“I have a full time office job. I don’t have time to workout and I’m too tired after work!”
If Bex’s 70 Day Shred has proved anything, it’s that time is not an excuse. The above quote is from the lips of a young woman who attended a fitness seminar that was organised for the staff at my work. I work for a Scottish Travel Startup, which doesn’t feel like a startup anymore because it’s growing so damn quickly. It entails a lot of sitting, typing, swearing and constant ‘junk’ food temptations; would people please stop bringing delicious homemade baked treats into the office? Please! Said treats don’t often enter my mouth but their aroma is heady and I do get a good sniff in there. That young woman is actually in good shape, but her negative outlook on time vs fitness is all too common and it couldn’t me more inaccurate. You need to make time.
I’ve not always been fit and healthy, oh no. Flashback 13 years and there was a lot more of me to love (there’s still plenty – apply within). All 16 stones of me were hidden under a black anorak that never left my body, even in summer heat. My skin was oily and prone to blemishes, my hair was greasy, my scalp dry, my complexion pallid. It was a reflection of what was going on inside and that was a minefield of Rustlers, Pot Noodles, Sausage Suppers, Haribo, Cereal and any other sugary concoction I could pull together at short notice. I looked and felt like something the dog left on the street, only paler. I didn’t have the confidence back then to move forward and rectify all of those terrible lifestyle choices, I also didn’t have the knowledge I have now. Fitness information wasn’t as accessible and I spent more time in front of the TV and video games than I did even thinking about getting fit and healthy. I still made the excuse of having no time though if I was ever challenged.
Fast forward 13 years to this very moment and I’ve never been in better shape. I wear as little as possible at the gym, often experiencing a nip slip. My shorts are tiny, much to the concern of my friends who fear the rogue appendage (I ensure that everything is secure FYI). I won’t lie and say I don’t do it out of vanity, I do to an extent. However, it’s a new found self confidence that’s taken me 29 years to garner and now I have it I’m not about to hide under an anorak again. My body fat is healthy (no idea what it is, but I’m guessing 11/12%), I can actually see abs, my legs are thicker and stronger and I actually have shape to my arms. I worked hard for it and I made time and it’s taken me 8 months (+ less strict 2 years prior) of constant weight lifting, intermittent HIIT cardio and strict diet planning (not “dieting” – poisonous word) to get into my current condition. A typical day goes like this:
6am – Shuffle sleepily to the kitchen to make my oats
7am – Gym session
9am – Work
5.30pm – Head home OR 2nd Gym Session OR Live
Sometimes I workout in the evening if I sleep in, but I will get a workout in every weekday unless there’s some crisis that literally blocks me from doing it. If I do miss a weekday, I move my workout to Sunday and take that day as a rest day. I would never have made this time two years ago, I’d have much rather stayed in bed and headed straight to work after a sugary breakfast and then moaned about how tired I felt all day. Getting up at 6am isn’t easy, even now after having done it almost every weekday for 8 months. Yes, I would much rather stay in bed and yes, I battle with myself to go to the gym for 7am. I find that all it takes is a firm word with myself and very often I’ll speak out loud as I’m hunched on the side of my bed in faint morning light, “Stop being a bitch and get up! You’ll regret it!” Starting your day with a regret is horrific and it dents your motivation and mood for the entire day. Just do it, stop bitching about it and move off your back, onto your feet and into the gym (or into whatever activity you enjoy doing that pushes you towards your body goal). Use your time productively!
You have a 9-5 office job and a demanding social life. Who doesn’t? I work 9-5.30, sometimes 1-2 hours longer dependant on workload and I still manage to maintain a steady regime. I made the time by prioritising my health and fitness goals over my social life. Your health and fitness goals should be more important, because it’s your health that carries you through to a comfortable and, hopefully, ailment free retirement. The men in my family have a history of heart problems so I have even more incentive! That daily glass of wine, pint or meal out isn’t going to help you down the line. Bex has sacrificed a lot of her time to reach her goal and although there have been times she wanted to go home, slip into her onesie, tuck into a jumbo sausage (easy tiger!) and vegetate all evening in her own filth, she didn’t. She went to sweaty insanity classes (done them with her – I died) or did a brutal outdoor PT session with barbells, free weights and all the while scraping her hands on the concrete while doing push ups in the frozen winter air.
I have those lazy notions frequently and when I do I think “what’s your goal?”; you’re not being productive unless you’re working towards it. When I was in the height of my cutting plan last summer/autumn I missed out on a lot of drinking and munching. “Missed out” is such a negative way of highlighting the times I prioritised fitness over social escapades. I could still go out and enjoy myself, but I’d make a conscious effort to avoid eating the sugary and fatty nibbles and the calorie laden cocktails and mixers. You shouldn’t feel you’re missing out on anything, because you can still do all the things you enjoy doing, you just need to do them differently and potentially at different times and of course, moderate your behaviour. The pressure is real though and you’ll find that people aren’t always as supportive as they should be. I often forget Bex isn’t cheating when I am (I have one cheat meal per week) and offer her something naughty, then when I see the determined ‘no face’ I feel guilty and swiftly remove the treat from her face (that couldn’t have sounded more erotic right?). I’ve found myself ‘sabotaged’ by friends on numerous occasions, but I can’t only blame them because I’m the one with the power to say ‘no’ and as my mother always says, “You’ve a good Scots tongue in your head, use it!”. I met a friend for coffee on a Saturday morning last summer, right in the middle of my cutting phase. I smashed a gym session at 9am, went to meet her at 11am, and instead of ordering one of the taste bud orgasm inducing cakes that decorated the counter, I ordered a green tea and ate some protein pancakes from my bag. Sounds ridiculous, maybe pathetic, but you can’t have it both ways.
If you want to make a change to your health and fitness, implement a regime or improve on the existing one, time is one of the most important factors. Look at your current routine and think about the way you could improve it. Get up an hour earlier, join a gym close to your work and go at lunch time or just go after work and ensure you’ve prepared a pre workout meal to stop the hunger stopping you! If you’re unsure of what the hell you should do, invest money in a trainer or coach. £300 can buy you 8-10 1 hour sessions if you negotiate and it may look a lot, but think about the money you’re spending on boozing and feeling shit about it the next day? Count the days of your life you’ve spent hungover and spent £15 on a takeaway and weigh that up against the possible results from rearranging your life. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and I would never have considered the routine I have now, had I not paid someone to explain the intricacies of it all. It was so worth it. Now it doesn’t feel like a chore, I actually love it and even though the 6am struggle is forever real, I’d rather grumble my way to the gym and get it done than regret all the wasted time lying on my back.
Bex again for you…
Day 56: Shred Log
Breakfast – Sleep
Please don’t follow today’s eating habits as they are not healthy! Thanks to my horrible cold I slept late again. Even regretfully cancelling my PT session.
Lunch – Pineapple
I didn’t have much of an appetite when I eventually stirred but had a wee bowl of pineapple.
Dinner – Pork, roast veg and broccoli
I went to my cousins for dinner this evening and him and his boyfriend cooked us up an absolute feast. We have pork stuffed with pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, pancetta, garlic and olives and then the pork was wrapped and cooked in parma ham. It was served with long stem broccoli and roast vegetables. It was then followed by a delicious Paleo friendly carrot cake that Matt made especially with my shred in mind. It was so good….but more on that later!
Drinks & snacks – About a litre of water and some soda water with berries.
Exercise – Rest day (back on it next week….promise! Sadly this is the first week I didn’t make my 3 session quota.)
Today’s top tip – Even though you might think you are being a pain and demanding specific food when you go to people’s houses, they don’t mind….they even enjoy it apparently! Thanks Stuart and Matt!