It’s hard to argue against the benefits of a healthy lifestyle: regular exercise, eating well, sleeping well and minimising stress.
Even those most adamant of anti-exercise individuals can at least grasp the concept that moving their bodies around, and eating something green that hasn’t come out of a fast food pack is going to do them some good.
However, even though we know jogging to work, munching on kale, quinoa and salmon for lunch, and filling our lunch break up with squats and lunges are good for us, our modern busy lifestyles are making it increasingly difficult to live a healthy lifestyle.
In today’s blog post we’ll share our top 5 tips for fitting healthy living back into your life so you can look, feel and perform better (even if you think you don’t have the time).
But first, there’s something to highlight before we get into the meat and potatoes of today’s discussion…
We Are Simply No Longer Prioritising Our Health
We’ve reached a strange phase of human existence where the money you earn, clothes you wear and title on your business car is somehow perceived as higher value than the health of the body you’re inhabiting.
‘Successful’ people are sacrificing their health up until their early 50’s earning money, then spending that money in an attempt to regain their health.
Don’t let that be your story.
Yes, life in 2017 is busy, hectic, and at times downright stressful. But fitting in healthy lifestyle habits shouldn’t be an option, it should be a necessity.
Here are are our top 5 ways to help you find the balance to optimise your health, without becoming a slave to the gym, the kitchen or sacrificing much of the previous little time you have available.
1) Set A Real, Emotion-Driven Goal
Without a real and specific goal, the chances of following through on your new healthy habits are dramatically reduced.
It’s very easy to say “I want to lose weight”, but such a vague objective is akin to getting in your car for a road trip with no clue on the destination, or a map to help you navigate your journey.
We’re going to go through tips and tricks to fitting healthy choices around your lifestyle, but the greatest ‘time-hacks’ are of no use to you without the appropriate motivation to change.
Grab a pen and paper, and write down the following:
A Specific Goal
‘Specific’ is the key word here. This means something tangible, like fitting into your old clothes, lifting a certain amount of weight, or being able to bend down to put on your shoes without getting red in the face! This is YOUR goal so put thought into it.
When do you want to achieve this tangible target? You might need to consult a personal trainer with this if you’re a little unsure on expectation.
For example, saying you’d like to drop 20lbs in 12 weeks is (with good programming and dietary choices is possible). Saying you’d like to drop the same amount of weight before next weekend might not be the most realistic target.
This is the your motivating factor. This is going to be what you’ll need to reflect on to motivate yourself to go to the gym, or not eat that greasy cheeseburger you’ve got your eye on. Get to the emotional reason, and be honest with yourself.
Maybe you want to feel attractive to your partner again, maybe you want your kids to be proud of you, or maybe you want to complete a competition like a half marathon.
There’s no wrong motivation to making healthy choices – being honest with your big ‘why’ is key to making the following points work.
2) Make An Appointment With Yourself
If you’ve got a meeting with the boss to discuss that promotion you’ve been due scheduled for 8.00am, there’s every chance you’ll be there at 07.45am, right?
If you’ve got a flight to catch at 2.00pm, you’ll make sure you leave in plenty of time to check-in before the departure gate closes.
The meeting and the flight are non-negotiable. We wouldn’t dare miss that commitment in our diary.
Why not apply the same attitude to your exercise schedule and treat it as a non-negotiable in your diary?
Maybe you can fit in a 30 minute lunchtime session 3 times a week. Maybe you’re able to commit a full hour after work, or maybe you only have time for 20 minute sessions in the mornings.
Whatever you’re able to commit to – commit to it. Put those appointments in your calendar, and don’t let anything get between you and your session.
To get you started, here’s a 25 minute fat burning workout we put together. Time efficient and effective with exercise descriptions and images to help you try it out for yourself.
3) Follow This Simple Portion Guide
Learning how to ‘eat healthy’ can be a daunting prospect.
Go ahead and Google ‘Fat-loss Diet’ and you’ll get over 3 million results.You’ll be presented with Paleo, Atkins, Keto, Intermittent Fasting and everything in between.
The truth is, as the (very odd when analysed) saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
But the one thing that all (good) nutrition coaches and ideologies can agree on is; nutrient dense, balanced meals are key.
So I’d like to take out the overwhelm factor with the simple solution to cleaning up your diet, and propose you follow the hand portion guidelines made popular by Precision Nutrition.
For every main meal, portion the following foods:
– 1-2 palms of protein
– 1-2 fists of vegetables
– 1-2 cupped handfuls of carbohydrates
– 1-2 thumbs of fat
(These are general guidelines and may need to be adapted for your unique body type and goals).
Prioritise natural foods (if it didn’t run, swim, fly or grow from the ground, eat sparingly), and listen to your hunger and fullness cues (eat mindfully when hungry and stop when satisfied).
These portion guidelines and subsequent food quality and mindful eating cues are the cornerstone of healthy eating.
Don’t over complicate a process that’s already become littered with misinformation, and take the guesswork out of mealtimes by utilising logical nutrition practices, instead of succumbing to ‘shiny diet syndrome’.
Taking the guess-work out will be time-saving in itself, but we also recommend bulk cooking your food once or twice per week. For example, you can roast many servings of vegetables at once, cook multiple chicken breasts at one, and boil several servings of rice at one.
This brings me to the next tip..
4) Double Up Your Dinners
So now that you have an easy system to follow to ensure your nutrition needs are met and how to save time doing so with bulk cooking, here’s another way to save on any extra cooking.
Lunches are a problem meal for many. Most people are frantically jumping from task to task in the office, and end up either forgoing lunch entirely, OR grabbing a quick sandwich or take away from the nearest convenience shop.
Not exactly ideal and helpful towards improving your health…
A quick way to ensure a healthy lunch is to ‘double up on your dinner’.
That is to say – make enough food for your dinner time to have a portion for the following day at work. Assuming your dinner is following the aforementioned dietary principles, then you’ll be setting yourself up for a healthy lunch with zero extra preparation time.
Plus this relieves the boredom of the same old sandwich every day…
5) The Smoothie Advantage
Smoothies or blending food can be the ‘rushed-but-health-conscious’ person’s best friend.
If you typically dash around in the morning and have very little time for breakfast, or find yourself short on ideas for healthy snacks between meals, smoothies can be a saving grace.
They are a quick way to supply your body with the nutrients that will support your health and fitness goals.
Whilst we could discuss more benefits of smoothies and how to create the perfect blend, we have a blog post that has all these points covered. You can read it by clicking the image below:
1) Identify and acknowledge why you want to change your habits.
2) Make them a priority.
3) Follow proven diet guidelines that don’t get all confusing and overwhelming.
4) Save time on meal preparation to increase compliance to healthy eating.
5) Make use of smoothies for a nutrient-dense time saving meal or snack.
Improving your health, fitness and body shape doesn’t have to be overly time-consuming.
It all just starts with taking responsibility for making it happen, putting yourself first, and making use of the time-saving strategies we discussed.