Growing up, I always thought I’d have time to do everything: play sports on the weekends, socialize with friends after work, get enough sleep, take care of my skin, and be buff like The Rock, all while working an office job that will pay for the bills.
But after working for almost a decade and as I approach my mid-30’s, I’m starting to realize that wow, young me was pretty naïve. Sports on the weekends? Yeah, good luck getting me out of bed before noon on a Saturday. Socialize with friends after work? Unless it’s a life-changing event like a marriage or someone moving abroad, I’m going to stay at home and binge-watch a Netflix series before passing out at 10pm. And what does “enough sleep” even mean?!
And buff like The Rock? Ok, maybe that really is an impossible goal; The Rock, after all, is some kind of demigod that’s immune to mortality. But surely, I need to start worrying about my health, especially since walking up 3 flights of stairs is starting to get me winded.
But in between an exhausting 9-to-5 job, commuting in rush-hour traffic, and finding just a few moments to relax and decompress, where am I ever going to find the time to make sure my gut isn’t big enough to hide my toes (among other things…) when I look down?
Many millennials my age are starting to feel the same way, and while misery DOES love company, I’ve decided to take some active steps to change my predicament. What I found out? We have the time to squeeze in a workout, it’s not impossible, and it actually helps you manage other parts of your life better.
Here are the things I learned about squeezing in a workout when you have a 9-to-5 job:
Find Your Drive
A lot of people talk about getting inspired, and while it might seem like hippy-dippy, self-help stuff, it actually does work. My inspiration is fairly personal: my father was diagnosed with diabetes when he was in his 50’s. Not surprising, considering that the man drank a whole 16oz bottle of soda every day since he was a teenager.
But it’s like the threat of losing a limb or possibly dying sparked something in him: he cut down on the sweets and started running. Granted, he was semi-retired, but still, he didn’t use his mid-age or his disease as an excuse not to live a healthier life.
At the age of 56, he ran his first ever 10K marathon. I can’t even walk 10 blocks, let alone run 10k.
That really changed something in me. Seeing my old man take control and take charge of his life, despite his illness, reminded me that I have the power to do the same. Yes, I live a busy life, but that shouldn’t be an excuse to let my health slide.
Some people find their inspiration in other things, be it their parents, paraplegic athletes, sick kids, whatever. Find your drive and let it inspire you every day. You’ll be surprised at how having a hero in your head cheering you on can help you get healthy.
It Doesn’t Have to be Boring
I get it, we’re all busy, no one really has the time to go out with friends and hang out like you used to in college. Sometimes, adult friendships just feel like 2 people canceling on each other until the day they die. But that doesn’t have to be the case.
If you need to, be that annoying friend who organizes workout days and looks for gym buddies. Don’t be afraid to drag your best friend out every other day to spot you in the gym or join you in a spin class. It’s good for the both of you and it gives you an excuse to talk, hang out, and well, maintain your friendship.
Do it Before the Office
There’s probably nothing worse than waking up early. Ok, that’s a huge exaggeration, but really it is pretty awful. However, the best time to go to the gym is before heading to work. You’d be surprised at the massive energy boost you get when you squeeze in a 30-minute workout before sitting in your cubicle all day, not to mention the many benefits your body receives from waking up early and getting the right amount of sleep the night before.
But it’s not just physical benefits, working out before going to the office has tons of mental benefits too: studies show that completing a workout boosts your confidence and increases your endorphins, making you more efficient at work and less likely to stress-cry before lunch.
30-Minutes is All You Need
The biggest excuse people like us make is: there’s not enough time! I’m so busy! Where am I going to squeeze that in my busy schedule?!
If any of those sound familiar to you, don’t worry, you’re not alone. But, I’m also here to tell you: a lot of those excuses are bull and you know it. There is time, you’re not that busy, and you can fit into your busy schedule. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging you at all; I was like that too. But with a little bit of discipline and sheer willpower, it can be done.
All you need is 30 minutes. That’s it. Make it as intense or as easy as you’d like, but find 30 minutes in your “busy schedule” to take care of your body. There are plenty of 30-minute workout programs available online, as well as apps, YouTube videos, and even games on the Wii that can help you accomplish this. Trust me, it’s worth spending that half hour on exercising rather than watching a cat video compilation. You’re not going to look like The Rock, but you will keep yourself a little bit healthier every day.
Do a Workout You Love And You Won’t Feel It
Ok, that last part is a lie: if you’re working out, you’re definitely going to feel it. But, if it’s something you actually enjoy doing, then it makes it all worth it. You don’t have to follow every single guide you find online, just look for something that you would like taking part in.
Not a fan of lifting weights? Not a problem, get in a spin class! Not a fan of spinning? That’s ok, there are plenty of aerobic workouts for you! Not a fan of spending time in an enclosed space filled with sweaty people? Neither do I, which is why I’ve started joining my dad when he runs!
The point is, there are plenty of exercises available for you to do. As long as it gets you moving, gets you sweating, and gets you away from your semi-sedentary office lifestyle, it’s all good. Yes, it does require effort, it does require sacrificing comfort, but the benefits are beyond amazing.