7 ways to fit exercise into your life – no excuses
Working as a Personal Trainer in Nottingham for 15 years I have pretty much heard all of the excuses under the sun for not exercising. The most common excuse of course is ‘I just don’t have time’. In this article I’m going to give you hints and tips on how to fit exercise into a busy lifestyle and really take your health and fitness up a gear.
“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” – William Penn
The facts are that you have 168 hours in a week, you only need to find three hours for exercise to get some great results and have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing. That is equal to just 5% of your week. Truthfully you will make time every week to do the things that you want to do, the things you feel are a priority. That may be watching Eastenders or doing overtime to clear your inbox, whatever you feel is of importance to you, you will find a way to do it.
Imagine for a moment that you dedicated 3 hours per week to exercise for a whole year. Would you feel different? How might you look different? What would happen to your energy levels? Would it effect your confidence? Would 3 hours exercise per week be disastrous for your working life and relationships or would it enhance them?
If you have never kept regular exercise up for a year or more you may not know the answer to those questions. Try asking them to somebody that as done it and listen to their response. Once you recognise the benefit you can get from those three hours, committing to them and prioritising the time gets easier.
“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” – Bruce Lee
So here is what you have to do
Firstly you must whole heartedly decide to commit to those 3 hours, the equivalent of 180 minutes, which is the equivalent of 10,800 seconds per week. Dress it up how you will but you must get those 3 hours done, no excuses.
You can choose how you break those 3 hours down over the week but preferably it would be done either by 3 x 60 min workouts, 4 x 45min workouts or 6 x 30 min workouts. You can decide which option works best with your schedule. Whichever breakdown you choose you must be final in your decision, make a commitment to it and see it through with no excuses.
The type of exercise you choose to do will be dependant on your training goals. If you want to get smaller you should do more cardio training, if you want to improve tone you should do more resistance training, if you want a little of both you should look at a hybrid program. To begin with it doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you do something rather than nothing. The initial goal is that you make a lifestyle choice to commit 3 hours per week to exercise and that you make it a habitual part of your weekly routine. If you are struggling to work out exactly what to do or if you have exercised for a while and need a change, I recommend that you seek professional help from a personal trainer who can give you a personalised exercise program written specifically for your personal training goals.
“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” – John Wooden
Here’s how you make it easier for yourself
Schedule the time and place
At the start of each week sit down with your schedule, decide where you can fit your three hours in and book the time out as if it was an official appointment. To take it one step further, decide where you will be training. Depending on your working week it may need to be the park, the gym, a hotel room, swimming pool or even your living room. You must consider the logistics of travel, changing and showering etc. The key shift in mindset here is that you must begin to see your three hours as essential time and not just an activity you perform when you have ‘spare’ time. In this day and age we’re all busy, if David Cameron and Barak Obama can find time to exercise I’m sure you can too.
Set a reminder
There are plenty of distractions during a busy week. Distractions can make it easy to forget about your training time and any prep you might need to do (such as packing your trainers). It’s useful to take a few moments of your time to set up cues and reminders so that you don’t let training slip your mind. This could come in the form of diary notes, post it notes, putting your watch on the other wrist, leaving your kit in full view or putting a sticker on your car steering wheel to name a few examples. My personal favourite is to use the reminder function on my mobile phone (Siri). I can set this to remind me at a certain time or when I arrive / leave a certain destination.
Use a time management system
You can increase your chances of finding time for exercise by becoming more efficient with your working week. If you don’t already, consider using a time management system. Managing your time effectively will improve all areas of your work and personal life. There are many time management systems you can experiment with but two that have worked well for me are the 4 Quadrant Technique by Stephen Covey and the Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo. You can google them for more details.
Make it social
Generally speaking people don’t mind letting themselves down but we find it harder to let others down. If you arrange to train with somebody else be it a friend, colleague or even a personal trainer you are less likely to pull out of the session.
Pack your kit
Pack your kit in advance. If you have to go home to collect it, you won’t be coming back. It’s always a good idea to have a spare kit bag packed to keep in your car boot or gym locker, that way neither you or your training partner can use the excuse ‘I’ve forgotten my kit’.
Plan your food
As well as planning your training you should also have a brief plan for your food. Make time to eat, know what’s on the menu and where it’s coming from. Planning what your meals will be and where they are coming from not only prevents bad decisions but ensures that you are fuelled up properly for your workouts. If you eat too close to your workout you won’t feel like exercising. If you leave limited time and you’re left with the choice of training or eating I think we know which one will win.
Reward your effort
It’s important to recognise your success when you have achieved your 3 hours. Decide on how you would like to reward yourself each week. This could be your favourite food / tipple, a fun activity of your choosing or something material like an album or some clothing. It doesn’t have to be big, expensive or calorific as long as your effort is recognised on a weekly basis.
“Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.” – Theophrastus
Beware of where it can go wrong
You probably already know whether you prefer to train before work, lunchtime or after work so be sure to plan accordingly. Be warned that sofas have a magnetic effect in the evening, once you sit down you are not getting back up. Don’t put yourself in that situation.
There will be occasions when the little voice in your head tries to justify skipping a session. Everyone that works out regularly experiences that little voice that begs for the extra hour in bed, wants to avoid running in the rain or is just not feeling up to it. The difference with regular exercises is that they have been there before and they know from experience that they will feel better for it afterwards. Shout down that voice internally and remind yourself that 3 hours is the minimum you need.
Lack of priority
The boss has a deadline, your to do list is growing, the household chores are piling up and you need to go shopping. They are all tasks that need undertaking and you will prioritise them as you see fit. Be sure to add health and fitness to the list as a high priority the above won’t kill you but a poor lifestyle will.
“Procrastination is the thief of time.” – Edward Young
Many of my clients tell me that if they didn’t train with me then they would not train at all. Making a regular appointment and having me hold you accountable for your actions is a powerful strategy. It is just one of the reasons why personal training can be so beneficial.