Or to be more precise; the lack of it.
It’s probably the most common reason people give for not exercising or eating better. Is it a valid reason? Let’s see…
First of all, there’s the idea that people are somehow busier nowadays than they used to be. This is absolutely not the case. Personally, I think that generally speaking people have become worse at time management, and this probably adds to the perception that they have less time to spare.
But the perception is usually false.
One of my pastimes is reading. I don’t read what I would consider a lot, but (work-related stuff aside) I usually get through an average of a book every week.
If this comes up in conversation with someone, it is very common for the person I am chatting with to gaze wistfully into the middle distance and say something to the effect that they wish that they had the time to read a book a week and I am very lucky. My usual reaction is to ask them how much television they watch every day. This question is usually met with some defensive mumbling and I am suddenly unpopular!
The average Irish person watches over four hours of TV per day. Four hours!! That’s about thirty hours every week. Do you think that sounds crazy and you’re way below average? Maybe you are… but not by as much as you think. A stopwatch beside the remote control always, always shocks people when they see how much time they spent in front of the box in one day.
So when someone says that they don’t have the time to read a book every week, or exercise for 45 – 60 minutes every couple of days, what they are ACTUALLY saying is that it is just not a priority for them. And that really is fine, it’s a free country. Just don’t fool yourself by saying you don’t have time.
Second of all, let’s look at the perception that being healthier has to be time-consuming. To be more specific, let’s look at food.
Lots of people don’t like spending significant amounts of their time in the kitchen preparing food. Sometimes after a long day at work, the thought of spending ages cooking a meal from scratch can be off-putting. It’s one of the reasons for the current trend in cookbooks; meals that can be prepared quickly.
But if the thoughts of spending even 15 mins in the kitchen is still off-putting, and you just want to pop something into the oven and put your feet up, there are ways to do that and still have a healthy meal. One of the best ways is bulk food preparation.
Pick a day that is not a workday so that you’re not coming in the door tired (Sunday is the most popular), spend an hour or less doing up a big batch of your favourite meal (chilli is my own personal go-to) and pop it into the freezer in separate, oven-proof containers. If you have a decent sized freezer, you can have three or four different dishes to choose from at a given time. I use disposable foil containers with removable cardboard lids so I can write the name of the dish on the lid; easy peasy.
Another tip is trying to avoid shopping day by day. Do big grocery shops once or twice a week. Plan ahead.
Many busy people typically go to the supermarket on the way home from work every day, just buying what they need for that day. This is a very inefficient way of doing things if you think about it, and the time you will saved from not going to the shop on the way home can be spent to much better effect in the kitchen!
Not to mention that the sort of things we have mentioned above (getting in a big food shop once or twice a week, doing your meal prep in advance) are significantly cheaper than the alternatives (shopping every day, eating out regularly, or getting takeaways/deliveries).
If, for example, you bring a healthy lunch into work with you each day because you planned ahead with your food shopping, you could be saving a large amount of money while also doing good to your waistline. It’s a win/win.
So the next time you tell someone that you don’t have time to do something that will make your life better, stop and think about it. Is it really true?