Lack of time is among the most common reasons people offer for failing to meet their wellness or fitness goals. You have probably experienced clients who just can’t seem to become consistent in their efforts due to lack of time. Without consistency, it’s nearly impossible for clients to make progress. This is a frustrating reality for both you and your clients. If lack of time is such a big barrier, it makes sense that one of the most important skills we can teach our clients is time management. These three strategies can help you help your clients make time for personal wellness.
1. Prioritize self-care. When time gets tight, it’s hard to maintain a commitment to wellness. What may have been a solid plan in the morning can be disrupted by the afternoon. Many demands are vying for this precious time. Unless an individual truly values personal health and wellness, it will be difficult for him or her to maintain a regularly scheduled wellness routine. A mindset shift toward intrinsic motivation can help a client prioritize self-care. This process takes patience, diligence and rapport between the coach and the client. Coaches can help clients develop confidence and enjoyment by pointing out successes as they happen. Statements such as, “You seem like you have more energy” or “You look very strong with that movement” can promote positive feelings associated with the activity. Also, when your client demonstrates consistency in healthy habits and time management, be sure to point out common results and benefits such as enhanced mood changes, improved concentration and productivity levels. Help your clients reflect on the benefits they may be experiencing, as busy-ness often gets in the way of recognizing success.
2. Schedule it. Utilize the last 10 minutes of a session with your clients to recap progress and make a realistic wellness plan for the coming days or weeks. Help clients create a plan for gym time, grocery shopping or other wellness activities as they relate to your clients’ goals. Meet your clients where they are in terms of time commitment and frequency. Identify pockets of time that might be spent on healthy activities. Be realistic and encourage them to create the schedule with your help, and commit that plan to their weekly calendar. Recommend activities that will help them feel connected to others and highlight the social aspects of participation, which can enhance their support network. For example, you could help your clients determine when they could attend a fitness class or event at your facility. Plan around conflicts such as meetings, dinner parties or family obligations. This simple act of planning will help clients feel in control and understand exactly when and what they need to do to reach their goals. Over time, clients will begin to feel autonomous in this effort and schedule each week on their own. Your goal as the health and exercise professional is to help clients learn to make time for wellness rather than wait to find it.
3. Acknowledge the little things. Maybe your client really is experiencing a shortage of time. In these situations, it can be helpful to identify lifestyle efforts that can contribute to maintaining levels of health. Be prepared to navigate an all-or-nothing mentality. There are seasons in life when time is available to focus on wellness, and other seasons when time is short and maintenance becomes the goal. Small habits can make a big difference during times of maintenance. Establish simple acts that can be a part of everyday life such as walking around the building after using the water fountain or ordering a healthier meal rather than an indulgence at a restaurant. Neither of those activities require a lot of time, but the alternatives could be moving less and choosing an unhealthy option. Maintaining lifestyle activities will make it easier to get back on schedule with regular wellness activities when time allows.
If your clients are having trouble finding time to exercise, help them find value in prioritizing themselves, advocate for a weekly schedule, and acknowledge the small efforts that can help maintain a healthy lifestyle. These ideas may seem simple, but with so many people struggling to find time for wellness, they might be some of the most important tools we can provide.
Want to learn the science and skills to support meaningful and lasting lifestyle change for your clients? Become an ACE Certified Health Coach!