A busy lifestyle can mean fast food starts to become a regular part of our eating plan rather than it being an occasional treat.
It is near impossible to find healthy takeaway food, it is usually heavily laden with bad fats or loaded with carbohydrates or full of refined sugar or too much salt and in some cases it’s filled with all of the above.
You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.
– US Pastor John C. Maxwell – author and speaker
Here are a few tips that I hope will help you to stay healthy despite your hectic schedule.
- Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail.
Planning ahead is the key to achieving your goals. Cooking healthy meals ahead of time will not only keep you on track and help you resist temptation, but it will save you lots of money too.
One way is to get organised with all the ingredients and set aside time, perhaps over the weekend, to do a big week’s cook-up and divide it into daily portions. These can be refrigerated or frozen and are then ready to be heated up quickly and enjoyed at the end of a demanding day.
If you’re too busy to go to the supermarket and buy all the ingredients, I have friends of mine who use a meal delivery service. All the ingredients for all their weekly meals are included. He and his wife both work very long hours so this saves them both lots of preparation time, they find there is little or no food wastage and they find they have much more variety in their meals than what they used to cook.
- Invest in a slow cooker
It is so simple and easy to throw together a few ingredients in a slow cooker and you have a yummy hot meal at night ready and waiting when you walk through the door after a long day at work.
A close friend of mine has lots of slow cooking recipes but the family favourite is her apricot chicken. All she does is put a variety of raw chicken pieces in her slow cooker along with a few herbs, she adds a big can of apricots and the cooker does the rest. She also puts rice and water in her rice cooker at the same time and gets her daughter to turn it on if she’s going to be late home. When she does walk through the door she doesn’t have to race around frantically trying to get dinner ready for a hungry family; she’s greeted by a delicious aroma instead. These slow cooked meals are ready for her entire family to enjoy even if their meal times are staggered with all their after school activities.
- Pack your lunch the night before.
If your children aren’t old enough to pack their own lunches, you’ll save lots of time and angst in the morning if you prepare their midday meal the night before, while you’re making the evening meal or after dinner. At the same time make your lunch too. Having a healthy meal to eat, especially if you’re trapped at your desk and overloaded with work will avoid you selecting unhealthy junk food from the vending machine to give you an energy boost or paying a fortune to buy food from a takeaway shop nearby where you could be tempted to make bad choices.
- Reheat leftovers.
I think heating up leftovers, especially curries, stews and spaghetti bolognaise, always tastes better the next day. Make extra the night before and you have an instant lunch to eat at work the following day.
If you’re making a salad as part of your dinner, don’t put any dressing on it, serve the dressing on the side instead, that way you can take the rest of the salad for lunch the next day along with a small tin of tuna or salmon or three-bean mix.
- Eat a healthy breakfast.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day yet it’s the one that is skipped most often with the main excuse being a lack of time.
Breaking your fast is very important and if you don’t eat something healthy before your demanding schedule kicks in for the day, you’ll tire earlier and risk becoming lethargic, stressed and less productive.
Avoiding breakfast also means you’ll be more inclined to find that by mid-morning you need an energy boost. A quick fix is often achieved by raiding the biscuit tin in the staff room or feeding more money into an unhealthily filled vending machine.
If you’re too busy in the morning to whip up a smoothie or microwave some quick oats or have some tea and toast or a piece of fruit or maybe you can’t stomach eating first thing in the morning; try packing your breakfast along with your lunch the night before and have it when you get to work.
- Pack some healthy snacks.
The 3 o’clock slump that needs a quick pick-me-up can be a dangerous time if you’re trying to eat healthy unless you have some suitable snacks at hand.
It’s easy to drink caffeine or have sugary drinks or waste even more money at the junk food vending machine.
Healthy alternatives could include a handful of nuts, a small tub of yoghurt (be sure to read the label and check the sugar content and try selecting ones less than 5gms), fresh fruit, a hard-boiled egg, or hummus with carrot and celery sticks instead of corn chips.
- Drink plenty of water.
When you’re run off your feet it’s easy to go for the quick fix and have caffeinated or sugary drinks which give you an energy spike but then you come crashing down feeling tired and sluggish again. Staying hydrated with water will help keep you alert and less hungry.
Exercise feels like the last thing you want to do when you’re swept up in a busy cycle that doesn’t seem to have enough hours in the day already.
Regular exercise will actually give your energy levels and your mood a boost.
If you’re time poor, instead of hitting the snooze button a few times, try getting up straight away or setting your alarm clock a half an hour earlier and get your exercise out of the way first thing and then it’s done. Otherwise you start to encounter obstacles as the rest of the day progresses that will prevent you from working out or you’ll be so busy that you wind up being too tried by the end of the day to workout.
If getting up early to exercise is out of the question then try and look for other opportunities in your daily routine.
Taking the stairs and not the lift at work will make a big difference to your heart rate and your waist line. So will parking your car further away than you usually do and walking those extra steps. It’s a great way to slowly increase your fitness level and if you make it a lifestyle change and incorporate it into your daily routine you should notice a positive difference in just a couple of weeks.
Other ways to utilise your downtime productively could be to do some strechers or stomach crunches when the TV commercials are on. If you’re at work and can’t get out for a walk in your lunch break try ‘deskercising’ as a radio colleague used to call it. He’d worked out a fitness routine that he could achieve without leaving his office cubicle.
The less you sit and the more you stand the better it will be for your health, so try to stand up when doing chores like folding the washing or consider getting a sit down/stand up desk.
Better Health Victoria advises that most adults need between seven and nine hours sleep a night. Most people I know with a jam-packed lifestyle cut into their sleep time and would be happy to get half of those hours.
A good night’s sleep is vital to allow your body to rest and repair and to help with moods and stress levels. You need to find a way to make sleep a priority.
There is no one busy in this world, it’s always about priorities. You will always find time for the things you feel are important.
– Nishan Panwar – author
The key is not to prioritize your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
– Stephen R Covey – author 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
You can change your default way of life with some planning and preparation and focussing a little more on yourself. Imagine what you’d achieve if you were as dedicated about your health and well-being as you are about juggling your hectic lifestyle.
If you set realistic goals and take baby steps you’ll be more likely to succeed. Hope my simple tips help you achieve better health.
Author, TV & Radio Broadcaster