Ah, yes. I remember the times in college when I had what seems like all the time in the world. I would go to bed at 2 or 3am, sleep till noon, go to class all day, and still have time to relax or do things I wanted/needed to do.
As we get older, it seems like the free time we have is less and less. We go from full time college kids with little priorities , to working full time while trying to balance our social lives, to possibly getting married and having children. The time we have to ourselves starts to dwindle away until we finally reach retirement, have no children to take care of anymore, and can finally sit back and relax (somewhat).
We have 24 hours in a day. If you subtract full-time work hours, commute time, and time to eat and sleep, how many hours a day does that really leave us to truly relax or do what we want to do? Six maybe seven hours if we’re lucky? If you have children, it’s probably even less than that because of all the soccer games/trainings, ballet classes, swim lessons, etc.
With such busy schedules, it’s no wonder all we want to do at the end of a long day is park our bums on the couch and enjoy a bit of TV. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but what is it doing for us really? I did a lot of sitting on my bum after I graduate college and it’s no wonder I gained 18 pounds in 4 years.
I just did the math. On an average work day, my work day and drive are a total 10.5 hours. (Yes, my commute really sucks.) I sleep about 7 hours a night. That leaves me with about 6.5 hours of free time a day. That sounds like a lot, but then I factor in time to get ready in the morning and to get myself and the dog ready for bed. Then add in about an hour to an hour and a half to prepare, cook, and eat dinner. About four hours.
That really isn’t much time at all, so it comes to no surprise that Americans watch an average of 4 to 5 hours of television a day. It’s the only free time we have!
Being a part of Weight Watchers has really changed my life. Yes, I am smaller, but it has also taught me the importance of staying active, even if it’s just a little, every day. I don’t just exercise to maintain my weight – ok, I do do it for that – but also because it makes me feel good both physically and emotionally. That’s why it’s important for me to make time for me, to push myself at least a little bit, most days of the week. (I allow myself a couple lazy days.)
It’s not about finding the time because as you know, as hard as we look, there will never be an extra second, minute, or hour in the day (until they create time machines.) That’s why we need to make the most of the time from what we have left in the day, and here is how I do it:
- Cooking a big meal on Sunday to last me till dinner on Tuesdays. This saves me about an hour to 1.5 hours of prep/cooking time a day.
- Cooking a crockpot meal during the day on Wednesdays to last me until Friday dinner. This saves me about an hour to 1.5 hours of prep/cooking time a day. The one pot meals are my ideal, but it doesn’t always work out, so sometimes it takes me a little longer to prep the pot the night before.
- Finding an exercise routine that is effective but also balanced and manageable in the long run. Are you really going to be able to do P90X every day for the rest of your life?
- Find exercise(s) that I actually enjoy. For me, those exercises are running and kettlebell training.
- Write up an activity plan of what how I’m going to fit activity in my schedule. I factor in walks, runs, strength training, even cleaning the house. Tick off the box at the end of every day as long as you did some sort of exercise and write down what you actually did. Activity doesn’t have to necessarily be exercise. You’d be surprised how many calories cleaning the house and jumping on a trampoline can burn.
- Don’t be afraid to modify your activity plan. Things happen and plans change. Sometimes you just can’t do it all.
The key for me to making the time is creating a schedule. This is probably also because I’m a bit OCD when it comes to preparation/organizing… but I guess it has worked in my favor many times. This is an example of this week’s activity plan that I devised:
This week I’m focusing on not beating myself up if things don’t go exactly as planned. My runs haven’t been that great this week because of some tummy troubles, but at least I made the time and got up and did something. That’s all that matters.
It’s difficult sometimes to balance work, your social life, and your personal time but we can all do it. You just need to find what works for you and what you enjoy and do what makes you happy.