Written by: Aaron Whitten

You have not one but two projects due this week at work. You have one sick kid and another who attends music and soccer practice and needs help with homework. Your partner is out of town on business and your extended family lives hours out of reach. To top it off, your latest doctor’s visit confirmed what you already knew: you need to adopt a healthier lifestyle or run the risk of several serious conditions. How does the typical advice of joining a gym and training five days weekly fit into this scenario? It doesn’t. Let me show you how to incorporate tactics to improve your health and wellbeing without imposing additional demands.

You need three things to succeed: Desire, Realistic Workouts and Practical Nutrition. The first is most important. You have to decide that you want to make these changes for yourself, not because others tell you to do it, not even your doctor. Find your own motivation. With warmer weather approaching perhaps it is to look better with less on. Is there a family gathering at the beach this year? Or a company picnic where you don’t want to hide behind long pants and sleeves? Or would you like to run your first mile? Whatever it may be, write it down and look at it daily. If your desire is strong enough you can overcome any obstacle.

Realistic workouts means forgetting about the gym. Even if they offer daycare it means a substantial time commitment that you probably don’t have. Forego the gym and purchase some adjustable dumbbells and/or resistance bands. The list of exercises you can do with these is nearly endless and no less effective than expensive machines. Do just two sets of twenty repetitions of squats, lunges, leg raises, pushups and rows every other day. Do in them in a circuit fashion and strive to complete it in under fifteen minutes. This simple routine distills your workout down to the most effective movements and will save hours weekly compared to piddling around in a commercial fitness center.

Nutrition is more important than exercise and can be just as simple. You don’t need to count calories or use expensive supplements. And you can apply these principles to every member of your family rather than fixing separate meals. Here are some examples of clean eating that require minimal preparation:


Prepare a large omelet, throwing out half the yolks. Make three eggs for adults and one for children but do them all together in the same pan to save time. Add skim milk cheese and any veggies you care for. Finish with a piece of fresh fruit.
Make a large pot of old fashioned oats. Add some honey and berries and even some almond butter if you like. Finish with a boiled egg or two.


Sandwiches are easy for everyone. Use any meat but pork, add some basic vegetables like lettuce and tomato, light mayo and put it on dark bread. Add a piece of fruit or chips for the kids.
Buy canned chicken and toss on top of a large mixed salad with light dressing. Have some cottage cheese afterward if you like.


Fall in love with the crock pot. You can toss any large piece of meat into it along with frozen vegetables and potatoes and have a meal ready when you get home. Serve with a side salad and a glass of dark wine.
Make a stir fry with a couple pounds of frozen vegetables, some ground meat or tofu and minute rice. Season with soy sauce, salsa or balsamic vinegar. Makes a ton of food in less than twenty minutes.

The key to making practical changes to your lifestyle is to incorporate it rather make it a separate element. Instead of driving to the gym, have the kids and spouse all do the workout together. Go for family walks after dinner instead of slaving on a treadmill. As for nutrition make it a family affair as well instead of prepping separate foods.

Real world fitness doesn’t resemble the advice given in most magazines. Minimizing its impact on your "real" life will make it more effective and lasting. Strive to make things simpler, not more stressful!