By Kathleen Trotter (MSc) | UPDATED: 05:28, 27 January 2020
I am sure you are busy. We are all busy. Life is busy. But too many of us self-sabotage our health goals with the “I am too busy” catch-all. The line is too often used as a “no analysis needed,” “get out of exercise jail free card”
Dig deeper. Are you “too busy” because you constantly put everyone else’s needs before your own?
Have you ever heard that a “yes to one thing is a no to another”? Are you constantly saying “yes” to everyone else and as a result saying “no” to YOU?
Are you “too busy” because you don’t take the time to schedule in your workouts? Anything important should be something you have to opt-out of not opt-in to.
Are you too busy because you are not eating or sleeping well and thus “too busy” is really “too tired”?
Are you too busy because you equate being active with going to the gym?
First, keep a time journal. Figure out how you actually spend your time. As the famous business adage goes, “what gets measured, gets managed” — you can’t possibly manage your time if you don’t know where your time goes
How many times have you stated a wish to exercise, but then been “too busy”? How many times have you decided to eat well and then “something came up”?
If you want to get on top of your health, you have to get in control of your time. Too many of us fritter away our time, let emergencies dictate how our time gets used, or have no idea how we actually use our minutes, hours, days, etc. Time is our most valuable resource — we can’t make more time.
Journal your time and then analyze the data. Colour code or use graphs to sort your activities — meetings, creative work, time with clients, sleep, time with family, etc. You decide on your categories. They will obviously depend on if you have a family, what your job is, etc.
Then analyze how you are spending your time. See where you are wasting 20 minutes on social media? With 20 minutes you can do 5 Tabata intervals — that is a great workout.
Next, pinpoint the exact flavour of your “too busy” problem and figure out solutions.
Are you leaning on the “lack of time” excuse because you have a strict, unidimensional definition of exercise? You may be too busy to get to the gym, but you can always find ways to be active. Something is always better than nothing. Go for a walk, take the stairs, or do some calisthenics as you watch your child play their sport. Do some weights in front of the TV.
Although understanding exercise as only “going to the gym” or “going for a run” may seem hardcore, it is often used as another way to get off the “exercise hook.”
Or, maybe you use the “too busy” excuse because you try to commit to an exercise plan you hate. At least at the beginning, don’t say you will run five days per week if you hate running. If you hate running, you will always find other more “important” ways to use your time! Instead, make exercise palatable. Maybe make a workout date with a friend or sign up for adult dance classes.
Are you “too busy” because you have not taken the time to figure out the when, why, how, and what of your exercise plan — i.e., have you not set realistic, actionable, and specific goals?
Take the time to set yourself up for health success. Work through any emotional barriers that might be keeping you from following through on your health and fitness goals. Analyze whether your goals are realistic.
Mark your workouts into your schedule. Trouble-shoot possible setbacks in advance. When “time” looks like it will be an obstacle, don’t abandon your goals altogether — simply weave more movement into your daily life! If you hear yourself using time as a justification to abandon a health goal, take a moment to reflect on what is really going on!
Stop simply “reacting” — start driving the bus of your own life. Embrace that YOU have to make and set your own priorities and boundaries. If you don’t, someone else will. Time is a valuable, non-renewable resource. Don’t just unconsciously give it away. Be intentional with how you allocate your time.
Kathleen writes for the Globe and Mail in Toronto and the Huffington Post. She also blogs for Flaman Fitness and makes regular TV appearances in Canada and the US. Kathleen holds an M.Sc. from the University of Toronto and a nutrition diploma from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. She lives in Toronto where she owns a personal training studio. Find out more about Kathleen at www.KathleenTrotter.com.