In my last post I shared the transformation story of Peter LeClaire; a guy that went from 245lbs to 165lbs in less than a year. He celebrated this accomplishment by racing in one of the toughest single day cycling events, the Etape du Tour, a 200km race over 4 Category Mountain passes. Peter’s transformation back to health and fitness was the result of making time for the things that were important to him and that aligned with his goal of taking control of his personal health by eliminating or outsourcing the things that were no longer important.
In this blog, Dr Les provides some great advice to follow if you catch yourself making excuses because you have no time for your health and wellness. Think about all the things you do in your busy life and ask yourself what value each brings to your overall health and well being. If they don’t contribute value, consider outsourcing them so you can focus on what’s truly of value. And this doesn't mean to outsourse just so you can work more hours than you already do.
My wife and I agree that cleaning the house adds no value to our well being and takes away time from the things we enjoy, so we outsource it. Many of my neighbours outsource their lawn cutting duties to someone else, (I actually enjoy maintaining my lawn, so I do it myself). The point is everyone is different. So take a mental inventory of the things you do and consider outsourcing those activities and chores that prevent you from taking control of your health and wellness and let someone else deal with stuff that gets in the way.
Enjoy the Ride …. Rob
"Great idea! If only I had the time! “
Great idea! if only I had time! This is a common refrain from patients when I suggest that they would benefit from a change in their lifestyle. It doesn’t matter if I recommend they increase their level of exercise or decrease the number of visits to fast food restaurants. Their answer is almost always the same. "Great idea Doc! If only I had the time! “ Even a small change seems overwhelming.
My patients are intelligent people. They readily see the merits of my recommendations but between getting the kids to soccer practice, buying groceries, keeping up with work responsibilities, household chores and volunteer commitments, their time is already maxed out. Even if they wanted to, they don’t have time to cook dinner every night or get to the gym every morning. Somehow the days become weeks and then months…until suddenly they realize that they haven’t exercised in years and the last time their family sat down to dinner was…well, they can’t remember when.
This conundrum of wanting to do something but not having the time was reflected in a recent Maclean’s article titled, Outsourcing our Lives, the trend to use outside resources and expertise to help with our day-to-day chores. But even if our wealth makes it possible to outsource painting the fence and our position gives us an underground parking spot, we all are constrained by one thing—time.
Everyone has the same 168 hours in a week!
Outsourcing is a great strategy but obviously not everything can be outsourced. No matter how time consuming it is, we can’t hand over the activities associated with maintaining our personal relationships or sustaining our physical, emotional and spiritual well- being.
As much as it would be great to hire someone to exercise for you or eat your vegetables—it can’t be done! Even if you hire someone to buy your partner or your children a birthday present and someone else to bake them a cake, you still have to spend time with them in order to have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship. Not everything can be outsourced.
The bottom line is that you have to prioritize the activities that you can’t delegate or outsource. The top three barriers to prioritizing are:
- Perfectionisim—It is stressful and unrealistic to try to eat, sleep and exercise optimally every day. Lay out an ideal plan and aim to be 90% compliant. For example: If you eat 5 times a day that is 35 times a week. Give yourself permission to be perfect 30 of the 35 times.
- High expectations—Establish clear and realistic objectives. Your exercise regime will be different if your objective is good health compared to training for performance. Ask WHY and then establish HOW.
- A complex lifestyle with many competing priorities— The promise of more free time has not materialized. Technology does not always make our lives simpler. Blackberries, Bluetooth, Twitter and Tweets require us to be available 24/7 or at least to feel like we are supposed to be available.
How do we overcome these barriers? Here are my top five tips:
- Outsource/ Delegate: Accept that it is an inefficient use of your time and energy for you to do some tasks. If you don’t increase value or receive pleasure from an activity, then consider outsourcing it. If you don’t enjoy cooking, hire a personal chef. Don’t scoff—this is easier and less expensive than you think. (Just make sure they cook healthy meals!)
- Don’t try to balance the ideal day. Balance a week instead. Attempting to fit in all the things you should do in a day is difficult. It is better to look at the pattern of a week.
- Combine your activities. If your goal is to exercise every day, get some of your exercise while walking the dog or working in the garden.
- Have family members contribute. Many hands make light work. It is impressive how much easier projects around the house are when the kids contribute.
- Conquer the time management challenge. Be more attentive to the important things—family, exercise, fun, time off—things that you can’t outsource. You will find you have better health which results in increased energy and a larger capacity to enjoy the things that are really important—the things that bring life meaning and joy.
Of course as often happens when you are dispensing advice it causes you to look in the mirror. I must admit that I could be a more effective outsourcer and delegator. I could have outsourced the writing of this blog post and had more sleep last night, more time with my family and a longer bike ride this morning!
When I am sorting out my priorities I have to remind myself of a favorite quote, “In life you can have anything you want. You just can’t have everything you want.”
What have you outsourced and what have you outsourced that you wished you had done differently?
Adding Life to Your Years ..... Dr Les