What to do when staying in shape is harder than ever
The pandemic broke your systems
If you have ever worked with us before, you will know how much we value systems.
Goals are good for setting a direction but systems are best for making progress. Your goal is your desired outcome. Your system is the collection of daily habits that will get you there. For example, your goal might be to lose 2 stone in 6 months. Sure, its important and a big motivator but it won’t get you there alone. It’s your systems that get you there e.g. eating healthily for every meal, going to the gym 4 times per week, walking to work instead of driving etc.
This explains why so many people are in bad shape after all the lockdowns. The pandemic broke your systems.
In this article, we’ll show you why your broken system is making it harder to:
- regularly exercise
- eat appropriate amounts of nutritious foods
- engage in other healthy behaviours.
More importantly, we’ll help you build a new health and fitness system—one that’s better designed for you and your current situation.
Meet our client, let’s call him Arnold
Ok, we have changed his name for confidentiality purposes (we don’t train Schwarzenegger – although if you are reading Arnie contact us for a free consultation!).
His pre-pandemic system was working well for him. He trained consistently at the gym for over a year, and got down to 8% body fat. His system was as follows:
1. He packed his gym bag the night before and put it by the front door.
2. He got his gym clothes ready and put them by his bed.
3. In the morning, all he would have to do is wake up, fall out of bed, put his gym clothes on and walk to the gym (which was between home and work).
4. The 10 minute walk would wake him up by the time he opened the gym doors.
5. After the gym he was already practically at work.
This was a highly effective system. It got him from home to the gym, without creating a series of “Nope, I can’t be bothered to train today” moments.
But then the world changed
For Arnold, as it was for all of us, the pandemic broke his system.
- He no longer had to get up early to get to work.
- The gym closed.
- He stopped packing his gym bag at night.
- He no longer needed to set an alarm to get up.
He had more time to exercise than ever before. But he didn’t do any.
He was stuck at home watching Netflix and eating Pizza.
Arnold isn’t the problem. His system is – because it is null and void. What worked for him, is no longer possible.
If this all sounds painfully familiar, know this: You’re not the problem. But your system probably is—because it’s no longer working.
Hope – it is time to build a new health and fitness system
The new normal doesn’t have to be worse. It can be better, albeit different.
Answer these 5 questions to create your new super, lockdown-proof system:
1. What is your health and fitness goal now?
The first step to building an unbeatable system is to consider whether your health and fitness goal is the same now as it was before lockdown? We have worked with people who were training for a bodybuilding competition pre-lockdown but now prioritise being healthy and functionally strong for outdoor activities. You may be thinking the opposite and that is great – there is no right or wrong here – it is YOUR goal afterall.
Why is this important? Well, the first step to creating a GREAT system is knowing what the perfect outcome is e.g. to lose 5st and fit into 30 inch waist jeans.
2. Where does achieving that health and fitness goal fit in your list of priorities now?
Covid-19 got all of us thinking about what really matters. How can it not when it has been such a threat to our way of life.
So, where does achieving this goal fit into your list of priorities now? For some, their health and fitness goal was top of their list pre-lockdown – more so than work, social life etc. Now, their main priority is to spend time with family and friends they haven’t seen for over a year. For others, lockdown has led to them putting on a lot of weight and so their health and fitness goal has become an even bigger priority. Again, there are no right or wrong answers here. It is for you to decide.
Why is this important? A great system is one that works for you. That means we need to figure out how to create systems to get you fit and healthy even if it is not your top priority right now. For example, if your business suffered due to lockdown your priority may be rebuilding it now that lockdown is opening up. Does this mean you can’t get fit and healthy? No, we just need to know so we can create systems that work with this priority not against it.
3. Do your current actions line up with those priorities?
Do your current actions line up with your list of priorities? In other words, are you putting effort into what you feel is most important?
For example, if losing weight is an important priority is your use of time getting you closer to or further away from that goal?
There may be conflicts here. Your top three priorities may be spending time with your family, rebuilding your business AND losing weight at the same time. This can be done – but things can get overwhelming if our systems make things out of balance. For example, if you spend 10 hours a day at work and 2 hours in the gym after work, are you getting that family time you need? Or would a smarter, more efficient exercise and nutrition system help you to get home in time for dinner and bedtime stories with your kids?
Why is this important? Always consider that when we say yes to one thing, we say no to another. A great system generates actions in support of your priorities, working with you and not against you. If everything lines up for you – AMAZING. Carry on. If not, let’s take a look at what was once working for you (your old system) to see if there’s anything we can use there.
4. What was your old system?
Ah the good old days! Remember when we could meet all of our friends at once and the only people who wore face masks were dentists? Good times.
Perhaps you also had a system that worked really well for your health and fitness too. What were you doing consistently to stay healthy? Were you…
- Eating vegetables with every meal?
- Getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night?
- Other stuff?
What systems once helped make it easier for you to do all of that?
For example, to get a good nights sleep, did you….
- Get up early?
- Stop drinking coffee at 1pm?
- Switch your TV off 2 hours before bed?
- Take a magnesium supplement?
- Have a routine?
And what order did all of that happen?
While the example above may not match one of your processes, write down your old system so we can see what works (and what has been disrupted).
For example, in the past, maybe you kept certain foods out of the house because you knew you’d eat them. But due to the ‘supermarkets are going to run out of supplies’ scare, you stockpiled chocolate digestives. Once those foods were in your kitchens, perhaps you his started feeling concerned that you were “eating too much.”
Knowing this, you might decide to re-evaluate what you’re putting on your grocery list and throw out any junk food from your cupboards, replacing them with healthier versions.
Why this is important: Now that you’re aware of your old system, you’re ready to think about which parts of that system you want to re-prioritise, what parts you no longer need, and what new habits you might want to add. Which brings us nicely to the next section…
5. What systems do you need now?
(i) What parts of your old systems should you hold onto?
Their are parts of your old system that can help you live a healthier life in pursuit of your goal. For example, maybe you should still:
- Put your workout clothes next to your bed in the morning (you might not be able to go to the gym but it may prompt you to do your morning workout in your home / outdoors).
- Pack your healthy lunch the night before even though you’ll be eating at home (this will reduce the likelihood of reaching for a frozen pizza!).
- Create a workout space in your home / garden / garage and exercise at the same time you would normally go to the gym (you’ll even get to pick the music rather than listening to your gym’s overplayed playlist!).
(ii) What can you let go of from your old system?
With your new list of priorities now written down, what actions from your old system can be dropped?
For example, if you are not trying to get ready for a bodybuilding competition anymore, do you need to measure and weigh every ounce of food? If you have less time for exercise now that you are rebuilding your business, do you need to spend hours doing upper body then lower body days or can you do smart full body sessions?
Perhaps your desire for a six pack has gone and you want to focus on a balanced lifestyle now. All the details and sacrifice that go into it may be meaningless now – that’s ok (you can always come back to it).
If you simply don’t have the capacity for something, drop it. Do it!
(iii) What new systems do you need?
Start by finding a new anchor for your day. What is an anchor? An anchor habit is something you do every day—without thinking about it.
Before the pandemic, many of us had several anchor habits that functioned like the first domino in a series. Once that one domino tipped over, many other dominoes fell right after it, without much effort or thinking.
For example, the alarm going off at 6:30am (first domino) led to waking up and immediately putting gym clothes on (second domino) which led to walking to the gym (third domino) which led to working out at the gym (fourth domino) and finally leaving the gym to go to work (fifth domino).
Lockdown took out the need to go to work and the gym, which took out the need to get up at 6:30 so none of these healthy habits end up happening.
So you need a new one. What would make staying active, eating nutritious foods, restful sleep, and other priorities easier and more automatic? Consider your:
- Daily schedule: Could consistent wake times, meal times, exercise times, meditation time, or bedtime help?
- Surroundings: What changes could you make to your kitchen, workout space, and other aspects of your physical environment? Can you work away from your bedroom for example?
- Reminders: How might setting alarms, using a to-do list, or time-blocking (make things easier?
- Planning: Would you benefit from a weekly meal prep and grocery shopping plan?
- Support: Could you lean on people around you for motivation, accountability, and help? Contact us today for a free consultation if you need this.
- Routines: How might you stack healthy habits on top of something you already do? For example, could you listen to a personal development podcast whilst going for a walk every lunchtime? Could you do physical exercise with family?
Wrapping it all up
How do you know your new system works? Try it!
If it works, great. If it doesn’t, make some tweaks. Give it seven days You will find a system that works for you.
We guarantee it will work out.
P.S. Did we just create a system to help you create a system? Cool, hey!
P.P.S Need help with this? Contact us for our Personal Training options. We will even through in a free consultation!
I am going to be honest. Being a Royal Marine Commando taught me more about health and fitness than all of my personal training courses combined. That’s no criticism of the teaching, rather a nod to the fact that health and fitness is a way of life in the Royal Marines because our lives depended on it.
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Most of us will struggle to find the time for exercise occasionally, and that’s perfectly ok – life happens. As a business owner and parent, I understand how time constraints can impact your health and fitness. I often have to remind myself that my health and fitness directly contribute to my business productivity and life.