The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that all adults need at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. This can easily be broken down into five 30-minute sessions. Exercise is proven to improve people’s physical and mental health, but if you’re anything like me, finding the time is harder than actually exercising.
I personally prefer doing outdoor activities, but motherhood has made me prioritize my time in ways I never imagined. It’s easy to say that I’ll whip out the jogging stroller once I’m home, but something always seems to prevent me from leaving. Instead of waking up at 5 a.m. to get in a workout, I’ve discovered an even more time-efficient way to get in my cardio: lunch breaks.
This takes a lot more planning than you might imagine. Not only do I have to have an exact plan for my regimen, but time is of the essence. In addition to this constraint, heading back to the office post-workout is tough because I want to appear professional. We all know that even after a shower, you won’t look the same as when you left your desk.
I’ve gotten some of my friends into working out during lunch too, so I thought it was time to share some secrets on how to squeeze in the best workout during your lunch break and still head back to the office looking runway ready.
The night before, I always organize my gym bag, making sure I have all of my essentials: shoes, clothes, and shower gear. It’s easy to forget deodorant when bustling around in the morning, so this is a stress and time reducer.
Next, it’s important to figure out where and what type of workout I want to do. Is Tuesday cardio? If so I’ll decide ahead of time if the treadmill, bike, or elliptical is my best option. If there’s a class I’ll grab that because I have no room to drag my feet. Interval or hill workout? It doesn’t matter, but I make sure I’ve decided before getting there. There’s nothing worse than standing aimlessly in the gym. Free weights are ideal when I’m doing strength training. Typically, there are multiple dumbbells with my preferred weight, as well as jump ropes, resistance bands, and whatever else I enjoy. (P.S. Always make sure to have a backup plan in case the equipment is taken.)
You know what really gets my heart rate pumping? Playlists. I cannot get enough dubstep or hip hop. It keeps me on beat while I’m running, but there is nothing more frustrating than having a poor playlist or, worse, none at all. Quite frankly I don’t have time to be switching from song to song. Plus it’s going to take away from my focus. I always make sure that my tech gear is cued up so this trip doesn’t end with me flying off the treadmill or staring at my phone for minutes at a time.
So the day has arrived. I’m swamped with work, but I know that my midday break won’t be in the typical stuffy room or crowded outdoor patio. One tip I always follow is wearing something to work that’s both work and workout appropriate. This easily saves five minutes since I don’t have to worry about changing beforehand. I also use bracelet-like hairbands. They don’t crimp my hair, which I really appreciate if I’m going to wear it down afterward.
Now it’s the dreaded shower time. To me, showering is a time killer, so I cut corners as much as possible. I keep my hair up in a bun and quickly rinse off. I always bring my own soap, because chances are the gym’s is out, plus it tends to dry my skin. Showering should only take about 90 seconds. I hop out, dry off, and–this is the most crucial part–apply baby powder. I toss some baby powder on my underarms and any other body part that tends to sweat post-shower. Then I swipe on some deodorant and reapply my makeup.
I find that it’s easiest to wear minimal makeup on gym days. I’m obviously going to take it off before my workout (using disposable makeup wipes), but having to take the time to reapply it is killer. However, if I have a meeting that day, or just feel like being extra fancy, it can most certainly be done.
Now that my body is dry and my face is ready, it’s time to tackle the mane. I have no problem braiding it or doing a topknot. But that gets old if I decide to work out every day. In this situation my best friends are dry shampoo and texturizer. I’ll spray my roots with the dry shampoo to absorb any sweat, then I’ll flip my hair upside down and spray till there’s a cloud of texture. I like the “piecey” and effortless look, and these sprays have always done the trick.
These are the steps that I’m religious about. If you have tricks of your own, comment below! I’m always interested in improving my game in and out of the gym.