Most of us have excellent health intentions, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle can feel overwhelming when life gets in the way. And let's face it — life always gets in the way.
Enter what I call the "GPS model of health."
Your "destination" is daily motion and eating well.
Prepare route A: the gym, playing a sport, eating at home, etc.
When route A is blocked, as it inevitably will be on various occasions, use your GPS system to "re-route," and find an alternate way to reach your destination. Route B: walk at lunch, use a treadmill desk or exercise with your family.
Life is unpredictable — that is part of its charm. Stop fighting life's ups and downs. The way to successfully adopt a healthier lifestyle is to find innovative and often immediate ways to "re-route!"
Here are a few!
Can't do your full cardio session? Do intervals
Even 15 or 20 minutes of intervals will provide an excellent workout, and who doesn't have 15 to 20 minutes?
With interval training you alternate between bouts of high- and low-intensity training. This places a high metabolic demand on the body, burns lots of calories in a short amount of time, produces a high EPOC (post-workout calorie burn), increases mitochondrial growth (mitochondria help to burn fat) and helps improve one's fitness level.
Sample workout: Warm up for five minutes. For 10, minutes cycle through 30 seconds at regular speed, 20 seconds slightly faster, and 10 seconds fast. Cool down.
Can't get to the gym? Do Tabata intervals at home
One cycle of Tabata takes four minutes. The four minutes is made up of eight sets of 20 seconds of intense work, followed by 10 seconds of complete rest. After one four-minute Tabata set, rest for one minute and move on to your next exercise.
Some options are jumping jacks, burpees, bum kicks or even high knees on the bosu!
Can't do formal intervals? Try fartleks throughout day.
Fartlek intervals are unstructured and thus can literally be done anywhere. For example, integrate them into your commute or as you walk at lunch, with the dog, or after work with your family. Simply pick a random landmark to sprint toward. Any landmark will do; try a stop sign or crosswalk. Once you hit your landmark, slow down and recover.
Traveling and can't get to the gym? Pack a 'gym' in your suitcase.
The band is light and inexpensive; roughly $10. If you go wild and crazy and invest in a doorframe attachment (under $10), you can hook the band onto any door to create a make-shift cable machine.
The attachment is a small piece of fabric that has a ball at one end and a loop at the other. You anchor the ball into the closed door and thread the band through the loop. Voila! Replicate any exercise traditionally performed on a cable machine — wood chops, rows, triceps press downs, etc.
Can't walk outside because of weather? Be creative!
Try mall walking or using the treadmill. Or use the elliptical, an excellent option if you require a low-impact workout because of osteoarthritis, or a history of knee or hip injuries.
Have to miss the gym because of a kid's sporting event? Work out on the sidelines
Do planks, squats, lunges, or Tabata cardio intervals as you watch your child practice or compete in their sport.
More from Kathleen Trotter:
At the risk of sounding harsh, the truth is that there's always that slight "suck it up" component to exercise. Yes, it's important to find things that you (mostly) enjoy, but it's also important to say, "Self, the only workout you ever regret is the workout you didn't do. Life is about choices. If I always put other people first, I will always be too busy for self-care. Self-care is not selfish. A crappy workout is better than no workout."