A tired father approached me carrying his 10-month-old daughter at the gym the other day.
We chat occasionally at our condo gym, although he doesn’t actually work out there (he takes his daughter downstairs to the common areas near the gym for short walks).
He asked me, like he’d been meaning to do it many times before:
“How do you find the energy?!”
He was referring to my workouts and being able to get to the gym consistently.
I feel like I need to answer that question here too because I know a lot of other parents have the same struggle.
As a parent of two young children, he finds it hard to maintain his old workout routine.
He’s always tired and he’s realizing that his work is suffering, his physical life is limited, and he’s often in a rotten mood.
This is a tough situation.
His infant daughter isn’t sleeping through the night and his kindergarten age son is causing him a lot of stress with his challenging behaviour (as young kids do!).
Sleep and stress exist side by side and the two issues exacerbate each other.
If your situation is anything like this one, how can you find the energy to work out?
It’s tricky, but it can be done.
Now that my son is four, having my sleep interrupted every night isn’t as much of a problem.
But I still vividly recall being woken up three or four times a night for those first couple of years, and still about once a night for the year after that.
And yes, I was able to workout consistently.
I did my first physique competition when my son was nine months old, while still nursing him around the clock.
Was I tired?
Did I think I should just “skip it” plenty of times?
So why didn’t I?
I did actually.
If I was way too tired to work out, I didn’t work out.
If I really needed the rest then I took it.
Most of the time, when I hadn’t slept as much as I would have liked, but wasn’t completely exhausted, I pushed myself to do a workout.
I nearly always felt better after exercising.
I felt like I’d gained energy, not used it up.
That’s the power of exercise.
Exercise makes you feel energetic.
Exercise makes you feel strong.
Exercise makes you feel healthy.
And that’s very motivating.
Even though you’re tired, you can still do something.
You have to be flexible.
While you might have spent over an hour at the gym before kids, you may only be able to squeeze in a 40 minute workout a few times a week.
At the moment, because of how busy I am with my business and my family, that’s about all I do too.
I do challenging workouts for a short period of time…then I get outta there.
My gym time helps me to energize and destress from the day.
It’s my “me time” that helps make everything better.
Many people, especially parents, sacrifice too much of themselves for others.
That doesn’t make any sense to me.
The less that’s left of you, the less you have to give to others.
By taking care of yourself you’ll be better at taking care of the people you care about.
You’re less likely to feel frustrated.
You’ll be in a better mood.
Exercise makes you a better person.
Even if you’re tired (and that’s an inevitable part of some periods of your life), you can be a stronger, healthier, happier, tired person.
The first step is just to tell yourself to do it.
Make a plan and stick to it.
A weak workout is better than no workout because it helps you gain and maintain momentum.
Once you realize how much better you feel when you’re exercising you’ll have another reason to do it.
The positive effects will keep you coming back.
You need to start.
Then it’s helpful to have a coach or a group of like-minded people to help you through the setbacks.
Because consistency matters.
The most tired times will pass (eventually!) and having exercise in your life throughout the journey will make them more tolerable.
Take care of yourself.
You’ll be able to give more to others.