Saturday, November 29, 2014

“… But I Don’t Have Time …”

February 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Fitness

“…I don’t have time.”

This is the #1 excuse people give for why they aren’t living healthier lives.

(Would you like cheese with that whine?)

As someone who has made nutrition and fitness a priority over the past six years in particular (but admittedly took it to the extremes and ended up struggling with body image issues for a few years …) I know that exercise and eating well are critical … but that that balance is really the key to healthy living.

A Libra to the nth degree, I’m constantly striving for balance in my life — and it’s a precarious dance. When I’m eating cleanly and exercising regularly (read as: not over-exercising) I’m a much happier person.

And I’ve learned that going down that obsessive dieting/over-exercising path can be just as dangerous and unhealthy as going down the fast food + sedentary lifestyle that is so prevalent here in the U.S., especially. (A life of restriction is no life at all; a life of binging is just as sad/detrimental).

Ultimately, neither course results in happiness or a sense of balance. It just brings about a whole host of new problems, as anything in extremes does..0

Here at We Are the Real Deal, we have readers who are happy just the way they are (regardless of size) readers who need to gain weight, readers who are heavy but aren’t concerned with their health and don’t want to lose weight, readers who are heavy and are concerned about their health and want to lose weight.

Regardless of where you stand on the body image spectrum, don’t you owe it to yourself to make time for your health and well-being? And, don’t we all?

As women, we often feel pulled in a million directions — our families, our kids, our aging parents, our jobs, our kids’ activities, etc. Sometimes it feels like everyone needs us.

So how do we find time to get enough sleep, eat well, and exercise — three things proven to help reduce the risk of heart disease and other ailments?

First of all, let’s stop making excuses for ourselves.

Most of us do have time — if we make our health a priority the way we make paying the bills a priority or putting food on the dinner table a priority.

It doesn’t have to cost money to live healthier. But the truth is, sometimes we need to make a sacrifice in one realm of our lives … maybe occasionally skip happy hour in favor of the gym; maybe sometimes plan a date night at home instead of an extravagant restaurant meal … so we have that extra time for healthier habits.

Because really, isn’t it worth it if it means we’ll feel like more balanced women, wives, mothers, friends, employees?

This isn’t about weight loss, but rather trying to feel better in our own skin. Being healthy is about living longer and better lives. As a society, we’ve been making excuses for too long — and I think it’s time we took more personal responsibility when it comes to our health.

So here are some quick tips you’ve surely seen before on how to make time to live a little healthier today:

EATS:  Plan your meals as best you can. When you fail to plan, you might as well plan to fail.
-If you’re dining out, check out the restaurant’s menu online ahead of time. Decide what you want before you go out, so you don’t waste time hemming and hawing over a menu and can enjoy the dining experience and the company.

-Prep-cook your meals and snacks over the weekend. Cut up fresh fruit and veggies. Freeze leftovers into individual portions for quick lunches on the go (ditch the sodium-laden frozen entrees). Journal.

EXERCISE: You don’t *need* to spend hours at the gym to get in a good workout.
-If you’re not a gym bunny, wake up 20 minutes earlier than your family so you can do an at-home fitness DVD in peace and quiet.

-Multi-task. Call your best friend on your lunch-time walk. If it’s too cold outside, find a local mall. Or watch TV … but exercise while you do it. MamaV said in the comments recently that this is one of her best tips.

ZZZs: Not everyone needs 8 hours of sleep a day. You know your body best.
-Say “no.” Just because you headed up the PTA last year while working a full-time job and volunteering on the side doesn’t mean you have to do it again this year if it made you unhappy. It’s OK to say “no” sometimes.

-Ditch your to-do lists. The laundry can wait til Thursday if it means you’ll be able to get to bed tonight and wake up tomorrow with enough time to make a healthy breakfast or get in a quick workout.

These are just a few of my ideas — I’m sure you have plenty of your own, and we want to hear them.

Ladies and gentlemen, you only get one body in this lifetime; treat it well. Because I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You’re worth it.

Let’s make our collective health a priority. Who’s in?

How about you? Have you fallen victim to the “I don’t have time” excuse? What tips would you like to share about how you’ve found time to live healthier?

Comments

42 Responses to ““… But I Don’t Have Time …””
  1. bloowillbooks says:

    What a wonderful post!

    I’ve never made the ‘I don’t have time’ excuse, usually I’m very honest and admit “I’m completely lacking in motivation.”

    This year i’ve decided to spice up my usual walk/yoga regime. My daughter, who is nine, has just taken up kung fu. I decided that as I’m going to be sitting watching her do it for an hour, I may as well do the class as well. Turns out, I love it! We deliberately chose a dojo that offered classes the same night my husband plays football so there are still at least two nights during the work week that we all sit down to a meal together (one of my priorities)

    I’ve also started making ‘play dates’ with a friend of mine. We alternate between tennis and yoga. We’re not very good at tennis but even chasing the balls around counts as exercise…doesn’t it?

    Anyway, long story short, I’m loving it. Learning new things keeps my head busy and if I happen to be keeping my body busy at the same time then so much the better!

  2. Bianca says:

    I’m married, have child who is involved in sport and various school activities, and I am also the manager for her competitive soccer team. My husband is their coach.

    Finding time to work out can be difficult, but we make it a family activity as much as possible. That way we are spending time together, and still gettting exercise.

  3. Definitely! But I won’t lie…this is one thing that does worry me about having kids. Only because out of all of my “mommy” friends, maybe 2 or 3 work out consistently – most claim they don’t have time.

    I would HOPE that when I become a mom, I will make working out a priority – not even just because of the health benefits, but it’s kind of like a natural anti-depressant for me. But only time will tell, I suppose. :-)

    • lissa10279 says:

      I fear that too, but like you, hope I will continue to make it a priority–if we don’t, who will?!

    • atchka says:

      I have a problem with you saying “most claim they don’t have time.” As a parent of three, I too “claim” I don’t have time.

      I’m sorry, what I meant to say is “I DON’T HAVE TIME.”

      My day is devoted entirely to other people. If we’re lucky and our daughters sleep all night, the morning is a rush to get to work and daycare on time, followed by a hectic day at work (and a half hour lunch). I spend two hours a day on a train. Then get home about 6:30 and want to play with my girls until bedtime starts around 8 and finishes around 9-9:30ish.

      At this point, yeah, I could probably fit in a workout, but I’m so physically and mentally exhausted that all I want to do is sit down with my wife and enjoy the two, maybe three hours we get together each day (and that includes cooking our own dinner).

      Yeah, if I wanted to, I could probably squeeze in a daily workout, but there’s more to it than just adjusting my schedule. Children are psychological leeches… they completely drain you of energy and leave you utterly flattened by the end of the day. And I just get those few hours at night. My wife spends ALL DAY with them.

      So when I read that you say your friend “claims” they don’t have time, I read a certain condescension that is REALLY unjustified from someone who doesn’t have the gauntlet of children to endure on a daily basis.

      Peace,
      Shannon

      p.s. I adore my kids, but they are a lot more difficult to live with than, say, puppies.

      • Holly says:

        Shannon,

        No condescension meant! I have nothing but the utmost respect for parents – whether they work inside or outside of the home. They have to devote their lives to their children, and they obviously don’t just have themselves to think of. Trust me, this was not my intent to offend you. I’m sorry you misinterpreted what I said.

        Holly

        • atchka says:

          Hi Holly,
          I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be so sensitive. (Ironically, I just posted something on my guest post about how I liked WATRD because people give each other the benefit of the doubt, which I clearly didn’t do). No harm no foul, I hope.

          Peaec,
          Shannon

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  4. julie says:

    Since I’ve visibly lost a lot of weight, people want to ask me how, apparently just so they can tell me why it would never work for them. “I guess I could try to have food with me so I wasn’t so starving when I finally stopped to eat that I stuffed myself, then had dessert, but …” Planning is just WAY too inconvenient for many people, and while I can understand, the only thing I can say to this is “when it means enough to you, you’ll get to it” Exercise is another one, there’s always something better to do.

    Unfortunately, in this culture, the path of lease resistance leads right to obesity, and in the absence of lucky genes, not going against the grain will get you fat.

    • lissa10279 says:

      EXACTLY. If it’s important enough you’ll find a way to make it happen. And while planning can seem inconvenient, in the long run, it’s actually a time (and life) saver. — > spoken as someone who ran back into the house this AM when I realized I left my lunchtime veggies at home!!

  5. Sandwiched says:

    Great post. Thanks for the reminders. I’m struggling now with balance and moderation. I quit my new part time job last week in part because it afforded me no time for myself (especially working out or planning meals for my family of 4).

    Now, I’m trying to find my new normal again. Now that everyday doesn’t feel like a 4-alarm fire, I’m relearning how to juggle my priorities. My ultimate goal is to figure out how not to end up like my heart- and kidney-disease-riddled martyr of a mom who put everyone else first and is now paying for it.

    Plus, I’m a much better ME when I take care of myself. It’s hard when I realize that I spent two hours just on MYSELF to work out and plan a couple of healthy meals, but I’ve been on the other side, too–and THAT’S unacceptable.

    Walking the tightrope,

    Sandwiched

    • lissa10279 says:

      Thanks for commenting, Sandwiched. It does seem like there needs to be a new normal when we undergo a major life change (job change, children, etc). I like what you say though — “I’m a much better ME when I take care of myself.”

  6. mamaV says:

    I have found that as a parent, I have to think of exercise differently than prior to having children. It doesn’t have to be this strict routine at the gym, get creative, and get in there and play when the kids are playing (why do so many mom’s sit at the sidelines?)

    Ideas:
    Kids are swimming, get in and do leg lifts and arm exercises, and crunches with your legs on the side of the pool (yes you’ll look nuts but who cares!)

    You have kids that are in every sport known to man, practice with them. I never played soccer or basketball, now I am quite good since I help my 6 year old practice.

    Kids in a stroller? Get to the mall in winter, the park in summer.

    Clear out your basement and make on open gym. Many think I am nuts, but we made a “sports center” in our basement because I am in WI and the winter is soooooo long. We cleared out half of it, covered the window with a board so it doesn’t get smashed, and we play wiffle ball, the kids rollerskate, even use their scooters down there. Even doing stuff with them for 15 minutes gets your heart rate up.

    Walk. Just walk. We need to just move our bodies. As dumb as it sounds — just MOVE. Take a break at the office, and walk the halls, park far away, take the stairs, it does all add up and it gives you thinking time.

    Great post Lissa!

    • lissa10279 says:

      Thanks, MamaV! Your post the other day inspired this one. And great ideas, too. You’re right — it doesn’t HAVE to be a strict gym routine; I’m sure I won’t be able to spend 60-90 min a day at the gym when I’m a mom … but I hope to find ways to exercise when I can. It’s like a natural anti-depressant to me, too … (as the BalancedBroad said above)

  7. mamaV says:

    Ok the sleep thing — I am working at home today so I can take a nap. I regularly get 8-10 hours a night, plus I take naps on weekends.

    If I didn’t , I would be sick all the time, my immune system can’t take it.

    Check out this stor y I received from a tipster Sarah:
    Sleep is a Feminist issue by Naomi Wolf:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article7015307.ece

  8. atchka says:

    On this: “Regardless of where you stand on the body image spectrum, don’t you owe it to yourself to make time for your health and well-being?”

    The answer is no.

    It should be yes, but life is not black and white, cut and dried. There are plenty of issues that come up everyday that are Should vs. Am.

    I should have a great work ethic and I owe it to myself to do everything I can to make sure I am an ideal employee to improve my prospects of advancement and reward. But I am a procrastinator who is easily distracted by the internet.

    I should take some time to spiritually center myself on a daily basis (by whatever means I’m comfortable with) to achieve peace of mind. But I am forgetful and often neglect my spiritual side.

    I should exercise daily in order to keep my body healthy and happy. But I am at the mercy of my job and my family for so much of the day, that the few hours of freedom I do get I want to spend relaxing.

    I think there is a real problem in making health sound like a moral imperative. I have a problem with anyone telling me or others what they “should” do with their bodies. Is it the smartest thing to do so that you can live a long and healthy life? Sure. But if I don’t do it, should I feel guilty for not doing what I “should”? I don’t think so. We all do things we shouldn’t. We all have vices and flaws that we accept and own. The last thing any of us needs is an outside authority informing us how we’re doing it wrong.

    If I were to audit your life, I’m sure I could make a nice, juicy list of things you “should” be doing too. But that would be intrusive and wrong.

    Offering tips on how to improve your health is cool with me. But phrasing it in such a way that could make people feel guilty for not having your priorities is no way to inspire others to fitness.

    Live and let live.

    Peace,
    Shannon

    • lissa10279 says:

      I’ll speak for TheBalancedBroad in case she doesn’t come back to see your post, Shannon — I’m pretty sure, knowing the writer, she didn’t mean to be condescending but rather was voicing what she has seen/heard from her friends. Their tone in the conversation might have emitted a “claim” sentiment more than a “this is my reality” sentiment.

      • atchka says:

        I understand that’s probably not what she intended, but you have to understand that fat people very, very often hear this sort of comment. “My friend claims she exercises all the time, but…” I was just trying to point out that it sounds pretty dismissive to say your friend “claims” that she doesn’t have time rather than saying that your friend “said” that she doesn’t have time. There’s a world of difference between those two words.

        Peace,
        Shannon

        • lissa10279 says:

          OK, I see what you’re saying, but again, knowing the commenter, I’m pretty sure she didn’t mean it that way. Perception is reality though, and I have learned that really applies here in the blogosphere.

          • atchka says:

            I understand. I wasn’t trying to attack her or anything. Just doing my little FA role here and make people aware of how the words you say mean different things to different people. No big deal.

            Peace,
            Shannon

      • Holly says:

        Thank you, Melissa. :-) I definitely did not mean to offend parents here! My two very best friends – my sisters – work very hard day in and day out as parents to balance all they have going on in their lives. I was trying to quote my friends, but I did not mean for it to come out the wrong way…

  9. CandiceBP says:

    Great post – this is a hard one for me and I have definitely thought about the lack of time. I feel like I barely have enough time to meet the obligations of my life currently – and I really mean the obligations, not even talking about reading for fun, etc. Between work, school, family, and a crazy puppy, I have a hard time getting 7 hrs sleep a night and it’s been weeks since I’ve had all my schoolwork done when I was supposed to.

    But when I look at it, I feel like maybe this time in my life is an exception. The puppy won’t always be a puppy. I won’t always be pregnant and tired. I will get a handle on balancing work, school, and housework… all with the end goal of actually being able to find that free time that I need to dedicate to myself.

    But the only time in my life I was able to manage this was when the only thing I had to worry about was my job. I had no boyfriend, live with my parents, and was finished with my BA. My time was mine – and I used it for the gym. Other than that one sweet time in my life, I’ve never found that “balance” again – because now there’s so much more to balance.

    It’s really a great question/issue to ponder and one I think about often as I try (unsuccessfully) to keep the puppy from chewing on my Wii Fit board.

    • atchka says:

      Actually Candice, I hate to break it to you, but you are probably going to be pregnant for the rest of your life. As soon as your baby comes out, there will be another one waiting in the wings. Even menopause will take a back seat to your body’s permanent pregnancy.

      I can just tell this about you.

      Peace,
      Shannon

      • lissa10279 says:

        Shannon, that was really uncalled for … I have no idea where that came from, but I think you owe Candice an apology. We ought to be respectful of one another and that was blatantly disrespectful.

        • atchka says:

          Lissa,
          It was a joke.

          Candice,
          If I offended you, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to imply anything about you except what a horrible, horrible fate it would be to be sentenced to eternal pregnancy (as per my wife’s experiences). Obviously I wish you all the best to you and your child.

          Peace,
          Shannon

        • Emily S. says:

          Hey Lissa-

          I think Shannon was referencing this:
          http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/15/AR2006051500875.html

          A policy that has received a good deal of visibility/mocking from some blogs recently. Maybe he should have hyperlinked a phrase in there to be clear, but it definitely was not as sexist/malicious as it appeared!

          • lissa10279 says:

            Ah, ok … thanks for clarifying. Because I definitely took it that way — again, perception vs reality ;)

          • atchka says:

            Hey Emily,
            I wasn’t referencing that. I was merely making a comment that would make my wife want to punch me in the stomach repeatedly. Pregnancy was an unpleasant ordeal for her (well, except the second trimester) and she’s *done*. I know many women (especially in the midst of all the discomfort and associated unpleasantries) think “Never again!” (as did we, until WHOOPS here comes our third kid).

            But that article is interesting. I think that might be a *wee* bit extreme in my opinion. Sometimes I’m so glad I’m a guy.

            Peace,
            Shannon

    • lissa10279 says:

      Enjoy this time, Candice — you have a great attitude and I believe as a mom you’ll continue that positive outlook/striving for balance. Balance isn’t really a destination so much as a way of life … I’m learning that as I go.

  10. Hil says:

    Here’s the thing: you can make time for *anything* IF you’re willing to let something else give. For some people, that “something else” might be television, for others, it might be time at work, sleep, or spending time with their kids.

    It bothers me that people don’t want to acknowledge that prioritizing cooking and exercise involves tradeoffs. Sometimes those tradeoffs are hard. I absolutely think that exercise and cooking are important. But I don’t think it is necessarily “whining” if someone finds that exercise and diet aren’t as high on their priority list as some other things. The tips are great, but I’m troubled by the moralistic tone of this post.

    • lissa10279 says:

      Hil, it wasn’t meant to be “moralistic” — healthy living ISN’T everyone’s priority and while I wish it were, it’s not and I know that.

      That said, my gripe is with the people who say they don’t have time, but complain about not being healthier or not losing weight or what have you.

      The truth is, anyone can find time for anything — if something else is left for later. For me, exercise and nutrition are priorities; for someone else, TV and cooking might be.

      • Lori says:

        The truth is, anyone can find time for anything — if something else is left for later. For me, exercise and nutrition are priorities; for someone else, TV and cooking might be.

        I think this is setting up a false dichotomy where either people are dedicated to working out and watching what they eat, or are dedicated to sitting on the couch and eating lots of food.

        What about people who are dedicated to serving their communities, providing food for the poor, educating children, agitating for peace, or any of the billions of other things we can do to serve others around us and improve this world? I can think of many great women and men who I admire and would like to be more like, and I can’t imagine that any of them placed a particularly high priority on either working out OR watching TV.

        That’s not to say there isn’t a place for focusing on wellness. I guess my concern is when we make it an end in itself, as if we are doing something noble by working out or eating well. We aren’t. Rather than asking ourselves “How can I make exercise a priority?”, I wish we would ask, “What are my priorities? And, what can I do to help me achieve them?”

        Exercising or personal “healthiness” is very low on my list of priorities. However, in order to do the things that are high on my list–being a good parent, being a good teacher, being a good friend, being a good neighbor–I need the energy and peace-of-mind that I get from regular aerobic exercise, eating a balanced diet, and getting enough sleep. But, since those are means to an end and not the end itself, sometimes they change. Right now, at 37 weeks pregnant, I’ve had to drop my daily walk, because it wasn’t giving me more energy or peace-of-mind–it was leaving me drained and cranky. I’m sure at some point in the near future I’ll need that walk again to get my energy and mood up so that I can deal with a newborn, but right now the work out was hindering my mothering, not enhancing it.

        I don’t know where I’m going with this, and I’m certainly not saying there’s anything wrong with exercise or eating well–I’m a big fan of both–but I’m not sure any of us should feel any obligation to make either a priority, or somehow feel like we’re failing if we don’t. I prefer to see those as means to help me better achieve the things that are my priorities, rather than priorities in and of themselves. And I certainly don’t think we should ever assume that, just because a person doesn’t feel that exercise or concern about nutrition are either a priority or something that would enhance their life, they are making priorities of watching TV and eating copious amounts of food. They probably just have priorities that have nothing to do with activity levels or eating habits at all.

        • Sarah Hannah says:

          AWESOME comment. I agree totally—of course, I have nothing against trying to live healthfully, but I don’t get it when people think they’re doing something so commendable whenever they do something “healthy”. I agree that it’s better to put the emphasis on the bigger picture and to see taking care of yourself as a means to your life goals rather than a goal in itself.

  11. tammy says:

    I’m blessed in that I live alone, no kids and my schedule is pretty much whatever I choose to make it. Having said that.. it still takes determination to do the right things for yourself…. No matter what ! It comes down to caring enough to take care of yourself the right way and believing that you deserve it. I’m not all the way there yet, but I’m making progress.

  12. Jacqueline says:

    Am I reading into it, or is there something self-righteous about this post?

    For the record, most of my friends and family refer to me as being “disciplined” about my routine, so my reaction isn’t defensiveness about my habits, but I do feel very at odds with the writer regarding attitudes. I despise and resent every second of exercise. Really, as I think about the number of hours a week, the numbers of hour a year, I spend doing something I hate perhaps I should do less of it.

    My health is not a priority to me. Taking care of my body is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. I want to be well enough to do the things that matter to me.

    In the post the writer suggests that we “skip happy hour in favor of the gym.” Another commentor already mentioned that there seems to be a false dichotomy that’s been set up here. We all have the same number of hours in a day and we all make trade offs. To call people who don’t exercise religiously “whiners” is quite judgmental.

    I can image an actor reading the line “I don’t have time” several different ways. Yes, it can be a whine. It can also be said curtly, meaning that the speaker has chosen to spend his or her time in another way.

    Many of my friends, when I ask if they’ve read this book or that book, will tell me that they lacked the time. If I were to say, “Stop making excuses,” I would definitely be called a self-righteous snob, and correctly so.

    A friend of mine who was pushed by his parents to achieve at a young age, when he finally rebelled against his upbringing, noted that many people who achieve greatness do not have balanced lives. He decided that he did not want that for himself, but perhaps we need to recognize that if we make balance our priority there are other things we might miss.

    Apparently, I’m not alone in finding a moralistic tone in the post.

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