Through all my years working as a personal trainer, the main reason my clients give for not exercising or eating well is that they have a busy schedule. But with a little planning, it's easy to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Here are 10 ways to stay happy and healthy, no matter how busy you are.
1. Plan meals for the entire week.
On the weekend, make time to sit down and plan what you will have for all of your meals that week. Make sure you make a grocery list. Go on one big shopping trip, so you'll have everything at your house and will not be left staring into an empty fridge, trying to come up with something to eat.
If you don’t plan your meals ahead of time, you’re more likely to order unhealthy takeout or be so hungry that you eat a whole box of cereal.
2. Cook in bulk.
Dedicate one or two hours every weekend to bulk cooking, and you'll be happy you did! Make double batches of meals and freeze for breakfasts, lunches, or dinners. Make sure you have plenty of colorful veggies and good, quality protein sources such as fish, beef, or chicken.
Chop up veggies, make salads, and cook some quinoa or sweet potatoes. Store in containers in the fridge. Having large containers full of precut veggies and salads in the fridge will help give you multiple quick dinner and lunch options. This is a big step toward a healthy week of eating! (Want more tips to cook once and eat healthy all week? Start here.)
3. Plan ahead.
If you don’t have time to go grocery shopping, arrange a weekly delivery. Look online to see if your local whole-foods shop, butcher, or fish market makes deliveries. All it takes is a little bit of planning ahead!
4. Pack a lunch.
This saves money and helps prevent the “I can’t find anything healthy to eat” lament. It's only a hassle to do this for the first week, because you're starting a new routine. After that, it will become second nature. If you are heading out anywhere, especially with kids, take a healthy, portable meal or some healthy snacks. Trust me: I know from experience that you will always be grateful that you did!
5. Have a smoothie for breakfast.
Tossing kale, spinach, avocado, celery, banana, kiwifruit, water, and ice into a blender doesn’t take long at all. Especially if you prepare those smoothie ingredients and have them packed neatly in a small jar in the fridge, ready to pop into your blender. Blitz it all up, then you can pour the smoothie back into your jar, and off you go. It takes only a few seconds to rinse out the blender when you're done too.
6. Move at work.
Do some body-weight exercises and stretches at your desk. Break up your day by doing a five-minute workout every hour. Set a timer and break up your workday by doing a set of body-weight squats, lunges, or assisted push-ups using your desk. Take the stairs instead of the elevator and walk to talk to colleagues if you can rather than emailing or calling.
7. Do HIIT.
A great time saver, and an awesome way to get results fast, is high-intensity interval training. With workouts you can do in less than 20 minutes, a quality HIIT workout will have you working hard with explosive, short bursts of high energy, and you can do these workouts at home, anytime you like, with some amazing online programs.
8. Pencil in workouts.
Schedule your workout and make it a nonnegotiable. As I said before, it doesn’t have to be a long workout; even just 10 minutes of some HIIT, a walk at lunchtime, 15 minutes of yoga, if done daily, will have you feeling and looking amazing! I've noticed that no matter how much I enjoy working out, if I don't make it a priority, when I get busy it's the first thing to go.
9. Stay realistic about what's doable.
When you're incredibly busy, it's probably not the best idea to train for a marathon or sign up for a triathlon. These events take lots of training; mental and physical energy; and will take time away from friends and family while adding stress to your life. Save these fun activities for when you can commit wholeheartedly.
10. Make movement a part of life.
Walk a lot! Aim to spend 50 percent of your day standing or moving around. Our bodies need movement, and, more often than not, we aren’t moving a lot even when we are really busy. Have a walking meeting, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and get off a few stops before your bus stop. Aim to walk more however you can.
If you're busy and find it difficult to be as healthy and fit as you want to be, incorporate these tips into your life to get that much needed movement in your day and to create a happy body and mind.