|Image credit: Microsoft Clipart|
Chances are, you've gained weight in the first place because you put other people first. Whether this is your kids, partner, boss or friends. You've probably worked through lunch to complete the mass of paperwork your boss dumped on your desk, then felt starving all afternoon and resorted to cramming in cookies or sweets from your desk drawer or even stopped by the nearest fast food outlet on the way home. Perhaps you've been so busy cooking your children's meals after a long day of rushing around for them that you can't be bothered to make yourself something tasty and healthy, so you opt for take-out or a boxed meal. Maybe you're so focused on ticking off the many things on your 'To Do' list that a proper meal or a workout will 'have to wait'.
If any of this sounds familiar and 'acceptable' because your putting other first, then take a moment to reconsider this. Suppose that in the future, you become so unhealthy by continuing this pattern that you can no longer play with your children, you no longer feel like being romantic with your partner because your self esteem has dipped too low, you had to call in sick from work because your immune system has let you down again. You've not got anything ticked off your 'To Do' list because you feel too low and sluggish to get out of bed in the morning to fight the day. In all of these scenarios, you would feel hopeless and guilty for letting people (and yourself) down.
If you don't put your health first, the rest of your life will suffer for it. If you're too ill to carry out your everyday life, you won't be able to be the best parent/employee/partner or friend that you strive to be. You have to prioritise your health needs for the sake of being able to function, it's that simple.
Many people ask me how I fit home cooked meals and the gym in around my masters degree, 3 jobs and a busy social life. This simple answer is I've made the rest of my life adapt to my healthy routine. I'll give some examples: My healthy cooking (i.e. traditional family favourites, but cooked with better ingredients than the store bought equivalent) has been a hit with my family, so when I appear to be coming home from work and cooking dinner for everyone else, what I'm actually doing is cooking multiple portions of the meal I want to eat anyway. It benefits me, but also everyone else. My workouts are scheduled in just the same way as my lectures, meetings, and shifts at work. In my eyes, I'm just as unavailable in the time slot I have the gym scheduled in for as the time slots taken up by my work shifts. This means I generally won't schedule in anything that clashes with my gym classes unless I can justify it by swapping some appointments around - but I rarely cancel them entirely. As for my 'To Do' list, that gets planned in for whenever I have spare time, so after the gym, during a lunch break, or on the bus/train.
Eventually everyone around you gets used to your routine, I've found that many people forget where I'm actually going and just accept without much explanation that I'm busy during a certain time slot on a particular day. For example, my Wednesday mornings have long been blocked off from the world for my swimming time as I have no lectures and I work in the afternoon on Wednesdays- as far as everyone is concerned I'm busy the entire day for whatever reason. My Saturday afternoons and Sunday nights are also blocked off for my usual gym classes so my social life gets planned around this - fortunately, most people stay in on Sunday night and prefer to go out on the Saturday or Friday night so my gym routine doesn't really bother anyone. In fact, you could see it as beneficial to my relationship, for example, often my partner will use this same time as his own time, so he'll get some work done in peace and quiet, or watch something on TV that I probably wouldn't want to watch, or he'll go to Speedway with his friends. It works well and is a healthy way of preserving our own individual identities and space even though we live together.
Whatever you have going on in your life, there will be time slots where you can squeeze in a workout. The most common ones I hear for parents are first thing in the morning, before the kids are awake, or while they're at school or even when they're in bed. It's even common for people to workout with their kids using games or combine their social lives with their workouts, like going out for a run with your friend. You could find loads of people in fitness community boards online who are equally busy or even more so, find out when they fit it all in and use this to inspire you. Remember: You only need to block off 20-60 minutes of time. You deserve it, and everyone in your life needs you to be happy and healthy.