Help! I Have No Time for Healthy Habits

In a typical health coaching session, the coach and client are looking to identify the path forward to life-giving, sustainable new habits and routines that almost effortlessly guide us to the goal of what is known as 'my best self.' A frequent obstacle is a feeling of a lack of time to fit it all in.

Finding the time to go to the gym, the time to prepare a healthy meal, time to sleep, to meditate, to breathe deeply, to see an old friend for lunch. If you have found yourself reading blogs, magazines and websites full of 'tips and tricks' to get all you want out of your life (in the same 24 hours that we all have), you will know that there is a lot of helpful material out there.

This article will focus on 5 helpful examples of where you can look to improve your mindset, be inspired to find the right solution for you. Since most of us know what we 'should' do, and already have a bit of information and former experiences to build upon, let's look at some ways to propel you forward.

Did you know that most of us can rely on only a relatively little amount of self discipline? Studies show that our self discipline is easily used up and that it is not a good predictor of success in habit change. Our 'supply' of self discipline is not going to get larger as we go on, it is shown to stay at fairly constant levels throughout a lifetime. How can we manage? The shift of focus is on to routines and rituals. Brushing your teeth every day probably does not take a lot of self discipline, it is part of your morning routine. Playing tennis every day is a routine, resisting a tempting plate of cookies is self-discipline. Where can you fit a new routine or ritual in your life, even if it is a small new one?

Look around. Every time you see a person jogging by the side of the road, or biking on weekends, or taking the children to the public swimming pool, take a moment to remind yourself that this person probably had to make the time available to do these things and is reaping the benefits of his/her efforts. Whenever I go to they gym, I check the changing room to see the type of clothing that is hanging there. How much of the clothing there is represented by an office worker? Lots! These individuals also took time at lunch or early morning to get a workout. Think to yourself 'I can, too!'

Use your life experience to know that you have, in the past, made room for physical fitness and did not question it or lament the efforts. Rehab after a ski accident might come to mind. When my daughter was diagnosed with a concerning spinal condition, I went to the pool every single day, of course! A more lighthearted example might be when you had a new crush and 'suddenly' found time to workout to enhance your physical attractiveness to this person. Think to examples when exercise was effortless due to a powerful motivator.

Use your analytical skills. Instead of a 'food diary', keep a 'time diary'. Take a weekly calender on a sheet of paper. Divide your waking time into 4 major themes: family time, personal time, work time and 'time vampires'. Time vampires are the ones that steal away your time (folding laundry, chatting on the phone, endless emails, little errands..). As you go on your day, color code your calender after the normal day is over. At the end of the week, take a good, long look at your calender. i bet you will be surprised and see room for improvement, yes? Make another calender for the coming week and make improvements. (chat on the phone while walking the dog, you get the idea..)

Think about your self esteem. Those around you know that you are capable of achieving a great many things in the everyday. But down under, take a 'reality check' to ask yourself, am I worthy of feeling my very best? Not fitting in the healthy habits in your program could be interpreted as a message to the underlying self, I am not worthy of feeling and looking my very best. Sounds backward? Try it on for size. When you are in bed in the morning and thinking about skipping the morning jog, remind yourself that you need to address the part of yourself that wants and needs to feel worthy, to feel energized, to feel well. You will have your sneakers on in no time.

Calculate your candy bar. You may think 'I have no time to prepare a healthy meal' so I will go ahead and grab a snickers bar quickly. According to my calculations, the calorie content of a snickers bar takes roundabout 3.5 hours of exercise to burn off. Do you have 3.5 hours at hand today? Maybe the 20 minutes to prepare a salad in the morning to take to work suddenly does not seem like too much time any more.....

In conclusion, 'having no time' is a concept that can be stretched and altered a bit, at least to create a space where one of those tips and tricks can be put to real use. Trial and error is a part of this path and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but each new effort is a step closer to the freedom and peace of mind that underlies the 'greater you.'