Us, ambitious, professional, and truthfully, Type-A women want it all; successful career, fulfilling home-life, and a fit and strong body. And with recent blog posts demonstrating how crazy-successful career women have managed to find this desirable balance, it seems possible for the everyday Type-A woman. So if that’s the case then why do we still constantly hear that us workaholic women, “just don’t have time”?
I was curious to know as well and so I went on the search to find other ambitious, Type-A women like myself. I ended up interviewing approximately 20 ambitious, late-twenties/early-thirties women about their struggles, goals, and frustrations in staying fit while managing a busy life.
Specifically I wanted to know:
- What do we really want in terms of fitness?
- Why do we even (want to) workout?
- What is truly holding us back from reaching our fitness goals? (“Time” was not a valid answer for me)
- And is it possible to juggle life, work, and fitness AND succeed in them all?
These women also shared these commonalities:
-many were in a relationship/married
-they weren’t new to fitness and working out
-aged between 26-35
-many were of Type-A personality (which I noticed afterward)
Although I received a variety of answers to the questions I did find many similarities across these ladies’ fitness goals and deep struggles, meaning we’re not in this alone! I’ve broken up my findings across my first 3 questions and have summarized the different responses with a general heading.
I was really able to connect with some of these women and received some very deep and truthful responses, and so I’ve also added some direct quotes under each heading.
(Note: the more “quotes” listed does not necessarily mean a more popular answer)
It’s now time to share what I uncovered through these interviews. What do we ambitious women really want in our fitness journey? And if “time” isn’t a legitimate excuse, what’s really preventing us from staying fit?
Read on, as I divulge the fitness struggles and dreams of these high-achieving women…
What do us, ambitious women really want in terms of fitness? (The “Want”)
-See muscle definition and look “toned”
-“I would love to tone up. Always has been my dream.”
-“To feel “good”, balanced, and strong for daily life and activities”
-Feel physically strong and powerful
-“I’d like to have tons of endurance again; to be able to run again, or go on another 45 mile bike ride”
-“to lose the last 10lbs I gained during college (or last 25, or 50 lbs)”
-“To not be or look fat, so I don’t feel fat/to not hate every inch of myself when I look in the mirror.”
-To excel at a sport (i.e. snowboarding, powerlifting, kayaking, pick-up games with friends)
My assumption: The most common answers revolved around becoming physically strong and being able to do daily activities and tasks. Because we’re hard-working ladies that strive for perfection (i.e. Type-A), we hate feeling left out or not being able to do a task or activity.
Why do we even (want to) workout? (The “Why”)
-Health Reasons (long-term)
-“My mom’s a doctor and I hear about diseases and sicknesses that you can get later in life. I want to treat my body well now so I can prevent those diseases.”
-“I want to be fit for vanity reasons of course, but for health reasons also. I watched my mother have health problems that was directly linked to her weight and not eating properly. I also plan on having children in the future and I want to model a healthy lifestyle for them.”
-For health and pain management (current)
-“My back injury gets 100x worse when I don’t exercise”
-“I want to lose weight because I hate my stomach and my thighs rubbing together, it’s uncomfortable”
-“If I don’t make time to exercise, I eat worse, sleep worse, and don’t feel good about myself. Over time I feel less accomplished, sluggish, fat etc. “
-To feel confident and capable
-“I want to be as independent as possible. I want to be able to lift my own shopping bags, protect myself, and move mountains.”
-“I don’t need to be super lean, but I have always enjoyed the confidence and pride that comes with knowing what my body is capable and being able to show that”
-“To not be seen as the little skinny person that is underestimated and beaten”
-To feel proud and reflect hard work
-“I want my body to reflect all of the hard work that I put into it, since being in shape can only come from my hard work and dedication”
My assumption: Although “vanity” came up as a reason to work out, it was not common! The most popular responses were to feel confident/capable and to feel proud of the hard work they put into building a strong body.
I assume many of us are of Type-A personality, we work hard and we want to see results for that hard work, which is a fit body. But that doesn’t answer the question, “Why do we get to the gym in the first place?” The answer of “pride” came from ladies who’ve already put the work in to have a consistent workout routine, so it makes sense that it’s their “why”. When I asked these ladies why they started working out originally, the common response, aside from vanity, was to gain confidence and feel “strong”.
I believe the “want” to be confident and strong comes from us ladies being independent, headstrong, and determined. We strive to be self-sufficient and we’re determined to do and succeed at every opportunity in life. By being strong and confident in the gym this ends up cascading over into our personal and professional lives as well. (So we dominate the gym and the business-world…pretty cool.)
What is truly holding us back from reaching our fitness goals? (The “Barriers”)
-“As cliché as it sounds, I started eating somewhat more unhealthily since moving in with my fiancé. There have been bouts of me pulling him to a more healthy diet and lifestyle, exercising and cooking more lightly, eating more fruits and veggies, and at other times, I fall more towards his routine.”
-“The main challenges in achieving my goals would have to be my boyfriend’s terrible food choices and my lack of will power.”
-Lack of healthy balance
– “Injuries. I get really obsessed with working out and don’t take enough rest days. I feel guilty if I don’t make it to the gym. Even if I’m hurting, I’m working out.”
-“Being so busy, I find I’m exhausted at the end of the day, so the motivation to go to the gym is also sometimes lacking. Also being on the go, sometimes grabbing healthy meals is a struggle. “
-“Lack of planning, not making me a priority, and being too busy makes overcoming the challenges hard. If reaching my goals was easy, it would be a fridge filled with prepped meals, a daily gym session with at least two cardio sessions a week, clear targets for weight lifting.”
-“I work 9-5 at an office job and I also work as a freelancer. I find it hard to work, sleep, workout and maintain a social life.”
-“I work 9-5, have a dog at home I always feel I need to get home since he’s alone all day.”
-“As a working professional, all days are not same, and at the moment if I have a bad day (read busy, hectic) at work, my entire motivation/gym schedule, just goes down the drain & I find it some difficult to get the groove back.
**”Time” is such a vague response and so I didn’t accept it as an answer. When I kept asking those ladies that responded with “time”, I started to get deeper, more truthful responses.
This quote nicely sums up the deeper responses I received when I prodded about the “time” answer:
-“Work is crazy right now and so I don’t take the time to stop working and exercise. I guess I should be scheduling it into my day better and blocking out that time in my calendar, but I get into the zone of work and don’t want to stop. There’s so much going on and so much that I want to achieve and it’s hard to step back, see the bigger picture, and go with the flow of life enough to stop working and exercise. It’s something I’m trying hard to work on though because I know that without my own health, my business won’t last or grow.”
Another common response to when I challenged ladies about the “time” barrier, was that they struggle with an “all or nothing” mentality. If we do half a workout we feel “lazy” since we know we can and should workout longer (to be debated….). So we skip the workout all together and say, “I don’t have time.” This mentality was reflected in other responses I received which led to me categorize these responses as:
-Perfection (“All or Nothing”)
-“I don’t know what would help me lose the last 10lbsand identify a balance or understand when my body is the best state. I can’t tell if I am skinny or strong or should lose weight or need to tone up in certain areas.”
**Think of this statement like having the fear of not being perfect and so you don’t attempt anything in fear of failure. It’s “all or nothing”.
Assumption #1: My first assumption relates back to us being Type-A, we’re obsessive and dive into things giving 110%. With this “all or nothing” mentality we either can’t sustain something or we don’t start something at all since we can’t give 110%. In these cases, fitness was one of the items to fall.
Assumption #2– As mentioned the most common barrier was “time”. But when some ladies broke it down for me, it appeared to come more from a prioritizing issue. So my second assumption is that we have conflicting priorities and we don’t know how to order, change, and manage them as life progresses. Ladies, we can’t have everything at once but we can have it all over a period of time.
Assumption #3– Continuing on my last assumption, perhaps the reason we have a hard time making fitness a priority in our life right now, is that we’re not ready. There are other things more important to us at this moment, such as work, relationships, hobbies, etc. However, I believe we should be instilling positive fitness habits in ourselves right now so we have the framework set up when we’re ready to hit our fitness goals. (Set up that success framework first and you’ll hit the ground running!).
Is it possible to juggle life, work, and fitness AND succeed in them all?
Of course it is! There are ladies that are currently living this dream but there are still many of us who aren’t there yet. For this demographic of ambitious, young women it appears the biggest downfall comes from our own successful personality; being Type A. We’re determined and work obsessively hard, yet we are perfectionists who also lack balance.
After my interviews and organizing my assumptions I think the bigger question is, “Why would we ever want to incorporate regular fitness into our life?” The women who have already succeeded at it were so outspoken on how it gave them amazing confidence and physical and mental strength. We can then assume that it also helped them create a more balanced and disciplined work ethic given they had to schedule workouts into their already-busy days. These are all items that are crucial for a successful career, no?
But that’s just my take on it.
*Now it’s your turn, if you consider yourself a part of this demographic, do my assumptions hit the nail on the head? What do you disagree with?
*How would you analyze these responses? Do some of these ladies really want to get fit?