Finding time for fitness: Are you an owl or a lark?

Are you an Owl or a lark? Do you get the best from yourself in the evenings or mornings? I always used to think I was an Owl and as a student I was at my most productive writing essays after 9pm at night. Since having 3 kids this has shifted and I find if I am going to fit in any “me” time it had to happen early in the morning and I became a lark. This syncs well with the hot, humid months of summer. Hence I find myself sitting writing this after a half hour run which I sneaked in before dropping the younger two off at school at 7.40am. It means turning up to work with dirty dishes still sitting on the counter top, mop-like hair still wet from a quick shower and the inevitable slump which hits me later in the day after waking up at 5.15am. Fitting my fitness into a brimming schedule is probably the trickiest part of family life.

However at the risk of being controversial I have found South Carolina less geared up to incorporating activity into everyday life. In England there are no car loops at schools, a lot of kids walk to school, sidewalks are commonplace, bicycle path networks exist across the country, golf carts only exist on the golf course, yard maintenance companies are few and far between, there are fewer elevators and good public transport around and between towns is common place. In the US I admire the quest to make life easy and accessible but this can lead to us exercising as an “add on” rather than as part of our routine everyday existence. During this Family Fitness Challenge I have set a challenge for myself (and particularly my less active daughters as both boys (the big and little one) are seldom sitting down) to not only work on exercise, which I am getting better at squeezing into the early hours, but be more active in general: take the stairs, walk on the beach, park further away from Barnes and Noble. It’s early days but maybe I’ll be able to get a little more general fitness from this source and the knock on will be some much needed extra minutes sleep. Then I won’t need to worry about being either an owl or a lark. If you are curious you can find out if you are an owl or a lark at

My body has had to put up with me for 45 years

I recently saw a quote “take care of your body it’s the only place you have to live” which resonated with me. I’ve lived in mine for 45 years and my husband Mick has lived in his for another 6 years on top of that. It’s true to say that I haven’t always taken care of mine. Being an all or nothing person I get into a sport and do it for a while and then get bored easily, I’m a bit of a yoyo dieter throwing myself into whatever is current and then falling back into snacking and a few glasses of red wine. I tend to throw myself into life and don’t always give myself a chance to set the refresh button and the kids and hubbie tend to get pulled along in the wake which adds to what I’ve heard aptly named the “stress bucket” of life.

Having three kids, Katherine 14, Jess 11 and Finlay 10 means life is bustling with kid’s activities, fitting in a full day in the office and keeping on top of whatever that particular day may bring. We moved over from England 4 years ago and were motivated to move here to give the kids new opportunities, experience a new way of life and make the most of the glorious weather (coming from damp cold England I can’t over emphasize how enticing this was). Some would say we are a give it a go family but over the years Mick and I (I haven’t introduced myself – sorry I’m Pip) have tended to do more sporting activities on our own as our kids lead more “friends centered” existences and more sedentary lives. Keeping the Palmer train from coming off the tracks and building a life for ourselves in sunny South Carolina (did I mention the glorious weather?) has taken precedence over family fitness. When the opportunity to take part in the Fit Family Challenge came up I decided this would be a chance to shift gear and work together as a family on fitness, healthy eating and establishing good habits on which to build.

This week is kick off week and we are all now full of good intentions. We’re going to work on improving our diet, not easy for a family containing a meat lover, a meat avoider, one on a gluten free diet and a daughter who is diary free. We’re going to monitor our activity as individuals over the next two months and have a family competition on a weekly basis and I’ll keep you posted on who is in the lead (should be interesting given the youngest two are as competitive with each other as a pair of young thoroughbreds about to run their first horse race). We’re going to find time to do activities together and by this I don’t mean arguing, sitting in front of the TV screen or sitting in the same room staring at different devices. We’re going to try new things, whether that be yoga on the beach, walking the neighborhood with my youngest daughter while she listens to her beloved audiobooks (anything to get her outdoors!) or getting the kids to cook us a healthy meal. Already ticked one new thing off by writing this first blog! But most of all we are going to enjoy time together. Something we forget to do when the competing priorities of 2 + 3 emerging adults get in the way.

I hope it will set us on a fun course to refresh our lives and our bodies so that we can come away with good habits which will be hard to break. I am sure there are many of you who can relate to where we are as a family (let’s face it we maybe foreigners but we aren’t that foreign) and you can share the journey with us. Let’s see if this can help add another 45 years + to my “use by” date and at least for the months of May and June live by the English poet Philip Sidney’s motto “the ingredients of health and long life, are great temperance, open air, easy labor and little care.”

Week 7: Fitness Finale

We hope everyone had a wonderful Father’s Day and a great fit week!

Conner attended cub Scout camp and stayed busy from sunup to sundown. He partook in activity such as swimming, archery, arts and crafts and other outdoor activities.

Layla and Griffin we’re able to play in the MUSC Wellness Center nursery this week while Matthew and I did a  couples workout and we also spoke with the nutritionist this week were we got great information on meals to go and quick and easy breakfast ideas.

We kept active at the home this week by doing our yard work and painting upstairs.

This is one of our busiest weeks but I feel as though we have less to write about.  we are doing our best to stay active and still beat the heat. We have switched from ice cream to frozen yogurt and we really enjoy that as our weekly treat.


The Fit Family Challenge is almost over and we are hoping to take things with us into our normal lifestyle  .We are planing on make decisions after the challenge that will still be healthy and decisions to better our family.

Week 6: Making a Splash

The summer heat will not keep the Kelley Family from getting fit!  This week we found ways to beat the heat and stay active.  Of course swimming at the neighborhood pool is definitely the kids’ favorite activity and we try to go as much as we can.  With our work schedules it can be hard to eat dinner and get ready for the next day in addition to going to the pool but we are going to try to go more often this week because we all have so much fun.  The kids were able to play outside in the mornings at their camps and in the gym in the afternoons.  They are usually worn out by the time we pick them up and fall asleep in the car on the way home.  Scott was back to his normal routine this week so he was able to get his cardio workout done at lunch and then weight training at night.  Scott going to the gym at night is not easy especially since I have to put all three kids to bed by myself.  Before he goes, he does cook dinner and tries to help me with the kids’ baths.  I just wish there were more hours in the day so we could all be together longer in the evenings.  I continued doing Zumba (I did not hurt myself this week, thank goodness), I did yard work including cutting the grass, and went to the gym with Scott to do some cardio and weight training on Saturday.  Scott and I have got to get back to our routine where we met at the gym after work.  I love weight training (and definitely need to do more of it) but I am not confident enough to do it on my own yet without some guidance.

We have been doing well with our goal to eat healthier with just a few hiccups along the way this week.  We love all of the fresh fruits and vegetables that are available this time of year.  I did eat out twice at lunch but I tried to be very careful with my choices.  We also ate pizza on Saturday night.  Scott usually does the weekly grocery shopping by himself but we all went today and as chaotic as it is shopping with three kids I do like us all having a say in the menu for the week.  The Kelleys are looking forward to another week of eating healthy and getting active!

Week 5: Settling into Summer

We unfortunately veered slightly off the fitness track this week due to a crazier than usual schedule.  The first week of summer break took a little bit of time to get used to due to the girls starting summer camp and Jack switching to a new daycare.  I am now taking all of the kids where they need to be which makes things more chaotic in the mornings.  Scott also had to attend a training class all week and he was later than usual coming home which means that dinner was pushed back.  Have I mentioned that Scott does all of the cooking?  There was very little time for exercising by the time the kids went to bed and Scott was not able to do his cardio workout at lunch.  However, Scott was able to go to the gym every day after dinner except for two and I exercised at home with my Zumba DVDs.  I did have a mishap on the riser and hurt my ankle (I stepped too far and ended up falling on the ground – this is why I only Zumba at home).  Thankfully my ankle felt better after two days.  On Sunday we got back on track and we went to the gym and swam at the pool.  The second week of summer break should be better than the last since we now know what to expect and Scott will be back to his normal schedule.

Even though our fitness level was not the best we did continue to eat healthy throughout the week.  Asparagus is our family’s new favorite vegetable to eat at dinner.  For a snack during the work day I am eating a variety of berries and almonds.  To keep my sweet tooth in check I am also eating baby carrots and dark chocolate chips.

We are looking forward to getting back into the gym this week and continuing our journey together as a family to get active and eat healthy.