The thing about sewing is . . . you have to find the time to do it. I’m not a late night kind of gal, so I don’t sew after everyone goes to bed. I go to bed, too. My days are filled with my children – cleaning, playing, wiping, feeding – and my house – just wiping and cleaning. The only time I can find to get a little sewing in is during nap time. This wouldn’t be a problem, except until I started sewing again last summer, I used naptime as my chance to work out and get a few things done around the house. The average naptime around here isn’t much more than 2 hours, so by the time I exercise, unload/reload the dishwasher, and fold a load of clothes, it’s time for everyone to get up again!
I’ve been working out at home since Forrest was little, because he would have such a frickin’ cow every time I tried to leave him in the nursery at the gym. Plus, I found it was way too much trouble to get all three of us together and get out of the house just to go work out for 45 minutes. So, I developed a home routine that I enjoyed and that was pretty effective, albeit time consuming. I tried to work out 4 days a week and did a combination of weight training, yoga, and pilates, with each routine lasting between 45 minutes and an hour. That eats up a big chunk of nap time!
Last fall, I realized something was going to have to give. If I was going to have any time to sew, I needed to devote the entire naptime to it. But, I didn’t want to give up working out. Not because I’m some kind of fitness freak or anything, but because a very significant part of my ability to be happy is directly linked to how I feel about myself, and how I feel about myself is directly linked, in large part, to how fit I look and feel.
I happened to be reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, and stumbled across a mention of her workout routine which is designed to provide a full-body workout in 20 to 30 minutes, once a week. Thinking it too good to be true, I did a little more research and found the source of her routine: Adam Zickerman’s Inform Fitness gym in New York City. Now, I shan’t be making the trip to NYC just to work out, but Zickerman has a book, Power of 10, that provides the basics of his workout philosophy and the routines to follow to do it on your own at home or in the gym.
My discovery of the Power of 10 provided a way to simplify my workout routine, giving me more time to do what I really wanted to do: sew!
For about 8 months, I did the home routines, twice a week. It took about 30 to 35 minutes to complete an entire workout, but 35 minutes twice a week to get the same results I got when I was doing 45 to 60 minutes 4 times a week before was a pretty good trade from my point of view. Zickerman discourages working out at home since the effectiveness of the workout relies on reaching absolute muscle fatigue which could make the use of free weights dangerous. I found that I never really pushed to full fatigue because I was nervous about losing control of my weights. I also got to the point that I needed heavier weight to work out my lower body than I could lift with my arms.
So, earlier this summer, I took the plunge and joined a gym again. The real impetus for joining was actually to give Olive and Forrest a chance to play with other children in the Kids Club and swim in their very nice kiddie pool. I would never have joined just for myself. But, I’m so glad I did. I now do my workouts on the machines at the gym and am getting even better results because I don’t have to worry about losing control once I reach muscle failure. I work out once or twice a week for about 30 minutes, then I go get Olive and Forrest and let them play in the pool for a couple of hours. (I find it ironic that after years of having blindingly white skin in the summers while I was single and relatively unfettered and really should have been hanging out at the pool, it’s only now that I have children that I am chilling at the pool and getting a tan!)
I keep track of my progress and time my sets with my phone
One of my husband’s favorite and sometimes irritating sayings is, “Just because it’s simple, doesn’t mean it’s easy.” And it’s irritatingly true. This simpler workout is actually much harder to do than my longer workouts from the past. For it to really work and really simplify my life, I have to push really hard when I’m doing it. I can’t just go through the motions and do my sets. I have to reach muscle failure with every exercise. And, I have to keep track of it, too. Instead of mindlessly following the directions of my dvd workout gurus, I have to make sure I’m pushing myself every time by keeping track of my progress. But, it’s worth it!
Are my abs washboards of steel? No. Do I have gap between my inner thighs because they’re rock hard with no fat on them? No. Do I have a nice little bicep bump on my arms? Yes. Do my legs look fitter than they ever have? Yes. Do I see and feel my body slowly changing and getting stronger? Yes! Being fitter and feeling like I have the power to change my body with a relatively small time commitment are big benefits of my new workout routine. But, one benefit that I didn’t foresee is how liberating it is to not feel like I should be working out every day. I feel mentally free to pursue other things and I’m not beating myself up because I didn’t work out that day. That means that I can dive into my sewing projects whole-heartedly and not have that nagging feeling that I should be doing something else!