For the Girls / For the Guys / Get off your @$$ -- it's the weekend

“I’m too busy” – and other lame excuses I tell myself (Part 2)

Part 2: “I don’t have time.”

During my time as a personal trainer, one of the poorest excuses I had from people during their orientation or retention check up was that they just “don’t have time” to exercise regularly (hence the gym memberships they pay for and never use). THEN these very same people often talked about the television shows they (okay, we) loved to watch when they got home from work. Here my inner dialogue chimes in, “so, let me get this straight, you can watch an hour or more of television, but you can’t find time to do a simple workout?” The average hour-long primetime TV show contains almost 15 minutes of commercials. Personally, that sounds like time wasted.

To this, I offer a solution. If you have a gym membership, or are planning on getting one, and you HAVE TO watch your shows, choose a gym that offers television on its cardio equipment. You can walk (bike, step, etc.) during the show and RUN (bike faster, climb higher, etc.) during the commercials. You’ll have a nicely paced interval workout before you know it. If you choose to work out at home, use the commercial breaks to do short circuits of push-ups, sit ups, air squats, stationary lunges, etc.

Another solution to this problem is to set aside 20-30 minutes for exercise before work (or school), during a lunch break, or when you get home. When you think about how much time you spend online, watching TV, planning your next career move, fantasizing about winning the lottery, or any other time-wasting activity, 20-30 minutes is not a huge investment for your health and well being.

Here is a short series of exercises you can do timed. Set a watch, microwave timer, phone alarm, etc. to the desired time (i.e. 10 minutes = better than no minutes).

  1. 1 minute of air squats

    Air Squat

    As with any squat or lunge, make sure your knees stay behind your toes. Your weight should be on your heels (if you fall backwards at first, it’s okay). Try to keep your chest and eyes up. (Photo Credit)

  2. 1 minute of push ups
    push-up

    Just in case any of you haven’t seen a push up before, lovely Steve volunteered (and by that I mean he was forced) to demonstrate.

    push-up pt 2

  3. 1 minute of sit ups

    sit-up

    I don’t really care how you do your sit-ups, but please don’t pull on your head (unless you want a neck injury). (Photo Credit)

  4. 1 minute of superman

    superman

    Squeeze your shoulders, back and booty to lift your arms and legs as high as possible. Hold for the allotted time, or slowly bring your arms and legs up and down. Try to get your chest off the ground too.

  5. 1 minute of alternating lunge jumps
    Lunge Jump Start

    Start in a nice wide lunge position with your front knee behind your front toe. This photo is a little excessive to prove a point.

    Lunge Jump 2

    Pushing off both legs, try to jump as high as you can.

    Lunge Jump 3

    You want enough power to land in a proper lunge position on the other leg.

    Lunge Jump End

    Hope you enjoyed these amateur instructional photos!

What’s great about a setup like this is that you can do any integer of 5 minutes. If you only have 5 minutes when you wake up, and 5 minutes before you go to bed, you’re still getting in 10 minutes of exercise. I recommend doing 4 rounds for a total of 20 minutes. If your muscles aren’t burning and you’re not out of breath after minute 5, you’re probably not pushing yourself hard enough. If it’s just too tough to handle, take a few slow breaths in between each exercise.

The most difficult part of this workout, if you’re going to try multiple sets, is the lunge jumps followed by the air squats. Try your best to push through them. You can take comfort in the fact that in just another short minute, you’ll be lying on the floor. (Once my final timer beeps, I usually enjoy a minute or two of the “sleeping starfish” stretch…)

Sleeping Starfish

Sleeping Starfish – my favorite “stretch”

Now that you have a plan to follow, let’s talk about hydration. If you read my last blog post, this probably seems like déjà vu. I’m going to assume that you have all adopted the practice of drinking a glass of water when you wake up, and hopefully a glass before each meal. What about after your workout? Coconut water (not juice or milk) is a great hydrating beverage. It is a great source of electrolytes, potassium (which we lose when we sweat), and it is isotonic (meaning it has chemistry similar to that of human cells – important for absorption). Some sources say that the “magic” of coconut water is an urban myth, but I like the taste, and it works for me.

coconut water

My food of the week is Greek yogurt. I love Greek yogurt for many reasons, primarily the nutrient breakdown when compared with other styles. Greek yogurt has more protein, and less sugar than your average yogurt. The consistency is a little thicker, and some people disagree with the “sour taste”, but I have found a few brands and flavors that are simply mouthwatering. Chobani is my “go to” brand. I love the pomegranate (with actual crunchy pomegranate seeds), and blueberry. If you’re someone who doesn’t like fruit pieces in your yogurt, you might like Fage with honey. So just as with our bread swap out last week, we can make healthier choices with other foods we love too!

pomegranate chobani

So in summary…

  1. You do have time to workout, even if it’s only 10 minutes
    1. Find a gym with TV’s and do a “TV interval workout”
    2. Use commercial breaks for short circuits
    3. Set aside 20-30 minutes a day for an easy routine
  2. Hydrate
    1. Aside from your morning glass of water, try a yummy alternative that restores nutrients like coconut water.
  3. Make healthier selections
    1. If you like yogurt, try switching to Greek style with less sugar and more protein.

I would love to hear any feedback you might have. I will do my best to respond to questions in a timely manner. If I don’t know the answer to a question, I will either tell you that I don’t know, or I will spend some time trying to figure it out.

As always, it is recommended that you contact a healthcare professional (i.e. your doctor) before you start a new exercise plan (even though I think 99.9% of you won’t).

To read the first installment of this series, click here.

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4 thoughts on ““I’m too busy” – and other lame excuses I tell myself (Part 2)

  1. Hi there, great article overall. There are a bunch of things in here many people can implement without too much trouble! I have two small pieces of feedback for you: the first is the VERY wide-spread myth that your knees must stay behind your toes. Not only is this not correct, but following it can lead to lower back injury. The only thing that matters, and you metioned this, is to keep the weight in the heels. A great cue for that can be to keep your toes up throughout the whole movement. For the majority of people with standard anthropometry, attempting to keep the knees behind the toes will lead to squats that aren’t deep enough to be healthy for the knees (by lubricating the joint due to the full ROM and the actin and myocin flossing out some of the developing scar tissue in the muscle belly, which prevents a compressing of the tibiofemoral joint), and almost certainly to a rounded lower back. The fact is, to obtain proper depth so as to inprove knee health, the knees will have to drift past the toes to some extent. The shearing forces everyone is worried about with knee travel only occurs when the weight is allowed to to shift to the toes of the foot. And lastly, since almost EVERYONE is hyperlordotic and suffering from lower crossed syndrome, a movement like plank (with glutes squeezed and hips tucked under) or even reverse plank should replace any sit-up or crunch variation. I don’t know a single person that needs stronger and shorter hip flexors!

    • Thank you Charles, you bring up a valuable point. I believe the difference is in how we choose to explain things. By keeping your knees behind your toes, there is almost no way to have your weight shift into the balls of your feet. The biggest problem I see is people carrying their weight too far forward which puts extra stress on the joints. Many people reading this blog are not exercise physiology specialists, so I try to stay away from the medical jargon and stick with easy to understand descriptions. Trust me, I am very careful with exercises involving knees. A pole vaulting accident a little over a year ago left me with a subluxed patella and torn ACL. After reconstructive surgery, I spent a lot of time studying proper technique for knees, and although it’s just an opinion, I believe for strength purposes, beginners should not dip past a 90° angle in their legs. There is no need. These exercises are not meant to increase ROM (range of motion). As for upper crossed syndrome, it is a HUGE problem. People that have desk jobs often have tight hip flexors and lower back problems, but there are other ways to balance out the problem. Thank you so much for bringing that to my attention since most of my readers are probably sedentary at work, I’ll be sure to post a stretch sequence in my next installment. Cheers!

  2. Pingback: Top 5 Excuses for Not Exercising « George Wehbe

  3. Pingback: No Gym No Problem: « Healthy Ways to Lose Weight My Top Weightloss

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