I’m super busy…How can I get in shape?
You want to lose fat, become healthier, and get in awesome shape, but there is just one problem: You are super busy.
What do you do?
In this post I’ll let you know a few things:
- How to get started with the whole getting in shape thing
- The most efficient ways to exercise
- Nutrition guidelines and strategies for getting in shape, especially with your busy lifestyle
The First Step Towards Awesome
Getting in shape means something different for everyone, so the first thing you need to do is decide what it means to you.
Maybe getting in shape means dropping 20 pounds, being able to finally see your abs (trust me, they are there), or adding a few pounds of muscle to your frame. Heck, maybe it just means you are able to go up a flight of stairs and not feel like you are going to die. Whatever it may be, spend some time to think about what you really want “getting in shape” to be for you.
Once you have that figured out you can proceed to the next step – making your commitment.
Commitments Aren’t Just for College Recruits
When the top high school athletes around the country are ready to choose what college they will attend what do they do?
They sign a letter of intent. Just like that they have made their commitment to attend a certain school. Now, what do many of these athletes do prior to signing their letter of intent?
They give a verbal commitment to a school.
This is great and all for the school to know that an athlete plans on attending, but it also gives the athlete the ability to back out. A verbal commitment to a school doesn’t actually mean the athlete has to attend – only signing the letter of intent does.
How many times have you said that you are going to get in shape? And what normally happens?
To get in shape, especially with your busy lifestyle, you can’t just give a verbal commitment – you have to sign your letter of intent.
This could mean signing up for that gym membership you have been putting off, setting up a workout schedule with a buddy of yours, or contacting a coach to help guide you and make sure you are making the most of your time.`
If you don’t actualize your commitment to getting in shape in some way it is not going to happen.
It becomes way too easy to brush off exercising and eat whatever you want all the time if you haven’t legitimately made a commitment to change.
Stop fooling yourself – make the commitment instead of making excuses as to how busy you are.
Determine Your Goals and Plan for Success
Process goals are going to be one of the most important tools at your disposal for getting in shape with a busy lifestyle.
You probably could guess what process goals are, but to see some examples take a look below:
- Get to the gym 4 days per week
- Run before work every morning
- Eat 4 cups of veggies each day
- Drink 8 glasses of water each day
These goals are things you can directly control and being in the driver seat with your exercise and nutrition will go a long ways in helping you get in shape with your busy lifestyle.
Make a list of 3-5 process goals that you think would be the most beneficial to your success and then start with one this week. If you need some help with planning all of this out contact me so we can work together to devise a plan that will work best for you.
Choosing your process goals will help you develop a framework that will allow you to have success going forward – something you’ll need with a busy lifestyle where things constantly pop up that can derail your quest to get in shape.
The process goals you choose are one part of your plan, but you may be wondering…how should I exercise since I am so busy?
Exercise for the Busy Lifestyle
Exercising with a busy lifestyle is all about efficiency. Long gone are the days of spending 2 or 3 hours at the gym when you may have had the time for it – you need workouts that are short, yet effective.
Here are some guidelines for you to make your workouts worthwhile:
- Use short rest periods between exercises (Think 60 seconds or less)
- Perform multi-joint exercises like squats, deadlifts, inverted rows, pull ups, and presses
- Utilize circuit training (Complete a set of one, two, three, or more exercises in a row, resting after you have completed a set of each exercise)
- Lift challenging weights
Following these guideline will make your workouts much more efficient and beneficial for you. If you haven’t exercised in a while and are looking to get started take a look at my 21 Day Beginner Workout Challenge or my 14 Minute At-Home Workout. Are these the end all be all of workouts? No. However they will help you get started.
Besides just the weight lifting portion of your training, you are also going to want to do some cardiovascular work. For the busy person high intensity interval training reigns supreme.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a form of cardio where you combine intense periods or exercise with less intense periods of exercise – pretty simple. Most commonly this would be something like a 15 second sprint followed by 30 seconds of recovery.
There are many different protocols you could use for HIIT which makes it a great tool. Some of my favorite types of HIIT to do include:
- Treadmill intervals – sprint 15 seconds, rest 15 seconds and repeat
- Hill sprints – sprint all the way up, jog or walk down and repeat
- Stair running – sprint all the way up touching every step, jog or walk down and repeat
You may be wondering…how many of these sprints should I do in a session? Great question. The amazing answer I have for you is this: It depends! Yes, mind-blowing I know! Really though the amount of sprints you’ll do will depend on how good of shape you are in already and how much time you have. To start off you can try 8-10 short sprints (10-15 seconds) taking 45-60 seconds of rest and progress from there.
Now, since you are busy you are going to want quick and efficient workouts, however you’ll also want to work on utilizing those 24 hours in each day in a way that will best support your desire to be fit.
From an exercise standpoint that also means leveraging your time.
Don’t have as much time to spend with the family as you would like?
Workout with them – go for a walk, a bike ride, or find some other activity to get yourself moving.
Putting all of this exercise together into a weekly plan could look something like this:
Monday – Weight training workout (30-45 minutes)
Tuesday – HIIT (15-20 minutes)
Wednesday – Bike ride or walk with family or friends (45-60 minutes)
Thursday – Weight training workout (30-45 minutes)
Friday – HIIT (15-20 minutes)
Saturday – Off
Sunday – Off
All together you could spend 2.5 – 3.5 hours a week working out, fit it into your busy lifestyle, and get in awesome shape. Could you exercise more? Most definitely. This is just an example to give you some guidance.
So that is all you need to know to get in shape – on your way now! Or did we miss something? Is there a critical part of getting in shape we haven’t talked about yet? Oh yes there is and if you neglect this next topic you’ll be missing out on a crucial component of getting in shape.
Nutrition for the Busy Lifestyle
Let’s just imagine for a second that you neglect changing any of your nutrition habits. You decide to implement some of the exercise strategies I mentioned previously – you are exercising efficiently, boosting your metabolism, burning fat, and making progress towards getting in shape, but you want more – you want more substantial results. What do you have to do? Make some changes to your nutritional habits.
In regards to nutrition your diet doesn’t have to be perfect, but in order to reach your vision of “being in shape” your diet does have to be better – and this means a bit of sacrifice. By the way when I use the term “diet” I don’t mean some 4 week crazy plan that you could never follow for an extended period of time. I’m simply talking about what you eat on a daily basis.
Now, before you get mad at me for telling you that you’ll have to sacrifice to have a better diet let me tell you this – I love eating “junk food.” I really do. I enjoy ice cream, cookies, candy, fast food, and all sorts of other foods that fit in that “junk food” category. Do I eat them every day? No. Does this allow me to stay fit? You betcha. Is there a time and a place for eating these foods? Surely.
With your busy lifestyle and a desire to get in shape a couple nutritional guidelines will help you out:
- Prepare food ahead of time. If you are busy food preparation becomes very important. Pick one day out of the week, do all your grocery shopping for that week, and prepare some meals for the next few days. Besides that, you can also buy some healthy snacks to have ready for you when you don’t have time to cook a meal. These snacks could be a hand full of nuts, Greek yogurt, or something like a Clif Bar. Having healthy food ready ahead of time will go a long ways in helping you get in shape.
- Eat healthy 90% of the time. Like I said before, your nutrition doesn’t have to be perfect and, to be honest, I don’t think it should be. You should enjoy some foods that aren’t “healthy” for the happiness factor alone. How do you eat healthy 90% of the time? Well let’s assume you eat 3 meals and 2 snacks per day. This will mean you are eating 35 times per week. 3-4 of those can be whatever foods you want. That’s not saying you should eat 2 tubs of ice cream for one of those times, but you get the general idea. Some people do better spreading those 3-4 cheat meals out, while some people do better having those on one day – the choice is yours. Just remember this – you choice should be dictated by your goals. If you want to achieve results faster you’ll have to be a bit more strict.
So, what does eating healthy even mean? Well, the details of that answer will be all across the board for every person you ask. However, a few principles will pretty much be the same. These principles are:
- Eat protein and veggies at each meal. High protein foods include: chicken, beef, fish, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts, and legumes to name a few. Try including a high protein food with each meal. Consuming protein will help you gain lean muscle and improve body composition.
- Limit the amount of calories you drink. Basically, limiting the amount of fruit juice, soda, or other high calorie beverages will help you get in shape by controlling the amount of calories you are consuming. It’s easy to drink a few glass of juice or a couple sodas each day and tack on hundreds of calories to you daily intake. Eliminate these and you’ll make getting in shape a whole lot easier for yourself.
- Limit intake of simple sugars. Simple sugars are in many dessert types of foods, but foods such as fruit also contain a bunch of sugar. I’m not saying you should completely avoid fruit, because it does have a bunch of nutritional value, but if you really want to get in better shape, drop some pounds, and lose body fat, you’ll want to limit the amount of fruit you’re consuming.
- Eat foods that aren’t processed. The more you can eat unprocessed foods the better off you will be. Sure, there may be some times this isn’t possible – don’t worry, just focus on making improvements to your diet whenever you can. Little changes over time will go a long ways.