As we approach 2020, it seems that we are all only getting busier! Be it work, family life, social engagements, or a mixture of all three, finding the time to stay fit and healthy can feel like an uphill struggle. However, it is still possible to maintain good habits, even when time is short. The following tips can help you stay on track.

Have a maintenance mindset

For me, fitness has two main stages. An attacking stage, and a maintenance stage.

Attacking happens when all is well in your life. You’re on top of things at work, the family is in good spirits and stress levels are low. Great – let’s push the workouts, be strict with the nutrition, and reap the benefits it brings.

Maintenance is when things are tough. Maybe you’ve got some serious deadlines at work, or the kids have exams and their stress is rubbing off on you. This is part of life – so let’s scale the workouts back to an easier intensity. Short on time? Look for ways to make walking how you get from A to B. Numerous studies confirm that a simple half hour walk in the fresh air can significantly reduce stress related hormones. These effects are magnified if the walk is in woodland.

Can’t get to the gym – you have your own bodyweight to work with. Add in some resistance bands (cheap and unobtrusive to store) and you’ve got everything you need for a full body workout. We can design you some quick effective home workouts to follow, tailored to your individual needs.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Elite athletes take this approach. Granted it’s on a different scale, but professional athletes actually spend most of their time doing less strenuous training. They save the really hard stuff for when it counts – like peaking for a major event. 

Sleep is everything

We all know the feeling, you come in from work exhausted, but it’s not finished yet! You’ve still got dinner to organise, mess to clear up, children and pets (if you have them) that need attention, and maybe some more work on the laptop before bed. By the time that’s done, you collapse onto the couch at 10:00pm ready to sleep. But instead you think “this programme looks good, I’m going to watch it.” Before you know it it’s after 11:00pm and you’re missing out on valuable sleep time. When life is in that busy phase, sleep becomes crucial, and is arguably the most powerful weapon you have. It’s also vital for your health. We accept the fact that exercise levels will decrease, and preparing healthy meals can become difficult, but let’s not add sleep deprivation into the mix!

My top tips for a good nights sleep:

  • NO TV or PHONES: Try and give yourself a cut off time for watching TV or looking at your phone (I personally try and stick to 9pm). Once that time is reached, switch them off. Most TV is on catch up nowadays, and all those emails and social media posts will still be there in the morning – so why fill your head with them at bedtime?!
  • Routine: Go to bed and get up at the same time as often as you can, even if you’ve had a bad night’s sleep. Erratic bedtime and waking times eventually leads to erratic sleep quality.
  • Cool down: A slightly cooler room (16 degree celsius) is optimal for humans to sleep well in. Turn the radiator down in the bedroom.
  • Limit food, fluid and alcohol: Big heavy meals, fluids and alcohol before bed will leave you feeling uncomfortable, creating a restless night. 

Healthy food can be easy

Take an apple, you grab it from the fruit bowl, and eat it. It doesn’t need cooked, you don’t need cutlery, and there’s no washing up to do afterwards. A piece of fruit and some nuts makes the perfect snack at work. Very simple, and healthy.  Overnight oats for breakfast – way quicker than porridge, and way less mess!

Diet can often be the biggest thing people slip up on when things are hectic. It’s seems too easy to order a take-away, or feel like that bar of chocolate is going to make everything better. But remember the attacking period at the start of the blog? Well that’s the time to prepare and freeze some healthy meals, to be used during the maintaining period. In our household when it’s super busy – the stir fry is a life saver. You can even buy the pre-prepared veg. Heat the pan, chuck it all in for a few minutes, done! If you drink alcohol, keep it to your days off only.

Finally – acknowledge and accept

So things got busy all of a sudden. Acknowledging it is the first stage in dealing with it. Embrace it, roll your sleeves up and get stuck in. From there, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Life goes through phases, peaks and troughs. Sometimes staying healthy is hard because you’re so busy. Then other times it becomes easier. Remind yourself this when things are hectic. Your mind & body will thank you for it, and you’ll come out the other end ready to attack again!

Paul