Last week on the blog we examined how being healthy is perceived as being time-consuming requiring significant discipline and organization.
Instead of the overwhelm associated with being healthy, here are 8 ways to do something healthy or make a simple switch, most of which take less than 15 minutes and frequently don’t require much extra planning.
Making Healthy Fast and Easy – Eating / Drinking
1. Meal (or at least breakfast) prep for the whole week.
Meal prepping means you’re more likely to eat healthy home-cooked meals that are lower in calories, more nutrient-dense, and better for you than fast food, pizza, or packaged options.
Enlist your partner and/or kids to help–make it a family affair to have fun choosing foods and meals that are nutritious. Wash and chop veggies and starches. Wash fruits. Mix rubs or marinades together for meats. The more you can do the prep work and have everything measured out and ready to throw in the pot, the more likely you are to actually cook when you get home (rather drive-thru or a pizza).
For breakfasts, think fast, filling, and stabilizing for energy and blood sugar. Consider the protein frittata ‘muffins’ from this video or making overnight oats. Both keep well and are easy to grab-n-go in the morning.
Having lots of individual containers makes meal prep easier–ziplock baggies, bowls, storage ware. Just grab a container and throw everything into the skillet or take it out the door with you. Double each dinner recipe so you have leftovers for lunch. Having quality food ready to go means you’re less likely to spend money or fill up on junk.
2. Get healthy food done for you.
If you hate meal planning, finding recipes, or grocery shopping, there’s a service for you. You can get veggies through a CSA or farm share. There are countless services that will deliver pre-proportioned ingredients and instructions so all you need to do is throw them into a pot for healthy meals. And various recipe apps will tell you exactly what to cook to fulfill your macro- and micro-nutrient needs. You may never have to do the parts you hate again.
These might be more expensive than hitting the grocery store or farmer’s market, but if time or dislike of the process is your sticking point to eating healthy, then these options might be worth it. Look at Blue Apron, Sunbasket, Green Chef, Zipongo, and LocalHarvest.
3. Opt for 1 pot meals.
To avoid any kind of cooking after work, get a crockpot or Instapot and use it. These will have hot meals ready for you when you arrive home, and all you had to do in the morning was throw in the ingredients you and your family prepped over the weekend.
Boom! Healthy meals exactly when you’re ready for them.
4. Switch from eating 6 meals per day to only 3.
You can read here and here why I’m against snacking. Simply, if you eat 2-3 meals of healthy, filling, nutritious food, there’s no need to snack because you feel full, have stable energy, and don’t have blood sugar swings. Eating fewer times generally means fewer calories, better blood sugar control, and more energy and mental clarity.
(Trading out 6 snacky/junk food type ‘meals’ per day for 2-3 filling nutrient-dense meals makes the idea of weekend food prep less overwhelming because there’s less to prepare and less containers needed.)
When you feel like snacking, try sparkling water or drink BeLight Tea. Often thirst is perceived as hunger. Try staving off cravings and curbing appetite with BeLight Tea instead. This simple swap will save time, calories, and be healthier for you.
If you must have a snack, keep nuts, carrots, celery sticks, or cucumbers handy. The former is more stabilizing for blood sugar than a trip to the vending machine and the latter are full of fiber and water, helping you feel full and alleviate thirst.
5. Stay hydrated.
To help you stay away from snacking and other temptations, drink enough liquids. Again, because of the thirst-hunger confusion. Make sure you have 2-3 good water bottles and mugs with you on a long day.
Fill one with plain water, one with hot tea or coffee, and one with cold tea or sparkling water. The variety will keep you drinking and the quantity will help you stay hydrated and not need to snack.
If it’s easier, fill these up in the evening so you can grab them and head out the door in the morning.
Making Healthy Fast and Easy – Exercise / Stress / Sleep
6. Exercise in just 10-15 minutes.
People often say they don’t exercise because they don’t have time. But most people spend at least 30-60 minutes on social media per day; it’s possible to get a killer workout in less time than that.
We used to think the only effective workout was at least 1 hour long. Instead, consider HIIT training (video), a freaking tough workout that builds strength, cardio fitness, creates a metabolism boost, and generates 24-36 hours of after burn in only 10-15 minutes.
Still think you don’t have time? I have a friend who works at NYC Fashion Week, working 15 hours per day, and she managed to HIIT workouts in regularly. Get off the social media or do some burpees while watching goofy youtube videos. You don’t even need a gym or equipment.
7. Walk to reduce stress.
If you’re super busy (or anxiety prone), you may find it difficult to quiet your mind or stop moving long enough to sit down and meditate. In that case, try walking outdoors. Ask your coworkers to have a walking meeting with you. Or take a short walk with your kids.
Walking can ease stress, increase circulation, loosen tight muscles, and boost happy hormones.
This doesn’t need to be long–a 10-15 minute walk outside is enough.
8. Prioritize sleep.
With Netflix, TV, internet, work emails, and too many cups of coffee, it’s become incredibly difficult to actually shut off and go to bed.
Yet, to be healthy, lose weight, feel good, be productive and focused, sufficient sleep is an absolute must. So, here are 2 tips to help you get to bed on time.
(i) Set an alarm on your phone (or other device) to remind you to shut off and get ready for bed. For example, if you know you need to be in bed by 11 and it takes you 45 minutes to get ready, set the alarm for 10:15pm. Then, actually observe it and move toward bed when it sounds.
(ii) iPhone has a new setting in the Quick Access menu called “Night Shift.” This dims the screen and changes it to a warm tone, which helps prime your brain for sleep (instead of the bright white which tells your brain it’s time to wake up). Configure the hours of night shift so that if you must look at your phone before bed or during the night, the screen is a dim orange and will help you feel sleepy.
Each of these takes less than 20 seconds to set up and are totally worth it so you can be primed to get the quality and quantity of sleep you need.
To start making healthy changes in your life, you don’t need to do all of these things at once. Simply implementing one or 2 of them can be enough at the beginning and may even be the catalyst that gets you to do more. While weekend food prep may require 1-3 extra hours on Sunday, it can save you hours over the week, plus save you money and mean actually eating home-cooked meals. The other suggestions on this list require just 10-15 minutes (or less) and are very accessible if and when you’re ready to make a change.
If health is important to you, I’m confident you’ll find a way.
To your health!
Comment: If you have a healthy trick or habit that keeps you energized, alert, and feeling good that doesn’t take much time, effort, or planning, share it in the comments below.
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