Once upon a time I was Queen. Days were organized around my schedule, and time could be allocated with abandon to anything deemed worthy.
It was sheer poetry… until it was not.
It is not always obvious which of life’s events will bring your schedule to its knees, and why one event will cause us to stumble and another does not. While the specifics of these disruptions are very personal, they seem to fall into a few common categories.
Permanent changes, such as taking on a new job or having a baby, may necessitate a permanent change of routine while a short-term distraction, such as a special project at work, will at least end at some point in the future. A third category is what I call an abnormally-normal disruption, such as a revolving schedule or disruptions that occur on a regular basis but on an irregular schedule.
Fabulous articles have been written about how often we should exercise, how quickly we lose fitness and whether it is better to squeeze 30 minutes (or only 7 minutes) of training into every day or save it all up and exercise a full 150 minutes in one fell swoop just once a week.
I remain a proponent of creating individual solutions – one size does not fit all – but where we can all benefit is in how to find the solution that works for us.
Re-working your exercise routine is challenging regardless of what causes the disruption. It’s easy to lose days or even weeks of fitness while adjusting to a new schedule. Exercising through the disruptions of my life have gone quite well… and sometimes failed miserably. There’s no guarantee you can survive every one, but the odds seem to increase when you follow a few simple guidelines.
Take the time to decide how you will include exercise into your new schedule. Determine how much you can realistically exercise and forgive yourself for what you can’t do.
I’ll exercise more often throughout a disruption if I’ve established a plan as opposed to taking it day-by-day. The 10-day Wilderness First Responder course came about last year during the 11th week of marathon training. Not having time to finish the medium- and long-runs, I opted to run 6 miles a day for 7 out of the 10-days. It wasn’t ideal, but kept me in the game. Three months later, a similar approach totally flopped during the rapid progressive 3-week EMT course. Lessons were learned, however, that will guide me through the next stressful disruption life throws my way.
Do Something, Not Nothing.
The answer as to whether it is better to do only a few minutes of exercise every day, exercise for a long time once/week or do nothing until you are once again on a regular schedule? Experts agree it is better for your body and your health to do something every day – not nothing.
Even with the best plan, there will be days that seem impossible to organize well. Sometimes I resort to doing a few exercises on the rug in the bathroom before I go to bed because there was no other time available during the day. Most of us can squeeze a few minutes of something into the day. You just have to make it happen.
The last advice I’d offer is to talk to each other. My son’s routine was recently disrupted when he started a new job. Meanwhile, my disruptions involve a short-term project – a total gut-job renovation of a house in our new perfect city three hours away, and one of the abnormally-normal variety – certifying to teach wilderness medicine which randomly sabotages my schedule for 2-3 days. There was very little we could do to change our predicament, but as my son said, “…always nice to hear that you’re not alone in the struggle!!”
Hang in there, you’re definitely not alone.