“Must be nice” I hear her say. She is referring to the fact that the woman clad in workout pants and a tank top is telling her friend about her workout. “I just don’t have the time for that.” What she doesn’t know is that the woman she is referring to has 3 children, a job, volunteers a fair amount of time to a non-profit organization, and cooks 3 meals a day for her family. I know she does those things because it is me. I also have a good friend who carves time out of her work day during her lunch break to get the gym. Another who rides a bike to work to complete her cardio for the day and someone who actually has alarms stored in their phone at specific intervals throughout the day reminding them to get up and do a 5 minute workout 8 times a day. That’s 40 minutes every day.
Lack of time is one of the most common reasons people give for being unable to accommodate a workout plan in their schedule. They say they cannot find the time, when in reality, you won’t ever find it. You must MAKE it. We live in a society that glorifies a busy lifestyle. The more we do, the higher the status. This means that in addition to not making time to exercise, we’re also more stressed and tired. A number of us suffer from malnutrition that comes along with the lack of time that leads to fast food meal options that are on every corner. By the time we find 9 or 10 pm, the day has been wasted and we are disappointed in not having made any advancement towards our health goals. It’s exhausting and unhealthy.
This is where a very important term comes into play. Listen closely…
A healthy lifestyle eliminates the need to find time, because it integrates healthy choices and elements into your life and schedule so they are not only unavoidable, but convenient.
Yes, convenient! We can all use that.
Here is your first assignment. Get a couple of sheets of paper and a pencil, as well as any current calendar you might already have started. You can also use a pre-printed page like this one.
Begin by writing down the left margin, the time of day on the hour. You’ll want to leave a little space between each time and may need a few sheets. When done properly and in detail, you should have 2-3 sheets. Give it time, it doesn’t have to be that detailed right away. Also, personally, I have separate pages for different days.
Start with the time you wake up, realizing that even that may be subject to change.
Then fill in the time you go to bed, again, subject to change.
Next, fill in all the things that absolutely cannot be changed. This includes items like work and getting your children to school at a specific time. Do not add items that could be changed, you just don’t want to (Hair or nail appointments). Add in lunch breaks and other openings in your schedule and if possible, condense them together to make bigger openings in your time.
Now begin assessing the items you need to add in by importance and place them in the most logical spot. Be selective. Take things like logistics and commute into account when planning. If you’re going to need to change, take that time into account. When you are making the transition to a healthier lifestyle, there are some new things you may not be accustomed to doing throughout your day.
You will want to allow time for meal prep (if you choose to do this on a large scale, set aside a couple of hours one day. Otherwise, just enough time to prep your meals for the following day). Include however much time, however many times a week you’ll need it.
Obviously, you’ll want to put your workout in the schedule. EVEN IF YOU WORKOUT FROM HOME, WHICH CAN BE JUST AS EFFECTIVE, SCHEDULE IT. This is key. Treat it like your job, you may not cancel. I will go into detail in a later post on how to plan your workouts in advance but getting in the habit of completing them is the first step. You’ll also want to set aside a little time to prepare your gym bag each evening, commute time to and from the gym and so on. You can save time by going between work and home or directly after taking children to school. The more times you leave home and go back again, the more time you’ll waste.
Add notes throughout your schedule to remind yourself to keep up your water intake. This is one useful method.
Here are some things to remember to add in that get forgotten, but can consume a lot of time when they add up.
Shower and getting ready
Assisting kids with homework, baths, etc.
Returning/making emails and phone calls
I like to add in 10 minutes each morning to review my calendar for the day. I usually do this while I am waiting to drop my kids off at school. I also go through the mail and pay any bills or write out checks. It takes me less than 15 minutes, we’re not doing anything but sitting there and they can also read and study their homework at the same time. This is an example of condensing time that I might be otherwise wasting to get something important accomplished.
I also HIGHLY recommend 10-20 minutes sometime in your day to disconnect. This can mean a lot of things, not necessarily the “Ohm” experience that many people envision. It simply means take time to unwind. You can lay on the couch, pray, stretch, meditate, stand on your head, soak in the tub, go for a walk, anything you can think of where you can de-stress and unwind. Try to leave the phone at home or turn it off, no TV, nothing. This practice is crucial to your mental health. You’ll find some other great ideas for unwinding on my Mental Health Pinterest board.
On that note, remember that your schedule does NOT have to have each and every moment planned out and spontaneity can be invigorating. Keeping your goals in mind and at the forefront, don’t forget to relax and enjoy life. After all, why work to become so healthy only to have no time to enjoy the life you’ve built?
There is something rather obvious, but I still want to point it out. I didn’t mention watching TV or browsing the internet. This consumes such a large part of our lives and we act as though it cannot be taken out of our daily schedule. For every TV show you watch, you could be completing a workout, prepping 3 meals, or stretching. You could be returning your daily phone calls and catching up on emails to free up time for the next day and not feel so stressed when it’s time to head to the gym. You could be completing household chores so that you can do an online workout while your toddler naps tomorrow afternoon.
Find a planner that has a format which allows you to include your entire day, especially in the beginning and do your best not to deviate. If you find something simply isn’t feasible, change. It’s what works best for YOU. Add your list into it, IN PENCIL and you are ready to go. These printables are some of the most detailed and thorough I’ve found and go easily in a 3 ring binder, or find a smaller planner that you can fit in your purse.
Be creative and selective in how you spend your time. It’s true when someone says we all have the same 24 hours. This will require some honesty and sacrifice but as you learn to develop your healthy lifestyle, you’ll find that keeping the habits intact becomes simple. You’ll find yourself with more time, more energy, improved health and less stress. If you aren’t sure where to start, or if you have questions, contact me to get on track to your healthy lifestyle.