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A fitness plan for busy schedules: The 7 MIN Sesh+

Picture of 7 MIN Sesh+ Fitness Plan

Fitness is a lifelong journey.  Anyone that tells you otherwise is not being honest with anyone including themselves. Even personal trainers and athletes will tell you that their fitness changes, waxes, and wanes over time. So, if you have a goal of becoming more fit in 2024, be in it for the long haul. Treat it like lifelong learning and education. Add to it in bits and pieces, and don’t give up on it. Where you are now is PART of your journey. Not a starting point. 

But most importantly, set yourself up for success by seriously evaluating your values and developing a system for change. 

First and foremost fitness is a value like anything else. If you prioritize your health and fitness, you will be successful at it, and if you don’t, you will not. But while it really is that simple, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy. A fitness plan is time consuming and hard, and there are often just so many other things that seem pressing. So, what to do?

Apply systems-based change theory to your health and fitness plan goals. Systems thinking is a way of understanding how multiple factors in your life lead to certain outcomes. If you change those factors or the systems that contribute to outcomes, you will change the outcomes. But, how do you do that?

Set Realistic Goals

Know thyself. Don’t buy a gym membership on the other side of town if you are never in that area, and you haven’t made any other changes in your schedule to make that a feasible plan.  Don’t plan your work outs for 9pm if you know that you are typically in bed by that time. Similarly, don’t plan your workout for 5am if you don’t go to bed until midnight. Good quality sleep is just as important and usually more important than exercise. Look at YOUR schedule, and plan within that framework. If you would like some tips on a time blocking framework, read this article about The Schedule that Saved my Sanity. It includes The Weekly Planner free download.

Don’t forget diet goals! While this particular article is about exercise, I am a strong believer that diet, like sleep, is more important than exercise. This is especially true if you have body composition goals like weight loss or muscle gain. So, be sure to include some realistic diet goals. 

Be SMART. Set Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals. Improvement is all about setting goals and monitoring your progress toward those goals.

  • Specific: Set unique or more narrow goals that add up to your overall goal of improving your health and fitness.

  • Measurable: Define some things that you can measure. Number of minutes of activity? Weekly caloric goal? Body Mass Index? Weight? Waist circumference? 

  • Attainable: Again, the goal must be realistic, but think more granularly about WHAT will make it attainable.  What changes will you make to your schedule and how will you keep yourself accountable? 

  • Relevant: Think about your specific values and mindset and what will make you feel “accomplished.” Is it the volume of activity? Is the scale important to you? 

  • Time-bound: Set a completion date, and monitor your progress toward your goal on that date. 

Try 3 or 4. Mix short term goals, middle or meso goals, and a longer term goal. Having shorter term goals that you can focus on each month will help you stay motivated to meet those longer term goals. Here are some basic examples:

  • This week, I will complete the 7 Min Sesh+.

  • This week, I will implement 16/8 intermittent fasting. 

  • This week, I will decrease my caloric intake by 400 calories per day or 2800 for the week.

  • This week, I will limit my carbohydrate intake to 20 g per day.

  • By the end of the month, I will be active for 75 minutes per week.

  • By the end of the month, I will be able to run one mile without stopping.

  • Over the next 6 weeks, I will lose 10 pounds.

  • Over the next 6 weeks, I will cut out 90% of processed foods, and transition to a whole food diet.

  • I will be able to wear my favorite jeans during my vacation in 8 weeks.

  • In 3 months, I will complete a 5k race. 

  • In 9 months, I will complete a triathlon.

  • In one year, I will lose 50 pounds. 

Now, you try it. Edit a few from the list above or set your own goals. 

Pictures of women working out with caption Fit 4 2024

Prepare your Change

Occasionally, you will get in the mindset to really make a change in your life. You will wake up one day and just do it.  If that’s you and you are already prepared to make a change, you can go ahead and skip this section. Most of us need to get prepared. 

While this is not a medical advice blog, I am a nurse practitioner and I had the privilege of listening to Amelie Hollier (an NP) give a several hour lecture on weight loss. And even though the focus was pharmaceutical management, my favorite part was not about medical management at all, it was about preparing to change.

Dr. Hollier said that when her patients are not quite ready to change, she may give them several weeks to prepare to change. She gave the following example: On week one, buy yourself a pair of walking shoes and put them in a place in your office or house where you will see them every day. That’s it. You don’t even have to put them on. Just look at them. On week two, put on the shoes for 30 minutes per day, ideally at a time of day that you theoretically wouldn’t mind going for a walk.  But you don’t have to. Success this week is just putting on the shoes and moving around your home or office. Then, week three, take that 30 minutes out on the road! And voila! You’re moving!

Will this be your success strategy? Maybe, maybe not. The point is to get prepared to make a change. If one of your goals is to decrease your caloric intake or change your macro percentages (fats, carbs or protein), then maybe spend two weeks making a food diary, becoming aware of your actual caloric and macro intake, and mentally preparing to make a change. Calculate your calories and macros, and tweak your SMART goal if needed. 

Similarly, if one of your goals is to complete 75 minutes of activity per week, look at your schedule and plan it for two weeks before actually doing it. Spend two weeks telling yourself that if you were exercising this week, you could do it at this time or during this break. 

Make your Change

Then, make the change.  On the start date, just do it. Walk that 20-30 minutes, begin your runs, commence your lifting routine, or start the 7min Sesh+ plan. And finally, and most importantly, implement your diet plan!   

Evaluate your Change

On your short term goal end date, evaluate your plan. Did you meet your short term goal?  If so, fabulous. If not, why? Was the plan flawed? Were there unexpected issues? Did you not have enough support? Evaluating why things didn’t work is essential to setting yourself up for future successes. Can you address the reason your plan didn’t work? Can you plan around it? Or was it just a one time issue that you need to accept and move on.Life would not be life if things went according to your perfect plan.  Be prepared for setbacks and be flexible. Be committed to making small improvements over time.

Next, evaluate your progress toward your mid and long term goals. How are you progressing?  Set a new short term goal that moves you toward that goal. It’s much easier to meet a longer term goal if you have an attainable short term goal with a deadline that moves you toward that longer term goal. 

If your goal is to run a 10k without stopping in 6 months, set a goal to be able to run a mile or 1.5 miles by the end of this month. 

If your goal is to lose 50 lbs in one year, set a goal to lose 5-8 lbs this month. 


The very most important thing is to repeat this process!  If you are meeting your goals, great! Repeat. If you are not meeting your goals, ok. Repeat. Regardless of where you are in your fitness journey, repeat, repeat, repeat.

Picture of woman in workout clothes with caption fit after 35

Why the 7 Min Sesh+ worked for me.

Growing up with two brothers, and no sisters in my household, the option was really to play sports or not get to play.  So, while I never saw myself as a great athlete, I played all of the things. Basketball, football, baseball, soccer, tennis, golf, inline skate street hockey, badminton, (pool) volleyball, and you get the picture. I also danced for 15 years.  

I didn’t think I would do any sports past the 8th grade, but when I got to high school, there were more options including track and field.  I LOVED it. But after 8 years of high school and collegiate track plus 9 years of coaching later, I found myself with a lap full of precious infants and toddlers but without consistent physical activity. 

I tried lots of things. Running. Circuit training. Interval training. Intermittent low calorie diets. Soup diets. Liquid diets. Keto diets. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. And while you will always hear things like “fad diets don’t work” from most fitness experts, I’ll be honest with you. They do work.  They all rely on reducing calories to the point that you will lose weight if you can stick with it.  And quite frankly, over the past few years, if I could lose a “true” 10 pounds quickly and then not have to worry about it for 6 months or so, I called it a win. And you will receive no judgment from me if that is still your preferred method of weight management if you aren’t breaking yourself in the process.  But, I’m now a bit tired of that routine, and want fitness plan that I can put on autopilot.

What worked for me? Intermittent fasting with supplements and short quality workouts that I could do at home without equipment. 

Diet: Whereas I get little pleasure from eating at work beyond being slightly less hungry, I do like to eat real food with my real family. So, I began intermittent fasting before I had a name for it, and it was fashionable. But it is truly what works for me.  I eat about 90% of my calories between 5-730pm. And I add supplements. As I get older, I find that plenty of water, tea, and supplements are good tools for weight loss. Nothing crazy. Collagen and/or bone broth, a multivitamin, vitamin D, B vitamins, and Omega fatty acids. Yes, a well-balanced diet and plenty of sunshine ARE THE BEST ways to get all of these vitamins and nutrients.  But a lot of times, I just don’t take the time to ensure that I get all of these things. So, I supplement with one or more of these as needed.

Activity: I developed the 7min Sesh+ based on about 6 years of what was and what was not working for me as a busy mom with 1.5 jobs. My family is IMPORTANT to me. My work is important to me. But my health and fitness are important to me too. I’ve learned that at least right now, I’m not going to spend 30 min per day or “scheduling” exercise more than twice per week. And that lack of consistency is what makes my habits not stick. During a busy week, I’m just not going to do it. I COULD. I could give up other things and prioritize that time for exercise, but I won’t do it consistently.  What I can do is take <10 minutes of higher intensity exercise at home without equipment nearly every day, and then as best I can, add 2 days of longer (20 min) cardio. This schedule makes me only schedule 2 days per week of exercise (the cardio days), and I can fit in the 7min Seshes in whenever.  I lost 13 pounds and significantly increased my strength and speed over 4 months with this plan and a sustainable diet!  I can’t understate the importance of diet. 

What’s next for me? In addition to my 7min Sesh+ cardio, I want to add weights one day per week. My new goal is to do 4 days of 7min Sesh, 2 days of cardio, and 1 day of weights. So, stay tuned for the 4-2-1 plan!

The 7 MIN Sesh+

The 7 MIN Sesh+ is a 7 minute session of moderate to high intensity fitness plan 5 days per week plus 2 days of cardio. It is an equipment-free workout plan that you can do nearly anywhere. This gets me close-ish to the American Heart Association's recommended 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. But again, it doesn't feel like I'm struggling to find the time to exercise. The concept is that I feel like I get the benefit of daily exercise without changing having to change my schedule. I typically take one day off per week and double up with cardio on a day that I have more time. If you want to see how I incorporate the 7 MIN Sesh+ in my daily schedule, check out The Schedule that Saved my Sanity.

Published 12/2023. 


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