Family life

The struggle to find time for fitness

Tracy Chappell has fallen off the fitness bandwagon (again) but she’s determined to hop back on.

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Photo: iStockphoto

Follow along as Today’s Parent senior editor Tracy Chappell shares her refreshingly positive take on parenting her two young daughters. She’s been blogging her relatable experiences for our publication since 2005.

I am sitting in a cluttered, glassed-in office at a karate/fitness centre. A youngish, cute, fit man sits on the other side of the desk, asking me questions that would seem very inappropriate if we weren’t doing a fitness consultation. But that’s what I’m here for. Again. I don’t know why I’m talking so fast as I go through the laundry list of activities and programs I’ve tried with varying degrees of success (can I say any of it was a success if I’m back here again?). I sound like every weight-loss commercial you’ve ever heard and I can hardly believe that this is me, still struggling at this stage when I should have it all figured out—or stopped caring. I tell myself that it’s better to be here than give up.

I know it’s not rocket science: move more, eat less. Simple—but not easy. Of all the things in this world that are completely out of my control, what I put in my mouth completely is. But I so often feel that it’s not.

There have been times in my life that I have felt a sense of control. It was an incredible feeling that I somehow always managed to let slip through my fingers, despite my staunch belief that I would never, ever go back to where I was. (Yep—here.)

Read more: 7 workout tips for parents >

I have a friend who is about to celebrate one year smoke-free (hooray B!). I am bursting with pride for her, but it also makes me realize that when she was smoking her last cigarette, I was signing up for Weight Watchers for what I had planned to be the last time, and had just joined a bootcamp program. We were kicking our bad habits together and going into our forties happy and healthy. I never thought of what I had as an addiction, but the more we talked, the more I realized that we were facing the same struggles—cravings, temptations, habits, social pressures. She thought I had it a little easier because I could indulge every now and then and it wouldn’t be considered a failure; I thought maybe her cold turkey method was smarter because indulging every once in a while was a very slippery slope. At least for me.

Read more: How to quit smoking… when you’re a parent > 

I have learned many things along the way, the biggest being that I need to be involved in some kind of program to help me reach my goals. The bootcamp program I was in for most of last year was a huge step in the right direction. I never thought I was a bootcamp type of person, but I really, really loved it. It was empowering and motivating and I felt stronger and firmer, and had much more endurance and drive than I’d ever had. And when I was going there twice a week, I was much more careful about my diet (I didn’t want to undo all that hard work!) and I even worked out outside of class. In my living room. By myself. Seriously. I said to myself that I would never stop. This was the new me, and I liked her a lot.

Then we got into a crazy work schedule last November, and something had to give (or I was never going to see my kids). Bootcamp was the only option. I regret it now, because once I stopped going, all my good habits slowly unraveled. Then Christmas hit, and it was all over. It was like it never happened.

But all is not lost. Here I am, ready to begin again. The man sitting across from me seems to hear me. He seems to get me. He’s confident that I have found the right place to reach my goals (and I tell myself that he’s not just saying that because it’s his business). This program focuses on strength training but has a nutritional component, which I know has been a missing link for me, as well as a monthly personalized progress check-in (I need to be held accountable!). There are also a variety of class times, which will make it much easier to get there every week, regardless of what life throws my way.

Last year was almost my year, but this year is it. I believe it. I’m sure I’ve said that before, but it would be more pathetic to stop trying.

How do you manage to squeeze fitness into your life?