Finding Time for Fitness

We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work
-Thomas A. Edison

Whenever I tell people how I strive to lead a healthy lifestyle, one of the most common questions is, “How do you have the time?”  I totally get that.  It’s a lot easier to go through a drive through after a long day instead of prepare a meal, and the drive through comes with the added benefit of disposability whereas the kitchen requires clean-up.  After a day of hard work, it’s a lot easier to flop on the couch instead of continue being productive by making the trek to the gym.  We can justify being lazy after a long day because we all deserve a break, right?

Trust me, I understand the feeling of wanting a break.  Between my employment as a college student and my “big girl” job, I often want nothing more than to curl up and watch my latest favorite TV show in binge-like fashion.  Add on the stress of competing in the Miss South Carolina system (think paper work deadlines, appearances, and people needing you often) and mentally I tend to be done toward the end of the day.

I’ve learned there are ways to combat being lazy.  If you don’t set yourself up for success, you will settle into a habit of failure.  That’s why I want to share some of the ways I handle stress and time commitments in conjuncture with my lifestyle choices.

There was a time in my life when I would wake up at 5:00am to go to the gym.  When I was in high school, that worked for me.  When I got to college, it didn’t.  I had to stay up a lot later to complete assignments and have a social life, so getting up early was no longer an option.  My workout habits suddenly shifted later in the day, but I found that the further I pushed working out back in my schedule, the less likely it was to happen.  Sure, I’d have every intention of going to the gym at 11:00pm, until a friend called or I got settled down in my apartment.

What works best for me is to keep my gym bag in my car.  If I have to go back to my apartment after work/class, there’s a good chance I’ll end up deciding to skip the day’s workout.  If I go straight from one to the other, I give my lazy half no time to convince my better half that the day’s workout is unnecessary.  Find a plan that works for you, but I highly recommend not taking a break in between the grind of your regular day and the grind of your fitness plans.  Lump them all together, then reward yourself with relaxation when all the work is done!

As far as sustainable healthy eating, it all comes down to meal prep.  I use to hate the idea of meal prep.  It’s intimidating to prepare food for a whole week all at once, but once you start, I can almost guarantee you will love it.  For me, the key has been to prepare only a few things, but to make sure those things can be used in many ways.  My favorite staple is chicken.  At the start of every week, I throw some chicken into the crock pot with a little chicken broth, salt, pepper, and maybe some of whatever seasoning is in the cabinet.  I take it out, shred it, and store it in the fridge.  I can now eat it plain, throw it in a salad, or make a sandwich.  There’s no end to what I can put something so simple in, but it eliminates a huge part of the preparation since the time-consuming cooking part is done!

Another key point when it comes to eating healthy is staying full.  I know we all try to cut down on portion size, and I think some aspects of that are great!  The serving at the average American restaurant contains enough calories for the whole day, not just one meal.  I like the idea of smaller portions, but I also encourage multiple meals each day.  I try to eat every 3 to 4 hours.  I might have eggs and toast for breakfast, then I’ll have a banana at 10, then chicken for lunch, then a protein shake around 3, etc.  If you eat all day, you boost your metabolism.  You also have the benefit of not getting hungry.

When I neglect a snack or meal, I don’t just get hungry; I get mean.  My dad is the same way, and I guess we are just really sensitive to our blood sugar.  I also reach a point of hunger where I am going to gorge myself the minute opportunity presents itself, and in that state, I’m probably not going to select the most healthy option.  In fact, I’m probably looking for something deep fried and served in massive portions.  I’m probably going to Zaxbys.  Don’t let yourself get to that point!

Another note, I eat Zaxbys almost every Sunday.  I find that it’s much easier to eat healthy most of the time if I know I’m going to treat myself some of the time.  Some people have a more “cold turkey” approach to bad food and believe in cutting it out entirely.  This approach would never work for me.  I would be miserable.  A little fried chicken each Sunday hasn’t killed me yet, and if it does, well, I had to go somehow.

I hope these little tips and tricks from my life can help you say no to your lazy half at the end of each long day.  If eating well and being more active is a new change for you, I want to say first that I applaud your efforts, and you have made a great decision.  Second, this is going to be hard at first, but it does get easier.  Your energy level will increase.  Your happiness will increase.  It doesn’t happen all at once, but it will change your life for the better.

Please send me your healthy lifestyle questions!  Tag your fitness efforts and link them to my platform with: #APerfectFit

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