5 “I’m Too Busy” Exercise Tips

Everyone gets busy. Busy leads to stress. Stress leads to overwhelm. Overwhelm leads to a life out of balance. When things get hectic, being aware becomes a survival skill.

sportsman running on the beach in TelAviv

Get outside, and get moving!

One of the first habits to fall away when we’re busy is exercise. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are 5 tips to keep exercising when you’re busy.

1. Take a new class –

The type of class doesn’t matter. It just needs to be regular. I’ve used this technique to try out boxing, swimming, and crossfit.

The main reason this works is the times are set. Often our day expands to whatever time we have. Classes force us to commit to a block of time, 1 -3 days a week.

(HINT: I don’t recommend getting a gym membership. Here’s why: The big gym business model is based on people not coming. There’s no urgency with a gym. We can always tell ourselves we’ll do it later. With a class, if we don’t go we lose money. )

2. Get a workout buddy –

If I’m the only one expecting me to get up and run at 6am, it won’t last. A workout buddy holds you accountable. They share the struggle with you. They also multiply the joy.

I was talking to a fellow trainer recently about successful transformation. She identified community as one essential factor of transformation.

A workout buddy is a great way to start building that community. It’s also a way to make exercise an act of service. Because you’ll be helping your buddy as much as they are helping you.

3. Short intense workouts –

One way to fit a workout into a busy day is a short intense workout.

Short workouts involve several full body exercises performed one right after another. This gets lots of muscle groups at the same time. It also gets our heart rate going.

One of my favorite ones is what I call the 5 x 10. It’s a set of 3 exercises a squat thrust, a squat jump, and a mountain climber. You perform each exercise 10 times and then go to the next exercise. Then you rest for 60 – 90 seconds and start all over again. You repeat this 5 times.

This routine takes less than 20 – 30 mins, but every time I do it, I’m amazed at how tired I get.

(Click here to watch a video of this routine)

Too Much

Too intense? Bad knees? No problem. You can this technique with any three exercises.

You could do air squats, 5 second planks, and running in place for 30 seconds. You could do two arm dumbbell curls, tricep curls, and lunges.

The important thing is to do 3 exercises back to back. Then take a short break. Repeat 3-10x.

For the best results,

  1. Pick exercises that work more than one part of your body.
  2. Pick exercises that are challenging but within your comfort zone.

4. Exercise first thing in the morning

I’ve tried exercising at all hours of the day. I’ve found that I enjoy exercise whenever I do it. I’ve also found I’m more consistent if I do it in the morning.

We can never know what the day is going to hold for us. Things are always coming up that eat up time. Often the time that get’s eaten is the time for exercise.

If you are going to exercise early in the day, you might to start getting up earlier. I just read a great article in Zen Habits about how to start this habit.

Leo Babuta recommends that you start by waking up just a few minutes earlier everyday. Shift your waking schedule slowly, so you don’t throw your body out of whack.

5. Create a workout schedule –

Creating a workout schedule seems like a simple thing. Nevertheless, the act of planning makes a huge difference. Just writing down your goals and then recording your progress can keep you on track.

One simple and easy way to start increasing your activity is called a periodization. I used a periodization plan to train for triathlons last year. It’s effective at helping slowly build volume.

It’s a simple. You start with a weekly goal. Say running 20 mins 3x a week. Then you increase that activity by 10% each week for 3 weeks. On the fourth week, you rest and decrease activity by 40%. Then on the fifth week, you increase by 66%.

Ok maybe not that simple. I created a excel spreadsheet that does all the math for you.

You can get it by clicking here.

The beauty of this plan is how simple it is. The downside is how simple it is. It doesn’t take into account cross training, sport specific strength training, or many other factors.

Workout Plan Tips

  1. Always rest a one day a week. The body builds more muscle on rest days then any other.

  2.  Respect rest weeks. These weeks are designed to make sure your progress is sustainable.

  3.  Start slow with a new exercise plan. Consult your physician, if you have injuries or any cardio vascular or respiratory illness.


By using these 5 tips, you can make exercise part of your daily life. When we are busy, it’s more important than ever to stay active.

Some activities, like meditation, spending time with loved ones, and exercise, create more time. When we engage in self-care, we get more space, clarity, and energy. These mean a smoother day and a more efficient, happier you.

Don’t let your busy life throw you off balance. Be creative and find a way to bring moments of stillness and movement into your life everyday.


How To Make Every Day Perfect

How To Make Every Day Perfect
Today Is A Good Day
I lived for several years at Great Vow Zen Monastery in northern Oregon and I saw many people under go a process of deep and fundamental transformation.
The simplicity of life at the monastery, the daily zazen (seated meditation), and the acceptance by the community was an incubator for deep transformation. At Great Vow people face themselves, grow in wisdom, and cultivate compassion.
I watched myself face fear, loneliness, insecurity, anger, and my own impermanence. I watched myself change in subtle and then profound ways. It happened all in this container of practice, of compassion, and of wisdom.
The Schedule
The schedule at Great Vow is unyielding in its regularity. Most days are exactly the same and yet none of them are. The schedule creates a backdrop that makes observing internal dynamics easier.
The schedule at the monastery mirrors an enlightened state of mind. The idea is to emulate the actions of an enlightened being. I’ve come to believe this works no matter what you want to be. If you start living it, you can actualize it.
Today Leads To Tomorrow
For a few months after I left the monastery I struggled to maintain the peace of mind I felt there. The world is full of distractions and it’s hard to maintain clarity. The only place it seemed easier was when I was exercising.
So I took up endurance sports and starting training for century rides and triathlons. When I was out on a long run or ride I felt free. I started to see that exercise, when practiced mindfully, helped me maintain the same sense of calm I felt at Great Vow.
The Dream
That’s when I came up with the idea to start the Mindful Fitness Movement. I realized that even though I had left the monastery, I still wanted to help people transform their lives. I wanted to build a community and livelihood that would help me bring the monastery experience into the world.
But I had no idea how to turn this idea, this dream, into a reality. I’d never done anything like it in my life.
So I asked myself “If I were the pioneer and leader of the Mindful Fitness Movement what would my life look like? Who would I be? What would I do?”
What would tomorrow look like if my dreams came true today? The answer that came to me was so simple: I would live my perfect day. Not just tomorrow, but every day of my life.
My Perfect Day
Living the perfect day isn’t about avoiding problems. It’s setting an intention to live in accord with my vows, my dreams, and the life that resonates with my heart.
So I took out my electronic device and asked myself the following questions:
·       What would I want my perfect day to have in it?
o   Time with my partner
o   Exercise
o   Meditation
o   Study
·       What qualities would my perfect day have?
o   Productivity
o   Order
o   Creativity
o   Moments of Stillness
o   Fun
·       What would I have to do everyday in order to sustain this life?
o   Plan
o   Set goals
o   Work diligently
o   Focus on what’s important
Where To Begin?
Once I had my list I asked, “How would my perfect day start?
My best days had always started with attention, purpose, clarity and good coffee. So my perfect day would start with meditation, writing down my goals, and a cup of French press coffee.
What’s next?
After vows, I wrote down exercise. I like to exercise every morning and I know if I wait I’m better at coming up with excuses.
As my day took shape I felt my heart begin to race and a sense of ease came over me. As each line appeared on the screen my far away dream seemed more and more real. I couldn’t get there tomorrow, but I could move a little closer everyday.
Your Turn
Now that you’ve heard about my journey it’s your turn. You don’t have to change everything at once, but it’s so easy to take one step towards your perfect day today.
Use the questions I have above to start writing down your perfect day. Include things you have to do, but also things you love and want to do.
Start slow.
If you need to take things slow add one new element each week. In a couple of months you will be much closer to living your perfect day. It’s not about speed or perfection; it’s about consistency.
Start now
No matter what method you use, the essential thing is to begin today! The demon of time can eat our lives before we even know what happened. Your transformation has already started. It’s up to you to put in the small, subtle effort, that makes change possible.
You can start by commenting below and answering this one question:
What is one thing you would want in your perfect day?
Need help?
If you need a template I have included my perfect day below. I don’t live my perfect day everyday, but I’m working towards it all the time. I’m also happy to offer you help or answer your questions via email or Skype.
I write everyday on Mindful Fitness Movement about how to support the vital work of transformation. I hope you will click on my Bio so we can start a conversation about how to support each other in walking this path. I also have a special offer for tinybuddha readers to help you get started today!
My perfect day
                I wake up and make a cup of coffee and talk to my partner
                I sit zazen for 25 mins
                I write down my goals and vows
                I go for a short run do a short yoga routine or go swimming
                I write a blog post
                I come home shower and eat a light healthy breakfast
                While I eat I read 2-3 blogs that inspire and educate me
                I review my tasks from a list of the most important things
                I complete one major task in the morning or make very good progress 
                I have lunch with a colleague or friend
                After lunch I do one hour of study
                From 3-7 I meet with clients and groups, teach classes, etc
                I come home and shower
                I prepare and eat a healthy dinner while my partner and I share our day
                I spend 30 mins deciding what to do the next day 
                I read a good book or watch an hour of good TV
                I brush my teeth and floss
                I meditate for 10 mins before sleeping
                I go to bed at a reasonable hour