It’s true, many of you would like to be somewhat healthier, leaner and overall happier this year (and for many more years to come of course). However, despite the new year resolutions and fitness goals, about half of you take your health goals serious, the other half just wish and ponder about it from time to time. Out of those of you who are serious about your goals, half of that number will commit to dedicating yourself to achieving your health aspirations through self-accountability and discipline in and outside of the gym /box/ training facility, etc. As a matter fact, to further support my statement, a 2016 statistical study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings shows that only 2.7% of Americans live a healthy lifestyle. The study was based on four parameters: being sufficiently active, eating a healthy diet, being a non-smoker and having a recommended body fat percentage.
What’s up with that? By no means am I a statistical analyst but that's a pretty horrible percentage based on how many articles and posts we see online of people working out. Wouldn't you think otherwise?
Well, after reading this study I set to discover a new philosophy of time productivity when it comes to meeting your fitness and health goals: Don't Waste Your Time Working Out.
First, at the forefront of your actions and intentions comes MINDSET. When you enter a fitness facility to work out you should have one goal in mind: “I’m going to crush this workout and get better!”. There should be nothing else on your mind as you enter those doors. Leave the rest of the world outside the gym and begin to focus. Set your intentions early to what you want to achieve and aim your attention at improving every second you are in there. Don’t think about how stressful your day was, don’t worry about what's going on this weekend, leave all the worries of the world outside of your workout time including stress that is work related, relationship related, bills related and everything else that falls under that umbrella. Where your attention goals, energy flows!
Second, what are you doing after you enter those doors? Are you jumping on a treadmill and looking through your Facebook feed? Are you scrolling down Instagram as you wait for the group workout to start? Are you doing more talking than warming up or working out? Where is your FOCUS? You see, you walked in through the facility doors, left the world outside, set your intentions on what your goals are for the next hour or two, you focused your attention on achieving specific goals and then what? HIT THAT FLOOR RUNNING! Jump on that treadmill and have an intentional warm-up, grab a foam roller before class and work on recovery and flexibility, grab a jump rope and get that heart rate up! Don’t waste your time waiting around!
Third, is the sustainability of attention. How many times have you seen someone take up bench space or a squat rack as they exercise their thumbs texting away? How many times do you go back to your phone in the middle of the workout to answer messages or scroll through social media? That’s a disruption of your focus which will lead to fewer results later on. I get it, you finished an exercise set and now want to take a picture of how much weight you put up to show the world. But, this distraction shifts your focus from working on your immediate goals to a “needy” habit of wanting to check your phone. Next thing you know your 1-minute rest period turned into 5-minutes of web browsing; be mindful of your time.
Fourth, your constant outside actions and habits have to parallel your hard work at the gym. You can workout intensely 7-days a week, but if your habits outside of the gym doors aren’t in the same boat as your workout dedication, then chances are you’re wasting your time at the gym. Yes, I'm talking about your nutritional habits, your water intake, your stress levels, your sleep levels and your bad habits (research cortisol effects on fitness goals). Look, one or two bad cheat days aren’t going to make you any worse just like one or two great workout days or meals aren’t going to make you any better. Your positive health and fitness related actions have to be consistent and sustainable on the majority of your days if you want your hard work at the gym to count. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, the Mayo Clinic Proceedings study was based on four parameters. If any of those parameters are deficient in any way, it creates an unbalanced environment for your health and fitness goals. Are you sufficiently active exercising at least 3-5 times a week? Do you intake a healthy diet the majority of your days? Are you currently a smoker? Have you done a body composition assessment to see if your body fat percentage is in the normal recommended range for you? To maximize the results you are seeking in the gym, your actions in and outside of the gym have to be reflective of each other. Also, once you are done with the workout and out the door, what are you doing to make that workout count? Are you eating a healthy protein rich post workout meal or are you going hours without eating to just later grab a Hot Pocket and a can of sprite before bed? These things matter, and if you don’t have a plan in mind, your results will tell you later on.
So guys, don't waste your time working out. Make your efforts count by balancing everything that can help you improve in every way. Look, I get it, life is about balance and enjoying a few cheat days and meals, a few beers or drink with friends, etc… However, your good days must outnumber your bad days by at least a 5:1 ratio if you want those hard workouts to take effect the way you want them too. If you're using fitness and workouts PRIMARILY as a social meeting and a stress reliever for the day, that’s awesome, and I advocate for it wholeheartedly. However, if you want to maximize fitness results in the shortest amount of time, prioritize your fitness goals through an intentional mindset, laser-like focus, sustainable attention and paralleled external habits above everything else. Don’t waste your time working out, make it count!