. If I am working from home, how do I fit it in and how do I get the motivation to do it? The motivation for me is easy – register for an event to aim towards. I have pre-registered for next year’s Run for All in York on 31 July 2011 and am continuing to train through the winter so that I won’t get to April next year and panic because I have to start the run training from scratch again. I may need to join a gym to get me through the winter rain though. I am also going to register for the Swimathon next year having not done it in 2010. It is usually held in April so it will give me an interim goal.
Now to my plan as to how to fit in exercise, work and family life:
Firstly, apart from the two 4-hour shifts I go to work on the weekend, the weekends are exercise and work free. That is “family” time. If my other work picks up, I hope to reduce those shifts so that I only work one 4-hour shift.
So, to the weekdays:
I usually get myself and my son up at 7am to get us both breakfasted, teeth cleaned and lunch made in time for his bus to arrive to pick him up for school at 7.50am. I then turn on the computer and have an hour or so catching up on emails, Twitter, Facebook and tending to my “farm” and “cafe” (yes, I am addicted to Farmville and Cafe World on Facebook). This takes me to 9am when my breakfast has settled enough for me to go for a run or, if the weather is bad, to do a workout DVD or strength training at home (love kettlebells). I usually go for a run on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 30 minutes (that will increase when I can get back to running for the whole 30 minutes). When I get home I do 15 minutes of strength training and stretching then have a shower and get dressed for “work”. I am usually at my desk by 10.15am and ready to get to work. On days when I am not running, I go swimming and leave home at 8.45ish to get to the pool for 9.15ish. That gives me 30-40 minutes in the pool before the Aqua aerobics class starts, which is plenty to do the Swimfit programmes. I finish in the pool and am back in the car ready to go by 10.15am and will combine the trip home with shopping and other errands such as banking. If I’m lucky I’ll be home by 11.30am.
So, that is how I get the exercise in but how do you stop yourself from “picking” during the day when you are at home and can get anything you want (as long as it is in the house) at any time? For me, it is OK if my husband is at home between clients as if he sees me eating something he thinks he can have it – he can’t, he needs to lose more weight than I do. My son is another matter, he needs to put on weight but we have rules about what he can and can’t eat so, again, I’ll choose the right things to snack on. However, when I am on my own it is all too easy to buy a chocolate bar on my way home with the shopping thinking “I’ve earned it with the swim or walk I’ve just done”. I haven’t, it would take an extra swim/run to be able to “afford” the chocolate bar! So, what do I do? When I’m shopping, I have a list. If it isn’t on the list, it doesn’t get bought. Well, that’s the theory, I’m still working on the practice.
At home, though, I am much better. I have put a routine in place similar to the one I had at work. I have a healthy snack after my run or swim (or other exercise), usually a banana. Then I go through till lunch. At lunchtime, I have a break. I make sure that I leave the computer and eat at the table in the kitchen. I also log what I am planning to eat on SparkPeople so that I can keep track of what I am eating. Now that I am at home, more often than not, it means I can have things like scrambled eggs on bagel or baked potato for lunch which keep me fuller for longer than a sandwich. The most important thing for me is to avoid the temptation to eat at my desk and continue to surf or “play” at the computer. Mid-afternoon, usually just before my son gets home from school, I’ll have another piece of fruit as a snack (got to get in those 5-a-day) to keep me going until dinner. My weakest time of day is, and always has been, after dinner when I leave the computer so that my son can play and I am sat reading or watching tv (if I’ve done the housework jobs for the day). I usually save myself enough calories to have a yogurt or Weight Watchers dessert about 1 1/2 hours after dinner but don’t eat after 9pm.
As I have said, this is what works for me but it is half term next week so it may all go out the window again and I’ll be back to square one at the beginning of November! I feel a Christmas diet and fitness challenge coming on… watch this space.