Staying Fit When Life Gets Busy
Busy? If you are in a season of being busy, you're not alone. If you aren't, chances are, you have been there. Life comes in seasons, and some of those seasons can feel downright overwhelming.
Maybe you just had a baby, maybe your job is crazy, maybe you are going through some stuff that is requiring you to make some adjustments to your normal routine. We've all been there. I am personally there right now.
When you are busy, the first two things to typically go are your quiet time and your health. You decide you could definitely use your quiet time or workout time to be "productive." Suddenly, you start skipping workouts and you find yourself running for take out since you don't have time to cook. You are busy. It's time to stop using "busy" as an excuse. Look around...everyone is busy. Busy doesn't have to equal unhealthy.
Just because you are in a season of "busy" doesn't mean that you can't stay fit. In fact, with some minor adjustments and a change in mindset, you can maintain your level of fitness or even make gains during a season of life where everything seems absolutely crazy. Here are some of my keys to staying fit when my life is moving at 100 mph.
Make a Plan
Do you have a season that you already know is a busy one? If you are an accountant, tax season is chaos. If you do landscaping, summer can be nuts. For me, I teach swim lessons in the summer. I know going into June that my summer will be insane. I am in the pool nearly 7 hours a day in addition to running three Fixed on Fitness classes a day. Oh yeah, I also have two kids and somehow have to get to the administrative side of FOF. If I look at the summer as a whole, I am often left feeling completely overwhelmed, and I find it easy to start making excuses.
I am a Type A personality all the way, so not having a plan for things makes me feel like I am scrambling. However, looking at the entire month, and planning out the month in advance is too much for me. I have too many variables in my week. If it rains, I might have a make up swim lesson on a Friday or on the weekend. Something in the house might break (like the water main did last week). So, I plan by the week, allowing for flexibility if something comes up. I look at when I can get my workouts in, and that's what I go with. Then, I look at the days that will be best to get some administrative work in. I plan out time to do nothing so that I can recover both physically and mentally. From there, I adjust day by day as needed.
Know your limits and plan for them. Killing yourself to get everything done without a plan and without help is going to lead to burn out. The first thing that will go will be your quiet time and your health. Make a plan and commit to staying fit through the craziness.
Ask for Help
The first summer that I taught lessons, I burnt myself out. I tried to continue all of my normal responsibilities despite adding seven hours of work to my day. I like to be in control, and I like to do things myself. Well, in the summer, that's just not happening. Thankfully, Josh is more than willing to pick up any slack around the house.
If you are in a busy season, try asking your family for help. Trust that they are fully capable of cooking dinner, going to the grocery store, and running a few errands. Maybe hire out a cleaning or yard service for a few months. Having someone clean the house in the summer is basically a complete life saver for me. Ask for or hire help...it will help you have time for your workouts even when you have a lot on your plate.
Quality vs. Quantity
My normal week involves 5-6 workouts. My job is basically to workout, I enjoy the process of working out, and my day just doesn't feel right if I don't get a sweat session in. In the summer 5-6 workouts really just aren't possible for me. My body is tired, my brain is drained, and my productivity isn't awesome.
Instead of pushing myself to get workouts in nearly everyday, I have shifted my focus to making sure I'm getting around 4 quality workouts in each week. Instead of doing my workouts during the week, I am working out more on the weekends. I crave workouts with a group, but I realize that I must be okay with just 1-2 group workouts with my FOF classes each week.
Quality over quantity also includes the time that I am spending working out. I just don't have a solid hour for every workout. Thankfully, I can get an hour maybe 2 days a week, but my other two workouts have to be short...less than 20 minutes of actual work. For those workouts, the intensity has to be HIGH. I choose workouts that challenge me in multiple ways, incorporate a variety of strength movements, and contain enough cardio (usually in the form of heavy weights, burpees, or a sprint) to get my heart rate sky high. These short workouts are the ones that make me feel like I'm going to puke. I honestly don't love this feeling, but when I am short on time, I want to make the most of my workout.
Focusing on quality instead of quantity has not only freed up a little time in my week, but it's kept my productivity high. By not forcing myself to do a workout just to check it off the list, I also avoid that feeling of a crappy workout.
Shift your Mindset
With my workouts, the drop in quantity is definitely a hard mindset shift for me. I've been a personal trainer for a long time. I've given advice A LOT. However, sometimes it's so hard to listen to your own advice. I know that four quality workouts are better than six workouts where my effort isn't 100%.
However, something in the back of my mind tells me that I'm not doing enough. The workout to eat or workout because I ate mentality that I followed for so many years growing up is hard to overcome. My mindset has to shift. I have to keep rewriting the script of my old story.
I see the fitness gains I am making despite being busy. It's not my ideal week of workouts, but I'm making it work. I am staying fit, and I am allowing myself to be flexible with my workouts. You can too!
Focus on your Fork
When you can't workout as much as you would like, make sure you are looking at your fork. Putting a focus on your nutrition is the fastest way to see results in your waistline. But, when you are busy, it's easy to put your food choices on the back burner. It's easy to justify a "reward" of junk food or even alcohol.
Making good food choices doesn't have to be hard. It does take a little preparation, but you have options. Even if you really don't have time to cook, you can find very healthy options on the go. We have a great company in Pensacola called Primal Premade Nutrition. They deliver healthy meals right to your door at a great price point. You also have the option of things like Blue Apron that make cooking really easy, and you can customize the meals you receive.
If you have a day with some extra time, use it to meal prep. Meal prepping doesn't have to be super complicated. Just throwing a little extra meat on the grill or a casserole in the oven, will give you dinner for a night or two. Remember that not every meal has to be a gourmet meal. On a busy night, throw a meat and some veggies on your plate, and you are done. A rotisserie chicken with a bagged salad from the grocery store is a really easy weeknight dinner option. Is it perfect? No. Is it better than grabbing a burger and fries from a fast food restaurant? Absolutely!
I live in reality. Fast food or take out food is sometimes necessary. Know your options. We live in America...there are restaurants on every corner. Find a few places that you already know have healthy options. Just about every restaurant out there will give you a sandwich without a bun. So many restaurants, even fast food places, have salads. The dressing might not be the best in the world, but you made the better choice. Every takeout option has a meat and veggie option. You just have to take responsibility to make the best choice possible regardless of your circumstance.
When it comes to staying fit, what you put in your mouth is every bit as important as getting your workouts in. Make the effort to make good food choices. Be careful not to use your busy schedule as an excuse to binge on beer and pizza.
Don't let Busy be your Excuse
Have a plan, get some help, focus on the quality of your workouts instead of the quantity of your workouts, and put real food on your plate. If you do, you will find that you are staying fit even when you are busy. A crazy season is the best time to make sure you are still exercising...who doesn't need a little stress relief that you get from a great workout????
If you need a short workout idea, give this one a try. It's one of my favorites lately :). Shoot to finish in under 20 minutes, and you definitely won't feel like you missed out on a quality workout just because it's short.
- 200 yd sprint
- 20 Overhead Swings
- 20 Thrusters (2 hands)
- 20 Burpees
Have fun, and get it done!
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