I usually know when someone walks through the door as to whether they will stay and commit as a member or not. I offer people a free week's trial but to be honest, unless they are ready to make changes then nothing much is going to happen and they will do their week then disappear. The reason being that you need to be in the right state of mind to accept that change is even necessary.

Talking of excuses...Here are the main reasons people give for not making a change...and these are from people NOT living with cancer!!

  • I don't have the energy to exercise

  • I don't have the time to exercise

  • I don't have the money to join a gym

  • By the time I've sorted the children's tea, bath, bedtime...it's too late to workout

  • I don't have time to make different meals for everyone

  • Healthy food is too/more expensive

  • I don't have time to make meals from scratch

  • I get in late from work

  • I'm on the road or in hotels so there isn't a healthy option

  • I don't really cook

  • I watch 'Bake Off' and then I just have to get baking!

This week I'm going to look at the number one reason for not making a healthy change....TIme


I squeeze an enormous amount into one day and still say there aren't enough hours in a day...so I do get this 'excuse'. The difference is that exercising is just one of the many things on my list of everyday tasks that I do as standard. Just like brushing my teeth, going to work, feeding the family. It isn't a luxury item...it isn't getting my nails or hair done. It's keeping me well and strong and ironically, providing me with a huge supply of energy.

Creating time for exercise

I'm an early bird so I'm up at half past four in the morning (or 5am if I'm lucky) and running an exercise class while much of the town are sleeping. I love it! It sets me up for the day! The lovely ladies that join me in the park agree that although it's often a struggle to get there, once they are working out they're fine, but the real benefits come after you stop. The release of endorphin makes you feel good about yourself. You are more likely to make good choices with regard to food. You have shaken off that bed fatigue and approach the day with more gusto and importantly for those of us who can gain weight easily, you will be firing up that metabolism and burning calories throughout the day. I include quite a lot of leg work in my classes like squats and as the body magically works on repairing and reshaping the leg and bottom muscles it burns excess fat as fuel. Calories that you wouldn't otherwise be burning.

If you're not a morning person swap a sedentary mode of transport for walking or cycling. Start by doing this once a week and build up to 3 times a week. The money you save on fuel, fares and parking can be invested on good footwear and a rucksack. Then after that you're in to profit! A healthier body, great for the environment AND you're saving money.

If you're not ready for the public element of a gym, use what you have at home. Squatting up and down the stairs (if you're steady on your feet) is a great workout! Push-ups against a wall are good preparation before attempting push-ups on the floor. Or a hula hoop out on the garden with the children is a giggle and good exercise at the same time. For those of you preferring a workout CD I would always advise Pilates to start with. It will help you to strengthen your core and create good postural awareness. Then when you're ready to try a more cardio based exercise you'll be far less prone to injury...plus you'll be engaging the right muscles.

We can all find 30 minutes 3 times a week where we can switch something sedentary for some beneficial exercise.

  • Instead of sitting and watching your child's swimming class go for a swim yourself or a brisk walk

  • While watching your favourite soap, sit on a Swiss ball instead of the sofa. Once this is easy, try sit ups on the ball

  • If you're a bookworm, why not buy an audiobook and walk briskly for a chapter or two. Careful crossing roads though!!

  • The new school term starts next week, commit to walking to school instead of driving

  • Borrow a dog, I'm sure someone close by would be glad of a dog walker

  • Earn some extra money delivering flyers etc

Not having time to create healthy food is simply down to being organised and prepared.

My biggest tip is to never just cook or prepare for the meal you are about to eat. By this I mean that with a tiny bit of ingenuity you can spend 30 minutes in the kitchen cooking tonight's meal whilst also preparing tomorrow's evening meal, packed lunches and breakfast.

Here is the kind of thing I do. Obviously you can swap ingredients to suit your likes and dislikes.

I have a little time slot on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday when I get in from teaching in school before I head out again to teach an exercise class early evening. This for me is a dangerous time. I'm a little tired, it's been a long day, the trains have been a nightmare and I have the house and fridge to myself!! I could easily "reward" myself with a little snack that never actually ends!

So, I cut up a carrot into sticks, or an apple into slices and then I stay in the kitchen and cook!

Now that I don't eat so much animal protein, a little quality meat goes a long way. So to keep my Omega 3 levels high I might choose wild salmon. I raid the fridge and vegetable store for items that need eating soon. Quite often I will do a Thai curry for the evening, Salmon and poached egg with spinach for the next day's breakfast/brunch and a Salmon salad for the following day's tea.

How I set about it... I clean and prep all the veggies and salad ( whilst merrily chomping on carrot sticks, and maybe hummus, and a big glass of water ) With everything laid out in front of me I can see quantities and form a plan. Onions, for most people (not great for anyone with IBD) are a good source of Vitamin C, manganese, vitamin B6 and B1, dietary fibre, phosphorous, potassium and folate!!! So I always chop up a whole large onion whenever I'm prepping food. Two thirds will go in the curry and a third will go in the salad. Fresh garlic is also a standard in my house. Great again for vitamin C (not just in oranges you know!!) and B6, manganese, selenium and other antioxidants. Research suggests garlic may be effective against high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, colds and some cancers. So I always grate at least 4 or 5 cloves when I'm prepping. Half will go in the curry paste and a quarter on the salmon and the other quarter will go in the salad dressing. Actually, when I'm making a curry, if I haven't already got some homemade curry paste I throw whole cloves of garlic into the blender.

Here is probably a good time to explain how quick it is to make my curry paste.

Into the blender I throw...

  • 2 cloves of garlic

  • 5 cm of root ginger,  no need to peel

  • 5 cm of root turmeric, no need to peel

  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon of coriander seeds

  • juice of 1 lime

  • bunch of fresh coriander leaves

  • chilli powder to taste!!

Whizz it for a few seconds and you have a curry paste. If I listed the health benefits of all these wonderful anti-inflammatory spices I'd be here forever. But it literally takes less than a minute to make. I decant it into a little empty glass jar and only use a spoonful at a time. Then pop it back in the fridge.

So now time to cook... If I'm only cooking the salmon I usually use a griddle pan on the hob. However, if I've got a couple of baking potatoes or, even better, sweet potatoes knocking around I'll stick the oven on. Before placing in the oven, I brush the bottom of a small oven dish with olive oil, place the salmon skin side down and then sprinkle grated garlic, a little grated turmeric, crushed black pepper and a squeeze of lime over the fish. I put in 2 more fillets than I need for the curry. I then pour in a splash of either water or wine to create steam and cover the dish with a lid (or a lid made of aluminium foil).

I pop it in the oven, munch on another carrot stick and hummus, and pierce the potatoes and pop them in the oven too with a drizzle of olive oil and some crushed sea salt. While they are cooking I make the paste into a sauce. I heat a wok or frying pan then add a spoonful of coconut oil. To this I add a spoonful of my gorgeous paste and stir it whilst it sizzles. I then add a can of coconut milk and if I have bone broth left over I pour a little of that in too.

While this is simmering away and reducing I get back to chopping and putting into storage tubs. (One day I'll own all glass storage pots but at the moment Tupperware and re-used takeaway tubs it is!) So, any salad leaves I wash, dry and chop and put into a large tub. 1 large pepper; chop it all and throw half into the curry sauce, the other half in with the lettuce. 2 carrots; 1 of them I grate for the salad and the other I chop and throw into the simmering curry sauce. Cauliflower and broccoli; finely chopped and raw into the salad and as florets into the simmering sauce. A bag of baby spinach leaves is great for these three meals. A third of the bag goes into the salad, a third will go into the curry just before serving and the remaining third goes into the fridge ready for breakfast the next day. Any other salad bits like cucumber, tomatoes, radish I chop and throw into the dry salad.

As I'm rather partial to a bit of spice I often make my salad dressing using a tiny bit of the curry paste plus olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Remember though...DON'T add the dressing until the following day. Put the mixed salad and dressing into the fridge separately.

Time to run to the loo and get changed!

So, now the salmon is cooked (potatoes need a little bit longer) and the vegetable curry is the right consistency it can come off the heat. I leave the lid off the sauce while it cools a little, otherwise the condensation will thin it down again. I also put the salmon to one side to cool (and out of the reach of the dog)

Last carrot stick and water.

Trainers on.

Gym stuff by the door.

Turn off the oven leaving the potatoes in to finish in the residual heat.

Rucksack on and off to the beach to teach the last session of the day.

When I come home, I simply heat the curry sauce. Feed the dog. If my husband and daughter are starving I may heat a packet of rice and quinoa, otherwise I just flake the salmon in large chunks into the hot sauce and immediately remove from the heat. Stir in the reserved portion of baby spinach leaves and you're good to go! Eating within 5 minutes of walking through the door!

The next morning when I get in from the 6am session, my salmon is already cooked. I poach an egg and while that is happening I heat a pan with a little olive oil in it. The salmon will only need a minute or so to heat up so I throw the spinach leaves in with it and pop a lid on.

Within minutes my nutritious breakfast is ready! Half of it is for me, and half goes into a tub for my husband's healthy brunch! He doesn't do breakfast unless he's been training). So while I'm running the washing up water and boiling the kettle, I put a little of the salad into a tub for my daughter's packed lunch, usually with a sprinkle of omega 3 seeds too.

They both go off to work and school. I pour my tea and get washed and changed ready to go to school myself. When I get home I know that the evening meal of sweet potato, salad and salmon is already to go so I can get on with other things. It will literally only take me 5 minutes to pull it together when we want to eat.

I've been living this way for a few years now. So I really do cook and prepare on auto pilot. But I promise you, rarely am I in the kitchen for longer than 30 minutes and have prepared 2 days worth of meals in that time.

Writing this has most definitely required more time and thought than making it!

So you see, there is time for exercise and healthy food choices. It's all about wanting it enough to change habits and lifestyles.

My thoughts were "A diagnosis of cancer is literally life changing so what better time and excuse do I need to make changes to my lifestyle..."

Thanks for reading,

Nic x



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