Unemployment sucks -- no secret there. And often when we’re unemployed and down in the dumps, the negative emotions spill over to all other aspects of our lives, including our health. We stop taking care of ourselves and give fitness and nutrition the lowest priority because we see it as a distraction from our career goals.
Believe me, this was a HUGE problem for me during my prolonged period of unemployment a few years ago. And in my case, it was especially bad because I’m a bottomless pit as it is, so being sad only means that I turn to food for comfort. And at the same time, I avoid the gym like the plague, so you can imagine the repercussions! Thankfully, things have changed and I now lead a fairly healthy lifestyle, but in my previous life, I used every excuse in the book for why I shouldn’t focus on my health, and I have a sneaky feeling I’m not alone. So let's examine these excuses:
1. I don’t have the TIME to work out: I call BS on this -- Yes you do! I’m terrible at managing my time, but here are a few workarounds:
Make your workout schedule non-negotiable. Have a set time on your calendar every day or 3-5 times a week for your workout. Schedule nothing else at that time.
Make a financial commitment you can’t back out of. Things like Classpass are especially effective because you get penalized for being a no-show.
Teach a class! You definitely can’t skip out now! Become a dance, yoga, or some other type of fitness instructor if you have the ability. If you don’t possess the skills yet, train to be an instructor.
Multitask during your walk/runs - listen to a podcast, audiobook, or even take a phone call. This way you can kill 2 birds with one stone.
Incorporate tiny habits that add up. Walk your dog more, walk instead of driving, take the stairs, or just park in the furthest spot from the store.
2. I don’t want to be around people: Yes, when you’re unemployed and feeling sad, anxious, ashamed, you just want to retreat under the covers and not face legions of people in their well-fitting workout gear looking like they just crushed it at the gym for 5 hours! (Lookin' at you, yoga pants girls!) But exercise can actually elevate your mood, not only chemically because it’s releasing endorphins (has Elle Woods taught us nothing?), but you also feel physically and psychologically better. Start small - go for a walk, get some fresh air. Even if you’re not power walking, it’s enough to get your blood flowing. It’s also a great way to get some thinking done. Or do what I do, and be a borderline crazy person by putting on your earphones like you're on a call, but really just talking to yourself over your iPhone voice memo as you walk. Hey! I have a lot of thoughts to process, ok? And I have the attention span of a puppy, so you know I'm going to forget all those thoughts the minute I see a squirrel -- best to record them as they come!
3. I don’t LIKE working out: Most people hate working out because it makes them feel uncomfortable. There are a few different reasons for that:
You’re doing the wrong activity: The gym is not for everyone, so try running, yoga, or dance instead. Figure out an activity that’s in line with your interests.
You have a health condition that’s incompatible with the workout: If you have chronic back pain, knee pain, or any sort of specific health issue, you should be avoiding certain types of workouts and opting for ones that are uniquely suited to you. Talk to your doctor or trainer and figure out the right type of exercise for you.
You hate working out alone: Some people feel more motivated to work out with people, so find a gym buddy or join a group fitness class. You can also use apps and online programs that have a virtual community like FitBit.
4. Working out is expensive: Find a cheaper gym, online program or app, or spring for a one-time expense like a bike. Also do stuff for free - visit your local pool, go for a jog or walk in the great outdoors, or turn to the plethora of free videos on YouTube!
Working out is good, but if you don’t have healthy eating habits, it can undo all that exercise. And when you’re unemployed and feeling low, it’s so tempting to reach for that bag of chips or that candy bar for comfort, so here are some ways to combat that.
1. Out of sight, out of mind: Don’t bring junk food or sugary drinks into the house. PERIOD. It gets a lot harder to resist those Oreos when they're staring you in the face everytime you open the pantry door. Replace it with healthier snacks like hummus and veggies, fruit, etc. Opt for water instead of sugary drinks and if you hate the taste of water, infuse it with something yum like cucumber, mint, or lemon.
2. Plan your meals ahead of time: You can do this in batches or on a weekly basis. Meal prep not only save you time and money, it also keeps you from reaching for that bag of chips next time you’re hungry because you already have real food ready to go.
Like everything else, success won’t come overnight. These are habits that need to be built and maintained over a long period of time, so just keep chipping away at it, and keep watching this video everytime you need a reminder!