Fitness (and food and family) before social media!

I’m still relatively new to the whole social media thing.

Yes, I’ve been blogging for just over a year now. And Tweeting (@fitknitchick_1). And Pinning (fitknitchick). And updating my Facebook status (fitknitchick).

All of the things that allow me to reach more people with my message about exercise and healthy living.

But lately, I’ve been spending far too much time with my keyboard and computer monitor. Time that I could be spending with my family or in the kitchen or at the gym.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the conversations I’ve been having with readers and followers and other bloggers. There are so many interesting and talented people that the Internet has introduced me to. I have more in common with many of my online friends than the ones I’ve known personally for years 😉 .

But here’s the rub. All the time spent interacting and promoting and engaging on social media is time unavailable for creating the blog content that contains the message you come here to read!

I know that I’m not alone when it comes to putting the brakes on internet time. E-mails and tweets and DM’s seem like they need to be answered right now. But let’s be honest, very few digital communications are urgent; if there’s an emergency, they’ll call you on the phone!

In an attempt to regain some balance in my life, I’m imposing some social media rules on myself.

  1. E-mail, Twitter, FB and blog comment responses will be limited to 15 minutes each morning, after breakfast is finished and children’s lunches are packed for the day. No more running out the door in a panic (and without my own lunch) because I ‘needed’ to respond to ‘one more tweet’.
  2. Blog reading, writing and maintenance will not occur until after my morning workout (and I will not ‘skip out on the last set’ to make more time for the above).
  3. Mid-day and pre-dinner Twitter and Facebook time will be limited to 15 minutes each.
  4. After dinner internet time will be limited to evenings with planned Twitter chats (and when children aren’t interested in spending time with me!).
  5. All electronics will be unplugged at least 2 hours prior to bedtime (otherwise I find my mind racing when it should be winding down)

So, if I don’t answer your e-mail or DM or tweet within a few hours, don’t despair. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like you or want to hear from you or am (gasp!) ignoring you. It just means that I’m unplugged, doing some of the other things I love to do and I’ll be back online in a little while!

Do my rules sound overly harsh to you?

How do you balance social media time with ‘real life’?

No time to exercise? All you need is 15 minutes

Somedays it seems like there’s just no time to fit in a workout. With work, family responsibilities and driving kids to after-school activities, it might seem impossible to find time to exercise.

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating; you don’t find time to exercise, you make time.

What’s more, you only need to carve out 15 minutes to reap many of the benefits of exercise; better sleep, elevated mood, fewer sugar cravings, less-frequent injuries and perhaps, if you make time daily, weight loss and increased lean muscle mass.

Aren’t convinced that you can earmark 15 minutes of your day to workout?

  • How much time to you spend on Facebook? Twitter? Reading blogs (okay, read mine before you exercise okay)?
  • How much television do you watch? An hour? Two or more?
  • Can you get up 15 minutes earlier in the morning?
  • Do you need to spend an hour at the coffee shop with your friends, or will 45 minutes suffice?
  • Do you have ‘time to kill’ while your children are at soccer/piano/ballet/hockey practice?

We can all make room in our day for 15 minutes of exercise.

I’ve put together three 15-minute workouts (the first of which I did today, in the 15 minutes available between dropping my son off at school and teaching my morning small group training class; very effective, too, I might add!).

Two require equipment; depending on what type of workout tools you have at home, they could be done without leaving your house (saving you even more time) or at the gym. The third requires no equipment at all. You can do it anywhere (home, park, backyard, parking lot, behind the bleachers), anytime.

All three workouts have the same structure; perform each exercise for 45 s then rest for 15 s before starting the next exercise. Work through the number of cycles indicated (this is key!) without a break. If you can’t complete 45 s of a particular exercise, stop early and add the remainder of the work time to your next rest interval.

I like to use my trusty Gymboss interval timer, set for 15 intervals of a 45/15 s cycle. It does all the counting for me!

Before starting your workout, familiarize yourself with the exercises and perform 10-15 reps of each at a warmup level (toe pushups would be warmed us as wall pushups; dumbbell squats would be warmed us as body weight squats; pull ups would be warmed up as a dead hang etc.). Click on the links below to see descriptions and demonstrations of the most basic form of each exercise; make sure to use the equipment and perform the add-ons that I describe below!

Ready, set, go!

Workout #1 (equipment: 1 set of dumbbells, 1 pull up bar)

  1. Pull ups (assisted, regular, weighted, wide grip, narrow grip; your choice)
  2. Dumbbell front squats (hold dumbbells slightly in front of shoulders; add a shoulder press on the way up if you want)
  3. Pushups (against the wall, from knees, on toes, spiderman; your choice)
  4. Dumbbell straight leg deadlifts (heels elevated or not)
  5. Burpees or squat thrusts
Workout #2 (equipment: 2 sets of dumbbells, stability ball, flat bench)
  1. Walking lunges with dumbbells held at side (or alternating forward lunges if you don’t have the space)
  2. Low ab pull ins/pushup combo over the ball (1 pushup, 1 pull in, repeat; if you can’t perform the combo in good form, choose one of the two movements and do this instead)
  3. Dumbbell deadlift/bent over row combo (descending phase of deadlift, hold position and row dumbbells up to armpits, finish the row then the ascending phase of deadlift; if you can’t perform the combo in good form, choose one of the two movements and do this instead)
  4. Holding a V-sit on bench, extend arms down to the floor, bicep curl to shoulder press (if the V-sit bothers your lower back, place one or both feet on the floor)
  5. Bench hop-overs (straddle bench, place hands on bench at one end of the bench, hop both legs back and forth over the bench; you should look like an antelope!)
Workout #3 (equipment: none, although an exercise mat may make things more comfortable when performing pushups and planks)

  1. Body weight squats, hands behind head (keep chest forward, bum back and knees behind toes)
  2. Pushups (whichever variety you like; add intensity by placing feet on a book or step)
  3. Alternating backward lunges or lunge jumps (aim for 90 degrees at both knees at the bottom of your lunge)
  4. Plank (from knees or toes, forearms on the ground with elbows under shoulders; tummy and bum should be held tight the whole time)
  5. Imaginary skipping (for non-skippers, this is way more effective than trying to manage a rope!)
Disclaimer: These workouts may or may not be for you, depending on your age, weight and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before you begin a new exercise program.

Let me know which one you like/hate the most?

Do you make time in your day for exercise?

Wordless Wednesday (or ‘Today, at a glance’)

Inspiration for this morning’s Bootcamp class…

Play room needs a touch-up

Time: how much is enough?

The other day I was having lunch with some girlfriends and the topic of time came up.

As in, ‘I never seem to have enough time to get everything done’ and ‘How do you find the time for _____ ?’*** and ‘I have no time to myself’. Sound familiar? As a self-employed fitness professional and mom of three young children I totally get the ‘too little time’ lament. I experience it frequently at home (in particular, between the hours of 3 and 6 pm), and almost daily at work; most of my clients have used lack of time as an excuse for not exercising and eating correctly at least once. It’s a very convenient excuse.

But let’s stop for a minute (a very small unit of time), and think about what we really mean when we complain about not having enough time.

Do we mean that we wish we had more? That there were more than 24 hours in a day? That we could get by on fewer than eight hours of sleep? Probably not. Longer days would just get filled up with more time-gobbling activities.

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Cyril Parkinson

Do we wish that we had less to do? That fewer of our waking hours were taken up with the tasks of everyday life? That we had more time to sit and do nothing? While for some of us, this might true, I believe that most people want their days to be full of meaningful activity. And that idleness breeds boredom, stifles creativity and ultimately, makes time pass very slowly.

I never remember feeling tired by work, though idleness exhausts me completely.”             Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sr.

I think that what we’re really saying when we complain about not having enough time, is that we wish we knew how to prioritize the activities that we spend time doing so that we felt balanced and rested, instead of fragmented and worn out. Our contemporary, western life-style makes many demands on our time, and it may seem that many of those demands are beyond our control. In reality, however, we have more freedom to choose exactly how we will spend our time than humans have ever had before. (Think about dishwashers, computers, cell-phones, cars; all devices invented by humans to free up time for other activities.)

I think that the secret to feeling like you have “just enough” time (not too much or too little) is to decide what’s really important to you (and your family) and devote your time primarily to those activities. Make a list, if that helps. Place the activities that you value the most at the top; this will obviously include work (if it doesn’t, you need to find another way to make a living, but that topic is a separate post entirely!) and general life maintenance (cooking, eating, showering, driving kids to school etc.), but should also include physical activity, getting together with family and friends as well as pursuing solitary hobbies. These are the activities that you will fill your time with.



*** I frequently get asked how I find time in my busy schedule for knitting. Because I find knitting to be both a productive and a deeply relaxing activity, I make time for it every afternoon. And always with a pot of strong tea. I don’t find time for knitting, I make time.
What will you make time for this week?