"I'll get to it sometime today."
How often have you said that, only to realize the day is gone and you didn't "get to" anything? It happens to me all the time. If that something I need to get to is an activity I don't really want to do (*ahem* housecleaning?), I'm even more likely to avoid it by finding other activities instead. Exercise falls on the top of this list. For the last six years, I've had a gym in my house, and the only use that elliptical has had is as a clothes rack. Why? Because even doing the dishes has more appeal. I’m just not motivated.
In January, my father was hospitalized due to diabetes. With my mom also developing the disorder in the last few years, I realized I was on the same track. Therefore, I joined a gym. The rationale was that it would a) get me out of the house (I work from home), and b) having other people see me regularly would give me accountability.
Even with the gym, though, my old nemesis--avoidance--tempts me. And, I've finally got to the point of the post: scheduling or, if you prefer, time management.
In psychology, we talk about motivation from a lot of different theories. One of these is the theory of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.
· Intrinsic motivation is motivation we find from within--feeling good, enjoyment--the reward comes from inside us.
· Extrinsic motivation is motivation we find from without--praise from others, money--rewards that come from someone else.
There is a thing called "Runner's high", which is the release of endorphins into the bloodstream when you exercise. I don't get that. Therefore, I have to rely on extrinsic motivation to exercise, and those rewards take a while, unfortunately.
When something is instantly rewarding, or keeps us from getting punished, we prioritize it. Exercise and eating healthy don’t necessarily fall into either of those categories—at least, not the immediate part. Without a time slot assigned to a certain behavior, it's easy to prioritize the kids, the family, work, sleep, and other things over exercise. It's also easy to get lazy, especially when we think about cooking.
Scheduling helps me prioritize what needs to be prioritized, and gives me intrinsic motivation—I feel better when I succeed in making healthy choices and get out of the gym.
Some tips I've found to help with motivation:
1. Making a schedule, with a time slot dedicated to some form of exercise. Yes, you do have the time. If you pay attention to your day, writing down what you do and how long it takes, you'll see that we have more down time than we think. Do NOT just say you'll fit it in when you can--after a couple of days, you'll find something better to do instead.
2. Age-old "take the stairs instead of the elevator." It's not much, but it's something.
3. Plan meals for the week, and go shopping on the weekend, when you have more time. Buy the family-sized versions of meat.
4. When you cook meat for one meal, throw some extra in the pan/pot/grill (from that family-sized package), and refrigerate to put on top of salads for lunches. I do this with chicken and steak, but pork and fish work well, too.
5. Chop all the vegetables for weekly meals, storing them in plastic containers so you save prep time later in the week.
6. Cook some (freezer-friendly) meals on the weekend, and freeze in portion-sized containers for dinners after a long day of work.
7. Find low-calorie, healthy recipes for a slow-cooker and start using it.
8. Get some healthy snacks to keep in the pantry or refrigerator to grab when you just can't wait for the next meal (or if you're sitting in front of the computer for hours, like me!). I use peanuts or almonds as a long-reaching snack, and to avoid eating too much, I measure out a serving and put it in a snack-sized Ziploc bag. Then I eat only one nut at a time to help fill me up.
Bottom line - spontaneity is great, but if you find your day is over before you can do the things you need to do, a schedule might work better for you. Step away from that pizza delivery menu. You CAN do this, you CAN be successful, and you DO have the time. Make yourself a priority!
Do you have any tips for eating healthy or exercising during a busy work week?