“As soon as things settle down, I’ll make it back to the gym.” “Once I get through these next two weeks, I’ll get back in the game.” You and I have both heard this weak excuse. I’ve said it many times, fooling myself into believing that I just needed to wait for life to slow down. Here’s the truth. Life isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. If you have anything or anyone that you’re responsible for other than yourself (Spouse, job, child, business, etc…) then there will always be a certain level of chaos and uncertainty in your life. I’ve noticed that in our lives, there’s a simple progression; as we get older, we take on more responsibilities in life. So with that in mind, let’s shatter this misconception together.
Here’s the uncomfortable truth that you must face, as I did. The perfect day doesn’t exist. There is so little in our lives that we have control over. The Stoics refer to these conditions (Stock market, weather, election cycles) as externals. They are external to us, therefore completely out of our control. There are millions of examples I can use. Flat tire, baby slept poorly, your business lost power, boss gave you a new project to complete ASAP, you name it.
You simply cannot predict what the day will hold for you, try as you might. Many people find this frustrating and frightening, but I find it very liberating. I focus my energy on controlling my actions and thought patterns. If you wait for the “perfect” time to start your exercise regimen, you’ll simply never start. For those few that decide to start, it’s often short-lived. I’ve seen this far too often in my almost ten years as a coach. As soon as life gets hectic, people start skipping workouts and losing the progress they fought hard for. The lack of consistency is killing your ability to level-up and become your strongest self.
Whenever life gets particularly hectic, I like to visualize myself sitting at the beach with the water up to my chest. The current is constantly pulling me forward and backward, the waves are crashing into me (and at different heights+intensities, etc…) and I’m completely powerless against the sheer force of the mighty ocean. This visualization helps me to relax, accept the circumstances out of my control and focus on what few things I can have an impact on. During especially busy weeks taking care of Vivi, I’ve employed the following techniques to get my workouts in:
- Condensed workouts: I take no longer than 1-hour for most training sessions. This includes my warm-up and mobility. When I’m in more of a crunch, I can even condense these sessions into 15-30-minute workouts. I’d rather get a shorter workout then skipping altogether.
- Remove as many barriers as possible: My workouts consist of kettlebell swings and turkish get-ups at the moment. I have a few kettlebells, mat and chalk in my office ready to go. It takes me five minutes to set-up in my living room. This minimalist approach allows me to treat my workouts like I’m robbing the bank. I get in, get the gains and get out.
- Hire a coach if you can: A good coach will be able to program not only based on your goals and limitations, but also your lifestyle. My coach Sean takes a unique approach and starts with a weekly template but always checks-in the morning before a workout to make any tweaks as needed. The longest workout he’s programmed for me in the last 5-years was 40-minutes. Plus, a coach does all of the thinking for you. One less thing to worry about, that energy can be spent on your strength gains.
- Focus more on your weekly total: When it comes to my workouts, my goal is to complete 3 by the end of the week. My week is defined as Monday through Sunday night. Just last week, my 3rd workout was completed at 9:00 Sunday night. I allow myself the flexibility to select days that are better for me, within the parameters I’ve set for myself.
- Workout early in the morning: I recognize that this doesn’t work for everyone, especially those working nights. I also recognize that the early hours of 6 and 7am are prime billable hours for most trainers. However, if the rest of your day is chaos I urge you to consider this as an option. When days were particularly wild at home and Lauren was working especially long hours, I went through a stretch where I was hitting the gym at 5am to get it in before my 6am session.
The biggest reframe for me was to stop making my health, fitness and success conditional. This was not only counterproductive, but set me up for failure and was holding me back from becoming my strongest self. My challenge to you is to embrace the chaos that life will inevitably bring your way and make (not find) the time to do the things you need to do. Your family and community are depending on you.
To your lifelong health and success,