Let’s not kid: You’ve gotten a little fluffy. But you forgot to mention you ate 3 deep fried twinkies at the carnival last night and started your morning with Monday’s leftover deep-dish pizza. Yet, your biggest problem is: you’re cursed with slow metabolism. You’re way too busy to exercise, carting around your 3.2 kids and two Golden-Doodle puppies, plus now you’ve volunteered to bake brownies for the PTO and take your Aunt Martha to her weekly hair appointment. Are you too busy? Is the world too unfair? Or are you too justified in putting yourself last?

This is not a trick question. (Say it with me: “Yes, Melissa, I’m really good at that last one.”)

Whatever your excuse for allowing yourself to continue down a path of poor health and self-destruction, it is invalid. How do I know? Because my excuses were too! I used to be the queen of putting myself last.


However, for the last five years, I’ve achieved a weight loss of 110 pounds and maintained it—even with 4 (count ’em, four!) teenage children, a traveling husband, and two 100-pound, shedding, crazy dogs. If I can get it done, you can too. You want to exercise? You want to lose weight? You want to tone up but don’t have time? I’m going to roll it out for you in a few easy steps, so that you know there is hope! There’s a light at the end of the twinkie tunnel, even when it’s flooded with buttercream frosting, and it feels like there’s no way out.

Related: Your 5 Step Guide to Eating Healthy While Eating Out at the Same Time

And there’s only one principle you have to believe: There is ALWAYS 30 minutes in your day, SOMEWHERE…. to devote to your fitness. Once you accept this as your mantra, you will not only escape the tunnel of fear that’s holding you back, you might just enjoy living life in the open again.

Of course, every person has unique time limitations, so let’s address them without a lot of fanfare and leave the dramatic storytelling to Game of Thrones. Here are my tips for mooooving forward like a self-respecting heifer at any stage of parenthood:

  1. Are your kids little, as in babies? If so, don’t despair. Drop the hot pocket and stop wallowing in your self-imposed torture chamber (aka: the house). Find a workout video you can use at home while your precious bundle of joy naps. If you’re into technology, there are no shortage of apps you can download. Among my favorites is an app called PopSugar Fitness. You can watch a series of quick videos that target specific areas, like your abs. Set up your iPad or laptop to press play as soon as the baby starts snoozing. Sweat it out, shower up, and throw your hair up in a fresh scrunchie, all before the baby wakes up. (Oh, and there’s a bonus! The simple act of completing a daily shower will prevent you from falling into the category of “hot mess” moms.)
  1. If your kids are a little bit older, you just might cringe at my next suggestion. This heifer wakes up well before the crack of roosters to workout. If your kids start stirring at 6:30am, consider waking at 4am. If you moooove (run, jog, or a brisk walk) for an hour in the morning, you have the added benefit of catching a beautiful glimpse of the sunrise and experiencing all the stillness in the air before the world (and your brain) are awake. If you’re not outdoorsy, most gyms offer a 5am class as well, and you might be able to roll out of bed at 4:30am. It’s actually a magical hour, full of peace, and even an appreciation for the occasional pre-dawn cockroach scrambling out of your way. Not to mention, quiet. If you have teenagers, this is your only chance to send a prayer to the god of quietude: Can I get an amen? If your home feels like a farm because your kids squeal and squawk once the alarm clocks go off, it’s worth waking up extra early, if only to mentally prepare for the chaos. It’s not easy at first, but once you get used to it, trust me: it’s not so bad. The best part: Getting home by 6:15am knowing your workout for the day is complete, and you’re home-free for the rest of the day.
  1. If your kids are in school, and you’ve got a few hours between drop off, errands, and pick-up, you can hit the gym easily, or go for a run outside. Daytime workouts are great, and set you up for a night of healthy-eating, because nobody wants to sabotage that fab workout they just endured. Plus, after an intense workout, your cells crave protein and nutrients from vegetables, so eating after a workout will ensure your body feels well nourished by the time you hit the sack.
  1. Another option, for you night-owls, would be to workout after your crew has retired for the evening. Some people find that this amps them up too much to fall asleep before dawn, but if it’s the only option you have, then you do what you gotta do. Get the kids in bed for the night, and hit the family room floor for 10 minutes of ab work, a few sets of lunges, and five rounds of jumping jacks. No treadmill? No excuse! You can always get your cardio in by jogging in place, quick high knees to the waist, and finish the workout with three minutes of jump squats. If you need the extra motivation, turn up the heavy metal or old school hip hop on your iPod and don’t stop until Coolio does. Oh, and don’t forget to drink a protein shake after your workout. Don’t leave your muscles hanging by going to bed on an empty stomach after you “push it,” Salt-n-Pepa style.

Naturally, there will always be days where you miss the workout you planned, but don’t let that derail you. Even 10 minutes of walking is better than no minutes. You’ve all heard it before: Take the stairs instead of the elevator (unless you work on the 46th floor, in which case, take the steps only in lieu of leg day at the gym!). Going out to eat during your workday? Walk to the restaurant instead of driving. Find a parking spot far away from the store entrance when you shop. Making dinner for the family? How about some calf raises while you watch the pot boil eggs? Some tricep pushups on the kitchen island while the meat is browning? Make it a point to maximize your down time, and you’ll never get stuck in a bad rut again.

Each one of these little tips and tricks can add up to give you a few thousand more steps or a few hundred calories burned during the day. Also, consider adding a little competition by tracking your progress with a Fitbit or old-school pedometer, and challenge your friends to beat you in a burn-off. Once you commit and add a little accountability to your routine, you’ll be surprised how much exercise you can fit into your day.

They don’t call it “fit”ness for nothing.

Find more health and fitness tips by following this heifer on twitter @MelissaKahn7 and on her facebook page Run, Heifer, Run!

Read more: The Bare Necessities of Training for Your First Half Marathon