How Can I Still Workout & Eat Healthy If I Don’t Have Time?
I’ve been there.
Swamped by work.
Exhausted by stress.
Trying to find time for working out and preparing healthy meals can sometimes feel impossible.
This isn’t a “You’re just making excuses” article.
But it’s important to focus on the real issue, which isn’t time.
The issue is one of priorities, and learning how to manage them.
“You always have time for the things you put first”
I remember first hearing that quote.
It’s one of my favorites now.
In a church class I attended as a kid, a teacher took a jar and attempted to fill it with various things.
First he started with a small cup of water.
Then he added sand.
Finally, he tried to fit some larger rocks into the jar.
But the jar was too full.
He dumped it all out and started again–this time in reverse order.
He placed the larger rocks into the jar.
Then the pebbles, which fit their way into the spaces.
Then the sand, which filled their way into the smaller spaces.
Finally, he added the water, which took up the rest of the room.
His point was that, if you start with the “big rocks”–the most important priorities–then everything else will fit into place.
Otherwise, you get so caught up in the hustle of unimportant things that you run out of space for the things that really matter.
One way to apply this is to look at the things you do that contribute the least to your life and replace them with things that contribute most.
This is best accomplished by starting your day with the most important tasks first.
That way they’re done.
“Earn” your facebook/tv time
It’s so easy to waste your day on facebook or watching tv.
I know because I still do it, more than I should.
Treating these activities as rewards for getting your main priorities accomplished for the day is a great way to hold yourself accountable.
2. Exercising 5 mins here and there adds up
You may also just need to break with convention when it comes to your workout.
According to studies, you get comparable results doing exercise for 5 mins at a time, totaling up to 30 mins as you do from doing a 30 min workout.
Split workouts in half
5 mins here and there might be a bit too tedious to keep track of, but what about 15 mins in the morning and 15 mins in the evening?
3. Find an easy meal plan
There are plenty on Google.
I’m not one to preach a strict meal plan in most cases because it can lend itself to food obsession, which I think is just as unhealthy as not caring what you eat.
But for saving time, it can take all of the guess-work out and provide you with a structure to follow.
For a more flexible eating strategy, check out my 25 Super Foods video I created a few years back.
4. Batch cook
Preparation is the key to saving time and accomplishing your priorities.
If you can find just enough time each week to make a couple meals that will last you for days, and then stick them in the fridge for later, you won’t be constantly frustrated by trying to whip up a healthy meal 3 times a day.
5. Add veggies
Adding veggies to your meal is one of the easiest and most helpful things you can do.
And it only takes a minute.
I prefer steaming fresh vegetables, which isn’t hard and doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes, but having a bag of frozen veggies in the freezer that you can heat up in the microwave can be a faster option.
The nice thing about adding veggies is that, even if you’re unprepared and your only option is to swing by a fast food joint or grab some take-out (or starve), you’ll still be eating a smaller portion of the food because the veggies will help to fill you up.
In other words, they make a great “contingency plan”.
6. Use spices
Throwing some chicken in the oven for 30 mins is an easy and quick way to cook up a meal while you get other things done.
But it can get boring and old real fast eating the same bland chicken breast every day.
Experiment with sprinkling different spices on it, though, and suddenly a whole new world of tastes present themselves when you eat chicken (or whatever else you stick in the oven).
I wrote an article a while back that includes a large list of great spice-pairings with different foods.
7. Keep a time journal for a week
I know it’s tedious, but it’s only for a week.
Just like budgeting to keep track of your money, and food journaling to keep track of your diet, keeping a time journal is a great way to plug any holes where your time is leaking out.
Depending on your commitment, set a timer for every 15 mins, 30 mins, or hour and then take a second to log what you’re doing when it goes off.
At the end of the week, pick the top 10% of activities to get rid of and replace them with your top 10% priorities.
8. Focus on small changes rather than overhauling your life
I’m a very hopeful and enthusiastic person.
When I get excited about something, I throw myself completely into it.
If you’re like me, you may have a hard time sticking with it.
After all, adding “Completely overhaul my life” to your To-Do List can be a pretty hard thing to ask of yourself.
Start with the easiest changes first and let them build momentum.
If you have a lot of things you’d like to change, pick a date on the calendar and set your goal to have everything implemented by that date.
9. Get creative
I remember reading about how Bruce Lee would be watching tv while holding an isometric crunch and doing shoulder presses with baby Brandon in one arm.
So just do that!
Or find other ways to combine exercise with your hectic lifestyle.
As a kid, I use to try to throw a punch or kick every time the scene changed on the tv.
It was fun to sharpen my reflexes, and it gave me something to do while I watched my cartoons.
Try parking at the end of the parking lot when you go shopping.
Honestly, with how much time it can take to find a spot up front, you’ll probably save some time (and hassle).
Take the stairs whenever possible.
Be creative and have fun with fitting things in.
It’s all about mindset.