Too busy to work out? Too stressed to eat healthy? You can’t use those excuses any more to explain your poor health, bad eating habits and low energy levels. Let’s face it, if you are over-weight or even under-nourished, you will have less energy to deal with the hectic schedule you are leading, and you will be more susceptible to falling sick.
Here are some solutions to stay fit and healthy while still leading a busy life. These small steps provide an all-round solution to staying fit – exercise, food, sleep and water.
Okay, we all are guilty of doing this – after a long day’s work, it is logical to pick up a burger on the way home, especially when the stomach is grumbling. Or you have back to back meetings during the day, and you want to skip your lunch. Don’t. Keep a bag of dry fruits, or a box of fruits at your desk. Keep a couple of bananas in the car. Stack up tinned tuna, nuts, whole grain crackers in your drawer. Keep unflavoured yoghurt, veggie sticks and hummus in the fridge at work. Don’t forget to put your name on them, otherwise it will disappear just when you need it.
Pack your sandwich with you before leaving home in the morning. I know, mornings are so rushed, especially when you are trying to pack the kids away too. Make the sandwich the night before, or at least prepare the ingredients at night, if you don’t like a soggy sandwich.
Make a smoothie for breakfast. Here’s the easiest way to make a healthy smoothie – get some milk, banana, yoghurt, blueberries, rolled oats and a raw egg, beat them up and take it with you. For the more leisurely mornings or weekends, make some muffins or muesli bars.
What’s for dinner? The healthiest and fastest option is fish – rich in Omega oils. Just fry some salmon fillets with garlic salt. Of course, don’t deep fry it. Add some stir fried veggies to it with lemon juice. Want to make it even healthier? Add almonds to it.
If you still want to pick up a takeout, avoid deep fried, oily and salty stuff.
This is an often-repeated advice, but I can’t stress it enough – drink at least 8 to 9 glasses of water. But spread it out at regular intervals. It is easy to forget to drink water when you have lots of meetings. Carry your water bottle everywhere you go. Avoid coffee if you can. But if you have to drink coffee or Coke, which dehydrates your body, drink lots of water. Plan your day ahead, so that if you are going to be away from a water source, take a bottle with you. I always keep a water bottle in my car.
If you are like me, you will try to go for a run or hit the gym in the evening. By the time you get home, you are so tired that you skip the exercise. Or your kid needs to be taken to the doctor. I have found that the best time to get some exercise out of the way is the first thing in the morning, when your kids are still in bed. Put on your sneakers and hit the road. If you go to bed late, and can’t get up early, try to fit in just 10 to 15 minutes’ exercise in the morning, and then hit the road for 15 minutes in the lunch hour. By splitting your workout like this, you can mix and match activities – weights in the morning, run in the afternoon, yoga in the evening.
Also, be on the lookout for small excuses to do exercise. Take stairs at work. Park the car a bit away while going for a meeting or grocery shopping. Walk to the colleague’s desk across the floor instead of emailing her. If your colleague shares the same passion, consider having a meeting with her over a walk around the block.
Our bodies recover and rebuild cells during sleep. It is absolutely crucial to get a good night’s sleep. Each person needs a different number of hours – but a minimum of six hours of sound sleep is crucial. Go to bed on time. Go to bed at the same time every night. A sleep deprived body produces chemicals that is harmful to our health. In fact, sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture for many centuries.
Finally, this is not a health tip, but has a direct impact on our health. We over-commit professionally and socially, and try to pack too much in our day. Learn to say no. Prioritise your commitments. Aim to reach your appointments before time. Look for excuses to laugh. All these things will reduce your stress levels, which will in turn improve your health.