Finding Time for a Fit Life
Have you ever noticed that everything is always due on the same day? Like in school, it would never be just a math exam. No, no, no. That would be far too easy. The math exam was the same day as the science fair, history oral report and opening night of the school play where you had to memorize eight lines plus a musical number.
As we get older, this chaos doesn’t seem to get any better, does it? Because in addition to all the things you are personally responsible for (job deadlines, tax returns, folding laundry) you also have the added bonus of preparing your son for his first standardized test and your daughter has volunteered to sell 400 boxes of Girl Scout cookies. Sounds like the perfect time to train for a bodybuilding bikini competition, right?
The number one question I get asked as a personal trainer from clients and people who follow my blog is, “How do I find time for fitness? I’m crazy busy but want to get fit!”
If this sounds like you, I have some tips to help!
Step 1: You Have to Want It.
First, if your question is, “How do I find time for fitness?” you are already ahead of the game because you have the desire to get healthy. If you’re reading this article, I’m guessing you are legitimately motivated to lose some weight, get in shape or at least tone up. Not everybody is there mentally. There’s a famous quote from Henry Ford which says, “Whether a man says he can or he can’t, he’s right.” That gets to the heart of the first step for finding time for fitness, which is you have to want it to prioritize it, otherwise it’s too easy to say you’re tired and collapse on the couch with a glass of wine. So say it loud and proud, “I’m ready to lead a healthy life,” and then truly believe it, because you absolutely can find time to eat clean and exercise.
Step 2: Follow Warren Buffett’s 5/25 Rule.
Warren Buffett, the third richest man in the world, is 88 years old and made his billions through investing in companies. As the story goes, one day he was speaking to his pilot and asked, “How long have you worked for me?” The pilot answered, “About ten years.” Buffett said, “Well I’m doing something wrong if you’re still in the same position. What are your top 25 goals?” The pilot went to work and wrote them out. “Now put them in order from the most important to the least important.” It took some thought, but the pilot ranked everything. Buffett said, “I want you to focus on the top five goals. Now what are you going to do with the other twenty goals?” The pilot thought for a minute. “Well, I’ll focus on the top five and as I have time I’ll work on the others as well.” “Wrong!” said Buffett. “Completely eliminate the other twenty things until you finish your first five goals, otherwise you’ll never feel like you’re making any progress.” It’s simple advice to keep you focused and yet very effective.
Since one of your goals is to incorporate fitness in your life, make sure you list that as one of your top five priorities!
I actually tried this 5/25 Rule for the months of January and February and found it remarkably helpful. My priorities were:
- Learn the final dance to “Dirty Dancing” for my 45th birthday scare.
- Potty train my dog, Bruno, and get him to stop jumping on people.
- Train for and compete in the Arnold Classic bikini competition.
- Finish the taxes.
- Prepare my son for the Iowa tests (I homeschool and this is his first standardized test).
The first priority, Dirty Dancing, had to be completed by my birthday, February 2nd. Simultaneously I had to work on the other goals because the dog had to be potty trained before my father-in-law came to watch the kids so I could fly to Ohio for the competition. The bikini competition required two workouts per day plus posing practice. My son’s test was the day after I got home from the competition. The business taxes had to be done the same day as the Iowa test. This is in addition to regular stuff like working at the gym and cooking dinner.
Confession: This was really, really hard for me. Once I finished the Dirty Dancing goal, I automatically wanted to add a new goal in it’s place, but… No! For this rule to work you cannot move on to goal #6 until you finish the first five.
Step 3: Get Help
It required a lot of teamwork to meet these priorities in such a short time frame. Here’s how I did it:
- Ask family for help. Preparing my son for the Iowa test was important, and so was working and working out. That’s when I asked my husband and daughter to step up and pitch in. On days when I worked late my husband would start math lessons with my son until I got home (around 10:30 a.m.) During my second workout (3 p.m.) I had my eleven-year-old daughter quiz my son on vocabulary cards and the flashcards I wrote up for social studies. Likewise, if you are trying to workout ask your family to watch your kids for an hour or help out with mundane chores so you have some more free time to get your sweat on. Remember to thank them profusely.
- Let help come to you. For the dog I hired a dog trainer who made house calls because I know nothing of dogs and was at a total loss. She got him potty-trained in one session. That was the best $200 I ever spent. Maybe your budget allows for a personal trainer to come to your house so you don’t have to run to the gym. Or you could try an online training program or old school workout video to do on your own.
Step 4: Schedule Everything in Small Chunks of Time
- Wake up earlier. I’d wake up super early (4 a.m.) to get my cardio done before meeting my first client at the gym at 6 a.m. Waking up this early required setting two alarms on my phone to prevent oversleeping. It sucked by my main fitness goal was done before the sun came up. You’d be surprised how much you can get done if you wake up earlier.
- Schedule your exercise into your calendar. Learning the Dirty Dancing dance meant my husband and I would practice the dance at least three times when he came home from work (15 minutes) and we took ballroom dancing classes once a week on Sundays (1 hour). This was a hard schedule and because we set the bar low (who can’t practice something three times?) it was easier to just do it than to come up with an excuse. We also scheduled this on our phone calendar. If you want to get to the gym, schedule it in your calendar like you would any other important priority.
- Set a timer for 5 minutes. I hate tax preparation more than eating cold tilapia and asparagus. If hell exists it will involve cold fish and tax preparation. Because I hate this task so much and will actually procrastinate by doing laundry instead of paperwork, I had to set an alarm for 5 minutes and force myself to sit at my desk and do the work for at least that long. Once I got started, I actually was able to go longer, but at the 30 minute mark I made sure to take a ten minute break. You can apply the same technique to fitness. When you’re really tired and just not feeling it, tell yourself you only have to go on the treadmill for 5 minutes. Once you have momentum it’s easier to keep going.
Step 5: When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed, Re-read Step 1
There is a difference between an emergency and standard being busy. An emergency is when your mom goes into the hospital. Who cares about the gym; be with your mom. Busy is when you have to take your mom to a doctor’s appointment between your other obligations. Don’t tell yourself you’re too tired or too busy; just focus on the task at hand and get it done.
Why do you want to fit more fitness in your life? To feel better, look better, get off medication? Whatever is motivating you, let it be a very powerful thing that will propel you when it’s cold, or your tired, or it’s a Tuesday afternoon. If you really want to find the time for fitness, you will need to make the time for it.
Remember, there is exactly enough time to do what’s important to you.
Hope that helps!
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Lisa Traugott is a personal trainer, Mom’s Choice Award writer, original cast member of FOX/John Cena’s “American Grit” and has a monthly fitness column on Bowflex.com. She won Ms. Costa Rica Sports Model 2017 and her transformation story was featured in Muscle & Fitness Hers, Good Day Austin, Great Day Houston and Austin Woman Magazine. She blogs at ShesLosingIt.com and is passionate about her clients.
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