How many times have you said yourself, “I just don’t have time to exercise” or “I don’t have time to go to the gym”. I know I have certainly heard this from many people. You express the best will in the world of wanting to live a healthier lifestyle, but you are busy and going to the gym isn’t at the top of your list of priorities.
You’ve already taken the first step to realising that living a healthier life doesn’t have to be an inconvenience. You’ve most likely spent quite a lot of time toying with the idea that a plant-based diet is healthier but also believed it to be hard work, or you have realised that deep down you know it aligns with your morals, but think it’s too difficult to do. So you put it off for a long time before finally making the switch.
Now for those who have been plant based for a while, you have likely come to realise that it isn’t very difficult at all. I’ve spent 9 years as a vegan, and before that I was raised as a vegetarian, so I know first-hand that it is really not an inconvenience. Initially – yes – you might find it difficult, but the longer you are plant based, the quicker it becomes instinct as to what you can pick out, what you can eat, what you can cook. You also develop the new super power of speed-reading labels in the supermarket.
The same principles apply to being more active. It doesn’t have to take as much time as you think it does. Even making small, everyday choices quickly add up to a healthier, happier life. Here are some ideas on how to make this happen.
How to be more active
I know this is an obvious one, but for most people it is also an easy one. You’ve heard all the classic sayings like “get off the train/bus a stop earlier, take the stairs instead of the lift” etc etc. but they are so true. I am faced with the option everyday of getting a very convenient bus outside my house straight to the station in the mornings, or walking to the station. The difference in time? A fast walk gets me there in 15 minutes, a bus 5. Do I miss that 10 minutes extra it takes me to get to the station? No, of course I don’t. Walking is so much more pleasant than getting the bus, and it means I’ve done a little bit of exercise, got to listen to my music and breathed in the fresh air (ok, I live in London so it’s more like the pollution laden smog). Without much effort or time-cost to you, just by walking you’ve already done 15 minutes of exercise before you even get to work! You might think it won’t make much of an impact, but a 15 minute walk in the morning is, according to my fitbit, 1,500 steps and 150 calories. Double that for the way home too, so 3000 steps and 300 calories a day. For 5 days a working week, that’s 1,500 calories and 15,000 steps! You’ve just burnt off a load of calories and got a lot more active minutes in.
Get a fitness tracker
It may seem like a gimmick to some, having a watch that tells you your heart rate, your daily steps, your sleep etc, but in addition to the useful information it gives you, it can bring out that nice competitive side in you. I regularly do just silly little competitions with Jenny, and whilst neither of us are hugely competitive people, when it comes to this tiny win of who walked more steps, you’d think we were in the Wimbledon final! We genuinely do see an increase in the number of steps we do on the days we compete. Even on the days we don’t do competitions, if you set yourself little targets, you find yourself trying to meet them. It may sound crazy, but about 15 minutes before bed one night Jenny was walking up and down the stairs. I was a little confused as to why, and believed she was just having a funny little turn. It turned out that she was actually trying to meet her step target!
Find a time you can do SOME exercise everyday
I bet, whilst you are claiming you don’t have time to do the exercise, you are also finding yourself scrolling through Facebook, or watching TV or doing some other mind numbing process which wastes a lot of time. For me, the main thing was TV in the evenings. I love to watch a bit of TV, and of course I still do, it’s easy no-brain-cells-needed entertainment, but you can definitely sacrifice some of that time on the sofa for some exercise. So now, just three times a week, I will go to bed a little earlier, get up a little earlier in the morning and go for a jog or go on the exercise bike. Do you think I miss the episode of friends I would have re-watched for the 100th time? The answer is yes slightly, because Friends is great, but I certainly feel a whole lot happier, healthier and better in myself for going jogging or cycling three times a week. The morning won’t work for everyone (*cough* Jenny), but finding a time of the day where you can create a routine is worth the effort.
Choose active weekend plans
If you have chosen to do an activity which largely involves sitting down, drinking, eating unhealthy food and watching something move in front of you (whether that is TV or scrolling through social media), then maybe cut that down. I’m not saying don’t do it at all - if that’s what you enjoy then do it. But don’t be afraid to try new things. For example, some of the fun and rewarding activities you can do with friends while getting more active are:
- Volunteer at an animal sanctuary
- Go to Go Ape (for people unfamiliar with this activity, it involves jumping off high platforms with nothing but a rope to hold you there – trust me, it’s fun)
- Go to trampolining world (yes that is a place for adults too, and you will probably find it hell-a-fun)
- Go for a countryside walk
- Go ice skating/ roller blading
- Go rock climbing
You catch my drift, there are many fun things you can do, that don’t involve getting smashed with friends and eating unhealthy food but that still manage to keep you social while burning extra calories in the process – it’s a win-win situation.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Jenny will be doing a post on how to make small everyday tweaks to your diet to make it healthier. Although these tweaks may not do a lot individually, if you can start to have a healthier lifestyle, these changes quickly add up.