How to stay fit when you work 40-hours a week. A short post I sent out to email-only subscribers.
I love to go down Reddit rabbit holes and this was a question I found very interesting. “How does one stay fit when you work 40-hours a week, have time to cook healthy meals, sleep 8 hours a night, and go to the gym/workout?”
When I first start working with clients we talk about some of their biggest challenges. Most, if not all, say time. Almost everyone clarifies the statement by saying “I know that’s not an excuse.”
In my opinion, time is a very valid excuse.
Most of us are busier than ever. Add new challenges like trying to balance work from home, kids’ schoolwork, and the stress that comes from all of this. It can make mustering up the time and energy to work out, eat healthily, and stay fit difficult. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.
The first step is to challenge your beliefs around what you think you need to do for a workout?
To stay fit when you work 40+ hours a week. Check your beliefs about what counts as a workout.
Take out a piece of paper and draw three lines down it vertically so that you have three even columns.
- In the far left column write down all of the things you think you need to do in order to be fit and healthy.
- In the center, column write down one alternative to that answer.
- In the right-hand column write down what a 1% better solution to the problem would look like.
There are no right or wrong answers here. The idea is to get you brainstorming and thinking about possible solutions outside of what you THINK you NEED to do.
Here’s an example.
- I need to go to the gym 5 days per week for 60 minutes
- I can work out at home 5 days per week using my body weight or resistance bands
- I can do 10 push-ups every day, go on a walk, or do meaningful movement.
Is this perfect? No, but it gets you to take action and that’s good enough for now. We can always find ways to level up from there.
To stay fit when you work 40+ hours a week the simple solution is usually the answer.
Second, Occam’s razor. The simple solution is usually the answer.
What will take more time?
- A. Going to the gym 5 days per week and making complex recipes every day?
- B. Working out at home 3 days per week and eating the same few meals every day that does not require recipes? Better yet that does not require cooking at all (i.e. fruit, greek yogurt, rotisserie chicken, steamable veggie bags)
- C. Can’t do that? How about adding more meaningful movement to your day?
What would this look like if it were easy? A great question to ask yourself if you feel like you’re lacking time or are feeling overwhelmed.
Avoiding all or nothing and thinking on a sliding scale
Third, learn to think on a continuum.
Instead, think of things on a continuum.
- Establish what a 0 out of 10 looks like for you in terms of exercise and eating.
- Now establish what a 10 out of 10 looks like.
- Where do you fall on that scale right now? How can you level up a notch?
Are you making the important things important?
Oliver Emberton says that the secret to mastering our time is to focus on importance and suppress urgency. We’re conditioned to respond to notifications and alerts. While postponing things like going to the grocery store, moving our bodies, and cooking good food that nourishes us.
Recently, I’ve been asking myself this.
If I can’t move my body in meaningful ways every day, prepare balanced whole food meals, get quality sleep, and take time to de-stress every day, what the heck am I doing with my life?
These 4 things are essential to life and if I can’t do those things I need to reevaluate the choices I’m making. This is a tough conversation to have with yourself. It challenges your ego.
Introducing the, I’ve got no time to workout and meal plan.
This plan isn’t going to get us ripped or tone us up overnight. But it does help us take action and taking action is where most people struggle.
- Do some squats (body weight, dumbbell, or kettlebell). 1 rep, 5 reps, 10 reps. It doesn’t matter. Just take action.
- Do some dumbbell chest presses or push-ups. Again, 1 rep, 5 reps, 10 reps. It doesn’t matter. Just take action.
- Do some chin-ups, dumbbell rows, or resistance band rows. You got it, just take action.
- Make a meal with 1-2 palms of protein, 1-2 pieces of fruit, 1-2 fists of steamable veggies seasoned to taste with salt.
If you’ve got a lot on your plate and are struggling to find the time it may require you to do some things you don’t want to do.
Lean into the hard thing Take action. Build momentum.