Guest Post: Make Time For HealthWednesday, April 3, 2013
Recently, I joined the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, one of the perks of which is to get to attend regular chapter meetings that usually bring out some of the top professional speakers in the country.
This is where I heard Hugh Culver speak on time management, one of the key barriers to healthier behaviours (as I’ve said before, fastfood is more a time problem than a food problem).
Hugh, who not only has a most interesting bio (including offering the most expensive touristic trips to the South Pole, starting five companies and as an author), but also had a most practical take on time management that I found most appealing.
So, I invited Hugh to share some of his key insights with us in this rare guest post:
Make Time For Health
Ask any health expert and they will recommend: more exercise, better eating, and sufficient sleep. All good stuff, but none of it happens without time.
Without time to exercise, prepare healthy meals and snacks, or pack in the Z’s weight-loss and healthy living goals is merely wishful thinking. Best intentions fall short and you are reminded (once again) how you failed to care for your health. Of course, it’s easy to blame your busy life for your unhealthy habits (“I don’t have time for me!”). The reality is that change can happen anytime, and you have more power over time than you might think.
The solution is not more time management tips
Time management tips, like: work from goals, take breaks, and don’t multi-task are music to the ears of the motivated and disciplined. But what if you aren’t? What if you procrastinate about exercise, tend to overeat, and watch cat videos on YouTube instead of enjoying more sleep? More tips about To-Do lists will just add to unmet commitments.
The place to start is with your thinking.
Invite good roommates
Whatever you focus on, you get more of. If you think you are too busy to plan a healthy lunch and snacks for work, you are. If you think you will commit to exercise when you have more time, it will never be the right time. And if you think you aren’t the type that keeps commitments, well guess what? You aren’t.
Bad thinking leads to bad habits. That negative, I’m a victim, there-is-never-enough-time thinking “takes residence,” says best-selling author Norman Doidge, MD, “like an unwanted roommate.”
The best way to permanently evict your bad habits is by changing your thinking and you do that by repeating small wins. Prove to yourself you can use your time wisely and you will start to focus on how that is true. The more you focus on your new truth (“If I set a timer I always take my beaks”) the more you will notice evidence that proves you are right.
If you know a 20-minute brisk walk before leaving for work is a part of your morning routine (not an option), eventually it will be. The same applies to knowing that wise meal choices, regular sleep patterns, and achieving goals are simply your way of being.
The more you exercise the new pattern (as soon as I arrive at work I set my timer), and enjoy the results, the more ingrained your new habit becomes. Day by day, you invite the roommates you want into your thinking and make it easy for them to take up permanent residence.
Here are just a few small wins I practice daily to create time for healthy living. Start by choosing just one and commit to it for a week. Next, pay close attention to any small improvements you enjoy. That will anchor the new habit with positive references and make it more likely you repeat it.
Block time. You keep appointments with others; now practice making appointments for you. Fridays are a good time to block next week with time for: exercise, preparing meals, sleep, meditation, or reading. The more you keep these appointments the more power you have over time.
Set a timer for breaks. Work through your breaks? Set a timer to remind you to take a short break for stretching, stair climbs, or a walk around the block (try softpedia.com or scirocco.ca for free timers).
Stand after phone calls. Over four hour of sitting a day (commuting, computer, meetings, TV, etc.) leads to irreversible increased risk of: heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and weight gain. Simple solution: after every phone call stand and move.
Jump start my day. Your mornings are precious and an ideal time for journaling, exercise, reading, yoga, or walking you dog. Create a simple plan the night before and stick to it. When at home, I always plan for one hour writing and 45 minutes exercise. No email or Twitter – stick to your plan and jump start your day.
Me time before bed. After a harried day taking care of everyone else you need 20-30 minutes just for you. Turn off the TV and YouTube, read a book, pluck the guitar, or journal – remind yourself that this is your time.
We now know that as little as 10 minutes of exercise a day can add as much as two years to your life. It’s no different with a small change in your diet, drinking more water, or going to bed earlier. The trick is to practice small wins, notice the results, and to become convinced you can make time for health.
Hugh Culver is the author of Give Me a Break – the art of making time work for you. Reach him at www.hughculver.com