Staying healthy in today’s world of fast food, social media, and Netflix is a challenge. Throw in children and a career and a lot of people deem it nearly impossible. This daunting task is not nearly as hard as you might think though. I’m going to list some simple steps and tips to help you get into a better place physically and quite possibly mentally and emotionally as well.
Step 1: Make health a priority!
The first thing you have to do is tell yourself that your physical health REALLY matters. We tend to get caught up in the tasks of our job and prioritizing our children above all else. In actuality though, we can’t give those things our best if we are not in good health ourselves. We need to tell ourselves that we want to be able to keep up with the kids, be active with them, and live to be around for as much of their lives as possible. That means taking care of our own health and making it a priority. Studies have shown that regular exercise elevates mood levels, creativity, and overall energy. Tell me those things won’t help in the workplace. So you see, taking care of your own health is really one of the most selfless things you can do.
Step 2: Establish the time
Many people believe you have to spend all sorts of hard hours at the gym in order to get in shape. This is a myth! If you can carve out 20 – 30 minutes 4 to 5 days a week, your physical condition will improve more than you think. If that is still too big of a chunk of time for you, break it down into 10 to 15 minute segments. Another big key to the time element is to schedule and plan it out ahead of time. Make it part of your weekly routine like all of your kids activities. You may have to get up before the kids do in the morning to fit in. Another option is to get it in over your lunch break. Some people will go for a walk or jog right after they drop their kids off at their dance/soccer/piano practice and finish in time to pick them back up. You can turn the kids evening activity time into family ACTIVE time. If all else fails, you can do the night owl thing and do your exercise at the end of the day when everyone else is wound down for the evening. Remember, the key is to schedule it and make it an appointment you can’t miss.
Step 3: Establish your exercise and intensity level
The next myth we have to bust is that it takes super hard intensity levels to get in shape. Believing this and working out at that level, especially if you are not already in shape, can actually be detrimental to your health. Be honest with yourself and your physical condition. Start where you are at and set goals to be able to do more than what you can right now. You don’t need to kill yourself to get in better shape. You just have to get moving more than you already are. Now that we have cleared the fog on that, let’s think about what particular activity you are going to do. Think of something physically active that you like to do and find a place to do it. If you like dance or martial arts, enroll yourself in classes somewhere. If you like going to the gym but hate the commuting, think about purchasing some equipment for your home. If you enjoy the outdoors, think about walking/running outside or maybe kayaking or biking. Getting out for a weekly game of golf where you walk rather than ride a cart is great exercise.
Step 4: Set some goals
This one might seem pretty obvious but let me give you some tips on how to set goals in order to be successful. First, make it specific and measurable. Instead of saying “I want to lose weight” say “I want to lose 5 lbs in the next month”. This way you have and exact number to work towards and a time frame to get it done in. Weight is not the only health indicator to base goals on. You can set a goal for lower overall blood pressure. If you are diabetic or even pre-diabetic you can set a goal for lower blood sugar levels. Exercise will help with that. You can set event goals like participating in a 5k or 10k run that is taking place sometime within the next 6 months or so. As you work towards these goals, celebrate the small victories along the way and pay attention to things that you can’t measure with numbers. Notice all the improvements to your energy levels and emotional state. Pay attention to how you are feeling overall physically. If you notice any pain that doesn’t improve as you keep going with your routine then it may be time to revisit steps 2 and 3 to better tune what you should be doing for activity.
Step 5: Get yourself some support
This final step may be one of the most important. Don’t do this by yourself. By getting a workout buddy, you are more likely to show up for the workout. Get a friend to run with. Get your spouse or even the whole family to do “active” time together. The more people you have around you thinking about their own health the more likely you will be able to keep it a priority for yourself. For some people, their workout is their “me time”. Even those people still need support to do it. Find family and friends that are willing to help take care of kids while you workout.