“Max is the busiest person I know…”. So stated one of my friends who wrote an endorsement for my first-published book The Whole Body Solution. I hear time and again people saying that they don’t have time to exercise, or that they can’t get fit because they can’t fit it into their busy schedule. Whilst I appreciate that in rare instances this can be true, it doesn’t actually apply to everyone, if you really look closely at what activities they actually do spend their time on.
Shortly after my August ultramarathon was cancelled, I got a leg injury which prevented me from following up on my plan to run the distance anyway, just for the heck of it. I had a break from regular exercise for nearly 6 weeks, and confess that I was a little directionless. After all, running is my thing, and if I can’t do it… well, nothing can truly replace it. During this 6 weeks off, and following a bit of overindulgence on my still healthy, still raw vegan diet, I was ready to sign up for a fitness challenge that I had previously seen advertised multiple times. I was particularly interested that the challenge was vegan, and that there was prize money, so I paid my entry fee and got the download. It was only then that I discovered that it involved 3 training sessions per day of an hour each. How on earth, with my 10 to 11 hour working days, was I going to fit that in?
Many of you will have perhaps seen the “time management” quadrant, outlining that tasks are broadly divisible into 4 categories:
Important and urgent. This is the “firefighting” zone.
Important and not urgent. This is where all good businesspeople should spend their time.
Urgent and not important. The ringing phone, the constant Facebook updates, the pinging of e-mail and WhatsApp.
Not urgent and not important. Don’t waste your time in this area, or pay someone else to do it.
I have to say I have become really good at prioritising (in my work, I have to), but was I ready for this, and how was I going to achieve an additional 2 hours of exercise in my already pretty full day? Some serious evaluation was needed, so I broke my day down. Before the challenge started, this is what it looked like:
6.45am – get up, shower, make fresh green juice for the day, leave the house at 8am. Work all day (no lunch break), finish at 6.30 to 7pm, run outdoors for an hour or so or go to the gym, make food for the next day, usually finish all tasks by 9pm, then catch up, relax, wind down and in bed by 10.30pm.
“All” I had to do was carve out 3 hours for a 60 minute cardio (in my case running) session each morning, and a weights session for an hour at any time of day, and another hour run session in the evening. Simple right? As I write this, I have just come to the end of week 7 of this 8 week challenge, and I haven’t missed a single session. Not one. What changes did I have to make to achieve this daunting task?
Batch juicing. This has been an absolute lifesaver. On weekends, I batch-juice and divide my green juice into 500ml bottles, and freeze them. Wouldn’t I lose nutritional value by doing this? The answer is yes, but not massively. 98% of the antioxidants would still be intact, and 100% of the protein. Well worth the sacrifice.
Eliminate all unnecessary distractions. The pinging WhatsApp, Facebook updates and email notifications. I batch-checked e-mails and WhatsApp twice daily and replied to those that needed my immediate attention. Ignored and deleted the remainder (I get 300 e-mails per day, most of which just don’t require my attention when I am that focused on something that I consider to be majorly important). No TV. I am very strict about this. Rest assured, all requests for consultations and discussions from clients are always responded to.
As a result of the batch juicing, I was able to get a morning run in before work, just by getting up at 6am rather than 6.45am. An hour of extra exercise for 45 minutes less in bed. I’ll call that a win. Sometimes I even make it a 70 minute session. I am on the treadmill by 6.20am at the latest, jump off at 7.20am, grab my thawed green juice and pre-prepared lunch and leave the house at 8am as normal.
The evening training has been hard. Two 60 minute sessions back to back, every day. Initially I ran first, then went straight into the weight training. But because I am a better runner than weightlifter, I found that once I got off the treadmill, launching into the weights was really tough, so I flipped it on its head. Get in from work, change into sports gear immediately and launch into the weights session straight away. Mop the sweat off the floor(!), jump straight on the treadmill and run for an hour. No excuses. Get_it_done. Finish the run, make food for the following day, shower, bed. No TV. No screen time, no e-mails. Bed. Rest. Sleep.
Last week, I ran 70 miles. Yes, seventy. That’s a record for me. The program works. My aim was to get down to my 1990s “racing weight” of 52kg by the end of the 8 weeks, and of course win the competition. 7 weeks in, I have already surpassed that goal. I haven’t been this lean in years, and even my ultramarathon training didn’t give me a body like this. Although I was never overweight, I now definitely have an athlete’s body (admittedly, an older athlete). Time will tell if I win the competition (it is judged on 13th November), but this has in itself been a lesson in extreme discipline, focus and meticulous time management.
If you have a goal, and I mean a really huge goal that you absolutely must achieve (rather than one that you feel you “should” achieve) you’ll find the time to devote to it, even if it hurts like hell. If it’s important enough, you’ll find a way. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse. Now tell me – do you have time to be fit and healthy? I bet you do, if it’s important enough to you that is.