Fat to Fit: Making and Finding Free Time
I’m very busy.
I have one wife, four kids, one business with many clients, one business partner, five team members on staff, lots of family, a few friends, a couple of boards that I serve on. I also like to write. I like movies and TV. I love to read.
I’m very busy.
When I started getting more fit I heard three comments more than any others:
- I don’t know how to make time.
- I don’t have much free time.
- I don’t know how to find time.
Here’s the reality about time:
- If I could make time I would be the richest man in the world.
- There is also no such thing as free time.
- And the truth is time finds me. I do not find it.
We all have the same sixty seconds per minute, sixty minutes per hour, twenty-four hours per day, and seven days per week. Time has no favorites. Time respects no one. Time treats us all consistently.
When I needed to make significant changes in my life I knew that I would have deal with time differently. And I didn’t know how to do that given all of the commitments in my life.
So I did what I often do: I began looking at the fit people around me to see how they did it all. A couple of things popped out right away. Others I learned over time (pun intended).
Here are some of my observations so far:
Fit people don’t treat exercise as an afterthought. Fit people are often busy, have significant responsibilities in a many aspects of life, and are often the people you might think would spend the least amount of time on fitness. Fit people treat fitness like any other responsibility in life. It doesn’t get put on the calendar after everything else. It gets accounted for and prioritized along with every other commitment.
Fit people use time for staying fit that other people don’t think of. When I finished my first marathon in the fall of 2011 I did most of my midweek training at Meadowood Regional Park while Seth had soccer practice. He would love for me to stay and watch practice the whole time. But the long term benefit for our family of my being healthy was an easy tradeoff. Have swim practice for kids? Great time to run. Travel for business? Pack your shoes. Need to run an errand? Ride your bike.
Fit people don’t sabotage their efforts by making it harder than it needs to be. When I first started to make major changes I would workout 7-10 hours a week. On average I was burning 6000 extra calories per week. The problem was I would eat a snack at night and drink a few high calorie drinks (beer for me at the time) that would offset all that exercise in no time. Fit people realize that controlling food intake is as important as any amount of exercise. And there is no use wasting time exercising only to pile the pounds back on with added food.
Fit people are often flexible and willing to improvise with their time. Great training plans get botched all the time by conflicts and obstacles that get in the way. Fit people improvise and are flexible. But they still put the time in. It just might not look like it did on paper.
Fit people often set time bound goals and give themselves carrots. It might be trying to get a better time in a particular race, a different number on the scale by a certain date, or an incentive that you get when you reach a milestone. Most fit people I know have goals. In my case, a carrot was the scooter in the picture above. I told myself when I reached 185 lbs I was going to buy it. I hit that number in April of 2012 and I bought the it that month. I love it. It’s a blast to drive (and gets 80 mpg). I ride it everywhere I can.
Fit people don’t make excuses. They just don’t. When time pressures come they suck it up and deal with it. They might rearrange their schedule, squeeze in something that doesn’t seem to fit, or negotiate with other obligations to make sure they can do what they need to so that they can achieve their goals. But they don’t sit back and blame other things for not reaching their goals.
Fit people create communities and help each other stay fit. Whether it’s my ultimate friends that play together Tuesday nights and Saturday afternoons, my cycling friends that ride together Saturday and Sunday mornings (and often during the week as well), my friends at Coppermine Crossfit who wake up at 5:30am to get to a 6:00am WOD, or my running buddies that meet together early Sunday mornings. Fit people find other fit people and build communities and calendars around what they love to do to stay fit.
Fit people make sacrifices and difficult choices. I sacrifice sleep more than anything. Saturday and Sunday mornings I’m typically riding or running 2-5 hours. I like to do that as early as possible so that I am done and still have most of the day to be with my family or do other things that need to get done. During the week I am up early to either work so I can get done in time to play ultimate or ride after work, or I am up early to ride. I can get 30-40 miles on the bike in by 7am if I’m up early. This isn’t ideal. I don’t recommend sleeping as little as I do. It’s just the sacrifice I’m willing to make at this point in my life context. I sacrifice other things as well. My social time is generally with people who are pursuing similar activities. I rarely just hangout with friends unless it is combined with a run, ride, etc. Again, that may not be the ideal. But it’s the price I’m willing to pay right now. There are plenty of things I won’t sacrifice for fitness, these are some I will.
I’m still learning how to make time to be fit. I’d love to hear any ideas you have for using your time to stay fit well.
Keep moving forward,
p.s. Speaking of time. I’ll be needing to carve out another block of time to train for The Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii if I can get there. Want to help?