Even with the differences, we have between one another, we also have the strong commonality of having jam-packed, busy days. We all have things we want to accomplish, things we have to get done, and we all have the same amount of time in the day to handle all of it. Throw in a pandemic, working from home, online learning for your kids, and that To-Do List that was semi-overwhelmingly but manageable just exploded.

Except now you are surrounded by virtually the same four walls daily, with everyone in your house always being home and on a screen for school or work. Now more than ever, the need to be healthy, to be working out regularly, and to be eating well has to be our priority. Not only will healthy habits keep us physically healthy during these unprecedented times, they will also help to keep our sanity in check.

As the majority of the population begins to shift gears with the impending start of the new school year that is potentially online, you might feel like the prospect of having the freedom to take care of your physical health with your workouts is long gone because you will now be facilitating distance learning for the younger kids in your household.

This might seem like an opportune time to let go of your fitness goals. To put them on the back burner so you can ensure that those around you are taken care of, can meet the expectations placed upon them and with minimal upheaval in your household.

However, this upcoming transition into a new and potentially extremely different school year is not a reason to neglect your health. This is an opportunity to lean into your health goals,

to learn how to manipulate your schedule to make workouts and nutrition easy habits, and to continue progressing towards all of those healthy goals you set for yourself.

Before we go through some easy hacks and tips for you to continue to stay on track with your workout goals, we need to dismiss a foundational belief around working out. The majority of us get into working out with certain goals set in our minds.

Predominately, these goals surround how we want to look physically, and any other non-physical goals (like sleeping better or increased energy levels) end up being a bonus. However, we all feel like we need to be spending multiple hours a day on our workouts to make these goals a reality.

We have to dispel that belief. Before the pandemic, most of us did not have the time built into our day to spend 3 hours at a gym, and that has not changed since the gyms have shut down. Nor will it change when the gyms can re-open.

3 hours in a gym does not mean you will hit whatever fitness goals you have in your mind, it means you spent 3 hours at the gym. The difference between those individuals who can meet their fitness goals and those who are not is not just in how much the individual wants to see the transformation but also in how much effort they are willing to put into their workouts.

fitness goals
If you want to learn more about how to plan your workouts into your week, please refer back to my article “How to Plan Your Workouts” for my tips on how to make working out work for your schedule.

Once you have that down, let’s address how to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of the workouts you are using to hit your fitness goals. I know you have your ultimate goal, that light at the end of the tunnel for where you want to be when you reach the end of your health journey. I am here to tell you that your journey of being healthy is only just beginning and is never-ending. It is fluid, it is flexible and can adapt as well as change with you and your life.

We are going to set some quantifiable goals together in the course of this article. At the end of this, you will have a clear route for making your fitness goals become your reality and the tools necessary to adjust that route regardless of anything life throws your way.

Now that you know from “How to Plan Your Workouts” the basics on how to schedule your workouts during the week, ask yourself how many days during the week you would like to be working out, and how many days during the week you would like to be working out.

PRO TIP: Consistency is the key to progression. This is why I like to dispel the belief of every workout having to be at least an hour or longer. Most of us do not have that kind of time during the day to devote to our workouts, leaving us working out only 2 days during the week and being extremely stressed about squeezing that time into our already packed schedule.

I would rather see someone work out 3 to 4 days during the week for around 30 minutes than 1 to 2 days a week for 1 hour. That consistency in your workout will help you see results in your strength, endurance, stamina, and physical transformation faster because you are training more often.

How do I increase my days? If you are currently working out 1 to 2 days a week and want to increase that to 4 days a week, do not immediately jump to 4 days. Your body as well as your mind is not accustomed to 4 days a week and making that big of a leap is going to feel like system overload. Increase how many days you are working out by just one day, and do that for at least 2 weeks, if not 3 weeks. This way your muscles adapt to being worked more, you will not experience extreme fatigue or muscle soreness, and you will not overwhelm yourself.

What do I do if I increase and it feels unmanageable? If you tell yourself you will increase to 3 days a week, and 2 weeks in, you feel beyond overwhelmed, ask yourself why. Are your workouts too long and you feel stressed for time? Are you too sore? Are you not motivated?

what if it became unmanageable
PRO TIP: Make sure when you are planning your workouts, you are also taking into account how much time it will take for you to get yourself handled after the workout. If you know it will take you 30 minutes to eat, shower, and get dressed, plan that time into your workout. You could feel an increased amount of soreness as you are increasing your number of workout days.

Your body has to adjust to the increased load. When you plan your workouts, plan for a day of low impact, like a hike, yoga, or Pilates. You are still workout out, but you will not feel as sore. Lastly, if you are not motivated, consider jumping into a virtual workout class or hiring a coach to help keep your head in the game.

Here’s your workout:

  • Use this one as a warm-up, a finisher, or a quick workout if you are pressed for time!
  • Tabata
  • 10 rounds
  • 20 seconds of work 10 seconds of rest Burpees

Once I have increased my days, how do I know I am progressing?

Ultimately, there is no point in taking time out of your chaotic day to focus on working out if you are not seeing change. As a trainer, I take note of how I see you evolving when we work together. You might realize my observation because I will make exercises more difficult, I will increase your resistance or give you more complex series to work through.

Pro Tip: Keep a journal in addition to your workout calendar. In addition to keeping track of the workouts you have been doing, write down how you feel as your workouts progress. This is a necessity because that physical transformation you are working towards so diligently will be the last thing that happens.

Read that again my friend: THE LAST THING. I don’t say that to discourage you, I say that so that you will NOT be discouraged. A lot of the time change does not happen quickly enough for us and we give up. I do not want you to give up because I know the change you seek is within your grasp and completely attainable for you.

Focus on Non-Scalable Victories: Healthy living will impact every single aspect of your life, and all of those positive changes are worth noting and celebrating. So take note of improved sleeping habits, improved patience, increased energy levels, and even your increased sex drive. Journal about any positive change you notice that is NOT the number on the scale.

Take Pictures: Not for Instagram but for YOU. We see our bodies every day in the mirror so when physical change happens, we are typically the last person to take notice. After all, you have been living with this change but if you see a friend that you have not seen in a while, they will not be as accustomed to seeing you in this new light. I encourage ALL of my clients to take photos either at the beginning and end of working with me, or monthly. Not to share with anyone else, but for personal reference, so they can see how much their bodies are changing.

Trainer Tip: Have a benchmark workout to keep track of the increased gains you are getting from your workouts. It needs to be a workout that you enjoy doing and will not mind repeating. Something that gives you quantifiable data in how you are changing. Do that same workout once every quarter and notate your results to keep track of the progress you are making.

Tip: When you schedule this workout, make sure it is during a time when you will be able to focus on it. If you know you need to do the workout during a particular week, plan it for a day when you know you will not be distracted and will be able to give it your best effort.

Pro Tip: Have a workout you use to monitor your strength and another workout to monitor your stamina. The weighted workout would have a set number of reps, whereas the stamina workout would be something like an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible). That way you can see the strength you are gaining as well as how your endurance is improving by adding more weight for the strength workout and getting more rounds in for the stamina workout.

Here is one of my Go-To AMRAP Workouts:

  • 10 minutes
  • 5 push-ups
  • 10 squats
  • 20 mountain climbers
go-to amrap workouts

I have my plan, it sounds great, but I do NOT like working out by myself. Now what?

One of the hardest aspects of working out at home is the motivation factor. Whether or not you realized it, there is a tremendous amount of power in going to a gym to workout by yourself or attend a class.

You get energy from the people around you, friends in the classes you attend will hold you accountable for showing up, and there is a little bit of a competitive edge that comes out when we workout near someone because we want to do just as well as they are doing (if not better).

Now you have to create that whole vibe at home. Amongst all the distractions, all the things demanding of your time, and all of your excuses. It is a completely different mindset to create that energy at home, by yourself.

No one is going to know if you slack on a workout, if you quit on a workout or if you skip exercises because you do not like them. While you are solely responsible for your physical well-being, here are some tricks that can help get you in the right frame of mind:

Tip #1: Have an accountability partner. You plan your workouts, but have someone who loves you and has your best interest at heart who will encourage you and check-in with you to make sure you are working out when you say you will.

Tip #2: Put your phone on Do Not Disturb. Better yet, do not even have it in the room with you. There is no bigger distraction than someone calling you mid-workout and you feeling like you need to take the call, or someone posting on social media and you wanting to check the post.

All those messages will be there when you are done.

  • This tip is only conducive for times when it logistically works with your schedule to be without your phone. If you have a child who might need you or on call for work or something where your phone needs to be in the room with you, put it on silent and turns it over so you cannot see the screen.

Tip #3: Create a mantra for yourself. Our minds are our strongest muscles. Your brain is going to convince you to quit LONG before your body reaches failure. When you start to get to that point of wanting to give up because the work feels hard, pick one saying and repeat it to yourself until the work is done. It does not need to be long, it does not need to be complex, but it does need to be motivating and positive.

  • My Go-To: You got this.

I have all these steps in place, and I am still not seeing results, now what?

Be patient with yourself. We start our journey to being healthy when we have hit absolute rock bottom. When we get to that point, we want a transformation NOW. Overnight success. The instantaneous six-pack. That my friend is not realistic. Incorporating healthy habits into your life for the longevity of your life takes time.

Be patient with yourself, be kind to yourself, and most importantly do not quit. Not every workout is going to be cute or comfortable, it will be hard, you will sweat and it will be worth it. But just like it was not an overnight process for you to get to the point where you were so unhappy with your life because you were not making healthy choices, it will not be an overnight process to get healthy again.

I do not promise a lot of things, but I can promise you this: if you stick with it if you continue to show up for YOU and YOUR goals alone, it will happen. Maybe not as quickly as you would like, but it will.

Pro Tip: If you hit a plateau and are losing motivation, or are not sure how to change things so you can continue to see results, hire a coach. It does not have to be a forever decision (unless that is what you want), but coaches are trained professionals in the area where you want to see change.

Bring in a professional who can take an objective look at what you are doing, and tell you where you can make some tweaks so you can continue to see results.

The biggest piece of advice I can give to you as you juggle every aspect of your schedule along with the ever-changing transitions as a result of the pandemic is this: show yourself some grace. Massive change is uncomfortable, making pivots outside of your comfort zone is nerve-wracking, but you are completely capable of achieving the change you want to see in your life.

Seek the advice and help of those who can guide you, be patient with yourself when things do not go exactly as planned, and remember that this is a journey. You will reach your destination, you will surpass it and move onto the next goal, and it will be worth it.