Diet vs. Exercise: What if You Can't Find Time for Both?

by Erica House

Time spent in the kitchen can steal minutes from your workout

When I cover the chapter on Stress and Health in my General Psychology course, I discuss the most common source of stress for adults: time (followed closely by finances).

For most adults juggling work and family life is enough to take up every spare minute of the day.

As such, it's understandable that people embarking on a healthier lifestyle may become overwhelmed when struggling to find the time to eat healthy and exercise.

As a personal trainer, I'm often asked which is 'more important' for getting in shape and losing weight: diet or fitness. Short answer: Both. Judging by the looks I receive after I try to explain how both components are essential parts of the getting fit equation, that's not the answer most people want to hear. It's not that my clients aren't willing to do both -- they just don't feel like they have the time.

A study at Ohio State University confirms the time pinch felt when trying to get healthy. Researchers found that time spent preparing healthy meals took precious minutes away from people's workouts. Crunching numbers from the U.S. Census data, they found that a 10-minute increase in time preparing healthy meals was associated with a lower likelihood of exercising for 10 minutes.

They also found that just 12 percent of women said they had exercised the day before (for an average of 9 minutes) and they spent an average of 44 minutes preparing meals. As the lead researcher pointed out, if it is apparent that people have under an hour each day to devote to healthy activities it's crucial they know how to distribute it in the most effective manner. Men, on the other hand, worked out an average of 19 minutes and prepped their meals for 9.

I've touched on the idea of meal prepping before but I cannot stress its importance enough. I'm not immune to the time constraints of life and the only way I can squeeze in 45 minutes of exercise most mornings is by spending two hours on Sunday afternoon doing my meal prep for the week. This way, when it's time for lunch and dinner during the week, the only thing I really have to do is reheat something or assemble a big veggie-filled salad.

The only other solution I've known to work well for me is to wake up early enough to have 30 extra minutes in my day. Yes, it can be brutal to hear your alarm clock blaring at 5:30 a.m., but if you're really committed to seeing results and can't find the time during your typical day, then this may be the best (last) resort. I promise you will adjust to it eventually.

Erica House holds a master's degree in psychology and has been teaching at the university level since 2007. In addition, she is a certified personal trainer and freelance writer who is always trying to learn more and travel farther. After achieving -- and maintaining -- her own 50-pound weight loss, she is passionate about helping others on their journey to lifelong happiness and wellness. She blogs daily on her site

Fitness & Exercise - Diet vs. Exercise: What if You Can't Find Time for Both?