Jennifer Duden, age 30
"I want to devote what little weekend time I have to tending the yard, napping, and recharging for the next week."
Even though Duden doesn't have children, her job in St. Louis Park, Minnesota—head office manager for a performing arts school—and the demands of a husband, house chores, a dog, and yard work all push her to capacity. After working until 6 p.m., Duden picks up her husband, and they spend their evenings buying groceries, doing housework, making dinner, and playing outside with Sammie, their Border collie. Since Duden works every Saturday until 2 p.m., she says, "I want to devote what little weekend time I have to tending the yard, napping, and recharging for the next week."
Julie's advice: Evenings are probably the best place for Duden to steal time for workouts. One idea is to trade off the meal preparation duties: Her husband, for example, could take responsibility for the dinner prep while she exercises; then after dinner, she'd clean up. And in Sammie, Duden may have the perfect built-in companion for her workouts—especially since Border collies need so much activity.
Karen's advice: Using Sammie is a great idea, "but if you're just throwing a ball, only the dog's getting exercise." Karen suggests Duden walk the dog for 20 minutes three days a week. Eventually, she might try walking one block and running the next. When the Minnesota winters get too cold to stay outside, workout videos are a good option.
Three months later...Duden was relieved, after talking to Julie and Karen, to discover that she didn't have to devote a daunting hour a day to exercise. She has been walking Sammie regularly—coaxing herself out the door by telling herself it'll only be for ten minutes, "but I usually get into it and go for at least 20." The extra activity has helped Duden feel noticeably more relaxed. For the months when the windchill heads below zero, she's thinking about buying a treadmill.
Carolyn Carter, age 43
"Sometimes I don't even have the energy to work, let alone exercise."
Carter's life is beyond busy. With a husband, three children, a full-time job in the information technology field, and a freelance graphic design business on the side, the Detroit resident starts her days at 5:30 a.m. and proceeds at a manic pace until she falls into bed, exhausted, sometimes as late as 1 a.m. Driven to advance her career, Carter takes classes after-hours. She also teaches computer classes two nights a week at her church. "Sometimes I don't even have the energy to work," she says, "let alone exercise." Her only nod to fitness has been to sign up for ballroom dance lessons one night a week with her husband as a way for them to spend some time together.
Julie's advice: "Carolyn's schedule is like an overstuffed closet—activities are shoved in with no rhyme or reason, and, like a messy closet, her life needs to be neatened up." After a lengthy discussion, the two determine that Carter must home in on her own priorities and start saying no to any activity that doesn't further them. Carter agrees and decides that her long-standing commitment to teach computer classes will have to go. Knowing that the contents of Carter's "life closet" will just expand to fill the space created by having two weeknights free, Julie suggests that Carter immediately replace teaching classes with taking classes—something fun and active in addition to ballroom dancing.
Karen's advice: At 43 Carter should pay attention to gaining strength. And toning up doesn't have to cost her any extra time. A step or a pair of five-pound weights would mean that while she's waiting for the coffee to brew, she could do two minutes of curls, squats, or steps-ups; then, as the oatmeal cooks, two more minutes, and so on. (A liter bottle of water also provides a heavy enough weight for a nice biceps curl.) "I need something I can do right when I roll out of bed," Carter says. Karen warmly offers to send her latest workout tapes—Burn & Firm (cardio/weight circuit training) and B.L.T. (Butt, Legs & Tummy) on a Ball—as well as a balance ball, but is stern: "I don't want to send the tapes and then not have you use them."
Three months later...Carter has taken the ball and bounced with it, losing six pounds in the process. She started doing a ball workout with Karen's video three times a week and—although she never went for Karen's kitchen workout—has embraced the idea of slipping in a little fitness here and there while doing everything else. "Having four flights of stairs in my house allows me to get some exercise into my schedule," says Carter, who also continues her ballroom class once or twice a week, walks when she can, and (drumroll) has just joined a gym with her husband. "Exercise has changed my life," she says. "I realize I cannot take care of my family if I am not at my best. I won't have Beyoncé's body, but I bet you I can do the bootylicious with the best of them!"
Next: Overcoming chronic pain and weight gain
We Hear You!