Work Smarter, Not Harder. Then You Can Work out Harder!

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One of my favorite bloggers recently wrote about what she does to stay fit when you work for yourself. When you run your own business, you have the freedom of a flexible schedule. But since a consistent paycheck isn’t guaranteed every two weeks, it’s also tempting to work at all hours to keep the business going strong.

That makes prioritizing health and fitness a tall order.

Why take 90 minutes to stretch and stand on your head in when it seems better for the health of your business to ditch yoga and reach out to new business contacts instead?

I think we all know the answer to that question. Because without keeping your own health on track, there is no business. And you can’t work well if you don’t feel well.

Even if you don’t own your own business, I find Alexis Grant’s advice to prioritize exercise, to work out when you don’t feel like it, and to find new ways to move useful for everyone. Here are my own takeaways from her blog post:

Being busy isn’t an excuse

We’re all busy. We hear everyday about the busy lives of our friends, family, and coworkers. We even overhear strangers on the bus talking about how busy they are. But we make ourselves busy. We choose how to spend our time — and of course many of us spend it unwinding on Facebook or watching every episode of Friday Night Lights front to back. My “busy” is accepting additional freelance work on top of my full-time job.

This can sometimes feel overwhelming and there are times I’d rather kick back with a glass (or several) of wine and whatever terrible reality TV show pops up on Netflix. But I’ve learned that my productivity and focus is better when I’ve put in time at the gym. If I want to maintain my busy lifestyle — which I do, because I find my work and shrinking student loan debt fulfilling — then making sure regular exercise is part of my schedule is important for me.

Investing in your health isn’t always easy, but it pays bigger dividends

Some things are really easy. Crashing on the couch after work with tub cheese, crackers and Facebook is quite easy. Heading to the gym after work to sweat it out for 30 minutes then coming home to chop up and sautée vegetables is harder.

But which one makes you feel better?

The New Yorker recently ran an article by Maria Konnikova titled “How Facebook Makes Us Unhappy.” Part of the article talks about how we use Facebook to cure boredom, when in fact it makes us more bored. But the barrier to entry of opening on your laptop is so low, that sometimes it’s hard to resist.

It takes a bit more time, effort, planning, energy, and motivation to pack a bag of workout clothes and head to the gym after a draining day of work. Yet every time I’ve pushed myself to do just that when I didn’t feel like it, I haven’t regretted it.

I’m always proud of myself when I’m able to get my gym act together. And I certainly always feel better for having chosen the gym over Facebook and my couch. I even find that after dragging myself to the gym and finally getting moving, I’m actually motivated to push myself more. I figure that since I’m already there when I don’t want to be, I might as well make my time spent there worthwhile.

If you get bored, you’re boring

This is something Frank would say when we would do endurance rides in spin class. I would say it a little bit more politically correctly: If you’re bored, you’re responsible for boring yourself.

I’ve definitely slipped into ruts before where I find my workouts boring. Avoiding a boring workout is what keeps me from the gym the most.

When that happens, that means it’s time to switch it up and find something new. That’s why my workout routine includes running, yoga, the stair master, spin class, group fitness classes, boot camp, riding my bike, and plain old walks. It’s rare that I’ll do the same workout twice in one week. This keeps me active and moving because I always have something new to look forward to.

What about you? What are some of the health and fitness rules you try to live by?

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Betsy Mikel |