Many of us start the year by making resolutions to eat healthier or exercise more. You may be someone who starts off strong but tends to fizzle out somewhere along the way. While your intentions may be good, there’s a huge difference between wanting something and actually doing something about it. Even if you’re trying to make better lifestyle choices, your busy schedule may be keeping you from doing so.
If you’re struggling with staying healthy, here are some tips that can help no matter how fast-paced your lifestyle is.
1. Plan your meals a week ahead
To avoid reaching for those greasy snacks or sodas when hunger strikes, stock your fridge full of healthy salads, juice and breakfast options. This is the key to a successful week of eating nutritious food. If you’re too busy during the week to prep meals, dedicate some time during the weekends to do this. Most foods last well in the fridge for several days. Instead of forcing yourself into the kitchen, choose times when you’ll be motivated to cook, such as first thing in the morning or on a relaxing evening. It is best to schedule health and nutrition choices for times when your motivation is high.
Plan ahead, write down a list of groceries and get your meal prep done by Sunday to start your week on the right note. Ideally, you should cook six to ten servings at a time and pack the rest away in storage containers. This way you’ll always have something to reach for when hunger strikes.
Prepare healthy, well-balanced meals containing at least 30 grams of protein. Your body requires protein to build muscle tissues. A diet lacking in protein will cause you to lose muscle and gain fat. A high protein diet will also keep your metabolism functioning optimally. Don’t forget to also load up on fiber as it is needed for healthy digestion and provides satiety.
2. Make a choice to stay active
Throughout your day, you can make small choices that will help you stay healthy. For example, you can alternate between sitting and standing. Spending more time on your feet is an excellent way to avoid weight gain and burns more calories than sitting. It will also tire you out, so you’ll be able to sleep better at night. Standing up also helps you stay more alert, so it is a good idea to stand up when performing more mentally demanding tasks.
Additionally, you can walk or ride a bike to work to make the most of your commute. If your workplace is far away, taking public transport is a good idea. Even a short walk to the nearest bus stop or train station is more beneficial than simply taking your car.
3. Make fitness a priority
No matter how much you enjoy your workouts, they can be the first thing you give up when your schedule gets too hectic. So, it important to add daily exercise to your to-do list and make this a priority.
If you’re running low on time, perform short but intense workouts. Full-body exercises burn more calories than training separate body parts. Even a few minutes of exercise every day can go a long way towards making you more fit and healthy. Installing a pull-up bar in your home or doing burpees are simple ways of incorporating full body exercises into your routine. Studies have shown that high-intensity interval training or circuits are extremely effective at building muscle and burning calories. The best part is that they require little to no equipment and can be performed anywhere.
4. Stay away from refined sugar
Unlike protein and healthy fats, refined sugar is not a sustainable source of energy. However, your natural instinct may be to reach for that sugar fix when you need energy. But the rush that sugar gives you will soon be replaced by a crash as your body responds to the sugar bolus with a spike in insulin that can overcompensate and lead to hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia makes your brain feel foggy and can impair learning and memory.
If you do have a strong sweet tooth, opt for fruits, granola bars, trail mix with natural sweeteners, instead. These will give you that energy boost without the dreaded crash because they don’t cause a bolus release of glucose into the bloodstream, hence, there is no insulin spike or post-spike hypoglycemia.
5. Get quality rest
No matter how busy you are, it is important to make room for a full night’s rest. Good quality sleep is essential for your overall health. When it comes to sleep, it’s not just about the total number of hours, but also the quality of rest you’re getting. Tossing and turning or getting up several times during the night can also interfere with this.
If you have trouble falling into a sleep pattern, it is best to identify the root of the problem. Consider upgrading your mattress, using an eye mask, or a white noise machine to get as comfortable as possible. This will help you wake up feeling rested, and you’ll be able to start your day right.
6. Build a strong support network
Having a strong network of support is essential for your emotional, mental and physical health. People who have adequate support are better at handling stress and overcoming setbacks. Just having someone to open up to can keep you going when life gets tough. Taking the time to meet up with a friend or visit your family is not unproductive. Little actions such as these can help you stay mentally strong and healthy.
7. Join a fitness class
If you feel like you absolutely don’t have the time to work out, you may just need to re-evaluate your priorities. Signing up for a fitness class and putting down an advance can push you to make the time for it. Today, there are many options, from kickboxing to indoor cycling that can give you an extreme workout in a limited amount of time. You can go one step further and opt for a group class or join one with a friend, so you’ll be motivated to get there on time and not give up.
Making healthy choices can change the way you think and help you develop a more positive attitude. While it is great to strive for a perfect lifestyle, you may not be able to attain this. Instead, attempt to find balance despite your busy schedule. Adopting some of the habits mentioned in this article can help you feel better and improve your overall health in the long run.