Good Monday to you!
A few weeks back, I asked our readers for fitness questions to cover in these here posts.
And WOWZA. Over 200 people responded!
Let me start by saying, I really appreciate you for reading my love letters. I know we all get (too) much content. It really warms the cockles of my heart to know you’re reading and finding value. Thanks for being my pen pal!
Today, I’m covering one of the most requested topics. And that’s this…
How do I get (or stay) fit when I TRULY have no time because I’m working 80-hour weeks?
… and/or I spend most waking moments keeping my young offspring / chaos agents alive in spite of their relentless commitment to mayhem?
Let me start by affirming you.
If you’re a human (WAIT ARE YOU HUMAN OR ARE YOU A UNICORN IF YOU’RE A UNICORN RESPOND BACK I’VE BEEN HOPING TO SPEAK WITH YOU), it’s only natural to have seasons where you’re slammed.
And sometimes these seasons can truly last for several years (e.g. rearing the aforementioned chaos agents).
It’s not the end of the world to skip a week of workouts once in a while. But taking months (or years) off from fitnessing is not your best move.
First, you’ll quickly see negative short term impacts in reduced energy, less emotional resilience, foggier thinking, and more.
And second, as we age, the more important it is to “build up equity” in your fitness (hat tip to my pal Brendon Rearick for this phrase).
In other words, if you’re as consistent as you can be when you have bandwidth, the easier time you’ll have during hectic periods where your focus is elsewhere. Alternatively, if you completely neglect fitness for a 1 (or 5) year period, it’s not going to be a good scene for long term health outcomes.
“But Mark… what the heck am I supposed to do? These are the current circumstances of my life? I TRULY do not have any time?”
I feel you. You’re not making this stuff up. And I’m here to serve!
So allow me to give you some tips on what to do when you’re working with a bare minimum.
1) Set boundaries and/or ask for help to make more time.
Can you workout 5 times per week when you truly have no time? Maybe not. But most people can get creative to eke out a little bit more time to devote to their fitness.
When it comes to work, you should be able to convince even an unreasonable boss that you need an extra 1-2 hours per week. And a reasonable boss will WANT you to take care of your body as she’ll know that’s how you can be more productive. And frankly? If you’re actually working 80 hours, no one will notice if you work 78.
Family responsibilities are a bit trickier based on your resources. If you have a partner, there’s a conversation to be had about giving each other a hand to make time for fitness. If you don’t have a partner, although it’s less than ideal, your formal workouts may need to be quickies while your angels are asleep or otherwise occupied.
2) Shoot for at least 2-3 proper workouts per week.
These can be short. 20 minutes will do the trick if that’s all you have. Focus on full-body strength training exercises with incomplete rest periods. This approach works your muscles, takes your joints through a full range of motion, and gets your heart rate up.
Since we’re going minimal, we want the biggest bang for our fitness buck. Body part-focused workouts and long slogs on a treadmill aren’t your most efficient choice. This is why our HomeBody classes (AND Snatched classes AND most semi-private workouts) always train your whole body.
It’s easy to fall into all-or-nothing thinking. But something is WAY better than nothing. 2-3 short-but-focused workouts can keep you feeling like a million bucks.
3) Use at-home workout options.
You can save 20-40 minutes per day by skipping the commute. And it’s no secret we’re at the dawn of an era of at-home workouts. From fancy tech solutions to yoga apps to YouTube videos, there are a myriad of options.
While many people will always prefer working out in an actual gym or studio, you really can get and stay in great shape from home. In fact, the response to our online classes has been SO overwhelming, we’re planning to keep HomeBody going forever and ever.
Want to get in on our HomeBody 14-Day Challenge? Try us out for two weeks. Zero long-term commitment, and a 100% no hassle money back guarantee.
4) Add more activity throughout your day.
Little stuff can add up. Take walking meetings. Add in stretch breaks throughout your day. Take the stairs when you can. If you have a step counter, set a daily step goal. Plan in a few sets of push-ups and bodyweight squats as “exercise snacks.” And if you’re parenting small humans, look for ways to be physically active with them.
The minimum effective dose of activity to start to see benefits is actually pretty low. Sure, more is a better (to a point anyway). But don’t underestimate the value of non-workout activity.
5) Plan your week, including “If-Thens” for when life happens.
Admittedly, one of the challenges of being super busy is the nature of your commitments can create unpredictable schedule changes. So the key is to build that in.
That’s why many people do best working out first thing in the morning. It’s also why it’s so helpful to plan out your meals in advance. Not only does this make your grocery shopping and cooking prep more efficient, it will save you time.
It’s as important to create “If-Thens” for when you inevitably get thrown a curveball.
IF life throws you schedule shenanigans?
THEN go to your planned-in-advance back-up snacks and/or your list of healthy last minute take-out/delivery meals.
I hope you find some actionable takeaways.
But what I most want to say is… you’re not making this stuff up.
Don’t let anyone try to make you feel crappy because you’re struggling to fit in fitness. It’s not always easy in the best of situations. And when you have a demanding job that’s necessary to put food on your table, or you’re parenting small children without help, it’s exponentially tougher.
Perfectionists, please take heart. I promise, a little something really IS better than nothing.
Always rooting for your success,
P.S. I know the world is sloooooowly coming back online, but your pals at MFF know it’s still tough times out there.
Don’t forget, we have free resources to share with you if you’ve been financially compromised due to the apocalypse.
Just hit reply and I’ll take care of you!
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