The act of balancing exercise, fitness and physical activity goals with life
Let’s face it – balancing our work, family and friends is a mission in as of itself and adding in exercise and diet into the mix can feel extremely overwhelming. Many of us feel like we do not have enough time to prepare our food for the next day, cook a healthy dinner from scratch every evening, get our weekly workouts in, and attend to our personal needs as well as to the needs of important others in our lives.
You consequently might not be surprised to know that the most commonly reported barrier to goal achievement (in the context of health and fitness) is the perception of having a lack of time. But somehow, some people manage to find the time to get all of the above done – so what are they doing differently?
They’re not smarter than you, they’re not more qualified than you, they may not even be fitter than you! They are just managing their time a little better with some simple (not always easy) tips and tricks.
Now, before you’re put off and think that I’m about to call you out for “not managing your time well enough”, please know that that’s not what this blog post is about. This blog post is about highlighting ways in which you can empower yourself, by focusing on what you can do to make the most of the time that you have at your disposal, in a way that will enable you to stay on top of your nutrition, exercise and physical activity goals for the week, month and foreseeable future.
- Set yourself up for success by not overshooting!
- If you’re struggling to balance your life with training and appropriate nutrition, you need to be realistic when setting goals. Make small changes, nail these and then move on to the next!
- For example, don’t try and get to the gym 5 times a week when your current life only allows you to consistently train twice a week. If you tell yourself you’ll be there five times but end up attending less, you’ll feel like you’ve failed, which can be incredibly discouraging and off-putting. Focus on the small wins instead – two workouts are better than none!
- The same goes for nutrition – avoid absolutes and stick to realistic small progress. This may be as simple as cutting down the number of “meal-deals” you have a week from 5 to 4! However small it may feel, some progress is better than no progress, and little changes will add up over time.
- Stop relying on willpower and develop systems that work for you!
- Habits take time to form, and they will require adjustments and a lot of perseverance. Constantly relying on being motivated or having the willpower to not have that chocolate bar, or to get yourself to the gym, has been consistently shown to not work = willpower is a finite resource!
- You need to create new systems and habits that will facilitate no other behaviour than the target goal behaviour. For example, if you train in the evenings and find yourself unmotivated to leave for the gym when you get home from work, create a system – such as leaving your gym bag and pre-workout meal laid out for you – so that it becomes easier to get changed and go, rather than sitting on the sofa and missing out on what could be a good training session.
- Equally, if you constantly feel tempted to eat the chocolate bar that’s in the cupboard, you might find life gets easier when you simply do not have any chocolate in the cupboard. And if you feel like you need to have some sweets there for the kids/grandkids, try putting them on a different shelf that you do not look at 10x a day.
- Keep it simple by changing one small thing at a time!
- Once you’ve developed a new habit, you can then “add on” or piggy back new habits into existing ones.
- For example, with regards to physical activity you can start by attending one weekly gym class; and once you’ve accomplished that consistently, try going for a brisk walk after your cooldown, which will increase your total daily caloric expenditure, and slowly get you closer to your goals.
- Another easy trick is to try increasing your daily activity by adding in more walks, using the stairs more often, and choosing to park your car a little bit further away from work.
- The same goes with food – you don’t need to go cold turkey and eliminate all the foods you enjoy from your diet for the rest of your life. Focus on making small changes – one takeaway instead of two a week could save you 2000kcal!
- PLAN YOUR WEEK IN ADVANCE
- I know it sounds cliché to say, and I also know that it’s a simple statement which may not be as easy as it sounds. However, planning will save you both time and the worry of not achieving your weekly/monthly goals. Scheduling in time to work out, cook, and spend time with your loved ones will help you commit to each part of your day more fully.
- The key is to not try to complicate these! Any three gym classes a week are better than none; and you don’t need to be a culinary expert to whip together some rice, green veg and protein for dinner every night. Simplicity will always win.
- Work HARD when you’re at the gym!
- When you do get the opportunity to train e.g. three times a week, make them count! Work hard, give it everything you’ve got, and you’ll get more bang for your buck. It’s better to get 3 solid workouts in than overstretching yourself by trying to attend 10 classes and only giving it half of the effort when you’re there because you’re too tired.
The bottom line is that it’s better to be 80% on point 100% of the time for the rest of your life, rather than being 100% only 20% of the time for a short time frame. Being healthy and staying fit should not feel like a chore and should be enjoyable for the most part, and that’s what we want to emphasise here at Level Ten.
We encourage you to respect the fact that there’s a journey ahead of you – after all, our current habits weren’t formed overnight, so we cannot expect them to change overnight either! But your goal should be progress and not perfection, and that’s what we’re here to support you with! The Level Ten family will be there to keep you going when you encounter hurdles along the way, and we’ll be the first to remind you to be confident in your ability to achieve your goals, however small or large. And if your goal is to learn how to balance and juggle life with your fitness goals… you now know where to start!