No matter who you are, what age you are, or where you live, staying healthy is hard work. It may seem like all you need to do it walk 10,000 steps and eat a salad every once in a while, but the reality is that statistically we’re moving way less than we should be and eating foods with way too many additives, preservatives, and other overly processed ingredients.
Being a health conscious person is already hard, but it doubles in difficulty if you are on a busy schedule all the time. Not only do you have to balance work, relationships, and personal life priorities, but you have to monitor what food goes into your body and get in a good sweat with only 24 hours in a day.
Thankfully, there are several things you can do that won’t take up a huge chunk of your schedule, but will make a difference in your overall health. Here are a few tips to staying healthy even when your calendar is jam packed.
photo credit: MrWonderful
We know prioritizing sleep when you’re busy seems like a pipe dream, but if you’re not sleeping, you’re also not functioning at your optimal level. The whole mantra, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is actually very counterproductive because without sleep you’re simply not as good as you could be. Exhaustion affects focus, creativity, mood, and rational decision making. There is no glamour or glory in being an exhausted, cranky mess. So, no matter how busy you are, get your z’s in. You’ll be better for it.
Watch What You Eat More Closely
If you have a busy schedule, you are most likely spending less time working out (and more stressed), which means that it’s even more important to monitor the types of foods that are fueling your body. You may also be more likely to grab fast food or snack on junk food when you’re stressed or busy. Write down what you eat in a food journal, or take a more high-tech approach and download a meal tracking-app. If you want to focus more on overall health, be sure to monitor your sugar and carb intake as well, because grab-and-go foods marketed towards busy people usually have a lot of hidden ingredients that are not the healthiest. It’s also worth doing weekly meal preparation and carrying around healthy snacks like nuts or fruit to avoid reaching for junk food when you’re on-the-go.
Curb Your Alcohol Intake
Happy Hour, TGIM, TGIF, drinks with the girls -it all adds up! Sometimes we’re so social, we don’t realize how many drinks we’re having per week, but even if you’re “just having 2 glasses of wine” multiply that by 4 nights a week, and that’s 8 drinks. Suddenly the sugar and alcohol intake really starts to add up. So, do you really need that TGIM happy hour? Probably not. Instead, hit the gym on Monday and save “happy hour” for later in the week. Or if you absolutely must go, drink seltzer or limit yourself to one drink.
Get Creative With Your Physical Activity
It’s perfectly okay if you don’t have time to workout every day, or if your workout time is 30 minutes or less. You can still fit movement into your day without going to the gym or turning on a workout video. Walking more, taking the stairs, and taking movement breaks throughout your work day may seem like very small activities, but it will help to keep your body consistently active throughout the day. Also, it keeps your blow flowing and you’ll feel more alert which can help inspire you to make other healthier decisions.
Consider Vitamins and Supplements
Your busy schedule can not only keep you from working out or eating healthy, but it can also distract you from looking at the nutrition facts of foods you’re eating. This can lead to deficiencies in essential nutrients, which can cause further health issues. For example, according to numerous studies, over a billion people are vitamin D deficient. Making a more conscious effort to eat clean is obviously the best course of action to ensure you’re getting proper nutrition, but be sure to talk to your doctor about whether or not taking vitamins or supplements could help you maintain your health. If you’re feeling low energy, it’s also worth getting a blood test to see if you have any vitamin deficiencies.
Carve Workout Time Into Your Week
Make time. We know it sucks to come home from work, school, or other daily activities and have to start working out (or even worse, wake up extra early to do it), but you need to suck it up and make time to work out. It doesn’t have to be every day, and it doesn’t have to be the same days every week, but you need to be working out for at least 30 minutes, 3-4 times a week to stay healthy. This can include going to a gym, joining a boutique fitness class, working out from home, or power walking around your neighborhood.
Don’t Drive Yourself Crazy
This may be easier said than done, but don’t drive yourself crazy about your health or to-do lists. Do your very best to stay proactive, but if you miss a deadline or skip a workout once in a while or simply have a busy week where healthy choices are few and far between, let it go. You won’t be able to keep yourself healthy in the long run if you don’t give yourself a break every once or forgive yourself for slipping up. In our perfectionist driven society, we can be too hard on ourselves. While striving to be your best is a positive quality, beating yourself up trying to be “perfect” (which doesn’t exist, by the way) is neither healthy nor productive. Being healthy and at your best is a marathon, not a sprint.