A Fitness Guide for People With No Free Time (And Who Get the Munchies)

This installment of The Normal Person’s Workout sees a man try to battle the tasty side effects of too many late-night snacks.

A Fitness Guide for People With No Free Time (And Who Get the Munchies)

Don’t have three hours a day to spend at the gym? Not interested in bulging like a bodybuilder? Unmoved by promises of “fat-blasting, ab-chiseling monster workouts”? This is the column for you, fellow regular human with very little free time.

The Man

Jason, Los Angeles, California
Age: 45
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 185 pounds
Goal: Getting his old body back

His Time Commitment (Or Lack Thereof): “I take care of a 2-year-old all day, so my day is pretty much cooking, cleaning, entertaining and repeat,” Jason tells us. “I have about an hour and a half in the evening, three times a week, to work out.”

“As far as food goes,” he continues, “I’m a vegetarian, but I have so little time to myself that unfortunately that mostly means piles of carbs — leftover toddler pasta and the like. I also like to unwind from a day of running around by smoking a little weed outside after everyone has gone to bed, and well, that gives me the munchies pretty bad, so that’s not exactly making me eat healthy, either.”

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Exercise He’s Actually Willing to Do: “Generally, the only thing that would keep me from working out is that I’m exhausted by day’s end,” says Jason. “I’ll try pretty much anything if I have the energy for it. As for other interruptions, sometimes there are family dinners that fall on what would be a workout night, so then I’m down to just once or twice a week. And if we go on vacations, I’m not one to work out during them.”

What He Wants: “By doing this, I hope to gain back my former, trimmer body image. I want to look and be healthy for myself and for my family: It’s important to me that my son understands the benefits of exercise and staying in shape.”

The Plan

Clean Out the Fridge: “The best way to stay away from unhealthy munchies is by not having them available,” says personal trainer Lalo Fuentes. “If you put cake, chocolate and Cheetos in my place, I will be tempted to eat them all, all on the same day. I avoid that by not having them around. Have lots of fruits in your home instead. Put them somewhere visible so they’re inviting to you, and for your kid to see that there’s always natural foods around.”

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Shake Off the Munchies With Some Exercise: “It can feel overwhelming to workout at the end of the day when you’re already tired, but keep this in mind: After the second week of exercising, your body will feel more energized throughout the day.”

Use Your Kid To Get Fit: “Taking care of a 2-year-old could be a workout all its own,” says Lalo. “Get a jogging stroller so you can take your kid for runs or fast walks around the neighborhood. If you make it part of your routine, it will soon become part of their routine, too. Maybe it could even be a way to put your kid down for naps. There are different kinds of strollers on the market to choose from, so pick the one that fits your budget and lifestyle.

“Since you’re going to do this as part of your daily routine with your baby, do it three times per week. Start slow, but soon after, increase your speed and increase the time up to one hour. You can start by walking fast for five minutes, then running for one minute. Little by little, increase the running time until you just go out for runs, leaving the walking for warmups and cool-downs.”

Do Some Stuff on Your Own, Too: “Try to work out while your child is being entertained by something other than you. It could be while he’s playing with his toys, or watching TV. It probably won’t be a consecutive session of exercise, but as long as you finish all your sets by the end of the day, it’s still useful.”

Fuentes says the following should do the trick, ideally with three sets of each:

  • 30 jumping jacks
  • 1 minute of running in place
  • 20 squats
  • 10 pushups
  • 15 side-to-side jumps: Use a towel to mark a line on the floor, then jump from one side to the other without touching the towel. Land on your heels each time, putting all the pressure on your hips/glute area.
  • Jab boxing with 3-pound weights: Place your feet shoulder-width apart and extend and retract each arm in turn. The “punches” are simple arm extensions; don’t try to forcefully punch the air. Keep punching forward without moving your legs so that your core gets engaged.
  • Uppercut boxing with 3-pound weights: Punch upwards with your palms facing you. Let one leg pivot under you as you punch. Keep your abs tight while doing this movement.
  • 1-minute plank

Find a Balance Between Being Vegetarian and Eating Properly: “As far as food goes, when you’re a vegetarian, you have to make sure to include your proteins in every meal,” Fuentes explains. “The problem with pasta is that it goes directly into your bloodstream, giving you a blood sugar spike and making you crash shortly thereafter. When that happens, your body craves more of those bad carbs and it becomes a vicious circle.”

“The same is happening to your kid’s body if they’re eating virtually the same as you,” he continues. “So make sure to make his meal more balanced — use quinoa pasta, throw in some vegetables like broccoli or tomatoes and add protein by tossing in some pine nuts. If your kid isn’t vegetarian, include chicken, salmon or tuna.

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“Since you’re always on the go, buy some hummus and always have it available — you can eat it with celery or steamed broccoli. You can also steam some broccoli and toss it with salt, pepper, lemon and extra virgin olive oil. Eat it during the day while running around.”

The Reaction

How Do You Feel About Running With the Stroller? “I’ve done it once or twice in the past and I don’t mind it, although I might need a newer jogging stroller that has better back support for my son,” says Jason. “I’m moving houses soon, and the new neighborhood will have more places to get out and spend quality time — parks, hiking trails, recreation centers and stuff. So that’ll be a good time to start.”

Do You Think You’ll Be Able to Do the Workout Without Your Kid Completely Stopping You from Finishing? “I do. He’ll probably laugh and jump around me while I’m doing it at first — he’ll either join in or get bored and go play by himself.”

Do You Think This Workout Might Replace Your Current End-of-Day Stress Reliever? “Honestly, probably not. Weed doesn’t just calm me down, it lowers my stress level and helps me keep my sense of humor.”

How Enthusiastic Do You Think You’ll Be About Fresh Fruit and Hummus? “I love hummus anytime, man!”