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15 Ways To Get In Shape For Busy People

15 Ways To Get In Shape For Busy People

Are you struggling to find the time to work out or prepare healthy meals during the week?

If you are working a full-time job, or are a student or mom, you know that life gets busy and it is hard to dedicate time for your health. Those new year’s resolutions may motivate you to push harder for the first few weeks, but without a concrete plan of action life will get in your way.

Today, I would like to share 15 tips to get in shape for busy people. As a medical student in her last year, I have to try hard to balance studies and health. I hope you will find my tips useful (and read until the end for a little reward)!

1. Plan ahead

Plan your week

    Of all my tips, this is the most important one. If you are working a full-time job, are busy with collage exams, or have to look after the kids, planning your week ahead of time is a game changer.

    Every Sunday, take out a notebook, open a new file in word, or use the notebook app on your mobile device. Write down your schedule for every day for the next week. This includes working hours, when you need to get up, what time you get back home, what time you have a lunch break, etc. If you really struggle with making time for healthy eating and fitness, this will help you out a lot.

    The next step is to determine which days you can fit in a workout and prepare your meals for the next day. If you have to leave very early in the morning, make sure to have everything ready the night before. Maybe you have a little 20-minute time frame in the evening to fit in a quick sweat session?

    The first time, things might go wrong and you might not be able to stick to your plan. Don’t get discouraged! After a while, you will notice how much free time you actually have.

    2. Set realistic goals

    While planning your week ahead, don’t schedule hour-long workouts on days you know you might be too busy to complete them. You have to be honest with yourself. If you know you are going to come home very late and will be tired but still have to cook dinner, chances are you will have to skip the workout.

    Instead, write down which days you are 80% sure you can fit in at least 20 minutes of exercise. It is okay not to work out and take rest days. Your goal should be to stick to your plan and not to skip workouts.

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    3. Cook in bulk

    Cook in bulk

      For healthy nutrition, cooking in bulk is my main tool. If you are studying for exams all day long or are working at your job, you will not have the time to cook a special meal every day.

      Most meals can be reheated and eaten 2-3 days after being cooked. This way, you only have to cook 2-3 times during the week.

      If you lack ideas, you can find delicious and easy recipes on Pinterest.

      4. Prepare snacks

      Many people eat healthy at home but fail to stick to their diet when they are on the go. Temptation is everywhere, and if your friends or collegues don’t understand your lifestyle, it is easy to fall off the wagon.

      It is okay to enjoy little treats here and there and have a not-so-healthy meal. What matters is that you don’t make it a habit to buy the easiest fast food when you are eating out.

      Instead, pack yourself snacks that are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats to fill you up. The fat and protein will also increase hormones that decrease hunger and stabilize blood sugar levels. This will aid in weight and fat loss and you will not feel deprived either.

      Examples for great snacks are nuts, self-made protein bars, cookies, fruit, and greek yoghurt.

      5. Prepare portable meals

      If you are going to be at work the whole day, little snacks won’t suffice. Also, eating out every day can be very expensive, especially if you try to stick to healthy food options.

      So, prepare lunch the night before and take it with you to work or school. I highly recommend sticking to easy, basic recipes. A salad with chicken, wild rice, and avocado is one of my favorite options.

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      You can also prepare meatballs, beans, pasta, eggs—the options are endless. I recommend not to take anything liquid, like soup, unless you have a very safe container.

      6. Avoid food cravings

      Cravings usually occur during a low-calorie diet, when your body is lacking nutrients and when you are stressed or otherwise emotionally unbalanced. In fact, your cravings could be a sign of a vitamin deficiency in your body.

      If you are constantly stressed, try to find ways to calm down other than using food. Take a hot bath, drink some soothing tea, try a yoga class or video from youtube. Sometimes, writing down your thoughts on a piece of paper helps too.

      In addition to that, I recommend not to follow a restricted diet. Clean eating means sticking to non-processed foods most of the time.

      However, if you want to make it a lifestyle, you need to ask yourself if you could commit to this style of eating for the rest of your life. If your answer is “no,” you will fall off the wagon easily.

      Instead, fit in small treats like a piece of chocolate or half a serving of ice cream into your diet.

      Also, you can bake healthy versions of your favorite cookies and cakes to satisfy your sweet tooth. You can even prepare them beforehand and store them in the freezer. They taste just as amazing as freshly baked, trust me!

      7. Adjust your food intake

      You don’t have to work out 5-7 times per week to get in shape. At the end of the day, your weight loss success depends on calories in versus calories out. Thus, you need to change your food intake according to your activity level.

      If you are sitting and not very active for most of the day, you should eat less than someone who is on their feet all day long. On training days, eat more, especially post-workout. This way, your body will learn to use the extra fuel on training days to build muscle and not store as fat.

      8. Eat frequently

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      Healthy snacks

        During clinical rotations at med school, we don’t always have time for a lunch break. Many doctors skip eating and go out for dinner afterwards.

        However, if you let your body starve for such a long period of time, you will most likely overeat and consume more calories than you have burned that day in one sitting. I always have either self-made protein bars or little portable meals with me and eat those.

        It just takes 5 minutes but goes a long way, trust me. When you arrive home, your blood sugar levels will not be that low and you will make healthier choices and stick to reasonable portion sizes.

        9. Choose intensity over duration

        When it comes to fitness, it does not matter how many hours you work out per week. What matters is intensity.

        You can work out for an hour long and just go through the movements and hardly break a sweat. Or, you can fit in a quick 15-minute sweat session and push really hard—until your muscles and lungs are burning.

        Which technique will benefit you more in the long run? The latter version will not only burn more calories during but also after the session—your metabolism is revved for up to 24 hours following!

        10. Be active in general

        15 Tips to get in shape for busy people

          Make it a habit to take the stairs, always. Don’t use your car to get groceries from a nearby store. Try to find ways to be generally active during the day. It might not sound like a lot of exercise to you now, but these little actions add up and will keep your metabolism high. Even if you fail to do a workout, at least you were active and tried your best!

          11. Use the weekends

          The weekends are the best time to focus on fitness and nutrition. Don’t panic, you can still relax and enjoy time with your family and friends. A good workout only takes one hour of your day, but you will benefit from it forever. If you are only able to fit in 10-15 minutes a few times during the week, make use of your free time on the weekend.

          Lift heavy weights, do high intensity interval training, and sweat a lot! You will be proud of yourself afterwards and have more energy than when you started.

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          12. Try home workouts

          Home workouts

            You don’t need a gym membership to get in shape. If you are beginner, bodyweight strength training will be hard enough for you. There are amazing workout videos on Youtube, I recommend fitnessblender. It is motivating to work out along with the trainers. After a while, you will get used to finishing your day with a 15-minute workout, done in the comfort of your own living room.

            13. Drink water

            When you are out all day, it is easy to forget to drink enough. However, proper hydration is crucial to keeping your metabolism high and curbing cravings. Always keep a water bottle with you and sip on it whenever you feel like you might be getting hungry. Most of the time, it is not real hunger but thirst—our brain can’t fully distinguish between both sometimes.

            14. Get plenty of sleep

            When people contact me because they are unable to lose weight, despite proper nutrition and training, the first thing I ask is if they sleep enough.

            You may not realize how much lack of sleep impacts all hormones in your body. Cortisol, the stress hormone, increases and modulates all metabolic processes in your body. Thus, people with high cortisol levels store fat easily and also get hungry much faster. Try to go to bed at a decent time and find ways to calm down in the evening. Don’t spend too much time in front of the computer—read a book, take a bath, relax. I also recommend listening to some calming music before going to bed.

            15. Don’t stress it

            Some weeks you will stick to your plan without any effort. Then, there are those weeks where everything seems to go wrong. Sometimes, things happen we cannot control. Your child might get sick or you have to stay longer at work or school. On those days, you might fall off track and have to skip a workout. Unless this becomes a habit, don’t stress it. It is okay to fail now and then. What matters is your determination to get back up and continue where you left.

            And now, your little surprise:

            Get in shape for busy people — A workout plan!

            If you have made it until the very end of this article—you rock! Thank you for staying with me. As a little reward, I designed a week of workouts for you busy people! Now, you don’t even need to search for workouts. Just save this workout schedule and you are good to go!

            Workout plan for busy people

              If you liked this weekly workout plan and my tips to get in shape for busy people, comment below and share it!

              Do you have other tips to get fit while living a busy lifestyle? Share your ways to stay healthy!

              Featured photo credit: Runner/ Garry Knight via flickr.com

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              Last Updated on September 10, 2019

              7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

              7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

              Most of your reality is not a given. It is shaped by your expectations, beliefs and thoughts you have formed about it. A big chunk of these beliefs and expectations are encoded into habits you integrate in your daily life.

              Yes, some of these habits are formed unconsciously and can be counter-productive or limiting but conversely, you can consciously form positive habits that will transform and empower your life significantly.

              This is a powerful point of departure that more and more people are becoming aware of. The most common trait of highly successful people is the recognition of the power they have in co-creating their reality through changing the way they think, believe or expect their reality to be.

              One of the most effective ways of changing our belief patterns is through practising and maintaining daily rituals. Ancient traditions had clearly understood the power of rituals in reinforcing habits and changing the way we see and create our reality a long, long time ago.

              Once again, if you look into the life history of any highly successful individual, you will find some form of ritual in their daily routine. Some of these rituals may seem banal or eccentric but don’t be deceived by appearances. Rituals are one of the most effective self-empowering tools freely available at the practitioner’s disposal – that is, you!

              Below are some the easiest yet life-changing morning rituals you can do every day. Of course, you can have your own afternoon or bed-time rituals but morning rituals are extremely effective in empowering your day since they help you charge yourself before it all starts.

              1. Gratitude

              Feeling gratitude and appreciation for those little signs and moments of joy happening in your life is probably one of the most overlooked or underestimated rituals. It is a perfect morning ritual to start your day on a very positive key.

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              The real power of gratitude is that it makes you pick out and focus on what is working in your life – what is in tune with your being as a whole. It is selectively positive. It reinforces happiness and positivity by shedding light on those awesome things, small or big, that grace your everyday living.

              Quite often, we just pick out the pain points, the problems, the bottle necks, whatever it is that is not working in our life and causing friction, anxiety and unhappiness. This is like constantly rewriting the script of your life with a negative or tragic overtone. Your subconscious mind follows faithfully that script you write whether it is a negative or positive one.

              So feeling gratitude is undoubtedly an immensely empowering ritual. Start your day by being thankful for those positive things that happened the previous day or throughout the week. It could be something really petty and small. It doesn’t matter. You might be grateful for an unexpected visit from an old friend, a beautiful encounter with a kind stranger, a new opportunity or whatever it is that shines your way. Do it every morning and see what happens during the day.

              Gratitude-Quotes

                2. Writing Down Your Most Important Tasks

                This is a very practical ritual. Start your day by identifying and writing down from one to three of the most important tasks you need to complete during that day. These tasks are ones which support important long term goals that are aligned to your purpose, passion or general direction in life.

                For example, if writing a book or building an online community are important long term goals which are aligned to your personal growth, then an important task for the day might be finishing off a particular page or two of the book or coming up with fresh content ideas for the online community.

                What is important with this ritual is that you identify these tasks and complete them as early in the day as possible. Of course, you will have other tasks apart from the ones you will write down but, these are tasks which can be tackled later or batched up and carried out in one go.

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                Writing down your most important tasks in the morning helps you focus your day and life according to what is essential. It helps you prioritize and manage your time better. As a result, you simplify your life by applying your focus and energy on what really counts for your overall life progress.

                3. Affirm Your Goals in Writing or Drawing

                This is similar to the previous idea but different in its application and purpose. Writing down your most important tasks of the day is a way to have a concrete structure of action to follow. Affirming your goals, on the other hand, is a very powerful way of crystallizing your vision and goals in life into your everyday mental space.

                Writing down or doodling your goals on a piece of paper helps you externalize those goals by giving them form. In return, they are reflected back in your subconscious mind and thus, reinforcing them and integrating them more wholly.

                An example of this would be writing down “I am achieving greater success in my career” or “I am becoming healthier and stronger through my exercise.” Notice the present tense being used as a way to tell yourself you are in the process already. Remember the life script we subconsciously follow? You are basically modifying the script to be applied now in the present.

                Drawing or doodling can be equally, or even more, effective  (if you are more of a visual person) as it summarizes a graphical representation of your goals. For example, if your goal is to build a new house or live in another country, you can draw the house or draw things that symbolise the country you want to live in.

                write down goals

                  4. Practice Qi Gong Exercises

                  According to Chinese philosophy, Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) means the life force or energy inherent in all things;[1] and Qi Gong is the practice to cultivate and circulate that energy in your body. This may sound esoteric or complicated but actually, Qi Gong is really a set of simple exercises aimed at increasing your health and vitality.

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                  There are numerous forms and practices available for free through the online media. As a morning ritual, I recommend following these simple exercises by Qi Gong master Lee Holden:

                  5. Drink Hot Water with Lemon

                  Simply add a slice of lemon in a glass of hot water and drink one every morning. This is a very simple ritual I follow faithfully every morning.

                  Apart from being a good source of vitamin C and a great way of flushing out toxins in the morning, it balances and maintains the PH levels in the body, reduces pain and inflammation in joints and knees and helps nourishing brain and nerve cells. Here are some more benefits of drinking hot water with lemon.

                  6. Rise Earlier

                  The practical advantages of waking up early are obvious.

                  For example, you gain more time for doing exercise such as walking, cycling or Qi Gong as suggested above. You gain more time to be with yourself to reflect, meditate or, more importantly, carry out the other morning rituals.

                  So rising early can be seen as a foundation for all the other morning rituals. Many, like myself, find that they are more productive in the early hours of the day.

                  Also, various studies have shown that there are many other benefits from waking up an hour or two earlier in the morning. Sleeping early and waking up early helps the body attune with the earth’s circadian rhythms thus, promoting more restorative sleep. Other curious results from such studies show, for instance, that early risers tend to be more optimistic and can anticipate and solve problems more efficiently than the norm.[2]

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                  7. Listen to Uplifting Music

                  Uplifting music can have a direct impact on our mood, especially in the morning. It charges us emotionally and tunes us into a more positive outlook of the day ahead.

                  Most people wake up to music or listen to music as they commute to work. Very often, however, they tune in to a radio or randomly pick a playlist from their device. Being more selective and conscious of the music you listen to in the morning can have a great impact on your day and life in general.

                  It’s funny how we try to choose music according to our mood. For example if you are feeling down or disappointed by something, you are more prone to listen to music that reflects that mood – for instance blues, sad songs or downtempo music. This has the effect of reinforcing that mood. What you need to do is the exact opposite and retune your mood by listening to music that beats to a different tune than that mood.

                  Try to listen to more uplifting music in the morning even if, or especially if, your mood does not dictate so.

                  More About Energetic Habits & Rituals

                  Featured photo credit: Carli Jeen via unsplash.com

                  Reference

                  [1] Live Science: What Is Qi Gong
                  [2] Harvard Business Review: Defend Your Research: The Early Bird Really Does Get the Worm

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