One of the biggest challenges we face is having time to be fit and healthy. It’s a battle. Pressing deadlines, family, multiple child drop offs and social commitments all cry out for our time.

Just how exactly are we supposed to fit exercise in the mix? Sure, we feel better, less stressed and more confident when we do. But for one reason or another we struggle to make it happen.

Main problem? The all or nothing mindset.

Ok, I’m going to come clean. After a 12 hour day at the DF studio the idea of staying on for an extra hour to do my workout is rarely appealing (Yep, this fitness pro struggles with lack of motivation sometimes too). I was finding that I was skipping more workouts than I was doing. Maybe I wasn’t leaving enough time, or maybe I just didn’t feel like working out.

In my head the conversation went something like this;

 “Well, you left it too late – you’ve only got 20 minutes so there’s no point“

Or

“You’ve had a long day. Get yourself home and crack open a beer. Forget the workout”.

Or

“You missed Weds and Thurs, may as well sack it off and start again Monday”.

But I wanted to exercise. I enjoyed the sense of satisfaction, the good feeling I got after a workout (not so much during). But for months I struggled to be consistent.

Just as I was getting fed up I arrived at this simple, and seemingly obvious, truth that helped me get unstuck:

Something is better than nothing.

I realised to move forward I had to adjust my expectations. Just because I didn’t have everything needed for the perfect workout (time, motivation, equipment and a training buddy) didn’t mean I couldn’t do something. So I switched up my approach.

Rather than doing the full-on workouts I expected of myself a few years ago (when I had more time and fewer commitments), I decided to only commit to 5 minute workouts.

You can’t just do 5 minute workouts… can you?

Part of me felt like a fraud. Like I was taking the easy way out. That 5 minutes wouldn’t possibly make a difference. That I could, and should, do more.

This was my ego talking. And once I got over myself here’s what happened:

  • Because the workouts were short, I didn’t have to feel motivated to get started
  • Because the workout was only 5 minutes I always had time, so I did it more regularly
  • Because the workout involved no equipment I could do it wherever, so I missed fewer sessions
  • Often when I started the workout, I found I had more energy than I thought, so ended up doing more than I planned.
  • Because I’d made a commitment and stuck to it – my self-respect moved up a notch
  • Because I felt like I was succeeding, I made better food choices too.

Summary

Thinking we need to work out for 1 hour often results in us doing nothing. Thinking we have to eat a perfectly balanced meal often results in overeating foods that don’t support our goals.

But when we drop the expectation that we need the perfect diet or the perfect workout to make progress we’re free to make more realistic demands of ourselves.

We might be better off considering not what’s best, but what we’ll actually do.