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About once a week I get an email from someone asking a question that I feel if answered would benefit a lot of people. A few months ago I asked the LimitlessCOMMUNITY on Facebook what one of your biggest limiting factors is for not being the healthiest version of yourself.
I got a really great response on “The Book,” from someone and I asked them to send me an email to go a bit more in-depth so that I might be able to help them out at bit more.
Below is that email and some tips I know will help those of you in a similar situation.
I’m looking for strategies for maintaining or even improving fitness levels while going through a season of change in life. I’ve recently had changes to my work schedule that need me to be at the office earlier and stay later than normal. I wake up at 6 am every morning to be to work at 7:30 am.
I get off work around 5pm to embrace the joy of spending 45 min to an 1 hour in traffic (insert sarcastic smirk here). I do my best to make it to Insanity class on Tuesday evenings and Circuit training on Wednesday evenings. That’s about the most fitness I’ve been able to get in lately. I have a daughter in HS who plays sports so two days a week I’m off to a volleyball game or tournament somewhere (usually Tuesday and Thursday, Friday) until about 9pm. After all that, I am beat man!!
Now, I realize as I type this email, that I have more time than I realized to plug-in a 30 min workout of some kind. I’m just looking for strategies on how to stay motivated, focused, and balance health and fitness goals with other commitments in life (i.e. like showing up to every game possible that my daughter plays). I am divorced, no current relationship so it’s important to me to support her and be present as much as I possibly can. I work as a commercial real estate broker and recently have taken on new clients demanding a greater time commitment from me at work. This is all for a season, but that’s just the point-How to not lose ground in my health and fitness while adapting to the positive changes in other areas of life.
Improving Health And Fitness While Going Through A Season Of Change
I want to say thanks to Darnell for taking time out of his day to email me and ask this question. It takes a lot of courage and confidence to do so.
I’m sure you’ve felt handcuffed as well by too many responsibilities, tons of change, and lack of energy, motivation, and enthusiasm to stay consistent with your workouts and nutrition which can lead to:
- Maybe even disappointed in yourself for not doing something that seems so damn easy!
I want to share a personal story with you that I think may help.
When I first moved out to California it was the first time I had lived on my own. I was a full-time student and working 2 different jobs to make ends meet. Trying to improve… hell, just trying to keep up my health and fitness seemed nearly impossible. Working out and preparing meals was the last thing I wanted to do. So many other things just felt WAY more important, less time-consuming, and easier to manage.
So for a little while my health was put on the back burner.
Then one morning at the Gold’s Gym down in Long Beach, CA I started having a panic attack thinking about all the stuff that was on my plate. The amount of anxiety that came over me was something I had never felt before. I literally had to bend over and put my hands on my knees to breathe. Every time I stood up straight I was gasping for air – This was an on and off occurrence for the next 4 weeks.
During these 4 weeks I was extremely exhausted, had a difficult time focusing, was struggling with my school work, and in my jobs. Not to mention my personal relationships with people were almost non-existent, I was afraid I was going to have a panic attack while hanging out.
Question: Has anything like this happened to you? How did you cope with it? Please share in the comments below.
This was my wakeup call. It was just the kick in the pants that I needed to make my health a priority again. Motivation is a funny thing. It comes and goes and usually stems from an extreme desperation or unbelievable inspiration. My mojo here was desperation.
This was my season of change that Darnell refers to above. My whole world got flipped upside down since moving to California and I just didn’t know how to handle it. In order to make my health a priority again, stop these panic attacks, and be more productive this is what I did.
I Said F-U To Motivation & I Love You To Intention
A days ago I shared this video with you about why you should forget trying to stay motivated and instead focus on intention. I didn’t know it 14 years ago but intention was the first step I took towards getting my health back.
I bought a dry erase calendar with a note section on the side of it and stuck it on my television screen. In the notes section I wrote that I would be getting up 30 minutes earlier on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday so that I could drive down to the gym and get in my workout.
I also wrote down that if I wake up late or miss a scheduled workout that I would either make it up on Wednesday or Sunday of that week or I would do a bodyweight workout as intensely as I could In my studio apartment that morning or in the evening when I got home.
Each time I woke up 30 minutes early and did my workout I put a red line through that day on the calendar.
I also wrote in the notes section that I would prepare healthy meals for myself every Sunday morning right when I woke up to last me to Wednesday. Then on Wednesday evening when I got home I would also prepare healthy meals to last me through Saturday.
Every time I practiced this nutrition habit I would put a blue line going through that day on the calendar. I also put a line through the days that I actually ate the meals that I made 🙂
Seeing the calendar every morning with lines through it was surprisingly very motivating. I didn’t want to see days on it where there were no red and blue lines. When I did see a blank day I committed to never allowing there to be two of them in a row.
As it turns out this is a strategy similar to one that Jerry Seinfeld uses. You can read about why it works here.
I Batched, Delegated, Dropped, or Did Immediately
Having enough time was a big issue for me. Being a full-time student, working 2 jobs, and commuting back and forth left me feeling like I never had anytime to take care of myself.
This was until I actually started paying attention to how I spent my time. Now you could be like this guy and track everything that you do daily but I was a 20-year-old kid, so instead I just started being more mindful of what I was doing each day.
As it turns out I was spending an awful lot of time bullshitting. Watching TV, playing video games, going to the store when I didn’t really need to, taking lunch breaks at work to walk around, and doing chores and running errands that were not time sensitive.
So I did this…
I Batched: I dedicated one day per week to running errands and doing house chores. Every Sunday was laundry day, grocery shopping day, and apartment cleaning day. If anything else came up that week that would take a significant amount of my time I tried to push it to this day.
Q: What are some things you can batch? Social media, house chores, running errands, etc…
I Delegated: Actually, I asked for help and stopped saying YES to everything. I’m definitely a people pleaser and often get caught up in trying to be everything to everyone, which can get me in a ton of trouble. Next thing I know I’m over committed and have zero time for myself and stressed out about not being able to do a good job because of all of my commitments.
I asked group partners in school to pick up some slack on projects and did the same at work. I also committed to saying NO until I was consistently in a groove with my workouts and nutrition.
Q: What or who do you need to say NO to more or where in your life do you need to ask for more help? Work, school, kids, chores, errands, home life, cooking, etc…
I Dropped: I stopped doing things that were not important or contributing to me living a healthier lifestyle. I stopped watching TV, I quit one of the jobs that I was working and instead cut my spending by canceling cable, the home phone line, a magazine subscription that I had, and eating out to make up for the financial loss.
Q: What are some things you can drop to help free up some time or burdens you feel you have?
I Did Immediately: I realized that I was putting off tons of little tasks that would take me no longer than 5 minutes to do. Some of these things included answering emails, returning messages, cleaning my dishes, putting away stuff in the apartment, or little work/school related tasks.
In David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity” he recommends doing any task that will take you 2 minutes or less immediately so that those little things don’t start piling up.
Q: What are some 2 minute (or 5 minute) tasks that you’re putting off and can start doing immediately?
I Created The “I Love Me Some Me, 20 Minute Rule”
Ok, I didn’t really call it that but I wish I would have. My 20 minute rule was that I dedicated 20 minutes every day to pursuing a personal interest of mine. Because I’m a multipotentiality, I decided to dedicate one week to a different interest. Often I would just use these 20 minutes to nap, sit in silence and breathe, read, go on a walk, or get a light workout in.
I found that using this 20 minute rule mid day to early evening was the most beneficial. It was relaxing, stress relieving, and rejuvenating.
Q: What would you like to learn or do for 20 minutes each day?
Back To Darnell’s Email
I hope you found the story and the tips above helpful but please remember that we’re all different, with different lifestyle demands, responsibilities, and goals.
How can you apply some of the info above to your life?
I want to sum up todays article with my response to Darnell’s email.
Thanks for taking time out of your day to email me. I’ll jump right in brother.
- Are you willing to get up 30 minutes earlier to get in a workout? If that’s too early try just 10 minutes earlier (or even five) and slowly start to increase once you’re comfortable.
- 10 minutes workout ideas (or use the toolkit)
- Are you willing to do Insanity at home instead of having to travel more to get to a class? Same with the circuit?
- Are you willing to workout at the office (maybe during a lunch break – eat at your desk instead… if you have a desk 🙂
- Could you workout at the volleyball game (is there an intermission of some sort?) or gym around where you could still watch?
- What about weekend workouts?
As for motivation I’d forget about it. Motivation is a very fleeting emotion, it comes and goes. When it’s there embrace it and run with it but when it’s not focus on staying consistent and disciplined. I like to do this by practicing intent. Every Sunday I look at my schedule and set intentions for the days, times, and locations I will be working out and preparing healthy meals that week.
If it’s tough to fit in exercise focus primarily on nutrition and prepping food each week ahead of time.
Lastly, I just finished a great book by Matthew Kelly, “Off-Balance: Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction.” Give it a read, it’s a great resource for creating more time and energy to get the important things done (health included).
I hope that this helps a little.
I hope today’s article is helpful as the New Year approaches. What are some things you’re looking to accomplish this year? Share in the comments below.
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