Want to eat healthier and exercise more but find it difficult to focus on your nutrition and workout routine when there’s so much other stuff going on in your life? You’re not alone! So many of us lead busy lives today that it can be hard to put yourself first (even when you know you need to).
Here are some tips specially for busy people, that can help make it easier to create a health and fitness backup plan for yourself.
When you’re on the go
Make sure you have a plan for your main meals. Whether it’s packing a salad or sandwich ahead of time, having some tuna and crackers with tomato or knowing your healthiest choices for eating out, making sure you have your main meals at a decent time will help keep the hunger at bay.
Have water on hand. We all need water! If you don’t have it with you, you can’t drink it. Have a bottle handy.
Aim for incidental activity. Any smaller amount of activity that builds up throughout the day counts! It’s not just about working out in a gym, or doing a class.
When you’re out of town
Plan how you’re going to move your body. You could leave things to chance, but if you’re serious about keeping up a healthy routine it’s more about maintaining the habit rather than the activity you would normally do. It could be walking around and exploring, swimming or other water activities if you’re at a beach, a hotel gym or temporary gym pass, or a DIY yoga session in your hotel room. Anything counts as long as it’s purposeful movement to keep up the habit.
Make good nutrition choices when you can. If you’re on holiday or travelling for work, it can be tempting to throw caution to the wind with restaurant meals and takeaways all the time. There’s nothing wrong with eating out, but try to keep an everything in moderation mindset; this means you won’t have to deprive yourself of the exciting food options, but at the same time you will keep working towards your long-term health goals.
When you’re stuck at work
Have healthy foods on hand. You’ll eat (or not eat) whatever you have around. Keep a stockpile of healthy foods with you – whether you do a lot of car travel, or you’re sitting in front of a computer, or working a shift that involves being on your feet a lot. Have some quick and easy options available so that you’re not left with just unhealthy options or nothing at all.
Move in whatever way you can. If you’re sitting a lot, try to get up and go for a walk outside whenever you can – whether it’s a brisk walk at lunch or a 5-minute breather for some fresh air and sunshine. If you can’t make it outside, you could do some stretches by the photocopier or even some neck and upper body stretches in your car when you’re parked for lunch. Any movement is better than nothing!
When you’re exhausted
Have easy food options. This is where meal prepping can be hugely beneficial. You can do this in one of two ways; either choose a day of the week and make several meal and healthy snack options to stockpile in your freezer and cupboards. Alternatively, every time you make a meal you could double it or even just set aside one portion to save for later.
Move in a way that honours your body and your energy level. You know your body better than anyone else; is this a time to push through your exhaustion and go for a workout, or give yourself permission to do some gentle stretches or yoga instead?
Give yourself permission to rest. We’ve become a society of people who push through. Sometimes you actually do need to take a break. Sleep comes first; if you can’t sleep at night (because of staying up with a baby/shift work etc.), try to master the art of taking a nap or series of catnaps. Even if you don’t manage to sleep but are lying with your eyes closed and taking a breather, you aren’t up and racing around.
When you’re managing a family
Include them in your exercise. It may not be your ideal workout, but it’s a way to spend time with them and it makes things substantially easier when it comes to keeping up a daily habit of purposeful movement. Go for a bush walk or beach walk, kick a ball around the park, do a workout using a nearby bench while your kids are on the playground, get them to do your workout with you… There are so many options to make this happen.
Make meals easy. Stock your kitchen with versatile ingredients that can make multiple quick and easy meals for yourself and/or your family. A roast chicken (made yourself or rotisserie/store bought) is a great protein option and can be used as-is with pre-made coleslaw or salad, included in wraps, toasted in quesadillas, added to pasta and sauce, or shredded into a quiche.
The slow cooker is your friend. People usually think of basic stews when it comes to slow cookers; you can make SO MANY THINGS in it. Porridge overnight, stewed apples, curries, soup, bolognaise, puddings, sauces, brownie, mashed potato… even if it just cuts down a part of your meal prep and cooking time, it will help!
Get the kids into the kitchen. It may seem stressful to manage them at first, but once they know what they’re doing it will save you time, they will be learning a valuable life skill and you’ll be getting social time with your family. You can make sharp utensils and hot/dangerous things your domain, but kids can help peel, pour, measure, stir, scoop, grate, knead… set them tasks and get them helping!
Image / NZ Real Health