I'll be sacrificing quite a few things in order to go to graduate school while continuing to work. Pleasure reading. Weekend trips. Vacations. Movies (but not TV, since I really don't watch it anyway). Sewing. Gardening (other than the bare essentials). Engaging with friends outside of Facebook. Engaging with friends on Facebook. Reading blogs that aren't nutrition-related. Cooking interesting-but-time-consuming meals.
What I won't sacrifice are things like exercise, sleep and healthy home-cooked meals. Sleep will rely on how organized I am in all other areas of my crazy life. The healthy home-cooked meals I've been working on for the last month, with a freezer full of tasty soups and stews, a pantry well-stocked with fixings for quick healthy meals, and a list of easy and fast go-to recipes when I want to cook from an actual recipe.
Unfortunately, I can't exactly "stock up" on exercise the way I can on these healthy meal shortcuts. So I've been pondering how I can get the amount of activity I need for optimal health, while not overburdening my schedule. "Formal" walks were the first thing to make the cut. I decided it's more efficient for me to walk to the further light rail stop instead of the block-away bus stop. The buses that connect me from the last light rail stop in downtown Seattle to the University of Washington campus also mean I have to walk across campus to get to my building, instead of being dropped off right in front. When I have sizeable breaks between classes, I plan to walk to a further away library to settle in and work, rather than stick to the library in the same building my classes are in.
Sorry if this is tedious, but it illustrates my thought process, and indeed my attitude toward walking as general activity. I've almost always preferred a mass-transit option that drops me about a mile from my destination (unless I'm dressed up for some reason). I always embrace the opportunity for a short walk, even if I've already had a long walk.
While I think that "general lifestyle activity" is great, and definitely contributes to good health (hitting the gym for an hour a day only to sit on your butt the rest of the time will kill you), I also believe in the power of formal exercise. Weekend mornings, I will roll out of bed, pull on the workout wear and hit the streets for a long, fast walk. Then I'll hit the weights.
I've been really, really enjoying lifting weights four days a week on a modified push/pull split (chest, shoulders, abs and triceps Mondays and Thursdays; legs, back and biceps on Tuesdays and Fridays). But I can't count on fitting four weight workouts into my schedule anymore. So I'm planning for "push" on Saturdays, "pull" on Sundays, and then doing a quick mid-week full-body circuit. It will be quick and dirty and hard, but it will serve to get every muscle group fully engaged twice each week.
I don't know what I'm going to do about yoga (sob!). I have been loving yoga. Loving it! But it has never been my "priority" exercise, and I don't think that's likely to change. I do have lots of DVDs at my disposal, including some with very good 20-30 minute routines. I also haven't ruled out the simplicity of starting each morning with a few rounds of sun salutations. If it helps wake me up and give me more energy, it could offer huge returns on the minimal time investment.
So there you go. I'm going to become an exercise minimalist. I kind of like that term, even though I can't claim credit for it. I learned it, and got quite a bit of inspiration, from this Precision Nutrition blog post.