Monday, September 28, 2009

Fitting Exercise Into a Changing Schedule

During the summer I was lucky to be able to work out in the morning every day. I love working out in the morning. I have lots of energy, and exercise gives me the extra little boost of feel-good hormones that lasts all day long. It's also so efficient to work out, take a shower, and be done for the day...

However, my schedule changed as I started to teach my fall classes, so I am not able to work out in the mornings on most days anymore. So I had to move some of my workouts to the late afternoon. And this wasn't as easy as I had thought. My first few workouts in the afternoon were extremely tough. I felt weak and actually couldn't lift my usual weight for some exercises. I also had to cut my cardio short quite a few times. It was frustrating... I remembered why I didn't like to work out in the afternoon in the first place... But then I also remembered that my body just wasn't used to afternoon workouts and that it was my responsibility to prepare myself for my workouts. So here is what I now do to make sure my afternoon workouts are good ones:
  • Don't eat a heavy lunch that will sit in my stomach like a stone hours later
  • Eat a pre-workout snack about an hour before my workout
  • Drink lots of water throughout the afternoon to make sure I'm hydrated
  • Have some green tea to give me a bit more energy
  • Have my gym bag prepared in my car so I don't have to unnecessarily rush around
  • Bring plenty of water to drink during my workout
My afternoon workouts have gotten much easier over just a few short weeks. I think the above, common-sense strategies (that I should do automatically anyway) really helped. Plus, I think my body is getting used to the afternoon workouts.

Another challenge that comes with late afternoon workouts is making dinner. I usually come home from the gym (with a toddler that may or may not be cranky by that time) around 6:00 p.m. and that's really the time we like to eat dinner. I have realized that it's okay to push dinner time back a little. In addition, the key is, once again, to be prepared. I try to prep most of my meal earlier in the day. I always have a big bowl with salad in the fridge and pre-make some dressing and put it in a little glass jar. I also wash and cut up any veggies ahead of time. I think I'll be a bit more mindful of my schedule when I plan meals from now on however. Pizza on a gym afternoon isn't the best idea... :o)

Questions: What time of day is your favorite time to work out? Do you ever have to adjust your workout schedule? What are some strategies you use to help your body adjust to a new workout schedule?

Happy Monday!

Be well,


  1. It's always a bit hard to fit exercise in when your life is changing around you. Kudos for not giving up when things get tough ;)

  2. Anonymous9/28/2009

    It's hard for me to switch up my schedule. My dance classes were usually in the morning and I had it down to an art in terms of pre-post class fuel, fitting other stuff in, etc. Later classes threw me off- I never did an evening class because I couldn't figure out when/what to eat! Preplanning is definitely necessary :)

  3. Excellent ideas! My really fit friend has been telling me his exercise/nutrition schedule and he's figured out a really good timing for his body. Ultimately when we listen to our bodies, we'll be set!

    I love working out in the morning, but I switch it up by arranging to get together with others to work out. Then we have to do it whenever we're both free, usually mid-afternoon. It's nice to have that change of pace.

  4. Anonymous9/28/2009

    My favorite workout moment is definitely in the mornings but I can't do it right now so currently I workout in the late afternoon, after work. Fortunately my mom is here to help me out with dinner, so that's not an issue for me right now.
    strategy to adjust the body to get used to afternoon workout (I workout in the mornings during the summer so I had to do the switch) is just "force" to workout in the new schedule for a week and the body gets used to it. I know that sometimes in the afternoon, after a long day of work our body feels really tired. But I remind myself that after the workout, I'll feel much better, and most of the time it's the case. :)

  5. I think packing a gym bag, like you said, is definitely one of the essentials! I have access to an amazing gym on campus and although it's quite busy, I should be taking advantage of it. Too bad I always forget my packed gym bag AT home. Fitting in a workout with everything else is hard but I've got to start doing it. Thanks for the inspiring post!

    Oh, and to answer your questions: I prefer to work out in the morning (first thing! and no wasted 2nd shower), I don't really have a schedule right now - just fit it in when I can, and sadly I need to work on my strategies.

  6. My favorite time is definitely the mornings. I haven't worked out in the afternoon in a long time. I think like you explained, that it would take some adjustments.

    You are so smart in changing things around so it fits in with your life!

  7. great tips!

    I would love to workout in the am, and we can in the summer, but once fall hits, it's just too dark and then it gets so cold/icy here in the mornings that it's not possible to run outside.

    we also don't belong to a gym, so our only option is running outside, which is hard during the winter.

  8. I SO hear you!
    I have had such a hard time figuring out how to fit in my exercise so it's consistant.

    I tried AM ex and found it just adds too much rushed stress for me in the am

    Ideally I love to do my cardio around lunchtime. I don't have the am rush/madwoman syndrome..and I am done with it before the evening too pooped to care syndrome.

    Like you I had to find my happy middle ground and also get prepared.

    M-F I do my cardio at night after JJ goes to bed. My dinner is a snack now... and a good pre cardio snack. Than I am off to stretch and shower.

    I have one or two good weeks under my belt and feel that this is going to work best.

    On the weekends, I am back to the lunch time work out. And I like it.

    Another new item I added in last week was AM yoga. Right when I get up, I pull out my yoga mat and do a short yoga flow for 15 min or so.

    It was not easy at first because I am still groggy and tight from sleeping but now I LOVE it and my body is adjusting. SHEW

    This week I am wanting to add in some resistnace band strenght training (another quick routine, but not sure when.

    It's all about flexability and being prepared.

    GREAT near and dear to my heart

    good for you!

  9. this is a great post, you have some good guidelines. i work out after work, i can't eat too soon before or i feel sluggish!

  10. I have always preferred afternoon workouts since it helps boost my energy to go home and do any work that needs to be done after my 9-5 job. The only thing that made a difference was packing that gym bag and having it in the car already. I never had an excuse not to go. Plus, the gym I had a membership to was right across the street from the hospital where I worked, so I had no excuse not to go since it was on my way home.

  11. You just spoke directly to me in this post!! I have been working out in the morning for the past year, and I'm going to have to start working out in the afternoon/evening now that I have a job. I'm actually about to do my first afternoon workout, right now!! AHHH! Your tips are fantastic, and I just ate a small meal, remembering that I should not eat a lot sinc eI will be bouncing..haha. I hope it goes well! Wish me luck :)

  12. I am definitely a morning workout persot haven't done it.n. And if I don't get it in ASAP after waking up, I don't get it in at all. (Which is really unfortuante.)

    I'm so far off base during this vacation I'm taking, it's depressing. I haven't had a chance to work out in the morning so I just haven't done it.

  13. Anonymous9/28/2009

    Great tips! I'm still finding time to do exercises and other things in my schedule that changed in the fall. Loved your fresh juice in the previous post!

  14. I like to exercise in the morning. I especially love to do yoga.

  15. I always exercise in the morning. But there have been times when I know I have to get up SUPER early, I'll change my exercise to probably get home or give myself the day off. Usually, if it's a really busy day, I'll do a 10 minutes cardio/strength workout in the morning then at night.

  16. I am definitely with you and notice a HUGE difference when I work out in the morning - I feel better, more full of energy, love only having to take one shower, etc! However, some days I do have to work out at night so i try and plan ahead to make the days I'll come home latest the ones I take off.

  17. Anonymous9/28/2009

    I think the best advice is NOT to eat a huge lunch. I hate feeling my food digesting too!

  18. Nice ideas...and change is always good :-)

  19. Anonymous9/28/2009

    Those are definitely some good tips! I'm glad to hear that you've somewhat adjusted to this new schedule. I'm a morning person too, so that's when I like to workout.

    Being a student, my schedule changes each quarter, so my workout times have ranged from 5:30am to umm...much later than that ;) Fortunately, I will be able to sleep in until 6:30am this fall--I don't think I'm up for 5:30am anymore! If I even have an earlier class, I think I'll try your tips!

  20. Those are some awesome tips! I find it is always easier for me to exercise at about 2 p.m., which tends not to work out so well since I work. Right now I workout in the mornings or at least atempt to, as you've seen in my blogs. I just want to say thank you, once again, for commenting on my blog. You've been a huge encouragement. Knowing someone is reading helps me be accountable.

  21. I am so glad you enjoy my pictures and posts. It is nice to know someone out there does. I hope you keep reading!

  22. Love the list of things to help cope with an every changing schedule. I needed that list yesterday =) I'll use some of those tips tomorrow to help me stay hydrated.

    Morning is my favorite time. I know i can make it work. I just need to go to bed first =)

  23. I totally understand that! This past summer, my schedule had become so hectic because I was living in DC and traveling back to NY every weekend - so not only was my workout schedule so sporadic on Friday, Saturdays, and Sundays (and maybe Thursdays if I was traveling on the Thursday), that I became cranky and depressed! Then I finally took everything in by the reigns and started working out at 5 am - it was the only time I could find time! But I'm glad I did ... it's all about making it work! Now I'm back in NY, so no more traveling and more time to work out!

  24. I like to workout in the late afternoon -- 3 or 4ish. Even 5 is fine. After 5, though, I really start to get tired. I think 3-4pm is the best time because I can settle in for the night after a shower and still enjoy making a nice dinner and spending time with the family.