Even though we all know we should be making healthy decisions and doing everything we can to put our health first, a lot of the time real life seems to get in the way of even the best intentions. But despite the daily time crunch, family obligations and never-ending pile of new projects that seem to always find their way to your desk, your own well-being should always be your top priority. We’ve put together a guide to help you better balance your health with all your other responsibilities, to-dos and loads of laundry.
Make more me time
This is probably the most difficult item on our list, but it’s also the most important. Being constantly on the go, feeling like you can barely breathe, let alone sit down to a healthy meal or squeeze in a workout, isn’t good for you. We’re not suggesting you go AWOL or disappear for days on end, but do make sure to keep your schedule manageable. That means saying no even if you feel guilty and making sure work doesn’t come creeping home with you. The more stressed-out you feel, the less likely you are to make healthy decisions, so making more time for you is imperative for overall health. Do whatever it takes to ensure you aren’t feeling totally swamped all the time.
Eat well on the go
If you simply don’t have time to sit down to a healthy meal three times a day (and not many of us do) then make sure whatever you eat while on the go has health benefits – and lots of them. One of the simplest ways to put health first is to give up coffee and sugar-laden muffins for breakfast, fast food for lunch and eating off the kids’ plates for dinner (trust us when we tell you that should not count as “dinner”). Instead, stock up on simple, fast and healthy options you can stow in your purse for when you need them. Raw nuts, cut-up veggies, whole fruit, homemade granola bars, pitas stuffed with hummus, chopped greens and diced vegetables, leftover pasta salad (whole wheat, ideally) or anything else that didn’t come out of a box or a deep fryer is going to help keep you going — in a good way.
Set a goal
Whether you’re feeling unmotivated to put your health first, too busy to even think about it or just need a boost where your own well-being is concerned, setting a goal can be a great way to kick-start your new health-centric lifestyle. Think about what you’d like to accomplish – being able to run after your kids without feeling out of breath, competing in a race, feeling better about your body – and write down exactly how you plan to accomplish that goal. Knowing you’ve written it down (put it where you see it every day) should help push you to take the steps you need to get there.
Walking is the easiest and cheapest form of fitness, so why not do more of it? If you can walk to work, do it. If you take transit to your office, get off a few stops early to squeeze in some more time pounding the pavement. If everyone at work usually orders lunch in, step up and offer to pick it up on foot (just order earlier than usual so you have extra time to go get it). There are countless ways to move more every day just by increasing the amount of steps you take.
Make fitness fun
Treadmill? Boring. Step class? No, thanks. Not everyone loves the gym and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it shouldn’t be an excuse to avoid exercise. Focus on fitness by doing things that don’t feel like a slog. Try a new sport, get some friends together and form a running or walking group (you can chat while you burn calories), learn a new physical activity like martial arts or dance, or get out on your bike for a ride around the city. Fitness doesn’t have to be a chore – if it is, you likely won’t make time for it. But if it’s fun, squeezing in regular activity will feel like a no-brainer.