A while ago I wrote a blog on “how to stay fit while traveling”. After summarising all the tricks, rules and tools that I use to stay in shape, I have concluded that the main thing you need to stay fit is motivation. Some people have a natural inner motivation for fitness (me! 😊) whilst others find their own way to motivation that suits them to get, be and stay fit.
There are no “one size fits all” approaches to fitness and motivation. Therefore in order to find out how busy people stay fit, I went around and asked people “how do you stay fit, given the busy lifestyle you lead”? And here they are, the answers to the million-dollar question: “how do busy people stay fit?”
Austėja, Strategic Marketing Consultant. Lives in Heidelberg, Germany. Travels for work over 50% of her time, just finished an MBA and lectures at Startup Mentoring events.
“For me to stay fit is not the goal by itself, but it is instead a natural outcome of the lifestyle I choose. Even though I enjoy being active, working in consulting and travelling extensively often makes it hard to find the time and especially motivation for a regular workout. The typical advice to take stairs instead of an elevator or walk instead of driving look way less appealing after the whole day of meetings and with the laptop on your back. My solution to balancing the busy working life and the need to stay in shape is making sports a way to spend my leisure time.
I’m an avid cyclist, and every year I go to several bike trips for a weekend or a couple of weeks in Germany, France or Switzerland riding about 100 kilometres per day. Just last summer I spent two weeks cycling across France on the EuroVelo 6 cycle route following the Loire river to the Atlantic ocean. Even though France is not famous for its bike roads, it provides an excellent combination of good roads, picturesque scenery as well as great wine and food to enjoy after the long day on the road. Nevertheless, to really have fun during such a trip preparation and the right level of fitness is the key, thus I don’t need a better motivation to jump on a bike and ride for a couple of hours after work especially than after ten minutes of ride I can leave the city and enjoy biking in the hills and forest. The bonus point comes as the best way to clean the mind from all life and work-related problems and issues while pushing my limits and having the 100% concentration on the bike and the road.”
Lina, Management Consultant. Lives in Copenhagen, Denmark. Currently travels for work over 50% of her time, manages a few properties, is re-building/renovating a newly bought house and does watersports when she gets a chance.
“I am traveling with work a lot which means sleeping 3-4 nights per week not in your own bed. That leads to a struggle with having any routine what so ever regarding training. To be very honest, I have another issue (or excuse) as well. If I feel tired from work, I am tired and that’s it. Gym doesn’t energize me and doesn’t clear my head in some special way. I used to constantly feel guilty for not doing enough on the physical training area, but now I just try to live up to my own invented good guidelines and I find it much easier to be physically active “by accident”.
- Always pack training clothes and sneakers (just in case),
- Try to book hotels with gym (just in case too),
- Find favourite hotels with a nice gym or other benefits (sauna, swimming pool etc.),
- Be curious about different restaurants and walk to them for dinner,
- Instead of sitting at your laptop in the hotel room, be a tourist and walk to explore,
- Google what special activities are around, such as dance festivals or water sports and just do it.
As you can see, my physical activities are driven by curiosity rather than a need to lose, grow, fix or clear out. Maybe they are inconsistent and unplanned, but still better than moving a computer mouse during long evenings at hotels.”
Taylor, Acquisitions Manager. Lives in London, UK. Currently relocating abroad, working on his writing portfolio, running obstacle courses on a monthly basis and learning a foreign language.
“To stay fit and active has never been a chore for me and, between you and me, I don’t believe there are too many excuses to justify not being active for at least 30 minutes a day. I work a regular 8 to 5 job and, until only a few weeks ago, taught part-time at a university and delivered various personal tuition sessions at the weekend. Sure, I also attend classes, socialise, do my own personal errands and, you know, live life, but I believe that I can only do these things to the best of my ability if my body is at its healthiest.
My philosophy is this: I really love being physical (walking, cycling, running, you name it) but, more than this, I really, really love the fact that my body doesn’t cause me problems when I need to walk up the stairs, reach for the pen that has fallen under my desk or crouch down low to clean the car. I figure if I treat my body right, and put just a little effort into doing it, it’s going to pay me back tenfold. A little effort goes a long way. I do this by just a few simple, fundamental measures:
- Sleep 7 hours;
- Spend 60 minutes engaged in heavy weightlifting every morning;
- Drink plenty of water and eat plenty of wholesome, nutritious foods.
There’s really nothing more to it than that. I also play the ‘why’ game with myself: why take the lift when you can take the stairs? Why take the tube when you can take the bike? Why sit on the couch binging on Netflix when you can be out there socialising and winning medals at fun runs and obstacle courses? There is one other thing that contributes to overall good health and fitness: mental attitude. Perhaps this is helped by meditation, journaling or any other in-vogue mental exercises (a sudoku a day keeps the doctor away, right?) or perhaps it’s the mutual love, understanding and support you give and get from your partner, but whatever it is a happy mind leads a happy body.”
Gintarė, Scrum Master. Lives in Vilnius, Lithuania. Regularly travels abroad for work and even more often for pleasure. Currently keeps herself busy on weekends by roller-skating with her husband, running and dancing lindyhop.
“Leading a busy lifestyle and taking care of your body all nails down to priorities. When you are twenty-something, you are keen on experimentation and testing your limits. By the time you are thirty-something, you start thinking about how you do things rather than marking everything on your checklist. You get the understanding that the habits you acquire will most likely prevail for the rest of your life.
The first questions you answer to yourself are: why do you do this? And how badly do you want it? And any answer is valid, as long as it works. Mine are fairly simple: to look good naked. And I do want it badly. Even if the answers are vain, they carry a bit more inside: the personal connection to cult of beauty and youth, the importance of health, the pains of distorted self-image and the importance of focus.
The ‘how to stay fit’ part of the question has to do quite a lot with knowing your hormones. While endorphins mask physical pain, seeing your goal all the time (like on your phone screen) will help you achieve it earlier rather than later with better use of dopamine.”
Tanushree, Founder of the BodyCafe. Lives in Hyderabad, India. Currently running her business and working for a company simultaneously, whilst also exploring the world with her husband and starting a YouTube channel.
“Being an entrepreneur and having a super demanding schedule I’m left with very little scope to take care of myself and my health. Even though I’m not a subject matter expert when it comes to fitness I incorporate few hacks that really help me stay fit.
1) Enough hydration – I ensure I drink enough water and flush out toxins. Post lunch I put a handful of fennel seeds in a glass of hot water and drink the water and chew the soaked seeds.
2) I watch my diet. I try and avoid unnecessary carbs and hardly consume liquor. Of course there are cheat days but I usually try to keep the discipline. I have a sweet tooth so it’s a huge challenge but I try having dark chocolates or dates to satiate my sweet cravings.
3) Basic form of exercise – I must admit I am not a regular when it comes to exercise, but I take at least 6k steps on a daily basis, do my stretches, occasionally play badminton, stand in between work and stretch, do basic arm and neck exercises to ensure blood flow.
4) Do not let trivial issues work me up – immature behaviour or reckless pedestrians are basically everyday issues I try and classify on what deserves my attention and reaction and keep my sanity in check.
5) I ensure to catch up with my friends on a weekly basis and have a hearty laugh and keep myself positive. I organise weekly meets where like-minded professionals network and keep productivity high.”
Rūta, Implementation Consultant. Lives in London, UK. Regularly travels for work, recently completed her master’s degree and currently keeps herself busy on weekends by learning a new language and dancing salsa.
“How do I stay fit, given the busy lifestyle I lead?
- By having a specific fitness goal!
My overall fitness objective is primarily to increase my strength so that I am able to do more with my body – it’s not just the way it looks! Seeing how regular runs make me faster or how weekly calisthenics classes help me improve my pull ups, motivates me to work out continuously! I suggest everyone to find an area that you want to improve so that your fitness has a purpose.
- By making it fun!
Make your workouts excite you! Make them so fun that you cannot wait for them to start. My weekly workout schedule may seem weird for some at first: calisthenics, weights workout, boxing, yoga, HIIT. Having so many different activities on a weekly basis is not only great because it’s working different muscle groups and improving my adaptability, but it’s also never boring! If you are dreading your next workout, something is wrong – change it up!”
Simonas, Entrepreneur. Lives in Vilnius, Lithuania. Currently spends time lecturing at Karjeros Stovykla and coaching on Public Speaking. Recently spent two months traveling in Thailand, followed by a month-long tour on the motorbike through Europe.
“For me, exercising three times a week for at least 30-60 minutes is a blessing – it does not take much time, keeps my cortisol and adrenaline down while the released feel-good hormones help me stay more productive, alert, focused as well as to keep business-related anxiety at lower levels. I know that 3 hours of exercise a week are going to save me much more than that when it comes to productivity, so it is a good return on the investment in a busy schedule.
When it comes to hectic weeks, it is always about priorities – I will usually try to eliminate three least important meetings/events to make time for exercise. Again, in the name of the quality & productivity doing the most important things.”
As you can see, different people have their own preferred ways to stay fit and to find motivation to continue with a healthy lifestyle. Often it is all these small steps that make the difference: packing your sportswear when traveling; walking some extra steps; finding what activity makes you happy and energised. This is not a rocket science. This is a science of continuous motivation to healthier, happier and fitter life.