“Daddy, Do You Have to Leave?”
As parents, we vow to spend as much time with our kids as possible. We all want to be there, especially in the formative younger years, to guide them through this amazing thing we call life. We juggle work and our personal lives like we’re under the big top, walking a tightrope between selfish and selfless.
On weekdays, it’s all business-the emails, conference calls, or talking to Brian from Accounting.
But what about weekends? Weekends are a chance to unplug and spend time with our families. This is the time where bonds are formed and traditions are made.
Little League Games, Recitals, and Pancake Saturday
The hustle never ends. Often times our little ones have a busier schedule than a mid-season LeBron James. Shuttling our kids around like they are pro athletes or world-famous performers, all while they are 6 years old, doesn’t exactly leave us a whole lot of me-time. In the off chance that there are no games or recitals, we want to spend quality time with our kiddos. We want to start traditions (hello Pancake Saturday!) and build relationships that will last a lifetime.
As a new father myself, I have come to realize that efficiency and effectiveness have to become one in the same. Time at work or at the gym means time away from my munchkin. The time management required to get it all done can be daunting.
Sound familiar? That constant feeling of going 100 miles per hour in every direction? At work while still trying to be productive, at home while trying to spend quality time with your family, all while trying to make progress at the gym? As much as we’d like to, we can’t be in three places at once. Something has to give and often times it is our health that falls by the wayside.
But what if it doesn’t have to? What if you don’t have to spend hours on end in the gym (and away from your family) to get results? By adjusting the way you work out, you can attain more than you previously thought was possible.
Simple, Not Easy
Simple is not easy. Easy is easy.
Easy means there is no effort and no commitment, thus no growth. Also, easy is about putting in the minimal amount of work and energy into a task, leading to lukewarm results at best. Easy fixes are what internet gurus preach about, offering an easy solution to your problems “all for the price of 3 easy payments of $19.99.”
Easy isn’t why you are reading this. You’re here because you value your time, which is your most valuable commodity.
Simple on the other hand means removing the fluff and keeping what matters. Simple is minimalism. No quick fixes or ridiculous gimmicks (I see you ShakeWeight). Simple is incredibly hard to master. By making things simple, your return on investment is greatest.
1) Make the Most of Your Workout
Unless you are an elite athlete or Olympic hopeful, forget about programs that require you to train 5-6 days a week. For us “regular” folk, these programs just aren’t necessary. We can still progress in the gym without logging a 3-hour swole sesh pretending to be Arnold.
By making a few simple (you see what I did there) modifications, you can increase the intensity and, in turn, the effectiveness of your training. Decrease your rest periods between sets to ramp up the intensity; change the number of reps you perform and the tempo in which you do them; incorporate compound movements (exercises that involve multiple muscle groups) into your plan.
Interval training is a great way to maximize the intensity of your workout, especially when time is limited. And there are various long-term effects, such as burning calories long after leaving the gym and increased resting metabolism, all of which are backed by science.
Creating an exercise circuit with decreased rest periods can be a simple, actionable plan.
Choose 6-8 exercises, being sure to include compound movements (exercises like squats or pull-ups) or the more advanced strength complex (ie: Squat to a press to a lunge without putting the weight down) to increase the calorie burn.
Choose a rep scheme (ie: 10-12) or time period (ie: 30 seconds) to perform each exercise. Pick a weight that is challenging but doesn’t cause your form to crumble like a house of cards.
As you progress, you can increase the number of sets in the circuit. It goes without saying, but choose exercises that you can perform safely and properly. Stay within yourself and enjoy the journey. You don’t get brownie points for doing those cringe-worthy deadlifts, just to say “I don’t know if you heard me counting, but I did over a thousand.”
2) Make Habits, Not Restrictions
There are 168 hours in a week. A small fraction of that is actually spent in the gym and we’re talking about decreasing that. This is where incorporating daily habits will help you sustain your healthy lifestyle. Whether that means including mindful meditation each morning or no screen time an hour before bed, create habits that enhance your life, not restrict it.
Set yourself up for success by asking yourself what you can do, not what you can’t. Pre-plan your meals so you don’t skip out on proper nutrition or binge on Totino’s Pizza Rolls. Give yourself a bedtime so you don’t watch Netflix until 4 am again. Put your phone down and be present with your family. It’s amazing the number of things we miss when we’re scrolling the good ol’ FB for hours on end.
You’re reading this because you want balance in your busy life. Good habits help you prioritize what is important and what is a waste of time.
3) Take Action and Do It Now
A plan without action is merely a dream.
Most people are afraid to take action either because they are overwhelmed or they aren’t dreaming big enough.
Think of your goal, no matter how big or small. Now choose a couple of the smaller pieces that are essential to the larger puzzle. Make sure that they are specific and measurable tasks that will help lead you on your way to accomplishing the larger goal. Put an attainable time frame on each task. Write down when and how you plan to complete each endeavor.
Now that you have a plan, it’s time to take action!
Most of us are familiar with the goal-setting technique involving the acronym S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time). But I want you to take it one step further.
Do it now.
It will never be the “perfect” time. You’ll always be able to find a reason why it doesn’t make sense right now. I challenge you to subscribe to the “Do it now” principle. If you remember something on your to-do list or are inspired to start a new workout program, do it now. It’s amazing how much more we are able to get done without procrastination or the time it takes to talk ourselves out of doing something. By just completing the task when it comes to mind, you’ll be amazed at the surplus of time you end up with.
Look, I get it. Exercise is generally at the bottom of the hamper when it comes to your laundry list of to-do’s. Free time is fleeting and often fitness suffers as a result. Time management is paramount when it comes to efficiency. By implementing these three steps, you can take control of your life both inside and outside of the gym.
If you want a free High-Intensity Interval Training program PDF, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: HIIT Me!
Thanks for reading!