Of course most of us want to be more active and to lead healthier lives. For many of us, myself included, the issue lies in finding the time to add more activity into our days. Whether we are working 24/7, taking care of children or parents, or desperately treading water by trying to do it all, finding the time to take care of ourselves and to exercise can be a challenge. I work a lot and, frankly, by the time that I get home (which is often close to 10pm) my idea of a workout is lifting my snack from its bowl to my mouth while simultaneously changing the channel! Theoretically, I suppose that I could get up at 4:30 in the morning and go to the gym but, quite honestly, I don’t see it happening. Driving home from work earlier this evening it was all that I could do to keep my eyes open; I don’t feel that I can give up a precious hour of my sleep.
Still, I am lucky. I happen to have the type of job which requires me to spend much of my day on my feet and moving. Yes, my work as an esthetician is exhausting and yes, it is hell on my back but the fact that my job is physical does set me up for much better health than, say, someone who gets stuck sitting all day long at work. The fact of the matter is that being sedentary will have a detrimental effect on your health. So, what to do? Well, here are some tips that may be helpful:
1. Diet. We all know that our diet is important for maintaining a healthy weight and body…no kidding. Here’s the thing…like a lot of us, I don’t have a life that allows me a whole heap of time to workout in. Therefore, controlling my diet is PARAMOUNT to maintaining my health. Trust me, I am no saint when it comes to eating (I literally LOVE Doritos and I would seriously entertain a menage-a-trois with Ben & Jerry if it meant that they would resurrect my favorite flavor from the ’90’s, ‘Wavy Gravy’); however, I do watch my portion sizes and try to make generally healthy choices. I weigh myself fairly regularly and if I notice that my weight is creeping up past a certain point then I really watch what I am consuming until I get it back down to an acceptable number. By doing this, I never stray more than a few pounds from where I want to be. The bottom line is that it is almost impossible to out-exercise a crappy diet. It totally sucks but it is a reality of being an adult…just like paying your bills and working for a living. If you don’t have time to get to the gym regularly, then you must control what you can control…and your diet is a great place to start!
2. Exercise. Personally I teach two Yoga classes each week. Let me assure you that the “stellar” pay is not my motivation. I teach because it forces me to workout and I enjoy my students. Ideally, you want to find some way of forcing yourself to workout whenever you can. Maybe it is by taking a class with a friend or by popping your child into their stroller and going for a walk. Perhaps you love to dance. Remember that even if you don’t have a lot of time to designate specifically for working out you can still make choices to incorporate more healthy choices into your day. Here are some ideas:
- Take the stairs whenever possible…I ALWAYS try to do this one!
- Try to park a bit farther away and walk to your destination.
- Try to get up and move whenever possible. Whether it is a lap around the office, a run up and down the stairs, taking a walk at lunch time, or simply standing up while you are on a conference call…all of the little activity really adds up! In fact, recent studies suggest that lots of little frequent activity is even more beneficial to you than doing one concentrated stint of activity.
- Make your exercise a social event. Find a gym buddy. Walk with a neighbor or a friend. Catch up on your phone calls while you are walking.
- Do a date night by taking a dance class.
- Buy an app. For very little investment (usually about $1.99), there a tons of fitness apps available for your smart phone! These can help to motivate you and to get you going.
- If you have children and/or pets combine exercise into your spending quality time with them. Go for a hike, a walk or a bike ride. Go swimming. Sign the whole family up for a martial arts class…this way you can participate too (instead of surfing your social media accounts from the bleachers while your kids run around). Try something new…go canoeing, kayaking or horseback riding. Spend a weekend morning cooking a healthy recipe together (both kids and pets LOVE to sample ingredients while you cook)!
3. Enlist Help. Personally, I have found the addition of an activity monitor to be absolutely essential in helping me to be more fit. At the start of each day, I simply clip my monitor onto my clothing and go. Based on my initial fitness assessment plus my personal stats (i.e.- age, weight, gender, etc.) my activity monitor has established a fitness goal for me to meet each day; this goal gradually increases over time. I am able to check on my progress as I go about my day, which lets me know if I need to move more. Every few days, I plug it into my computer to measure my current stats against my previous performance. For me, this is a great way to stay active even on days when I don’t have time to make it to the gym (which, with my work schedule, is pretty often)!There are a number of different options on the market to choose from. I use the ‘Weight Watchers’ Activity Monitor but there are a multitude of products out there, including the FitBit. Find one that works for you and get moving!
A woman who I know is forever doing something…a juice cleanse, a fast, training for a triathlon. One day a few years ago, I said to her, “Wow. You are always doing something to be healthy. How do you lead this lifestyle?” What she said to me was impactful. She said, “You don’t wait to do it. You just get up one day and decide to do it.” Shortly after that I decided to do it…I joined Weight Watchers and I lost 18 pounds (getting me back to my appropriate weight). I also realized something important…life is complicated and busy…there is always something going on, some excuse. Excuses are bullshit. If you want to be fabulous then you just have to wake up one day and do it. (Thanks for the inspiration Melinda!)