How to keep health and fitness top of mind while maintaining a busy schedule

How to keep health and fitness top of mind while maintaining a busy schedule

Let’s face it, we’re all crazy busy. It always seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day for us to get everything done that we want to, or are supposed to. We’re supposed to sleep 8 hours a night, work/go to school for 8 hours, meal prep healthy meals, drink enough water, work out, spend time with friends and fam, practice self-care, work on our goals, and the list goes on and on. Sounds like a list for super humans, right? Luckily, it’s actually not as unattainable as you might think!

This is where I come in. Hi, I’m Sam. I’m a 1st year MD student in Ottawa. I love all things fitness, healthy eating, and self-care. It’s taken a lot of hard work, but I’ve managed to keep my health (both physical and mental) a top priority while being crazy busy with school. Most of my success comes from time management, optimizing my productivity, and really staying in tune with myself.

Read on for part 1 of my tips on maximizing your time and prioritizing health and fitness! This part focuses mostly on specifics of WHAT to do, and the next part will focus more on the attitudes and behaviours to help this change be SUSTAINABLE. 

1. Write down your goals 

I know what you’re thinking, another task? Just what you needed when you already feel like you can’t get enough hours in the day. But seriously -  you need to trust me on this one. Writing down your goals is a small step, but it makes the world of a difference. 

You’ll need 3 different lists: One Long-Term (months - years), one Short-Term (days - months), and one Immediate. Before writing these lists, really sit down with yourself and think HARD about what you want your goals to be. Make them ambitious but realistic. Start with smaller goals and then work your way up to bigger ones. For example, start by planning to meal prep healthy food a few days If you want to eat healthier, and going to the gym 3x per week. 

Start with your long term goals, and then refine them down to your short-term goals. As time goes on, check in with your these goals to see how you’re doing, and modify them as needed. You’ll grow and adapt over time, and your goals will too! 

2. Start your day EARLY and with a routine

Ok, secret’s out. This is my #1 tip for overcoming the busy schedule. My alarm goes off every morning at 5AM, and it’s when I’m the MOST productive, bar-none. There are practically zero distractions (because nobody else is up, naturally), and it’s so peaceful! I do go to bed earlier than most people, but realistically all I’d do from the hours of 10-12PM is scroll through social media, watch TV, or be unproductive in some other way. Seems like a no brainer when you think of it that way, right?

Now, what you do in the morning is dependent on your priorities. That being said, develop a morning routine and STICK TO IT. This sets your whole day up for success, and puts you in an amazing state of mind for the day.

Personally, I usually go to the gym for 6AM, and then I have my WHOLE day for everything else that I have to do. Most people say they “can’t work out in the morning”, and that’s fair to say at first! If you’re not used to it, of course you don’t have the energy to smash a crazy gym session when you’re usually fast asleep!! But, it’s all about PRACTICE!  I think of it like living in a different time zone: I go to bed a little earlier, and I wake up a little earlier. My body is USED to it because I’ve trained it to be. Even if this sounds like your worst nightmare, try it out for a few weeks and just SEE how amazing it can be!

3.Plan out your day

Every morning (after you wake up early, of course) write out your daily goals and tasks. Don’t bombard your list with 50 different tasks, but prioritize your tasks on what needs to get done today, and what can wait til tomorrow. I put everything on my daily goals - from going to the gym, to doing laundry, to reviewing my lecture slides, to watering my plants. 

THEN, organize your day by the hour. If you’re like me, your day is jam-packed with work, meetings, and other miscellaneous tasks. Planning out when to do your goals/tasks is a MUST if you actually want to get them done! If you’re a pen and paper kind of person, get yourself a beautiful agenda that makes you happy to look at. If you like everything syncing on your devices (like me), use iCal or Google Calendar. 

Now for my favourite part. When you’ve finished your tasks, CHECK them off when you’ve finished them! This is the most satisfying thing ever, and is a must-do in my opinion. Whatever you didn’t get done today, write it on your list for tomorrow, or the next day. 

Setting and planning out my daily goals are major key for me, because even if I feel like I have an unproductive day, I still know that I’ve achieved a few things that I hoped to!

4.Meal prep

I’d be lying to myself if I said that meal prepping wasn’t one of the best strategies to stay healthy with a busy week. How many times do you find yourself being too busy to cook food, so you just grab a granola bar, or stop quickly at Timmies for something to-go? 

Your body NEEDS nourishment from a variety of different whole foods. You need carbs (yes, carbs), healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals! You definitely aren’t going to get all of that from a diet consisting of just protein bars and Tim’s bagels.

I usually meal prep on Sunday night, and make a bunch of different roasted veggies, quinoa, and tofu or beans for lunches (I put them on a bed of spinach or kale), overnight oats and chia pudding for breakfast, and chopped raw veg + hummus for snacks. I also make some healthy protein balls or muffins for when I’m in a rush. Meal prep does not have to be crazy complicated!! Mine is SO simple, doesn’t take long, and keeps me eating healthy the whole week. Start off by meal prepping for a few days on Sunday nights and then work your way up from there!! 

If you made it this far, congrats!! You should be proud of yourself for prioritizing your education on health and fitness. The next step is actually putting it into action. I would LOVE to hear all of your success stories, so send me a DM @healthyfitmd if you try out any of these tips!

In the next blog post, I’ll be giving you guys some tips on how to make these tips LAST and be sustainable!

Thanks for reading, and see you all soon!