There’s always time to exercise: once you adjust your mindset and expectations, you can get a workout in every day. Inevitably the realities of life will interfere with your ability to hit the gym or trail; sometimes that extra hour of sleep is more important. Often exercise isn’t a priority, especially when compared to work or family. That being said, we often skip a workout simply because we haven’t made it a priority or didn’t plan for it. Not every workout is skipped because a more pressing, unforeseen obligation arose. Sometimes, we just don’t feel like.
First, you should try to plan your workout the night before. If you have a decent idea of what your schedule is the next day, you should know if you have to get your workout done in the morning, afternoon, or evening. Whenever you have a plan for your workout you will start to coordinate your day around it. Once you get in the mindset that you’re going to get a workout in no matter what, you will push yourself to get it done earlier. Mark Twain said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” This quote is often used as a theory to prioritize your work schedule to do your hardest task, or the one you’re most likely to procrastinate, first thing in the morning. This can be true for your workout too.
Next, you have to learn to be flexible with your workouts. If every workout requires you to be at the gym, you are probably limiting your ability to work out too much. Getting to a gym or taking a class can be time consuming. After you factor in travel time, changing, and a shower, you can easily be looking at an hour and a half or more. But there are lots of workouts that you can do in 20 minutes at home, or anywhere, without equipment. Once you’ve opened up your options, it makes it much easier to get a workout in everyday.
It’s important to ingrain in yourself the attitude that just because you can’t do your ideal or usual workout you can give yourself a pass for the day. If your usual routine is lifting weights, and you can’t make it to the gym, do some body weight exercises you don’t usually do. This could be as simple as doing a couple hundred push-ups, mixing up your hand placement. If you don’t have time to do your usual cardio, get up a little early and do some quick interval sprints. Having a pull-up bar and kettle bell is a great, cheap way to expand your options for quick at-home workouts.
I believe on days you work out, you will make better choices when it comes to your diet. You’d think that you would be more likely to eat less or better on days you don’t exercise to compensate, and indulge on days you do, but for whatever reason, it’s often the opposite. Personally, I think it’s the tendency for our minds to have an all-or-nothing attitude. That is, if it looks like the day is already a wash diet or exercise wise, you tell yourself that one more bad meal won’t make a difference and you’ll start your plan tomorrow. However, when you get a workout in, you’re more likely to have a positive attitude about the day and make better diet choices.
Just getting a workout done when you want to the least is a mental victory that will pay dividends. When it comes to exercise and diet, good choices lead to better choices. The more you exercise, the more you will exercise. The better you eat, the better you will continue to eat. That seems obvious, but when you stick to a disciplined workout plan, you’ll start seeing results and nothing is more effective than positive reinforcement. Sticking to a workout plan is a mental, not physical, challenge. I believe if you make the effort to get a workout in every day you plan to, even if not your ideal workout, this will lead to making even better diet and exercise choices.
Fitness is a long term investment that has more than physical benefits. Your physical fitness will have positive effects on your health, energy, confidence, and discipline. Working out isn't simply a vanity that can be sacrificed to make time for professional or personal obligations. It should be a priority that will help ensure you excel in other aspects of your life.