“I just don’t have the time to exercise.” How many times have you said that to yourself or heard someone else say that? “I just don’t have to the time to eat healthy. I just don’t have the time to cook. I just don’t have the time to stretch.” These sayings are extremely common and sometimes I find myself blaming time. To be perfectly transparent, I've always set my life up to make room for my wellness lifestyle. However, this year (2020) I've struggled to find time and motivation for my wellness goals. I can completely emphasize with busy, stressful, and fast paced lifestyles. Nonetheless, here are 4 steps that will help you overcome the time barrier and help you reach your goals!
Step #1: Time isn’t the Issue
The first step is to realize that time isn’t the issue. We can never find the answer unless we identify the question. The correct question isn’t predicted on finding more time. The correct question focuses on priorities. In order to make fitness progress you need to prioritize exercise and nutritional lifestyle habits. That doesn’t mean spending excessively amounts of time in each area. You can have priorities and have flow for other areas of life. Realizing time isn’t the issue sets you up for success in step number two.
Step #2: Perspective Shift
The second step is to shift your perspective on exercise and nutrition. Far too many times I see people develop negative perspectives on fitness. There are a million reasons why these perspectives could have been formed (fad diets, negative experiences, social media etc.) but the essence of fitness was lost. Fitness does not fit inside one box. Every human being on this earth has a different genetic code. Likewise, fitness should individualized to each individual (haha repetition much?). At it’s core, fitness enhances life. Fitness brings more life quality and quantity. There is ample research to support the effects of proper exercise and nutrition on every system in the human body. We are primed biologically to move and grow. Fitness looks different from individual to individual and it should! However, there is no denying the fact that human movement and proper nutrition enhances our minds and bodies.
If exercise and nutrition are viewed as miserable processes then we need to change the perspective! You didn’t ‘fail’ at your exercise or nutrition plan. You just didn’t find a sustainable and enjoyable system based on your own individual needs. Maybe you were too strict? Maybe you spent too much time in the gym? I just want to encourage you to change your perspective. Adjust fitness to your lifestyle, don’t try to adjust your lifestyle to society’s concept of fitness.
Step #3: Creativity
Jeez Eric, easy for you to say! You don’t have kids. You only have to worry about yourself. What about single mothers that have two jobs and multiple kids? I am not denying the fact that some people have MORE time than others. However, at the end of the day, all of us can make time if fitness becomes a priority. You might not be able to spend multiple hours in the kitchen and gym every week but you can still be creative. Here are some ways to help adjust fitness to your lifestyle.
I can also make the argument that exercise and proper nutrition will actually increase time (productivity, energy levels, mental clarity, mood management, motivation, attention span etc.) but we will save that for another time.
Step #4: The One Thing
Start with one thing. The power of one is something that I have become fascinated with. It is such a life hack. Focusing small actually helps you achieve huge results. I’m not saying I have everything figured out but there is tons of research and literature to back up the power of one. For the next 12 weeks, try an experiment for me. Each week pick one small thing (just one) that helps you reach your fitness goals. The habits and weeks will build upon each other. An example can be found below.
Week 1: Drink 4 liters of water a day
Week 2: Go to bed at the same time every night
Week 3: Eat protein with each meal
Week 4: Walk 15 minutes everyday
Week 5: Eat 1 serving of vegetables everyday
Week 6: Eat 1 serving of fruit everyday
Week 7: Go to the gym 2x a week
Week 8: Go to the gym 3x a week
Week 9: Stretch 5 minutes a day
Week 10: Switch from 2% milk to 1% milk
Week 11: Pick low calories sauces for your week’s meals
Week 12: Pick naturally sweetened yogurts over artificial sweetened yogurts
The reason this system is so effective is because it uses will power to our advantage. We aren't trying to tackle 10 things at once. We focus on one habit and aim small. Doing this allows you to execute the one thing extremely well. Once that habit clicks into autopilot then we use our limited will power to shift and focus on another small habit (so on and so forth). You don't have to be extremely disciplined to be successful. You need to focus small and allow the power of habit to transform your life.
This works incredibly well for some people. Other people thrive off of more developed structure. The point is to find a system that works for you! Mold fitness to your lifestyle and enjoy it. It’s not something that should be miserable. You should be focused but it should bring something into your life and not detract or limit your human experience. Your best is yet to come!