Ever said to a friend: “I want to work out, but I just can’t seem to find the time?”
You’re not alone. Lack of time is probably the most common reason people name when it comes to struggling to get their fitness in. But! It can be done. And we have just the challenge for you in order to make regular workouts a habit.
Straight from the self-help book Get Your Life Together(ish), author Julia Dellitt lays out not one, but three different challenges you can take in order to find time (and make the time) to work out. Each challenge has a a different difficulty level, so you can play around with what works best for you.
Find Time to Work Out by Julia Dellitt
The number one excuse I hear friends, family, and acquaintances use with respect to not working out involves lack of time. (Or that exercising is too hard, which … it’s supposed to be. If it were easier, more people would do it without any resistance.) I’ve gotten to the point now where I don’t even bother hiding my eye roll in response to the whole “I don’t have time” reasoning — mainly because I firmly believe you have time for whatever is important to you.
If you “don’t have time,” it’s not generally because you straight up don’t have the time in your schedule; it’s because the thing in question is not important to you, and you’re not interested in prioritizing your schedule to make time for it. Which — let me be clear — is okay! There are plenty of seasons in life where certain things take a back seat, or you change as a person and what used to be important to you isn’t anymore, or you’re dealing with a bigger issue and don’t have the mental or emotional or physical capacity to take on one more thing.
Exercise boosts endorphins, protects your heart, strengthens your bones and muscles, lowers stress, and makes you feel like a better version of yourself. It’s worth doing and it’s good for you, so if you want to exercise and you are healthy and able-bodied, then you likely have time. Some of the busiest people I know find a way to work out regularly for their health, and they’re willing to sacrifice something to make it happen. For them, exercise is a nonnegotiable because of how it makes them feel. In this challenge I’ll explain why short walks are the gateway to a regular routine, and how a little exploration can help you figure out your soulmate workout.
GO FOR A SHORT WALK
Difficulty Level: Easy
In my opinion, walking is one of the very best forms of exercise: it’s free, fairly accessible to most ages and body types, and available almost anywhere, and you don’t need special clothes or shoes or gear. In a world of hot vinyasa yoga, marathons, heavy weights, burpees, and protein shakes, walking offers a low-impact way to stay active. Walking is also really good for your body — it can prevent conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes, and it helps with weight loss, builds muscle and endurance, supports coordination and balance, and improves your mood.
You can also take a walk in under fifteen minutes, which is what I do when I’m super busy but want to find at least one tiny window for physical activity. I know, I know, you’re probably saying, “Fine, but a walk isn’t the same thing as a workout.” That’s where I beg to differ, even though I understand where you’re coming from. I, too, used to think a true workout meant at least an hour of movement, buckets of sweat dripping down my face, specialty movement requiring a teacher’s direction, loud music, and a very sore body the next day. False. Exercise can certainly mean any of those things, but it can also mean taking your dog for a 10-minute stroll around the block, just enough to get your heart rate pumping slightly. Walking is nice and an excellent way to keep your body moving if you’re short on time.
TRY THREE TYPES OF WORKOUTS
Difficulty Level: Medium
I know so many folks who claim they don’t have time to work out simply because they’ve decided in advance that it’ll be terrible, myself included. Two pieces of advice: first, try to let go of any preconceived notions of what you think exercise will be like, based on either previous experience or some other notion in your head. Second, allow yourself to wonder what it would be like to enjoy exercise. I mean, what if exercise was … fun? Can you even imagine?
From this clean mental slate, in the course of a week, pick three types of workouts to try. Maybe you’ve done them before, maybe you haven’t; it doesn’t matter. Be open-minded with variety and length, get creative, ask around, and don’t spend a bunch of time or money trying to perfectly plan out the best three forms of exercise you could possibly do. Then, see what you like and what you don’t. Maybe the whole going-to-a-class thing was not your jam, and you realized you despise biking indoors. Maybe you preferred to combine friend time and a hilly stroll. Maybe you appreciated being able to do a workout from social media in your living room. Maybe you tried all of these things and then thought, nah, I’ll stick to running. But over the course of a week, try on a few workout styles for size and evaluate which ones you’d potentially do again.
DO THE WORKOUT YOU LIKE THE MOST AT LEAST TWICE A WEEK
Difficulty Level: Hard
Building on the momentum of the previous challenge, take the workout you liked the most (or hated the least!) and plan to do it at least twice a week. For example, if you discovered that you loved the buddy system for accountability purposes, and joining a friend for a walk or run seemed to be the easiest way to follow through on working out regularly, then use that same model in a given month but amp up the frequency. Ask your friend if you can get together on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 a.m. for a 30-minute workout, before you both head to the office.
Actively choosing a form of exercise you don’t hate is the first step in creating a habit of working out. And you’re essentially committing to doing it eight times in the span of a month, which doesn’t feel impossible. You retain your autonomy — you get to choose what form of movement you do this month — and you set the terms, because the length of workout doesn’t matter, either. It can be 10 minutes or one hour, on your own or in the mode of a formal class. Your job is to move twice a week.
Which challenge will you accept? –Julia Dellitt
Excerpted from Get Your Life Together(ish) by Julia Dellitt. Copyright © 2019 Simon & Schuster, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher, Adams Media, a division of Simon and Schuster. All rights reserved.