Staying fit and being healthy is all about effective time management and — as with every other area of your life — you will reap what you sow in your

Being fit for life is a tough challenge — especially now, it seems. As the TV and newspapers continue to focus on negative stories about banks, stock exchanges or the housing market, these uncertainties will add to the stress in most people’s lives.

Financial challenges may not only put a dent in your bank balance but also in your health and fitness regime. You may already have decided to put your fitness, family dinners and playtime on hold so you can put in more office hours.

Stimulants

The extra hours and intake of relaxants and stimulants, such as caffeine, may have led to a corresponding increase in your waistline and you’re probably more familiar with the family picture on your desk than with your real family at home.

Interruptions to one’s fitness routine are unfortunate, and can be unavoidable. For instance, you may be forced to stop or reduce training because of the death of a relative, a divorce or increased job commitments.

It will all come down to a simple choice, in this case: do you want to offer up your health and family life for the sake of 16-hour work days?

My clients’ goals are generally to reduce weight, increase muscle and feel better and more confident in themselves. It’s the challenge of long work hours, young children, poor nutrition and lack of sleep that are the stumbling blocks.

Rocks

In his book First Things First, Stephen Covey writes about the ‘big rocks principle’. A lecturer places a large box on the table and fills it with big rocks. He then asks his students if there is room for anything else.

The students all say ‘no’, so the lecturer places some pebbles down the sides of the rocks. Again he asks the question, is there room for anything else? The students again say ‘no’. So the lecturer places sand between the rocks and the pebbles. He repeats the question and gets the same answer.

The big rocks symbolise what is most important to you — your health and your family. Working life, although important, should not beat those priorities.

You need to take a step back and analyse your situation. You need to get the big rocks in first and book in your training sessions as if they were an important meeting with a client.

If you feel you need to improve your time management, learn about Alfredo Pareto’s 80:20 principle. A former economist, Pareto believes that 80pc of our business comes from 20pc of our clients.

Effective

We wear 20pc of our clothes 80pc of the time. And so it is with fitness training: do you want to waste 80pc of your time on slow, continuous aerobic training, like jogging, or be more effective with fat-loss circuits that take 20pc of the time?

Aerobic training increases the release of our ‘fight or flight’ responses, which cause the nervous system to release adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol. This will eventually lower your immune system and shut down your digestion.

With elevated cortisol levels, the body has a hard time activating the thyroid hormones. When you don’t have enough of these, metabolism slows and you can put on weight.

As I’ve said before, you reap what you sow and if your aim is abundance in health and family time, you need to make them your priority and set yourself new fitness goals.

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