We’re all pretty familiar with the multiple benefits of working out – it’s not only good for our mental wellbeing, but it can stave off chronic disease, reduce our chance of obesity, keep our mood elevated, ensure our brains are healthy and boost our immune system.
But even though we know the rhetoric, and we know how great we feel after we’ve out in a workout, sometimes we still struggle to do as much as we’d like. The most common excuse for skipping that daily workout? It all comes down to time. Many people claim that they would like to exercise, but they simply don’t have enough hours in the day in between work, family commitments, hobbies and a social life.
However, that is very rarely actually the case. It’s not impossible to fit in a quick half an hour to do a morning yoga session, pound out a HIIT workout or do a few squats and lunges. It all comes down to prioritisation. If we choose not to make our health and wellbeing a priority, then there can never be enough hours in the day to do it.
Although it isn’t true in most cases that there isn’t enough time, the truth is usually a complex mix of factors instead – from a lack of enjoyment in the type of exercise you’re doing, to missing your motivation, having a fear to overcome and sometimes just plain old low self-esteem.
We may claim that we’re super busy, yet somehow we still find time for hours of television or wasted minutes scrolling through our phones. So it’s more about identifying the psychological barriers you have to overcome in order to make your health a priority – be it fear, embarrassment or bad time management.
Instead of thinking about what you were originally afraid of, reframe your thoughts to what may happen if you don’t choose to make your health a priority – if you continue in a sedentary lifestyle. In five or ten years time, your health could be seriously affected – think about the opportunities you may miss, and the time and money that you might have to spend on managing complex health conditions.
Then think about what you could gain by making the decision to put your health first and really get results. Once you’ve made the commitment within yourself, you just need to decide on a strategy to put your plan into action…
Come Up With A Plan
The first step is to create a workable plan for your fitness regime – one that fits with your lifestyle and that you are likely to enjoy and therefore stick to. Having a written plan makes things concrete – use a calendar app on your phone to parcel out time as a recurring appointment, and treat it like you would any other commitment. If a reminder pops on your phone, you are much more likely to honour it and not to take on lots of other things which mean your workout gets squeezed out. You can then plan out the rest of your daily schedule around your workout. Picturing it as a part of your day from the get go can give you the motivation you need to make it happen.
If you are really struggling to get started, then go really micro. Tell yourself to just give it five minutes. Five minutes of running may seem a small amount, but overcoming that initial resistance and getting out there is the most important step. Often you may find that once you’ve made a start, it’s not as bad as you feared and you actually want to continue. That five minute run could quite easily turn into twenty minutes. And even if it doesn’t, you’ve made progress, however small. Build on that – getting going is the hardest part and once you’ve created some positive movement, it will all become a little bit easier. Five minutes really can change your life.
Cap Your Screen Time
We inadvertently waste a huge amount of time on our phones and tablets, and not only is this bad for our physical and mental health, but it can disrupt our sleep and keep us from being active. There are lots of good reasons to impose limits on our screen time, especially as many of us may not even realise the true amount of time we spend on them. Use a social media blocker app to limit the time you spend aimlessly scrolling, and art hard boundaries, such as not using your phone after 9pm.
If there is a must-watch show that you simply can’t miss, consider doubling up to make your screen time more active. There are lots of exercises you can do at home or while you watch TV – so get an exercise ball, a yoga mat, a kettlebell or a resistance band set up in front of the sofa and fit in exercise in the ad break or even while watching. Squats, lunges, push-ups, body weight exercises and Pilates moves are all prime candidates for moves you can do while catching up on that unmissable programme.
Become An Active Socialiser
If you struggle to find time for a workout and for seeing friends, it could be a great idea to combine the two. We are way more likely to stick to workout plans when there is another person involved that we don’t want to let down. Could you arrange a yoga session or a power walk with a friend rather than the default setting of grabbing a coffee or heading out to dinner together? Or you could find that signing up for a team sport brings you a whole new social life, a way to connect with new friends or solidify bonds with older ones. If you catch up on each others news while on a bike ride or a hike, you’ll both get to see each other and get a burst of feel good endorphins together as well.
Work Out Remotely
Often a time barrier which prevents us from exercising regularly can be that we don’t think we have to the time to travel to a class or the gym – after all, when you add on travel time, a half hour workout becomes an hour or more that you have to find from your day. Online Personal Training can be a lifesaver in these instances. You get all the motivation and expertise of working with a skilled professional, but you don’t have to find the time to leave your own home. Plus, if you have any kind of fear or embarrassment around working out publicly, then you can start off in private and build your confidence up as you start to see results.
Learn To Delegate
Sometimes, we really do take way too much on, and that’s when finding time for ourselves and our workout can slip to the bottom of a very long list. Carving out time in this situation is all about learning to let go of tasks on our list without feeling guilty about it. Ask your partner to cook dinner a couple of nights a week so that you can go to an exercise class. If you can afford it, look into getting some help with the cleaning or sending your ironing out so you don’t have to fit it into your day. If you have children, what more could they be doing to help around the house? Could you switch to doing your shopping online so that you don’t have to spend an hour going round the supermarket? Identify some easy wins that could save you time you can put towards your health. You deserve to be able to look after yourself–after all, if you neglect your wellbeing and get ill, how will those things get done anyway?
Put Money Behind It
We hate to lose cash, so if that’s a strong motivator for you, then putting some money on the line could be just what you need to make you stick to a plan. Signing up for a zumba class, booking with a trainer or committing to a race event – anything which requires you to pay upfront – can be a strong motivator not to find excuses to skip your session. Even just paying for a babysitter so you leave the house is a great start.
Change Your Internal Dialogue
Often we defeat ourselves before we even begin, just through the internal dialogue that we have – the little voice that whispers that we can’t do it. The good news is that you can actively edit your negative self-talk, and this can make a huge difference to what you can achieve. The first step is to become aware of it when you’re caught in a loop of defeating thoughts, then consciously replace them with a strong positive statement. For example, if you catch your brain saying “I’m too busy to exercise” then instead repeat to yourself “I deserve to make my health a priority”. If you go out for a run, instead of thinking “My legs hurt and I’m so slow”, edit your thoughts to “Every step is making me stronger”. It may feel a little artificial at first, but many studies have shown that if you repeat a positive statement, your brain will begin to believe it. The power of self-programming can be absolutely transformative.