Why & How Freelancers Should Exercise (from Fitness Expert Scott Tousignant)

As freelancers, our biggest assets are our minds and bodies. If we get sick, we can’t do any work. If our minds are foggy, we can’t produce our best. Therefore, we don’t make any money or as much money as we could.

Unfortunately, the care of our bodies is not always a top priority for many freelancers. It’s easy to get caught up in all our work–particularly because we enjoy it so much.

Plus, if you work from home, you have fewer reasons and opportunities to get up, walk and move. I know of at least one writer who can sit in front of her computer for up to six hours straight!

That can’t be good for anybody. In fact, research has shown that sitting for most of the day puts us at higher risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.

Scott Tousignant, a fitness expert, recently agreed to share information about the importance of fitness for freelancers. I’d like to share with you a brief excerpt from that interview.

Seven Fitness Tips from Scott

Below are some highlights from my interview with Scott. We covered why freelancers are more likely to get out of shape, what we can do about it, and how to stay motivated.

1. You say the average person gains 30 pounds in the first year of working at home. What is your basis for saying this?

Scott: A lot of that information came from my own personal experience and from polling my friends who work online.

Even though I’ve been working out my entire life, the first three months I decided to focus completely on my online business and write my eBooks and create my programs. I dropped exercise for three months. I stopped working out. I wasn’t eating right.

I was mainly living off of what could give me a boost, because I wasn’t getting the boost that I get from exercise. So, I was resorting to coffee, caffeinated bars or Snickers bars and stuff like that.

And in those three months, I had put on 45 pounds!

I thought, “If I gained this much weight, I wonder what’s going on with my friends.” Through live events, masterminds and in forums, I asked people, “Did you gain weight after you started working at home?”

The average number that I kept getting was 30 pounds, not even for a year, but in the first six months. People were putting on weight really rapidly.

It’s funny because, at that time, I was attending a lot of live events. And I would see all my friends’ bodies changing–not for the better–each time I’d see them. Almost to the point where I didn’t recognize some of them after six months, because they’d put on so much weight.

2. Why do you think it’s easier for work at home freelancers to gain weight than those who work in an office?

Scott: They become so focused on the one goal of getting their business going, getting things off the ground. They’re really motivated to make this home business work and they just neglect everything else in the process.

Ironically, for most of us, our goals for working at home were all to create more freedom in our life, to have more time for our family, and we end up sacrificing everything that meant the most to us in order to build our businesses up. We just put everything on the back burner and focus on our business, focus on that one goal, and we end up doing more harm than good in the process.

3. What is the impact of our level of fitness in our daily lives and freelancing in particular?

Scott: When you neglect exercise and fitness, a lot of the time, you’re tired, you’re fatigued. And I remember during that period, in that three-month span when I just locked myself in the basement and I wasn’t exercising, I was lethargic. I couldn’t focus and get through the day.

It had a big impact in my life by gaining that weight and neglecting to exercise. I remember being so focused on the business and sacrificing all the freedom and everything I enjoy. Angie (my wife) kept reminding me, “Scott, I think you’re trying too hard.”

Sometimes you can try too hard and lose focus of what really matters. At that time, I finally listened to her and made it a priority to get my fitness back in order, spend time with the kids, and do the activities I enjoy.

I was actually working less, but ended up making more money. I was more productive in my business, because I may have gone from working 12 hours to eight hours, but I was getting a lot more done in that shorter time frame.

It’s amazing when you sit at your desk for hours at a time, how much of that time is actually wasted, because you’re distracted.

4. What short and effective workouts do you recommend for time-crunched freelancers?

Scott: I recommend the type of workout that my wife, Angie, and I created for ourselves, because we both work at home. It was a challenge to get to the gym and get in long, full workouts. We’ve found that it’s possible to get short and effective workouts in our home office, even with the limited amount of space.

We thought, “Let’s see what we can do in 10 minutes. It’s better than not getting any exercise at all. Let’s try these 10-minute workouts.”

We found after a few months that we were getting better results from shorter, more intense workouts than we were spending 60 minutes in the gym. It was transforming our bodies quite well. That’s when we realized we were on to something.

I’m talking about doing two 10-minute workouts every day. One is a resistance training workout, where you’ll either do body weight movements or use some dumbbells. This is to sculpt your body, to add some lean, sexy muscle to your body.

And then there’s a 10-minute cardio session, which is always some form of body weight cardio.

Both of them will help to melt the body fat, but the resistance workouts are more for sculpting your body, shaping your body. Together, both of them are great for skyrocketing your metabolism.

I like to break it into chunks because one 10-minute chunk is going to elevate your metabolism for several hours. But, then it’s going to dip again.

Let’s say four hours later, you decide to do the 10-minute cardio, you’re going to get another boost in your metabolism. So, your metabolism will stay elevated throughout the day.

It’s gives you a mental boost as well. Getting that exercise in will boost your mental clarity as you’re working.

A lot of times, I also add in a 30-minute walk or bike ride to my day. That time I don’t count as exercise or working out because it does so much more for me. I use that time to plan out my day, to clear my head.

For example, for freelancers, that’s an ideal time to brainstorm an article or a book or something like that.

I carry my Sony voice recorder when I go for a walk or bike ride, so I can record whatever ideas come to me. When I get home, I just play the recording and type out the article or blog post that came to me during my “exercise.”

It’s like killing two birds with one stone. I find that I write or think better when I’m out exercising. It must be all that oxygen pumping throughout my brain. And I’m completely focused at that time.

Whereas, if I’m in front of my computer, I might write a paragraph and then I get distracted by something. Someone tweets me, the phone rings, or something happens.

5. Why is this type of workout effective? Other people spend hours in the gym.

Scott: It’s more intense. When I created these workouts for myself, I took the workouts I was doing in the gym that were lasting 45 minutes to an hour. Where I used to take a minute to three minute-break in between each exercise, I reduced my rest time to five to 15 seconds. I just cut out the rest period.

I’m doing the exact number of reps and sets, but in a condensed period of time. I may not be able to lift as heavy a weight as I could if I gave my body more rest in between sets, but I find that these workouts produce the results I want.

Short, but intense, workouts elevate and accelerate your heart rate, and get your muscles pumped–a greater pump than you’ll get from 60 minutes of less intense exercise at the gym.

The short cardio workout is made up of short bouts of intense activity followed by 30 seconds of rest. In that short period, your heart is pumping more and working more than in a less intense but longer workout.

6. Is there an optimum time for doing cardio and resistance training? Or, does it even matter what time we exercise?

Scott: Whenever you have the most energy, I find, is the best time to do the weight training.

If you’re going to work out first thing in the morning, the cardio might be the better choice to do. When you first wake up, you’re not going to have the energy to lift weights.

Fuel your body with healthy, nutritious foods first and then a few hours later do your weight training.

There’s no real ideal situation, but I definitely like to have as much energy as I can when I lift those weights, because I want to produce the greatest contractions with those exercises and lift the most challenging weights that I can.

Our muscles are metabolic furnaces and the more we can work those muscles and build those muscles, the more calories we burn and add some sexy shape to our body as well.

7. It’s easy to fall off from regular exercising especially when you have a particularly busy period. What are your tips for staying motivated?

Scott: We all experience setbacks. I’ve been there. The best of the best go through it too.

The people who are able to persevere and push through are the ones who can look at those setbacks, the challenges, the reasons why they fell off the wagon, and learn from those experiences.

Ask yourself: What happened? Why did I fall off the wagon this time? Was it because I got distracted with work? Was it because I was so focused on this business that I had to put exercise aside for a month or so while I got this project off the ground?

If that is the case, how can you compensate for that so the next time you have a big project to complete, maybe you can’t do 10-minute workout chunks but you could break it up into five-minute chunks. Do whatever you can do to schedule it in and make it a priority in your day.

Maybe your setback was, you went away on vacation and couldn’t get your momentum back again. Just have a plan in place for the next time it happens.

Learn from these setbacks and challenges and be prepared for when they happen again. Have a plan in place for overcoming them.

Another way to motivate yourself is by having that strong, powerful “why.” What are your main reasons for working out?

When you don’t feel like working out, or you’re struggling through a workout, constantly remind yourself of your reason why. That’s the trigger that will inspire you to give it everything you’ve got.

It’s also good to focus on growth, especially if you’re in pretty decent shape already and don’t really need to lose weight. Focus on growth. Have a growth mindset.

This means you feel uncomfortable when you’re not improving yourself, whether physically or mentally. You always challenge yourself to get better, to become stronger, to constantly grow as an individual.

I also encourage everyone to become fascinated with your body. Look at yourself in the mirror, examine yourself. You may not like some of what you see, and that’s ok. You’ve got room for improvement. It’s awesome how you can take what you’ve got and make it more beautiful, sculpt it, improve upon it. The possibilities are limitless.

There are so many reasons to work out. A lot of people associate it with weight loss. But exercising is so much more than that. It’s so much more than trying to lose weight. It’s about achieving mental clarity, getting more productive throughout the day, and being strong enough to do certain activities.

All your life’s experiences are impacted by your physical fitness, strength, endurance, stamina. It has such a great impact on everything we do. It’s way more than just losing weight.

Those multiple things can inspire and motivate you to move on and work out every day.

My Parting Thoughts

I hope this post inspires you to get up and exercise. Scott recommends a specific type of workout that can easily fit into a busy schedule.

However, the best workout is the one you actually do. So find an exercise regimen that you enjoy doing, and do it.

Over to You

I’d love to know: did YOU gain weight when you started freelancing? Do you exercise? If so, what type of exercise do you do? And how do you stick to it?

Image by lu_lu