Saying that you ‘just don’t have time’ is a common excuse for those who are avoiding working out and getting in shape. As a general policy, I would say that it’s almost never true that a person has no time ever to exercise. People who make statements like that are almost certainly wrong.
But what about on a particular day? Even for the most scheduled of us, there are some days in which our obligations run away with us. It is in these instances that we should take care of our higher obligations first and exercise later and fit in exercise when we can. Here are some ways to still treat your body well on days when you are running from sun up to sun down — and then some.
Something is better than nothing. Something is ALWAYS better than nothing. This is especially important to remember when you are pressed for time and can’t seem to fit a workout in that day. Having a lot on your plate is not an excuse to forego all activity together. This is especially true if you work at a desk job. Do something. Do anything. Even if it means going for a walk on your lunch break. Even if it means dropping for 10 push ups in the restroom. Remember: this is your body we’re talking about. Letting other obligations get in the way of its health is a mistreatment of it.
Don’t let the gym contain you
Gyms are great tools, but they are inherently limiting. Ideally, your fitness should not be confined to a set time or space. This is especially true when you dedicate time in your day to getting to a gym. On jam-packed days when you just can’t get there, don’t use that as an excuse not to exercise! If you lift weights, find something around your house you can pick up. If you are a runner/cardio person, jog in place or do jumping jacks. My personal favorite are push ups. You can do push ups any time, any place. Same with squats, sit-ups. Even though it may not be as intense as your usual workout, you’re doing something, and that’s good for your body.
Integrate exercise into what you’re doing
Most of the above exercises mentioned can be done in a small amount of time. If you’re telling me that you do not have 30 seconds of down time in anything that you’re doing today, I’ll call you a liar. Sometimes you have to look for that opportunity, but it’s there, I swear. Do as many push ups as you can before you have to stir the stir-fry. Walk to the grocery store instead of drive. Instead of hopping on Facebook when you need a mental break, get down for some curl-ups. I guarantee you you have at least thirty seconds of down time in your tasks to get some blood flowing into your muscles.
You may not have time in your day to do squats, push ups, lifting, and your 5 mile run, BUT you might have time to do one or two of these things. If that is the case, then pick the one that you most want to improve and dedicate a smaller amount of time to working on that skill. For me, it’s my upper body strength. So when I am feeling pressed for time, I will minimize or reschedule the rest of my workout and take what little time I have to drop and give myself 10.
If all else fails, reschedule
Whether its later that night or the next day, your last course of action should be to reschedule. Don’t call the workout a lost cause because your day is busy. Find another time in your day — even if it’s right before you go to sleep — to commit to your body. If you’re about to pass out from exhaustion when it’s bedtime, then find time in the next day. Don’t sacrifice the time you’ve committed to your body!
I am in the middle of a crazy, hectic day in which I had to push my exercise to the end, if I had time. I also seriously considered hitting up a fast food restaurant and screwing paleo because I had so many obligations I had to fulfill. However, my self control was in high supply and I found out some quick ways to cook something tasty and paleo while still having time for everything else I needed to do. Here are some tips:
Whatever it is that you want to cook — chicken, beef, sausage, whatever — throw it in the oven. Why is this? Two reasons:
1. Your prep time will be absorbed into the time you need to wait for the oven. So, turn on your oven first thing, then cut your veggies, meat, etc. While you wait for it to heat up.
2. The best thing about baking is that all you have to do is chuck it in the oven and get it out when you hear beeping. No babysitting involved, as with grilling or frying. The vast majority of dishes take a half-hour to bake at 350. That is a half an hour in which you are both cooking and doing something productive. Use that half-hour wisely.
In fact, I am cooking as I write this post.
Baking also has the added bonus of being slightly more healthy, according to traditional standards of health (if you’re into that sort of thing). You use fewer fats, and in my experience everything ends up being much juicier.
Cut everything smaller
Fun fact: small things cook faster. I know that this is common knowledge to some, but hear me out. When you’re in a hurry, it’s tempting to forego slicing up your meat and instead just throwing it in the baking dish and letting it go. Not only does this really cut down on the flavor absorption of your meat, but it also will make it take longer to cook.
Think about it: if you have heat bombarding something at all directions, it has to travel from the surface to the center to cook it. It is going to take longer for that heat to get to the middle of something if it’s bigger than if it’s smaller.
Take the time and cut everything — your meats, your veggies, everything — smaller. Do it while the oven is heating up. It’s worth the investment of your time.
Use canned goods, prepackages spices
No, this is not ideal, especially for paleo eaters. But there is a reason why packaged spices and canned goods are so prevalent in our society — they’re freaking convenient!
Having canned veggies, like tomatoes, on hand seriously drops prep time. Instead of spending time cutting up stubborn tomatoes, all I have to do is open the can. I always keep canned stuff on hand for the times when I just need to throw something on some meat and toss it in the oven. So to I keep a container of garlic powder on hand for emergencies.
A warning about canned goods: READ THE LABEL!!! If you are worried about excess sugar consumption and if you want to stay as natural as possible, it’s really important to check your food. Canned goods like tomato sauce can have a TON of added sugar. Which is bad. Many soups (like cream of mushroom) have wheat and other grains hidden in there. This is also bad.
Keep it simple
This is a bit of a “duh,” but for people who eat paleo, they may often be used to seeing how many veggies they can fit into one meal. If you’re trying to eat quickly, keep the number of ingredients down to 3 or fewer. It saves you prep time and cooking time, because there’s less to chop/dice and there’s less to heat up.
What about y’all? What are your tips for cooking on the fly? Feel free to share recipes!
I mentioned the other day that I hadn’t really had time to get innovative with my food. Between being sick and being overloaded with work, I have taken to the “bake some chicken and fix a salad” approach to my meals. However, that has sorta disassociated me with what I’m eating. Essentially, I went from cooking every night to barely cooking at all. I decided last night that it was time for me to re-invest in cooking, looking up recipes, and getting innovative.
I knew I wanted chicken (cause that’s about all I have), so I went to this website I found called Paleo Plan that has a massive list of recipes. I pulled one that was creatively named “Garlic chicken, red peppers, and mushroom sauce.” I decided that that was a woefully pathetic name, so I renamed and modified it:
Paleo-Friendly Fajita (sans tortilla)
I didn’t decide to name it this until after I ate it, and decided that it tasted a lot like what would belong in a fajita. In fact, it was reminiscent of fajita my brother used to make. Tasty.
I’m gonna relay the recipe to you as I modified it, but feel free to click on the link and find out the original way to do it
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4P)
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- salt and pepper
- chili powder
- 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 medium white onion
- 1 red pepper
- 1/2 cup milk
After having eaten this, the milk is pretty freaking optional. It’s supposed to fuse with the peppers and onions and create a “sauce,” but it was so thin that it just sorta dregged at the bottom and looked like juice more than anything else. Also, for those of you who can eat nuts without dying, almond milk is a good substitute.
One more notes. The recipe calls for one clove of garlic, but my motto is why have one clove:
Because I had to defrost the chicken, I ended up doing that first, BUT, if you have pre-defrosted chicken, here’s how I would go.
- Cut up chicken into BITE SIZE pieces. Mix the olive oil, chili powder (to taste), and garlic together in a bowl, and stir it all together. Marinade for 30 min – 1 hr
Quick note: the marinade doesn’t look like much, but if you manage to mix it all up, it’ll get marinaded pretty well.
- While your chicken is marinading, cut up your onion and red pepper in whatever sizes you like. Bite size is generally the best way to go about it:
- Sautee onions until brown, throwing in the peppers for the last few minutes or so.
- Once your chicken is done marinating, pan fry or sear it until done.
- Pour in your milk (if you want it) and keep the veggies and milk over low-med heat until the juices and milk seep together.
- Once chicken is done, combine chicken and veggies together. Nom with pleasure.
I had this last night with the magic salad. I think the peppers in the main dish with the vinegar in the salad didn’t get along well, so I didn’t really finish the salad. The experiment of the main dish, though, was a success. Here are some other pictures from my cooking adventures.
In the world of meat and vegetables, I don’t think that there is a dish more ubiquitous than the stir-fry. That being said, I have never eaten stir fry before and I did not know how to make it. I did, however, by some flank steak at the farmer’s market so that I could be taught. Last night, I got Darcy to teach me how to make it.
It wasn’t really that complicated.
You cut up the veggies. Featured here is cabbage, carrots, and celery. You also put in onions, but at this pointwe had already added it to the beef.
There are also onions involved. Make sure the beef gets cut up into bite size portions.
Darcy cooked the meat and the onions first. Then we through the veggies in. At different points throughout the cooking process we added:
I think we ended up doing about 6 tablespoons.
I didn’t get a picture of the final product because I was hungray, but there you go.
I have a lot on my plate today. I have quite a bit of writing to get done, in addition to laundry, cleaning my room, and homework. I also want to cook some soups today so that I will have some things to eat during the week and so I don’t have to cook quite as much.
We shall see. 🙂
The rest of my food from yesterday is as follows: some bacon in the morning followed by a smoothie for lunch. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but I was truly not hungry until I went to cook the stir fry for dinner.