Take a poll of 100 women who have strayed off the weight loss track and 90 of them will tell you they are just too busy. It is an extremely common problem in today’s modern world where women are expected to be super women; cleaning the house, caring for the kids, going to work and then trying to find time to exercise. But there are some solutions. All is not lost. This article is the busy woman’s guide to staying toned, sexy and healthy.
How busyness kills exercise
The first thing we need to look at, obviously, is why being busy kills your exercise, weight loss and health goals. Why is it that most of us aren’t able to maintain the routine when we are run off our feet. It is an interesting question that doesn’t have a straight forward answer. Some women find that by the time they are free to think about working out they are completely zapped of energy. Others find that they are just too busy to even put aside 20 minutes for a jog around the block.
But the thing that ties all of these problems (excuses) together is actually very simple. It is what Oprah would call and “ah ha moment”. The reason you aren’t working out is not because you are tired or don’t have enough time; it is because you have not made it a priority. If exercise, eating healthy, etc. was a priority you would make sure you had time for it, just like you do for other important tasks. And here’s the real kicker – your workout is one of the most important things you do because it plays a big role in your quality of life. Without exercise you will put on weight, become unhealthy and feel miserable. But it’s still not a priority.
Making exercise and health a priority
If you are a busy woman you need to make exercise a priority. If you continue to put everything else before your workout then you will never get toned, sexy and healthy, no matter how much you long for it. Making exercise and health a priority is a mental act as well as a physical one, it is important that we acknowledge that.
How to make exercise a priority
If you want to make these things a priority in your life in order to allow yourself to achieve them there are a few things you need to do:
- realize that you need to exercise
- realize that you need to exercise regularly
- realize that without exercise you cannot be healthy
- realize how important being healthy is to you and your loved ones
- realize that if you don’t make time you will never achieve the results you desire
- actually make time, today
The most important one here is the last one; make time today. Today is the time you need to start because if you don’t do it today, the word tomorrow will always be in your mind. So many women out there promise themselves that they will start their new life tomorrow. But tomorrow is too late because it usually means never.
How to stay toned, sexy and healthy
Now that we have looked at the important preliminary items of why busyness kills exercise and making exercise a priority we can get into the main ideas of this article. What follows is a bunch of ways that busy women can stay toned, sexy and healthy. Adopt as many as you can and you will be well on your way to success.
1. Do some exercise, whatever it is, every single day
At the beginning it is extremely important that you do some exercise, whatever it is, every single day. Even if you only work out for ten minutes it is so much better than doing nothing. Why? Because more than anything else you are creating new habits. More than getting fit and toned you are teaching yourself the discipline that will last you a lifetime. If you do some exercise every single day you will find that, over time, you will naturally increase the amount and push yourself further. You can do easy things like:
- 50 squats, push ups and crunches when you wake up in the morning
- a walk around the neighborhood after dinner
- a quick gym session on your lunch break
- park the car 20 minutes away from work and walk
All of these things are so easy you will hardly notice you are working out but they will make a massive difference to how you look, feel and how you approach your exercise. You have, all of a sudden, made exercise and fitness a priority in your life.
2. Control your portion sizes
When you don’t have a lot of time for exercise your portion sizes become extremely important. Why? Because over time those extra large meals add up. They are calories that go straight to your hips and thighs because you aren’t doing the exercise to burn off the excess energy. Let me explain.
In our guide to losing weight we looked at the mathematics of weight loss. This talked about the fact that in order to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you take in. And portion sizes play a massive role in this equation. For example, if you go back for seconds after dinner every night you might be taking on 150 extra calories. That works out to over 1000 calories a week. And seeing a there are 3500 calories in a pound of fat, that means you have put on one pound of fat in three weeks JUST from your seconds! Now add up all the other big meals you have; breakfast, snacks, lunch, etc. and you see why it is so hard to lose weight.
If you don’t have a lot of time for exercise it is really important that you control your portion sizes. This will help keep you toned and at a healthy weight. Do not worry too much about eating more serving of vegetables and fruit, it is the pasta, rice, bread and sugars that you need to look out for.
3. Eat protein and fiber rich foods
You have probably heard this a million times but it is really important for busy women to remember as it relates heavily to controlling your portion sizes. Protein and fiber are extremely important for maintaining a healthy weight and keeping your body toned because they help to keep you full. If you have a high fiber meal it is very unlikely that you will feel hungry afterward. These foods are also very rarely high in calories so you can rest assured knowing that you are eating something healthy. Foods that are high in fiber include;
- Flax seeds
- Garbanzo beans
- Kidney beans
- Bran cereal
Try to include one or more of these foods in every meal. For example, you might have oats for breakfast, avocado in your sandwich for lunch and carrots with your dinner. Easy! These foods do a lot more for you than just increasing your fiber, they are full of valuable vitamins and minerals.
4. Do resistance exercises often
Women often shy away from resistance exercises. Big mistake. Weights are extremely important if you want to keep your body toned and fit, especially if you don’t have a lot of time for working out. In our article will weights make women bulky we discussed some really important reasons as to why women need to weight train and one of them is that it burns a lot of calories and keeps your metabolism up during the day.
So how can you fit in weight training if you are busy? Here are some simple ideas that will work no matter what your situation:
- do ten squats, push ups or crunches on the hour, every hour
- walk up the stairs two or three at a time every morning
- do bicep curls or weighted lunges with your heavy backpack or suitcase
The possibilities are endless. All you need to do is find something heavy and lift it a few times using proper weight lifting technique. Your body weight exercises like push ups, squats, crunches, sit ups, lunges, etc. are really all you need. Take a few moments out of each day to do a few reps and you will see changes in your body in no time.
5. Meet with your workout girls daily
One of the most powerful ways to stay toned and healthy is to meet with a group of girls every day or a couple of times a week. This is an extremely potent tool for busy women as you come to depend and rely on each other. This means you will find it a lot harder to make excuses like being too tired because there are people waiting for you in order to do their exercises.
Exercising with other people is also a lot more fun and will probably prevent you from getting bored. Sure, it has its downfalls like the fact that we often stand around talking for 15 minutes, but if you can find a disciplines and focused bunch you will probably find it an extremely rewarding time.
The best thing to do is hire a personal trainer for a couple of weeks and get some ideas from them. Once you have learned the techniques properly and memorized the workouts you will be able to carry on without the trainer and just add your own little touches as time goes on. For example, some friends of mine recently adding boxing into their workout. One person holds the pads while the other does 100 punches then they both sprint to the other side of the oval and swap. Repeating this for 25 minutes and you get an amazing workout.
6. Enlist help
One of the hardest things for us women to do is ask for help. We hate it. We often see it as a sign of defeat or we don’t want to hand over the responsibility because we don’t think anyone else can do it properly. This attitude has to stop. You need help. There is nothing wrong with asking for help every now and then. In fact, you will appear stronger and more independent if you do – especially because you will get more energy and strength from doing a workout.
Help can come in many forms. If you have children you might need to ask your husband or boyfriend to watch them for 30 minutes three times a week while you go for a bike ride. Or, you might want to set up a fitness baby sitter group where each week you take it in turns looking after the kids while the other mums go for a workout at the park. All you really need to do is find someone to help you free up 30 minutes a few times a week and you are cooking with gas.
The most important person to ask for help, however, is yourself. You actually need to verbally ask yourself to help yourself. Everyone else could be bending over backwards for you but unless you acknowledge that you need to give yourself some time to take care of your fitness and health then you aren’t going to get anywhere. Do it now. Take a deep breath and then tell yourself that you need help achieving these goals. It is a very powerful exercise.
7. Learn how to sleep better
Something that a lot of women don’t consider is the fact that their sleeping patterns might be making it difficult for them to get the energy they need for a daily workout. Part of being a grown up busy working woman is learning how to sleep better. It really can change your life.
Firstly, read our posts on how to get up when your alarm goes off, how to get more energy and never feel tired and how many hours of sleep do you need each night. These will give you a good base knowledge for the type of sleeping habits that you should be working towards.
There are three key things that you need to know if you want to sleep properly. They are:
- Try and wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day
This is the most important thing because your body is a machine of habit. If you teach your body to get up at 6am every day for a workout then, over time, it will become natural to you. If, however, you stay up til midnight one night and then 8pm the next night your body is going to get confused and your sleep will be affected.
- Do not drink coffee, red wine or eat chocolate before bed
These three foods are the worst things you can drink/eat before bed because they are gut irritants. Even if you can get to sleep after eating them you will find that your sleep is not very deep and you often wake up feeling terrible. Ironically they are the three foods our culture usually has in the evening.
- Do not go to bed thinking about work
Stress and worry will stop you from getting a good night’s sleep so make the firm resolve to stop thinking about work as soon as you get home. Thinking about it will not help you get the job done and will, in fact, make you less likely to do it properly as you are so wound up about it. Let go.
If you can get your sleep on track you are 50% the way to being a busy women who can stay toned and sexy. Why? Because you will not have the obstacle of extreme tiredness weighing you down. It is also important to remember that you sleep extremely well after exercise so the more you do the better – its a very healthy cycle.
8. Exercise with whatever you have around you
You don’t need to go to the gym in order to get a workout. Sure, the gym is probably best because you are forced to do something but sometimes it just isn’t an option. For all of those busy weeks you should be creative and find things to workout with that you normally wouldn’t think of.
- At home
do step ups on to a solid table or ledge, reverse crunches on the sofa, push ups with your feet on the coffee table, bicep curls and should lift with some heavy books, etc.
walk the stairs on your breaks, park far away and brisk walk to the office, do isometric exercises with your desk as the counterweight, do some squats while waiting for the kettle to boil, etc.
The possibilities are endless. If you are super busy you often need to be creative and find different ways to get your heart rate up or push your muscles. These things will rarely be a substitute for a proper workout but they can tide you over until you get to the gym or the running track.
Add your tip…
The best way to find out how busy women stay toned, sexy and healthy is to talk to each other. If you have any other tips please leave a comment and share them. Hopefully over time we can amass a great resource of information for busy women all over the world.