My life became very busy after my marathon. I have been lucky in the past to be able to make time for workouts and training. Lately, I have been having a difficult time balancing my professional ambitions with my athletic ambitions, as I ramp up my career as a Registered Dietitian. I have committed to working both weekends and weekdays, sometimes juggling two different jobs in one day and spending the majority of my day working and driving. Finding time for training has been getting increasingly difficult.
It is very difficult for an athlete who is used to having a couple of hours during the day to train to get accustomed to barely squeezing in 30 minutes. Now it is all about maximizing my workout to get the most benefit out of 30 minutes. If I run, I will run at a faster clip or do interval training. If I lift weights, I will do super-sets or do exercises that work several different muscle groups at one time. I can finally empathize with people who tell me they are too busy for exercise! I have been making an art out of finding time for exercise and eat healthy.
With a decrease in training time and volume, I have had a change in the amount and timing of my nutrition. I often feel overwhelmed between some of my commitments and worrying about healthy eating and exercise. Grocery shopping late at night or on the way home from work when I am exhausted is a challenge. Now that I am traveling between several cities for work, and often being away from home for hours on end, I find it difficult to eat healthy. After a few months of struggling with the balance between work, exercise, and nutrition, I feel that I am finally getting the hang of it.
Here are some of my suggestions for eating healthy on the run:
1) Schedule it in. Much like you schedule your workouts and work schedule into the week it is important to also schedule a time for grocery shopping.
2) Plan ahead for healthy eating. Before you go to the grocery store make a list and plan out meals ahead of time. This will take a little time, but it is better than going to the grocery several times during a busy week to buy food. You could be using this time for exercise.
3) Make it ahead. Plan to cook 2-3 night during the week and make extra for other meals. For instance, if you are grilling chicken, make a few extra chicken breasts to use for lunch or dinner the next night. Or if you make a casserole, make enough to ensure you will have leftovers for a couple of meals. This will make it easy to reheat something or throw together something quickly on a night you don’t have time for cooking.
4) If you eat out pick something healthy. Even fast food restaurants are getting better about offering healthy options.
5) Keep healthy snacks at your desk or in your car. I like to keep dried fruit and nuts with me just in case I do not have time for a meal. Another idea is to have fresh fruit available or if you have a fridge at work, keep string cheese and yogurt for snacks during the day.
6) Make healthy eating a priority. Much as you make exercise a priority, healthy eating should be on the top of the list as well. Do not think that being busy means nutrition is not important. It is probably more important. Eating healthy will keep your immune system strong and will prevent illness and injury.
To all you busy athletes out there: Do you have any suggestions for fitting in exercise and healthy eating on a busy schedule? I would love your input!
*By the way, you may be interested in how I did in the Vermont City Marathon http://www.runvcm.org/page.php?pid=91&pname=marathon_2012_invited_profiles. I was very pleased with my time, finishing in 3:00:05, which is 5th place for women. It was a great day, with clear skies and temperature during the race in the 60’s.