Do you ever feel like life pulls you in a million directions? There are always errands to run, tasks to complete, deadlines to meet.
And if that’s not enough, there are always social obligations to get to and family things to deal with.
The moment you cross one thing off your to-do list, three more come up to take its place. Your weekly schedule is full, and it sometimes feels like even sleep is a luxury you can’t afford.
But what about fitness? Well, that’s another luxury you keep going without.
“I’ve barely got any time as is. How can I possibly make time for fitness?”
“Someday, when I have more time, I’ll make fitness a priority.”
Well, today, we’ll take a look at some actionable things you can do to balance fitness with a busy lifestyle. Let’s dive in.
The Truth Is, Waiting For The Perfect Time is a Bad Strategy
One of the most common excuses I hear from people is the lack of time. After all, there are only so many hours we can dedicate to productive work before we are completely exhausted. So, naturally, lower-priority things like fitness often take the back seat and are left for another day.
But, here’s the thing:
Daydreaming of having time and energy for fitness is excellent. But life is chaotic and waiting for the perfect time to start being more active is a fool’s errand. If you keep putting it off, there’s always going to be something to take your time and energy away – today, in a year, and even a decade from now. In the end, the dream of being fit will remain just that – a dream.
But we’re all familiar with the importance of fitness. And not just with regards to how you look and how you feel, but also for good health. The fact is, fitness is not only recommended but mandatory if you wish to stay healthy and drastically reduce your risks of having health issues down the line.
Plus, fitness offers other incredible benefits:
- It boosts our energy levels and mood;
- It improves our sleep quality;
- It helps us maintain a healthy metabolism;
- It helps us get in shape and feel good about ourselves;
The list is far longer than that, but you get the idea.
Now, the great thing about fitness is that it isn’t set in stone. You don’t have to do it in one specific way. Like water, fitness can take many shapes, which means that you can mold it however you like. It all depends on what your goals are, what your schedule looks like, and what you prefer.
Don’t have much free time? You can still make it work. No access to equipment? Yep, it can still work. Hate doing a particular style of training and are afraid that you can’t get fit without it? Don’t do it. There are a million ways to get fit.
So, rather than wait for a better time to embark on your fitness journey, drop the excuses, start now, and make do with what you have.
Make Do With What You Have and Avoid The Mentality of Perfection
A prevailing theme in fitness these days is that of perfection. The perfect diet. The ideal workout. The perfect plan to get you ripped in sixty days. “If you don’t go all in, don’t even bother.”
Well, this way of thinking is the biggest roadblock for many people. With very few exceptions, most people on this planet can make fitness a part of their life in some capacity. But if you believe that you need to train and eat like an Olympian to get good results, you’ll probably give up before you even begin.
“Why bother? I can only train for 30 minutes a day?”My inner voice on certain occasions 😉
Have you heard yourself say this? Or maybe a friend? The fact is, you don’t have to live at the gym or eat healthy 100 percent of the time to get anywhere with fitness. Recent research has shown us that as little as 10 minutes of vigorous exercise per day can change our bottom line drastically.
Plus, with the rise of flexible dieting, we now know that we don’t necessarily have to eat ‘clean’ foods 24/7 to shed fat and build muscle. No, we can enjoy some of our favorite foods every day and still make significant progress.
Plus, even if you did have the time and means to train for ten hours a week and eat nothing but vegetables, rice, and steak, that way of living is unsustainable. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself begging for a break. And before long, you’ll drop the whole thing.
So, the bottom line here is, make do with what you have (free time, access to equipment, etc.) and avoid the idea of finding that perfect plan that will transform your body in a month – such a thing doesn’t exist.
Instead, set realistic goals (we’ll go over that in a moment), do things at a pace you can sustain (i.e., “Can I do this for the next decade?”), and aim to build habits, rather than find ‘quick fixes.’
Set Proper Goals, But Don’t Let Them Overwhelm or Discourage You
I want to preface the following with the idea that I consider goals to be necessary. It’s good to know where you’re going because you can otherwise find yourself running in circles for years and never getting anywhere. That’s even more important if you don’t have much free time you can dedicate to fitness.
But, goals can also do more harm than good if you go about them in the wrong way. The three most common mistakes with goals are:
- Setting too many of them.
- Setting contradicting goals (those that require vastly different actions to achieve) and trying to reach them at the same time.
- Setting vague goals.
So, without spending too much time on this point, I recommend following the S.M.A.R.T. acronym when it comes to goal-setting. This is a tried and true method for setting proper goals.
SMART stands for:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Timely
An example of a SMART goal is “Lose ten pounds in the next eight weeks.” It’s specific (there’s nothing vague here), it’s measurable (you can track your weekly progress), it’s achievable, it’s realistic, and it’s time-bound (i.e., you know how much time you have).
On top of that, avoid setting too many goals (especially in a single aspect like fitness) and don’t chase contradicting goals – focus on one thing at a time, and you’ll make much better progress over the years.
If You’re Having Trouble With Consistency, Take a Look at One Overlooked Factor
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term inconsistency? Is it a lack of willpower and discipline? Or maybe not enough time to follow through? Or perhaps you think to yourself, “Well the person probably doesn’t want it bad enough! Otherwise, they’d be serious and consistent!”
What if I proposed the idea that it might not be any of these things? What if there were an invisible force in our lives that slowly (but surely) shapes our behaviors, habits, and beliefs?
That force is your environment.
You see, your surroundings can significantly impact your choices and actions. And this is why it’s essential to be mindful of your environment and design it to supports your goals.
For example, say that you want to start eating healthier foods. After all, it’s a common goal for many. The best way to reinforce that and make it a habit is to fill your home with healthy foods and get rid of junk. It sounds simple enough, and it is. But most folks try to change their eating habits by going against the grain (i.e., their home is filled with junk food and sugary drinks that constantly taunt their willpower).
Before long, even if you’re strong-willed, you’re bound to give in. Why? Because we can’t resist temptation forever. This is why the old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.” carries so much truth.
The best way to ensure you stick with a positive behavior (say, eating healthy) is to make it incredibly easy. So easy that you can’t say no.
Another good example is exercising. If you continuously find yourself skipping workouts, you don’t have a problem with discipline as much as you have a problem with the environment you’ve created for it. Say that you want to exercise more often, but always find yourself unable to get to the gym. In such a case, you should look for another way to get your workouts in. After all, nobody says you need to be at the gym to have productive workouts.
Get yourself some essential gym equipment (a couple of resistance bands, two pairs of light and medium-weight dumbbells, and a pull-up bar) and train at home. Again, the goal is to design an environment that helps you with that. So comfortable you can’t say no.
The more hoops you have to jump through for something, the more likely you are to give up and drop it altogether.
Having a Trip? Here’s How to Stick With Fitness Even Then
For many, fitness and travel don’t mix well. Sure, they can be rigid and follow a plan down to a T, but come time to take a trip, and things go sideways really fast.
The biggest issue here is, most folks have an all or nothing mindset when it comes to fitness. Everything has to be perfect; otherwise, it’s not worth even trying.
“I won’t have access to the equipment I normally train with, so I won’t even bother.”
But the thing is, we can’t live in fear of traveling for work or pleasure because it’s going to mess with our fitness progress. After all, fitness should be part of your life – something that makes it better – not a burden of it.
So, a better way to approach fitness while traveling is with the mindset of flexibility.
Granted, you probably won’t be able to stick with your fitness plan as usual, and if you’re on vacation, neither should you. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t still adhere to it in some capacity.
First, make do with what’s available. If that’s a hotel gym – great. Train with what’s available there. Push yourself for 30-60 minutes and go about your day. If there isn’t a gym around, do some basic movements like push-ups and sit-ups in your room.
You can also try a different type of workout. For example, if there’s a nice park or beach near you, go for a refreshing jog in the morning. Sure, it might be different from what you’re used to, but it’s still positive, and it helps you stay on the fitness path.
Another common concern people have with the balance of fitness and travel is nutrition, especially when eating out.
First off, relax. A few meals out won’t break your progress, especially if you’re on your feet all day (say, sightseeing).
Second, a lot of restaurants these days have online menus, and you can check to see what’s available before going there. Meats, fish, and salads are always a safe bet because they provide you with plenty of protein and fiber and aren’t too high in calories.
And Last, But Not Least – Be Patient With Yourself and Your Progress
We live in a world of instant gratification and expect to achieve things quickly. And while that might be possible for some things, fitness is different.
Getting in shape takes time and continuous effort. You need to build good habits, do things at a sustainable pace, and get back on track quickly after setbacks.
So, the most important thing you should do is acknowledge that fact and stay patient. Trust the process and know that, so long as you’re consistent, you will make incredible improvements in the long run.
Yes, following the latest diet that promises 10 pounds of weight loss in a month is a lot more exciting than building good habits and giving them time to work and improve you. But the latter is going to deliver lasting results and much more satisfaction.