If you’re always rushing around trying to tick off your to-do list then the thought of adding a workout to your already stressful day might make you feel overwhelmed. It is possible to create a healthy lifestyle even when you’re busy though. You just need my top tips to get you started.

Time is one of the most common barriers for anyone trying to start up a fitness regime, and it’s a barrier that seems almost impossible to overcome.

So how can you find time to fit in a workout and cook healthy meals even when you’ve got a lot going on?

Sadly in the fitness industry, there are some people who don’t have any empathy for this kind of situation. Their whole lives revolve around training, and they couldn’t possibly understand how someone is unable to fit in a workout. They’re the sort of people who would look down at you and say something like: “You just need to find time.”

Oh how helpful! All of my problems are solved now! I never would’ve thought of that! Jeees!

I get it though – I’m a single mum who works various jobs alongside my freelance writing, so I know how difficult it can be to fit in a workout. I’m with you when it comes to struggling to find enough hours in the day!

Admittedly, making time for a workout is part of the solution (obviously), but how? Well here are my tips for getting into a fitness regime with a busy lifestyle:

1. Make a list of your priorities for each day and prepare the night before

If you’ve chosen to read this blog post then you’re probably struggling to fit in everything you already want/need to do every day, and that’s before we throw a workout in the mix. Let’s be honest, most of us find it hard to keep up with the demands of our busy lifestyles.

Something that can help is figuring out exactly what you want to prioritise, and preparing a plan of action for each day before it arrives. That way you’ll end up less stressed and better able to cope with the things you need to get done.

Time seems to fly in the mornings, so getting prepared the night before can save you rushing around when you wake up. That’s why I started deciding what my priorities are for each day. It might sound daft, but in my diary I have a ‘must do today’ list and a ‘can wait until tomorrow’ list. Does anyone else do this? Or am I crazy?

2. Realise that workouts don’t have to take hours

When you start planning your day, you might be wondering how much time you need to clear for a workout. So many people message me saying they wish they could find a couple of hours each day to go to the gym, but they just can’t fit it in. Who said you need to workout for hours every day though!?

Seriously, you do not need to exercise for that long! And your workouts don’t always have to involve the gym either.

I do often go to the gym for an hour or so, but that’s not the only form of exercise available. Other things I do regularly are fitness classes, gymnastics, aerial hoop, pole fitness, surfing, roller skating, running, walking, climbing and paddleboarding. I could go on, but I think you get the point. There are loads of ways to stay active, fit and healthy. And it doesn’t have to be boring or take hours.

When I’ve got a lot going on, I switch up my usual training for a HIIT session because it’s a short but effective workout. Try something from The Viking Method or The Body Coach as they both post fantastic home workouts.

A HIIT workout usually takes 20-30 minutes, and if you think that’s not enough time to truly push yourself, try it! You’ll soon realise how effective a short workout can be!

3. Think outside the box

I hate clichés and am kind of grossed out that I just used that one, but hear me out…

I used to work with someone who worked full time and had two young children. Her only free time each day was her lunch hour. So every day, she spent that lunch hour in a way which I actually found inspiring.

Each day, she went for a 30 minute walk then ate her lunch while reading a book.

It was so simple and yet she spent that whole lunch hour doing things she knew she wouldn’t get a chance to do at home, and felt good for having that time to herself. What a great use of an hour! Much better than spending the whole time scrolling Instagram.

Lunch breaks aren’t the only time that this could apply to either. If you’ve been desperate to see your friend for a catch up for ages but struggle to fit it in your diary then why not suggest doing something active together? You could play tennis or squash, or you could go swimming. Mastering the art of combining things like this will make you feel like you’ve got loads more free time!

4. Be realistic about wasted time

While we are on the topic of Instagram, I couldn’t skip this point…

A few months ago, I did an update on my phone and it came up with an app that tells me how much time I spend on social media each day. A lot of my freelance work involves social media so I knew it would be pretty high, but I was mortified when I realised I spent over three hours most days scrolling! And yet every day I had been struggling to fit in all of the things I needed to get done!

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying we should be rushing around doing something every minute. I LOVE chilling out on the sofa and rest is a huge part of living a healthy lifestyle. It’s vital for both your physical and mental health. But if you’re struggling to fit things in each day, be mindful of how much time you spend on your phone.

You could free up an hour or so every day by simply cutting back on social media, and you’d probably feel better for it as you’d be spending less time comparing yourself to ‘Insta models’.

5. Treat your workout plans like an important meeting

Once you’ve figured out what workouts you’re going to fit in, make sure you stick to it. Write it in your diary or pop it in your phone calendar and make sure you do it.

If you’re planning to exercise early in the morning then lay your clothes out ready to throw on when you get up. It might sound silly, but by having the stuff there ready you’ll be less likely to find an excuse to skip the workout.

If you prefer to go to the gym after work, take your gym stuff with you. I used to go home after work with the intention of getting changed and going back out to the gym, but I’d sit on the sofa for “five minutes” and end up not moving from that spot for three hours.

Taking your gym stuff with you and going straight to the gym from work will remove the chances of the sofa claiming you as one of its own. Yes, I blame the sofa. I had nothing to do with it. 😉

6. Get organised in the kitchen

Workouts aren’t the only thing you need to fit into your schedule if you want a healthy lifestyle – your diet plays a big part too.

Believe me, I don’t eat super healthy food all day every day. Sometimes I just want to throw something in the oven or microwave so I don’t have to even think about preparing a meal from scratch. But I try to make generally healthy choices with food most of the time.

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to have a healthy diet without dedicating hours to meal prep like a bikini contestant.

In the same way that planning ahead will help you fit in a workout, getting organised in the kitchen will help you make healthier choices with food (most of the time anyway). Try to get a rough idea of what you’d like to have for dinner for a few days, so you don’t just end up grabbing whatever you fancy at the time.

I used to be really good with full-blown meal prep. I’d have stacks of lunchboxes in the fridge prepared with exactly what I was going to eat for the week. It did take some time to set up, but it saved me having to prepare food each day!

Although meal prep made healthy eating really easy to stick to, I got bored of what I was eating. Really bored. I’m one of those weird people who doesn’t particularly like routine. I hated the fact that I knew exactly what I was going to have for dinner for the whole week…and that it was quite often the same thing I’d had for the past three days.

Meal prep was too strict for me, but it might work for you. After all, if the food is there ready for you then you’re less likely to reach for something unhealthy. So try to get organised in the kitchen so you’re less likely to reach for a microwave meal, etc.

7. Try mini meal prep

Full-blown meal prep didn’t work for me, but now I do something I call a mini meal prep. It means doing little bits of meal prep as I go through the day.

When I’ve got a busy day coming up I like to cook an extra portion when I’m making dinner so that I can have it for lunch the next day. That way I know my lunch will be a healthy choice.

I also like to prepare my breakfast the night before by making things like overnight oats.

Getting organised and making these tiny changes will help you make healthier choices with food because the meals will be ready. So you won’t have to take time to make something when you really don’t feel like it!

Please don’t think that you need to spend hours in the kitchen every day. I do cook most of my meals from scratch, but they don’t take very long. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated. Some of my favourite healthy meals are simple things like a stir fry – easy!

Changing your lifestyle to be more healthy and active doesn’t have to be as time-consuming as you might think.

Just make small changes each day and over time you’ll develop healthier habits which will be much easier to stick with than if you tried to change everything in one go. You’ll also find it easier to fit everything in if you make those changes gradually.

Over the years, I’ve adapted my lifestyle to make being active and eating healthy a lot easier, it’s become part of my daily routine. But I still remember exactly how it felt to be overwhelmed at the thought of trying to fit everything in. So if you have any questions please leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to help.

If you’ve already got a healthy lifestyle, what advice would you give to someone who’s struggling to fit everything in?

Nat xx

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