Thursday, September 5, 2013

Winning it in Ten

When it comes to excuses, I have heard them all.  From a beginner's lack of self confidence to the gym rat's creativity ("… my religion shuns burpees"), I can say that there is one excuse that trumps them all.

I don't have time.

The reason that time is the number one excuse to not exercise is because of the formidable grain of truth upon which it is based.  Between real obligations to work and family and the modern day glorification of "Busy-ness", the idea of carving anything out seems impossible.    

I heed the advice of St. Francis de Sale here- "Half an hour's meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy.  Then a full hour is needed."  

De Sale said a lot there- but he didn't say jack about one full, complete, uninterrupted hour.   

The effect of exercise is cumulative.  Think about exercise like you think about eating: one bad meal won't make you fat and one healthy meal won't make you skinny.  Consistent, incremental behavior breeds the changes in your health and body.  

One ten minute work out may not make an immediate difference- but two, three or four of them a day can make a whole new body.  In fact, splitting the recommended 30 minutes of moderate daily cardio into two or three shorter, but more intense, sessions can be of a greater metabolic benefit than the steady-state doldrums.  

So, a perceived lack of time is not a reason to not work out.  It is, however, a reason to get creative in how your get your work-out into your day.  No 25th hour required, I promise.


  • First things first:  Clear up your priorities.  Do you really not have time or have you not made physical exercise a priority.  Your health needs to be right up there.  Your health is what keeps you alive and alert.  It affects everything from your face, to your social interactions, to your fiscal bottom line.  It is the foundation upon which everything else in your life is built. Your health is your future and your quality of life.  Do not under-sell your health and the impact your health has on those around you.    
  • Second things second:  REALLY take a look at your time.  Look at your breaks at work, when the kids nap, television, time spent waiting, waiting, waiting….  Cut the crap.  Look at how you spend your time and start thinking of each action in binary.  No explanations- just "yes" or "no":  
    • Is it necessary?  
    • Is it relevant to your priorities?  
    • Is it something that just makes you happy?  
    • Is it benefiting your health?  
    • ...Or is it something you defaulted to?
Begin phasing out the "no's" and emphasizing the "yes's".  See what happens when you become mindful of your priorities.  See what happens when you begin cutting out those things that do not benefit you, and begin to deliberately seek out those things that do.  
Look at your time again with a critical eye to time and location and possibilities for your ten minutes of exercise. 
  • Third Things Third:  Then set yourself up for success.  Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail. 
    1. Eyeball those moments when you anticipate the time to do a workout and make it a date in your calendar.  If your phone has the option, set it to alert/message you to work out.
    2. Have a few "go-to" workouts at the ready.  Pinterest and fitness magazines can be great sources for inspiration.
    3. Have those workouts loaded into your phone (there's an App for that), in a notebook, or memorized
    4. Have a workout bag ready and in the car, at work, wherever you know you will need it.
      1. Work-out clothes, socks, shoes,
      2. A towel,
      3. Ponytail holders,
      4. Face/body wipes (I prefer Alba's Hawaiian 3-in-1 Towelettes), deodorant,
    5. Don't break the date with yourself.  Heck, add a workout buddy to the date.  A co-worker, friend, your kid or a friendly stranger can be a great accountability buddy.

What you will keep in mind is that the key here is "intensity", not "duration".  

I used to believe that unless I could carve out a three hour stretch to hit the gym, I may as well not even bother.  I now see that by using my two work breaks and part of my lunch to jog some stairs or do some High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), that I actually feel better physically as well as mentally.  Periodic exercise breaks are not only amazing for your bum, but also for your brain.  The endorphin release throughout the day is a great stress reliever- so is getting away from your desk and getting outside for a breath.

And the best thing is that by the end of my work day, my cardio and body-weight work for the day is also in the books.  No gym needed.  I can get back to my Designing Women marathon sooner.

So, no one will see you rocking your Lululemons at the gym.  It's OK.

We call it the Unsexy, Unsung Cardio.  It's what you do when no one is looking that keeps the heads turning. 

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