Time For A Change
“Sorry, I just cannot find the time.”
“My schedule is way too hectic”
“Nope, running late”
I am writing this segment, in regards to what I feel, is the number one excuse for not exercising or eating correctly. After a decade of personal training and coaching, I feel confident in stating that time management is the downfall of health. When I attempt to analyze the “cause” of peoples’ general lack of conditioning and/or strength, I ask questions directly related to their efforts and how fitness plays a role in everyday life. The result is generally to blame “not having enough time to be in shape or to prepare healthy meals”. Which begs the question, how much time does it actually require? And, is it sustainable? In my opinion, I see as many healthy and organized individuals as I do, unhealthy and unstable individuals. What is the trick? I mean hurry up and tell us so we can stop wasting more time, right? Therein lies the difficulty; each person has different goals and different responsibilities. A high school junior, who is a two sport athlete and carrying a high grade point average can easily be as busy as a corporate CEO, most days. So these cases must be scaled individually. And be objective with your plan by being realistic first, and gradually integrating principles over time. Also, you have to be brutally honest with yourself. Let us take an objective look at the traits and characteristics of these so called ‘icons” of health and fitness. I am betting almost all of my chips that each one of these people PRIORITIZE their health and personal wellness over most other obligations in their lives, in some cases to their own detriment. If we break down some simple guidelines and suggestions, we can hopefully level the playing field slightly, because when looked at objectively, these individuals are working with the same 24 hours in a day as the rest of us. Here are some example principles and pitfalls to identify within your own life and see where improvements can be managed or made.
- What are my absolute survival responsibilities? (Ex: work, eat, breathe, care for family)
- What are my ideal fitness goals? (Ex: avoid heart attack, diabetes, look good naked)
- What in my life is absolutely wasting my time? (Netflix, Facebook, Solitaire, showering)
- How much money do I spend on food and coffee that I don’t prepare?
- Do I need a gym and/or professional guidance to achieve my fitness goals?
- What is a reasonable adjustment period for implementing these changes?
- Do I really care? And does anyone else in your life care enough to assist in this process?
- What is sabotaging you?
After being genuinely honest with your answers to those questions you will have an initial outline of how this journey can transpire. And at least you may already have some insight on what is an easy answer to a difficult question, (give my kids up for adoption and hit the gym, bam – done, quit my job and be the buffest homeless person ever, boom – yes.) Or, just see where small adjustments can be administered to illicit a long-term solution. It all starts with an individualized schedule, let’s begin:
What does 24 hours in a day actually consists of for you? Example below:
– 8 hours of sleep (Realistically 5.5)
– 8 hours of work (On average)
– 10 to 45 minutes commuting (Adjust accordingly)
– 1-2 hours possible preparation of food for individual or family
– 21 to 40 minutes per day eating, actually chewing
– 75 minutes of pre-work and pre-bed routine
This adds up to about 19 hours……. Leaving 5 hours to play with Lego’s for 4 hours and workout for 1 hour. You are welcome! Enjoy 2018 as the fittest year of your life! (Mic drop)
Though this may be seemingly ridiculous, it is however, mathematically honest. So what now, you ask? Well, the cat is out of the proverbial bag. This is where you begin to identify where those 5 hours are going, and the answer is not about being health conscious. Finding time just became the easy part of the equation; engaging in impactful behavior during that time is the challenge. So what type of behavior are we enlisting? Is it exercise? Is it meal preparation? Is it compartmentalizing menial tasks to certain days of the week to insure maximum efficiency? Could it be one or several of certain tactics to avoid wasting precious hours a week on things that can be easily managed and supplying you with ample time to invest in health and wellness.
This still reverts back to prioritization, prioritization, prioritization. If you make genuine plans, and stick to them, you realistically can take responsibility for your outcomes. And if you even improve nominally in one or more categories, why wouldn’t you at least attempt to try? Worst case scenario, you end up with time for another episode of Game of Thrones per day. And best case scenario, you manage stress, anxiety, and better your body composition, resting heart rate and life expectancy. Unfortunately, most individuals make health a priority, only when it has nearly failed them. And sometimes the overhaul is too little, too late. Rather than conscious participation in longevity, people tend to ignore themselves biologically until your biology demands your undivided attention and puts your life on the chopping block. I would prefer if people made time for their bodies rather than being forced to later on down the line. A strange noise from under the hood of your automobile, or check engine light is a suggestion for maintenance, we don’t always get such obvious indications of trouble ahead. The irony in all these concerns, is that they almost always can be managed with minimal daily activity, proper sleep, and nutritious food. Eating relatively healthy, nutrient dense food, elevating your heart rate daily, stretching, and purposeful strength training can combat an extensive list of health concerns before they even have a chance to register with your body. Still interested? Great. Let us breakdown some examples of lifestyle management from multiple resources and prime examples of conscious organization in regards to health and fitness management.
- Journal your daily activities and weekly obligations with painful detail.
- Breakdown your tasks into NEED and WANT.
- Objectively approach the NEED category with a plan to save as much time as possible while performing these duties (shopping once for the entire week, filling up your gas tank entirely to limit repetitive trips, make coffee at home, prepare food and store accordingly, delegate chores and responsibilities and outsource as much as possible).
- Honestly approach the WANT category and realize what these tasks represent to your overall life satisfaction. (Are you watching multiple hours of television or social media per day? Are you wasting time in traffic based on your commute, are you dashing out to lunch and coffee shops on your off time to purvey goods that you could easily make yourself? If you are nodding your head yes, then understand that these situations are your downfalls and how you manage these moments, is your victory, not some magic leg workout or spin class.
- Delegate your tasks and obligations, including friendships, could you get together at the gym instead of the bar with your core group of friends or coworkers twice a month?
- Multitasking work and schedule obligations during steady-state cardio sessions (conference calls, work emails, required or leisurely reading while recumbent cycling?) There are dozens of habits you invest in that could easily be done while being in motion.
- Invest in home exercise equipment if your travel time to the gym is unmanageable, or research facilities near your job or university to prioritize the task rather than get too comfortable once you get home and lose motivation.
- Research food prep companies, or buy a slow cooker and remove the option of going out of your way to buy lunch and dinner every day. Be proactive towards creating more TIME not losing weight. It is both measurable and rewarding when you switch your goal from “lose weight” to “have more free time”, and can be directed towards more general satisfaction than just worshipping the scale.
Answering all of these questions may seem overwhelming at first. But simply start by Ok, how can we slowly implement one or more of these principles to improve our overall well being and fitness? Seemingly, the obvious answer is to objectively look at your time budget and make “budget cuts”. Address what can go immediately and what can be managed more intelligently. What will those minutes, hours be worth to you? Most importantly, what will you do with that new free time?
Christopher Daly is a personal trainer at S10 Fitness , located in San Diego , CA. His website is https://s10fitness.com/