When I got my first job vacuuming the neighbors house as a kid, my dad sat me down several times to discuss budgeting. One concept he taught me was about using envelopes to segment my earnings into saving, giving, and spending. I would put a dollar in giving, a dollar in saving, and the rest in spending. Recently, that envelope system came to mind when talking to a member of Fit2B who was trying to figure out how to be sure she’s exercising enough each week for the best results. I began teaching the envelope metaphor for exercising enough to other clients on their calls with me, and it brings such instant clarity about how to exercise enough, that I’d like to share it with you here!
Essentially, if you are a female exerciser, you need certain types of movement as you age. Women aren’t “mini men.” Our bodies are very different in terms of hormones, structure, biomechanics, life stages, and more. We deal with more heart and bone density issues after age 40, and we must fight to maintain muscle mass and mental health in ways that are very affected by our exercise choices. The way we workout matters, and I recommend that you go through our Proactive Perimenopause course to learn more + try the envelope system for exercising enough to be sure you’re not over or under exercising each week.
Use Envelopes to Exercise Enough
Let’s say you know you can exercise on 3-4 day this coming week, or maybe you’ll be able to workout on 5-6 days. You’re going to make a metaphorical envelope in your mind for each of those days.
Now consider the science that has shown: Each week you need to load your bones and muscles with weights at least 2-3 times. You also need 2-3 cardio sessions as well as some stretching. You need 48 hours between weight sessions to let your muscles rebuild. Ideally, you need a minimum of 150 minutes of total exercise time each week.
What you do NOT need: to workout for an hour a day, long weight & cardio sessions, or stress.
Filling your envelopes with enough exercise
If you have 5-6 envelopes, meaning you have 5-6 times you can exercise for 20-25 minutes per day (again: it doesn’t have to happen all at one time during the day) then I’d recommend putting weights in 2-3 envelopes, cardio in 2-3 envelopes, and some stretching, Yoga or other restorative work in your remaining envelope(s).
If you have 3-4 envelopes, you’ll need to put weights in 2 envelopes and cardio in 2-3 envelopes. You’ll end up doing some of both in 2-3 of your envelopes, but remember: these sessions don’t need to be long. Also, here on Fit2B we offer combination workouts where you get your cardio and weights at the same time!
Here are some examples
You can get enough exercise with any combination of envelopes, but – if I could pick two crucial things to always be sure you do – you want to be sure that you’re walking and getting those two weight lifting sessions each week. Walking can be a natural filler for hitting that 150 mark, but loading your bones and muscles at least twice a week takes more intention. Lifiting heavy things is essential to maintaining your muscle mass, bone density, cholesterol, mental health, and so many other things as women. Plus, lifting weights can also provide cardio! Here are some examples that utilize Fit2B workouts:
If you can do 3 envelopes per week…
Then I recommend using Fit2B workouts that offer both weights & cardio like these. Use walking or stretching to get the rest of your 150 minutes.28 ToneUp Tabata Ball Workout Basci Step w/ Weights
If you can do 4 envelopes…
Then I recommend doing 2 cardio + 2 weights. Walk & stretch to get the rest of your 150 minutes.Red Rush Total Body Toning Blue Bells Weightliting 101
If you can do 5 envelopes…
Then I recommend doing 2 weight workouts + 2 cardio + 1 yoga/pilates session like this! Continue to get bonus minutes with walking. Join Fit2B for access to hundreds of home workout videos.Rockin Yoga Pilates Green Gertie Bag A Better Back Water Aerobics Stair Intervals
If you can do 6 envelopes…
Then I recommend using my 2-2-2 principle which I blogged about here, and this is one example!Rebound Cardio Basic Latin Dance Kelly's Simple Stretches Fuschia Fascia Green Gertie Dumbbell Workout
Insider Tip: Our color series would fill up a really fun, diverse set of envelopes. Just pick one color to go through each week, and you’ll get everything you need!Learn about our color series
What about core work for Diastasis Recti?
Here on Fit2B we offer hundreds of home workout videos, and we bring diastasis aware cues into every single one, integrating the abdominals into each move. If you are in a season where you need to do focused core workouts to improve your Diastasis Recti, then those might take up all your envelopes for a few weeks. That’s okay, but you should also tuck some little walks into those envelopes, and – as soon as you’re out of that restorative rehab stage – you can trust us to help you graduate to weight and cardio workouts that won’t undo your progress if you do our Foundational Five Plus Course.
What do you think?
Leave a comment below and share what workouts you’d plug into your metaphorical envelope system. Does this system help your brain envision how to exercise enough? What are your tips for getting the right exercise in each week?
7 thoughts on “The Envelope System For Exercising Enough”
Too…much…math!!! Haha! No, this is a helpful way to look at. I’ve been getting close to this, but I’m not quite there. I need to tweak things and think through this a little bit more. My problem is that I’m such a systems person, so I could easily pick just one set of exercises for 1 set of envelopes and think “I’m all set!” But, the problem is a.) I’d get bored and b.) I know our bodies need variety too. All of that to say, that’s where I get lost – mixing it all up. My brain hurts just writing all of that! (It doesn’t help that I was just helping my sophomore solve a logic puzzle for math.) Thanks for the great tip! I’ll get there!
Gah, I’m so not a “math person,” so maybe that’s why the math seems hard. Sorry! And there shouldn’t be any writing unless you like to write out the workout titles and literally tuck them into actual envelopes, which someone already informed me that they plan to do so that they can see and feel their plan in action. Do whatever works for you!
This is a FANTASTIC way to think of exercise and hitting me at just the right time. Thanks for your creativity 💚
Oh, awesome! I’m so glad that it helps you!
This is great. Thanks.
You’re welcome! I hope it’s motivating!
Now I want a printable to color in so I can track my minutes per week. No pressure. Seriously though, love this. It helps me feel flexible while also having a plan in place for getting enough.