Many women don’t have a choice but to work out in the evening.
But let’s be honest. At the end of a long day, it’s easier to choose slippers over running shoes and Chinese takeout over boot camp class.
It makes sense that exercise and self-care often takes a backseat. After all, we’re busy building our careers, maintaining our homes and supporting our families. That in itself is exhausting.
But it’s important to remember that your health matters, and exercise and work productivity go hand in hand. Studies show that regular exercise results in improved concentration, sharper memory, better mental stamina, enhanced creativity and lower stress
So how do you stay motivated and energized throughout the day to ensure you make time to exercise after work?
Here are a few tips to set you up for success.
1. Schedule with purpose
On Sunday, decide what days during the week you are going to work out. Put those days in your calendar and treat them as actual appointments. During the week, prioritize your work days strategically by focusing on important and immediate tasks first to guarantee that you will not miss your scheduled gym appointment.
If a chunk of your evening is spent, for example, packing the kids’ lunches for the next day, consider doing as much meal prep as possible on the weekend. Or, if you often get sucked into responding to work emails in the evening, consider setting a time limit on how much time you will dedicate to after-work work.
2. Get your gear on … ahead of time
When you’re getting dressed for work on workout days, consider throwing on a sports bra and wearing it all day. This will mentally prepare you to exercise in the evening and it will be an easy swap into gym clothes.
Or, if you’re coming home after work, immediately put on your workout clothes and shoes when you walk in the front door. If you’re dressed for the part, you’re more likely to commit.
And if you’re going directly to the gym after work, pack your bag the night before. Don’t let a rushed morning spoil your after-work plans.
3. Fuel up strategically
About 30 minutes to an hour before leaving work, eat a snack or a small meal. Focus on wholesome foods that make you feel good, like a piece of fruit, nuts, a smoothie or veggies paired with a protein. Think of this as your pre-workout fuel.
During the day, avoid sugary foods, which is likely to make you crash later on. And it may sound obvious, but don’t forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day to help keep up your energy. Consider a reusable straw to drink water throughout the day; many people find they end up drinking substantially more water through a straw than without. That's important because staying hydrated directly correlates to having more energy.
4. Don’t skip a beat
Instead of heading home after work, go straight to the gym or workout class. Of course, if you have kids, it isn’t always possible go to exercise right after you clock out of the office. After you pick up the kids, head to a park where you all can run around together.
If you are able to exercise at home, multitask by having dinner cook while you workout (thank you slow cookers and ovens!)
5. Hype yourself up
On the way to workout, listen to a motivational podcast to feel inspired. Put on some music and jam out. During the day, chat with a friend, who will help hold you accountable, about your exercise plans. The goal is to find ways to think about your “why” and find the inner strength to get yourself moving.
Throughout my personal health journey, I've discovered the feeling of exhaustion is really more mental than physical. Once we get moving, we notice our body is actually capable. It’s our minds that fool us.
Khrystle Rea is an empowerment coach and life balancing strategist who helps busy women stress less.