Updated: Nov 18, 2019
"I really want to exercise, but I just can't find the time!"
Have you said this before? Can you relate? I know I can! I get it; t's not easy finding time to exercise. We are all busy and have a million different things pulling at our attention everyday.
Here's the thing: if you're looking at your (already full) schedule and telling me, "Jess, I just can't find the time!", well of course you can't - your schedule is already full!
If that's you can't make time, I have a heaping scoop of tough love. What you have isn't a workload problem, it's either a prioritization problem or a time management problem. It's not that you have too much to do, it's that you're choosing other activities before exercise.
Is exercise important to you? Don’t tell me "yes" because you think it should be important. If you genuinely don't believe that exercise will make you feel better, stronger, happier, and improve the quality of your life, then don't make it a priority. Ignore the research that says it is, and forget about the fun games or leisure activities you did as a kid. If you don't truly believe in the benefits, it's not a priority to you - yet. Hopefully, I can change your mind.
If you're thinking, "Yes, exercise IS important to me and I really want to make it fit into my schedule - please help me!" No problem, we’re on the right track.
Let's start by taking a long, hard look at how you fill your time. If you calendar is chock-full of meetings, classes, extra-curriculars, social gatherings, and more, those are choices. You are allowing these things to be on your schedule. You are actively CHOOSING to attend these events. I'm not saying they are bad choices, but they are choices nonetheless.
If you can "never seem to find the time to exercise" because of said pre-planned events, you're telling me that you have decided that somebody else's agenda is MORE important than taking care of your body. So, let's re-prioritize and/or reorganize your calendar to make time for exercise.
Want to know the secret to creating an exercise routine? You have to MAKE time for it. If you keep looking for time, you aren't going to find it.
Trying to FIND time is a reactive approach. It happens after your friend tells you they were working out, you see an advertisement, or start feeling icky. Whatever event it is, it triggers you to say, "Gee, I should go exercise". When this happens, we try to find time to exercise out of expectation. It feels like something we should be doing.
Instead of exercising out of expectation (or in other words: guilt, force, dread, etc.), which is a negative place, we need to take a proactive approach. Schedule it in BEFORE you make other commitments. More importantly, pick something you enjoy. Imagine looking forward to exercising. Imagine going because it's fun. Imagine looking forward to the energy release. Sound too good to be true? I promise, it's not. (Okay, maybe sometimes exercise sucks during it, but it's always worth the good feeling after). Remember, we exercise because we love our bodies, not because we don't like them.
How to Make Time
I have a secret for you: You have 168 hours in a week. I have the exact same 168 hours as you. Celebrities, leaders, CEO's, parents… they all have the same 168 hours. Nobody has more time than that (if you do, please share your secrets). If you can't make time to do the things you want to do, you don't have a TIME issue, you have a TIME MANAGEMENT issue.
Every time you press play on Netflix, scroll mindlessly on Instagram, or start tagging your friends in memes on Facebook, you are choosing to spend your time on something else. I'm not saying this is all bad (I'm a sucker for memes too), BUT it's your choice.
When something is important enough, you CAN and WILL find the time. Period. Protect your time so you have time to take care of yourself. Guard your time. Become like the National Defence of your time. Maybe this is a bit of tough love, but it is important for you to understand that you DO have the time.
So, how do you manage your time so you have time to exercise? You don't need to spend 2 hours a day to break a sweat. Realistically, you need about 2.5-3 hours per WEEK. You can break that up into 20, 30, 45, or 60 minute sessions; you can break it up into whatever chunks of time work for you. So, take a look at your calendar and see where you can block off some time - like, right now.
Struggling to find an open slot in your schedule? Go check the screen time report on your phone.
Boom. I said it (and I'm not taking it back). If you're like me, the results might be a little shocking... Now, do you think can make a few extra hours in your day/week?
Make a Plan
Back to the point… schedule exercise in so it is a commitment. You are committing to yourself.
Rather than just scheduling "exercise" or "gym", write exactly what you plan to do. Maybe your plan is a group fitness class (not so subtle plug: come to mine!), a 3km run outside, 30 minutes of weights, a 5km bike ride, a yoga class, a sports game, or something else. Whatever it is, make it specific. Putting the details in will make you more likely to follow through because then all you need to do is show up.
This is when the rubber hits the road. You can do all the planning in the world, but ultimately, showing up is when it counts. If having a plan is not enough to hold you accountable, we need to figure out what will. Maybe that's a workout buddy, the same activity every week, or putting something at stake. Make it a challenge, bet, or game. Maybe it's working towards a goal or event.
Even when you have something you holding accountable, there are still going to be days when you don't feel like it. On the days when you feel tired, busy, and stressed, think of how good it will make you feel. Think of the extra energy you'll have, the boost in your productivity, or the pride you'll have after finishing a hard workout. The tough days are often the days you need it most. Lastly, remember I am always in your corner cheering you on. I want to see you win at your goals and will do whatever I can to help you get there!