Working up to 40 hours a week or more can make it difficult to find time to work-out and make healthy choices. No one says it’s easy but there are things you can do to help yourself to make it happen. We can all spend hours making a schedule, some of you may even enjoy colour co-ordinating a pretty timetable, but what good is a plan if you don’t stick to it? At #FITGIRLCODE, we work with the fact that one rule does not fit all. Try applying some of these practices to your life that will enable you to plan and commit to a healthy lifestyle.
1. Meal planning
First things first. Still haven’t tried to prepare any meals or snacks in advance for the busiest days? Having a list of food that you need to buy when you go grocery shopping is the least that you can do but have lunch and dinners jotted down too. Buy ingredients that can be used in multiple dishes and make meals big enough to give you leftovers. That way dinner and lunch for the next day is sorted out. Get started with the art of ‘meal prepping’ which will definitely save you some time during the week. Of course, you have to plan time to work this into your schedule but doing it will create so much more space in your overall weekly schedule and will make it so much easier for you when the going gets tough.
2. Get a little help from your friends
Make a pact with your best fit friends that demands the first one to cancel on your workout, has to take everyone out for lunch. Getting other people to hold you accountable for your actions can be one of the best ways to change something that you don’t like. Agree on a forfeit that will encourage you to stick to your word, because integrity is important and we don’t want to be unreliable. Remember that your BFFF needs you as much as you need them, they will keep you going when you want to quit and you need to be there to do the same for them. If you do decide to cancel and not to go, your friends might then decide to give the workout a miss too!
3. Stop prioritising
“Madness,” you say. “I’d explode. There is simply too much to get done!” Prioritising is often encouraged but exercising is likely to keep getting moved down on the list of your priorities each day when you have a busy schedule and responsibilities where other people depend on you. It is recommended by the World Health Organisation that adults do at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity 5 times a week (read more here). This is something we have known for some time, so why do we keep prioritising other things before our health? Treat all tasks equally because being healthy is your responsibility to yourself and those around you in order to perform everything else.
4. Book a ‘workout appointment’ one night before
The weekly schedule you currently live by has probably been established for some time so its no wonder that a new 5 day work out plan is difficult to stick to. Our lives are busy enough otherwise we wouldn’t need to plan to work out, so it’s important not to overwhelm yourself by looking too far ahead. Each night, a least two hours before your head touches the pillow, check your schedule for the next day. Just like you would do if you were making an appointment at the dentist or the with the doctor, see where you have time to ‘go’ (either to the gym or at home) and enter it into your calendar. Then, don’t look at it again until the morning. Once you have done this, pack your gym bag and put it in the car or beside your jacket to grab on the way of the door the next day. Scheduling your appointment well before you go to bed may also help reduce thinking about it as you try to get to sleep so you don’t dwell on all the other things you think you should do tomorrow instead.
5. Minimise Your Options
Decide one activity, class or exercise and one time slot to do it. When planning your day it might seem like a good idea to have back up plans when things don’t go how they were was supposed to, but I think doing this ahead of time actually provides you excuses to not commit to what you set out to do. Having no plan B emphasises the importance of plan A. When activities have a fixed place in your day so you know exactly when it is going to happen and you can tell others around you; this potentially increases the chances of things going according to plan! Put minimising your options into action a different way by changing into your work out clothes soon as you get home before sitting down on the couch. Taking a break to recharge is a good idea but if you change into clothes that you can exercise in, it means working out isn’t just an option but your plan A.
6. Define what a healthy lifestyle means for you
A healthy lifestyle is not purely setting time aside to work out 4 times a week and choosing to bring carrots sticks and humus instead of cookies for an afternoon snack, it is a way of living that promotes optimum physical health. Acknowledge that making more movement part of your daily life, is essential for healthy internal organs and well being. In the past humans hunted their food but now the most that some of us walk is from our house, to a car, to a desk and to the bathroom or kitchen between times. Thinking about how often you are stationary throughout your day may encourage you to realise that a brisk walk after work for 30 minutes is actually essential, rather than optional, to keep your body functioning properly. If you really don’t have a solid 30 minutes spare then there are lots of opportunities to make a healthier choice every day. Think about how you travel to work, could you take the stairs rather than the escalator or get off of the bus a stop early?
Life is unpredictable so we need to nurture our mind as the tool to cope better with a busy schedule rather than a back up plan. Striving to adapt your attitude when the unexpected occurs will allow you to become resourceful and creative in getting your heart rate up one way or when all of the above fails. The ability to do this will also mean that you can say yes to an impromptu dinner date with friends, because this is part of a healthy lifestyle too. Making your mind flexible will help to avoid the ‘on-the-wagon’, ‘off-the-wagon’ mentality because your body is the only wagon to take you on your journey called life.