Trying to find a happy balance between work, personal-life, and fitness is something that many of us struggle to achieve.
Making time for working out and preparing healthy food can sometimes feel impossible with limited hours outside of the working day, so these are normally the first things to fall off the schedule.
We understand how overwhelming it can feel to implement new routines and habits like training and meal prepping, particularly if you're just starting out on your health and fitness journey, or embarking on a Move With Us Challenge for the first time.
However, please know you’re not alone - in the Move With Us community, we have many shift workers, full-time students and busy mothers, absolutely crushing their goals.
We caught up with our long-term client and previous BUILD Challenge winner, Ali, to share her tips and tricks to help you find work-life-fitness balance.
Ali is a Canadian Registered Nurse, as well as a medical student currently studying to become a Doctor. Through her time with Move With Us, she's mastered the art of juggling a busy schedule - working 12+ hour shifts and studying, alongside time for fitness, family, friends and fun.
Ali shares her do-or-die tips for making the most of out of your 24 hours, in hopes to help other shift workers, healthcare staff, parents, and any body struggling to find balance.
Everyone's list of priorities will vary, but establishing what is most important to you is key to maintaining balance in your life.
Each weekend, I dedicate time to planning my agenda for the coming week. I schedule my top priorities in red to highlight the things I cannot miss, and colour code my lower priority items as well.
For me, my top priorities include work, study time for exams, fitness, family, and other important events that vary week-to-week. For you, these priorities might include dedicated time for your children, your spouse, or pet.
#2 Learn to compromise
There will be days where you cannot complete all items on your list, where you encounter an unexpected roadblock, or where you run out of time. This is when you need to compromise on your lower level priorities, but not your primary priorities if that can be avoided.
Through my journey, I have also learned to reflect on my failures and turn them into successes.
Like many people, COVID-19 changed things about my daily routines and gym habits. For me, it meant 100% home workouts for several months, without access to heavy weights or gym equipment.
I was apprehensive about completing a Challenge at home because I felt that my body was used to the intensity of gym workouts, I was not sure what kind of results I could expect when transitioning to working out from home, and really missed lifting heavy. But let me tell you, I was blown away at the effectiveness of the MWU home workouts!
#3 Bring your gym clothes to work
I don't have time after my nursing shifts or uni classes to run home and pack my gym bag. Instead, I plan ahead and bring it with me for the day in my car or my locker.
Not only does this save time commuting, but it's a conscious reminder to get my workout in, and eliminates excuses not to.
#4 Meal prep
I can't overstate how much meal prepping has been a lifesaver for me.
I have arranged my Workout Planner in the MWU App so that Wednesday is my rest day and I can dedicate free time to meal prep. I also do a meal prep on Sundays so I don't have to cook every day of the week.
Having my food prepared allows me to avoid the temptations of eating out, and helps me stick to my nutrition goals and macronutrients.
If you are trying to accomodate children or your partner into your meal prep, I recommend adapting healthier versions of their favourite meals, like home made pizzas or pastas so you can still enjoy eating meals together.
Check out a day on Ali's plate during her last Challenge, eating 2000 calories for her goal of Muscle Gain.
#5 Be patient and consistent
Some days you may fall off track, not accomplish all your goals, or encounter some of life's unpredictability, and that's okay! You don't have to be perfect 100% of the time, what matters most is that you are making consistent steps toward your health and fitness goals.
Doing something is always better than nothing, and when you are patient with yourself and stop expecting yourself to be perfect, you avoid feeling guilty. Guilt can cause you to fall off track for a prolonger period of time, lead to emotional eating, or generally feeling unmotivated to continue.
Be proud of the steps you're taking toward a healthier you, and remember to enjoy the process.
Check out Ali's inspiring muscle gain transformation below. These photos were taken 10 months apart.
Muscle gain can feel like progress is very slow at times, but I’ve learned to be patient in my journey to gain muscle and I’m super proud of myself for sticking with it long-term. I also learned a little jiggle is no big deal.
#6 Reduce de-motivating factors
Motivation ebbs and flows and isn't a constant feeling, but sometimes you will encounter things that decrease your motivation.
For example, at the beginning of my fitness journey, I didn't feel confident in more fitted gym clothes and certainly not in shorts or crop tops.
I adapted my workout wardrobe to help me feel more confident at the gym, which reduced de-motivating anxiety about how I felt about my body at that time, and made it easier for me to enjoy my workouts.
Another example may be reducing your focus on aesthetic improvement. If you feel a sense of anxiety about your before and after photos, completing your check-ins, or changing how you look, you'll be less likely to stick to your fitness routine because it's associated with these negative emotions.
It may be helpful to shift your focus to improving your strength, setting goals like completing 90% of your Challenge workouts, or meeting your macros.
Remember that change doesn't happen overnight, and everyone's bodies are different. You may not see significant physical progress in the same time frame as someone else, but fitness is so much more than aesthetic.
Fitness can help you become a healthier, stronger and more mindful person, and these things are all excellent for one's wellbeing and longevity. You'll find that you're happier, feel more confident, and have more energy to devote to the people and things you love thanks to your MWU routine. Those types of gains are equally as important as the visual ones, don't underestimate them!
#7 Combine activities where you can
I like to save time by combining the things that I have to do, with things that I want to do.
I try to combine activities like this by scheduling breakfast or dinner with my loved ones after my shift, or combining my LISS cardio session with a friend by going on a walk, bike ride or jog while catching up. You could also try a workout class together such as HIIT or spin.
Ali has been with MWU for almost two years, and has completed multiple Programs including STRONG, FIT, ACTIVE, and is going on to complete her third Level of the BUILD Challenge next.
Check out Ali's inspiring results from her first BUILD Challenge in 2020.
"For anyone thinking about bulking, this is your sign. I was so scared when I started bulking that I would gain a lot of body fat, but instead, I gained confidence, love for my body and MUSCLE. Now I'm stronger than ever, hitting PBs, and lifting heavy!
It takes work, dedication, & will-power, but MWU gives you the tools to succeed and helps make that possible by eliminating all the guesswork & planning".
If you're ready to find more balance and create positive new habits to support your health and fitness journey, join us for our final 8-week Challenge experience for the year.
Our exclusive BUILD Challenge includes 12 weeks access to the MWU App, where you'll receive 8 weeks of home and gym workouts, a customised approach to nutrition aligned with your goals, and the accountability of being a part of this exclusive Challenge group, guided by Rachel Dillon and our team of accredited Dietitians and expert Trainers.