This time a year, folks everywhere are pushing forward with their New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier and exercise more. Truth be told, January is the month I find myself “amused” by a crowded gym full of new faces.

While I am joyful at seeing the spur of good intentions, the reality – recognized after watching this cycle for many years – is that come every February, the gym empties out, leaving just me and the familiar faces of my fellow regulars.

I totally get it. In today's world, we juggle a myriad of roles: parent, spouse, employee, friend. It's harder than ever to find time for ourselves. But the best time we can give ourselves is 30-60 minutes of exercise a few times per week. It reduces stress, increases energy and provides feel-good endorphins that will carry positive energy to all other areas of your life.


Not to mention, you've only got one body, folks; use it or lose it.

Personally, I prefer to use it; the benefits above are invaluable! That's not to say I'm always perfect. I have lulls like everyone else, but when I haven't been exercising, the symptoms are unavoidable. I put on weight, feel sluggish and get cranky. So I simply make time for it. Here's how:

Monday: Gym workout during my lunch hour. I'm lucky to have a nicely equipped gym in my building free for me to use. Thirty minutes on the bike or elliptical plus 20 minutes of weights or floor work and I'm done.

Tuesday: Evening Yoga-lates class. My husband and I have it worked out so that dinner is early on Tuesdays, and he is in charge of cleanup and our kiddo’s bedtime while I get my stretch, strength and zen on. On Thursdays, we reverse roles and he gets his. Bonus: my neighbor Traci and I motivate each other to go by carpooling.

Wednesday: Second gym workout of my week during my lunch hour. I alternate machines and exercises so as not to duplicate too much what I've done on Mondays but still keep it well-rounded and total-body focused.

Thursday: Lap swim after work. Ok, in truth, this has yet to happen because, well, I'm not entirely sure. But it's on my schedule, and I'm confident it will come to fruition one week soon because I love the total body workout lap swimming provides.

Friday: Trail walk with the stroller and dogs. Friday is my day off with my daughter and pushing a 32 lb. toddler off-road – uphill and down – is an incredibly awesome workout. This is why we moved to a house with dirt trails out our backyard. Just 30-45 minutes is the perfect inclusion in our special day together.

Saturday/Sunday: My pick, weather- and weekend plans-dependent, I might get exercise on both days or just one. It varies from hiking to snowshoeing or skiing, to mountain biking or road riding, or just pedaling to the playground for a romp on the swings with my daughter.

My recommendation: Don't be one of the February dropouts! Become a regular. Make it a habit, a part of your life. Grab a friend and motivate each other. Swap nights with your spouse. Make use of your lunch hour or get up an hour earlier. Devise a plan, put it on your calendar and set a reminder. You'll reap the benefits today and for years to come.

How do you squeeze exercise into your busy week?

A version of this blog was originally published on The Soulicious Life on January 22, 2013.