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15 Ways To Get In Shape For Busy People

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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!

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              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 November 22, 2021

              Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

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              Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

              Thanksgiving, a day of pure gluttony, football, and possible uncomfortable situations with family members that you may or may not like. Oh, yeah, and the whole “know and reflect on what it is to be thankful and grateful.”

              During the holiday season many people forget what this time of year is bout and are too worried about getting the “early-bird” deals on Black Friday and making sure that they have the perfect gifts for their loved ones. I am sort of a “Grinch” when it comes to the holiday season, mostly because of that mentality by many of the poeple around me.

              But instead of being grinch-like this holiday season, I decided to simplify things and get back to what this time of year is actually is about; being thankful for what I have and what I can give.

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              Simplify

              I’m not a “minimalist” in any real sense, but in the last few months the talks of Patrick Rhone and others have got me to rethink my stance. Can you really have too much stuff?

              Absolutely.

              And with all that stuff comes the burden and the weight of it on your back.

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              If you feel that the things around you are out of control, maybe it’s time to simplify and be thankful and grateful for what you have and use. Here are a few things that you can do to simplify:

              • You know those gadgets in the drawer that you said you were going to sell? Well, time to get the listing on eBay and sell them. Or, send them to a place like Gazelle. Even if they are old and won’t get money, you can at least recycle them.
              • Get rid of things you don’t need. Like old books, clothes, tools, etc. Have something that’s been laying around forever with no use? Donate it to a charity or church. If you aren’t using it, someone else could be.
              • Find your productivity tools and stick with them. Use tools and gadgets that serve multiple purposes so you can simplify your tool set.

              Be Mindful

              You don’t have to be a master Buddhist or meditator to be mindful (although, it can definitely help). Being mindful comes down to being cognizant of the present and not keeping yourself in the past or future. It’s about living in the moment and being aware of yourself and everything around you. It’s just being.

              Without getting too “California” on you, it is super important to be mindful during the holiday rush. Rather than worrying about the things that you forgot at your house on the way to relatives or thinking about the next stop in your endless holiday travels, just breath and think about what you are currently doing.

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              Spend the time with your family and friends and don’t crush the moment. Try not to concentrate so hard on getting the perfect photo of the “awesome moment” of the day and actually miss the awesome moment.

              Being mindful over the holidays will help you be with your families, friends, and yourself allowing you to enjoy your time.

              Reflect

              As the year is coming to a close (yes, it really is that close!) it’s a great time to start reflecting on what you have accomplished and what you haven’t. Within the next few weeks we will have a more throrough reflection article here at Lifehack.org, but reflecting every now and then over your holiday break is a great way to see where you have been doing well in your life and where you need to improve.

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              Reflection shouldn’t be used to “get down” on yourself. Reflection should be used to take an honset inventory of what you have accomplished, how you handeled situations, and what you can do better. If you journal everyday (a daily form of reflection) it may be a good time to start going over some of the things that you have written and start to put together a year’s end journal entry. I mean, how else will you write your autobiography?

              But, seriously, reflecting on yourself makes you aware of your successes and faults and helps you plan and make goals for the coming year. It makes you a better person.

              So, while you are stuffing your face with bird, stuffing, and mashed taters’, remember that the holidays are much more than the superficial things. Use this holiday to become a better person.

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              Featured photo credit: Libby Penner via unsplash.com

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