Life gets busy at the most inopportune times, but that doesn’t mean your health, fitness, or athletic goals have to wait. By pinpointing your priorities, it’ll be easier to stay consistent and still see the results you are after.
To help illustrate, a little personal history: I used to work out 10+ hours per week, balance my ratio of protein, fats, and carbs, and considered myself a connoisseur of nutritional supplements. I had everything dialed in. It didn’t take long for a budding relationship, a pair of demanding jobs, and a long distance management obligation of family affairs to cause a slow burnout.
I’d like to think I can put my head down and power through anything, but it’s simply not true, and I’m not alone. On a daily basis I hear from people who start a family, accept a new job, or otherwise take on more responsibilities stating they don’t have the time or desire to do all of the things they used to do (especially go to the gym 4 times per week.)
While chiseled abs and exceptionally low body fat are appealing, they may not be top priority for all of us. Sometimes the goal is too grand to fit within the context of daily life. It can be frustrating and downright discouraging when we’re putting in our all, but not reaping the rewards that we’re expecting. At times our best effort may simply not be enough when we’re trying to do too much.
Instead of continuing to follow a tired old program, quickly fall off track, beat yourself up for not sticking to the routine (which may or may not be within reach), and slipping slowly further away from your goals, handle this transition phase by scaling back. Relentlessly focus on improving just one thing at a time.
Scaling back can be done in a multitude of ways. One of the simplest things to try is to reduce the number of hours spent in the gym. Asking yourself, “What do I really want to accomplish here?” Be honest in your answer. You might find that you have a different goal at age 35 then you did at 28, which are inevitably different from your goals at 21. Sure, you still want to be athletic and lean, but it might not be the most important part of your life.
Take a long-term view; look good, feel good, and move well with each passing year while having plenty of time to focus on other pursuits and passions. Your relationships, career, and hobbies that delight are worth your time and effort too. Truthfully, this isn’t an easy transition to make. Ego and identity can get tied up in performance and appearance, but eventually, the transition becomes easier, little by little.
Go to the gym to lift heavy, cycle indoors during a rainstorm, or learn new choreography so you can dance your heart out (even more). On sunny days, enjoy fresh air and nature while you exercise and appreciate the company of friends and family. Include variety, but no need to feel overwhelmed. Focus on the quality of your workouts instead of the quantity. Put time in, but ensure that the time you invest is in line with your goals and your purpose. You’ll probably find that you’re done in a third of the time, minimize your exposure to injuries, and feel better than ever.
When life gets busy, consider what matters most to you. Clinging to the old way of doing things will waste effort, cost time, and may cause frustration. Focus on only one goal by scaling back; make the plan simple and doable to experience success. This will help you stay consistent, which we both know is the most important part of accomplishing anything.