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How to find time for cooking and exercise?

How to prioritise your health, organise your schedule and find time for both cooking and workouts?

We all know, in principle, what we need to do to improve our health:

  • We need to move more;
  • Eat healthier (conditionally, fewer burgers and fries and more varied, homemade food made from raw ingredients).

But many of us don’t do this because of lack of time.

There’s too much to do anyway – work, housework, kids …


And when the kids are finally fed and asleep – you want to relax in front of the TV or read a book …

You run around like a squirrel all day, barely managing your basic needs. How to find eight hours to sleep, let alone the time for exercise and cooking?

You know, I am no stranger to being busy and stressful lifestyle.

The good news is that there is a system that can help you prioritise your health, organise your schedule and get done what really matters.


7 effective ways to make time for exercise and healthy eating

When life is already stressful, finding time to cook and eat better and/or an hour and a half or two hours for a workout or other physical activity can be difficult.

If you truly want to change something in your life, clearly define (for yourself) why you want to do it.


1 Ask yourself “Why?”.

Why do you want to eat better and move more? The answer can give you the motivation you need to prioritise these activities and make time for them.

For example:

  1. Why do I want to eat healthier and move more?
    • Because I want to wear my favourite dress.
  2. But why do I want to wear my favourite dress?
    • Because it makes me look great.
  3. But why do I want to look better?
    • Because looking good makes me feel good and more confident.
  4. But why do I want to feel good in my body and be confident?
    • Because when I am confident, I can control my fears, and achieve my dreams.

Keep asking “why” until you find a compelling reason to change something in your lifestyle.


2 Identify your key priorities

Think of your time as something limited, like a jar that you can only fill with a limited number of big stones, fill the empty spaces with smaller stones, and add some sand at the end.


Your big stones are what you need most to live a fulfilled and satisfied life. These are usually related to family, health and livelihood, for example:

  • Time spent with your loved ones (friends, family, etc.).
  • Health.
  • Earnings for living.
  • Enough sleep.

Your small stones are what add extra joy and satisfaction to your life, but are not necessarily necessary, for example:

  • A hobby.
  • Excellence or self-fulfilment at work.
  • Success in sport.

Your sand is ‘bonus’ activities that can be fun but are not crucial for your survival and satisfaction with your life, for example:

  • Watching TV.
  • “Sitting” on social networks.
  • Video games.
  • Having a drink outside the home.

For each person, the “big stones”, “small stones”, and “sand” are likely to be different.

But if you fill your jar with “sand” first, there will be no room for anything else.


3 Keep track of your time

We often have no idea how much time we spend on “sand”. Time tracking reflects how you prioritise your life and will help you understand where your time is “disappearing”.


Do a time-tracking exercise at 15-minute intervals for 2 to 3 weeks, like this:

  • 7:00 – 7:15 Got up, brushed my teeth, washed my face.
  • 7:15 – 7:30 Checking what’s new on Instagram / FaceBook / Twitter …
  • 7:30 – 8:00. Still on Instagram.
  • 8:00 – 8:15: Run to work.
  • etc.

Once the data is collected – analyse it.

Ask yourself: does your current time allocation reflect your true priorities?


4 Make improvements at 15-minute intervals

To align your current time allocation with what you want to achieve, gradually replace low-value activities with high-value ones, for example:

  • Spend 15 minutes more cooking.
  • Spend 15 minutes less surfing the Internet or browsing social networks.
  • etc.

5 Create a system that supports your priorities and makes them easier to implement

By taking a little time to plan initially, you can create an environment around you to eat healthier, significantly reducing the time it takes to prepare healthy meals and exercise, for example:

  • Keep fresh and healthy food – fruits and vegetables – in plain sight.
  • Reduce or eliminate treats available at home and at work.
  • Make a habit of cutting vegetables, preparing proteins (meat, fish, etc.) and other ingredients for several days ahead in the mornings or on weekends so that you can quickly prepare a tasty and healthy meal when the time comes.
  • Keep berries and greens in the freezer so you can quickly make super tasty and healthy smoothies.
  • Join a sports club closest to home or work.
  • Keep a gym bag ready in your car or at the front door of your house/apartment.
  • Organise meetings and events in a park or gym.

6 Plan cooking and sports activities in your diary

If we waited until we felt like doing something, many of the important things would never get done.


Plan your priorities and stick to all the activities you have planned.


7 Track your progress

At the end of each week, ask yourself – How did you use your time? Did you spend enough time on improving your health and fitness?

If the answer is ‘yes’, mark what has helped you most to change your habits and keep going.

If “No”, what was it that got in your way?

  • Miscellaneous low-priority ” sands things”? If so:
    • Combine ” sand things” with fitness or cooking, for example – watch TV while pedalling the exercise bike or preparing a meal;
    • Reduce environmental “irritants”, for example – move the TV to a room you do not normally stay in, use an app that limits the time you use the Internet, etc.
    • Try to find stronger motivation. Ask yourself again – Exactly why do I want to eat better and move more?
  • Other high-priority jobs “big stone things”? If so:
    • Set smaller health and fitness goals and continue to improve the environment around you;
    • Delegate some tasks to others, for example – organise childcare so you can go to the gym, etc.
    • Combine “big stone things”, e.g. – invite the family to help with cooking, organise work things while you walk in the park, etc.
    • Learn to create an environment around you that supports your priorities and set realistic goals.

Key takeaways

Healthy eating and fitness are just the tip of the iceberg – supported by prioritising, managing and planning our environment.

We always make time for what we think is the most important.

In other words, we cannot find time to improve our health and well-being because they are not our priority.


Often, they are not a priority for us because, at this particular moment, our health is still “within the norm”, and we feel more or less well.

And we don’t think or don’t want to think about how our choices today will affect our health and well-being a month, a year, five years from now… How will we feel then? What chronic diseases will we suffer from? Will we be able to restore our health, and if so, how much time and money will it take?


Trust me, at 50, life is just beginning, but to enjoy it, you need to stay healthy and full of energy.


So – exercise, have a balanced diet and stay healthy!

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