When you’re constantly pressed for time, staying healthy may fall to the bottom of your to-do list. Falling into bed at the end of a long day is tempting, and an early-morning workout is a tough sell when you’re cozy in your bed. But, being busy doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your fitness goals.
From your diet to your workout plan, there are tons of quick and easy ways to maintain your health when life feels overwhelming—even (and especially) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Get started on your journey with these 15 health tips for investing in yourself, your health, and your well-being.
1. Don’t think of it as a diet.
The most effective way to improve the way you eat is by thinking of it as a lifestyle change, not a temporary fix. This may sound daunting, but when you think of your diet as fuel for your life goals—whether they are professional, fitness, or personal ones—it can seem a little easier. Making healthy eating a priority will give you energy and keep you motivated when you’re on the go.
2. Stick to simple meals.
Easy, quick, and painless—this may sound like pre-packaged, processed food, but there are many healthy meals you can make in no time. Make a sweet potato in the microwave, spread some peanut butter and banana on whole wheat bread, or sauté some chicken on the stovetop. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated!
3. Get your protein.
Loading up on protein helps you stay fuller longer. High-calorie foods like potato chips and granola bars pack less of a punch than protein-filled ones when it comes to revving up your metabolism and staying full. Yogurt, jerky, pumpkin seeds, or deli meat roll ups are great, protein-rich snacks that are easy and portable.
4. Snack for satisfaction.
Sometimes last minute schedule changes will keep you out later than usual. Keep snacks with you for those kinds of situations, so that getting home late doesn’t mean overcompensating with a huge dinner. Eat when you’re slightly hungry, and stop when you’re satisfied.
5. Reap the benefits of breakfast.
Think you can blow off breakfast? Think again. Breakfast’s benefits don’t just come from morning meals that take a long time to prepare. A quick, nutritious meal in the morning will boost both your mental and physical efficiency, which will save you time and effort later.
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6. Make less into more.
Ditch the long slog and try short bursts instead. Interval training, like bike or treadmill sprints or Tabata-style bodyweight workouts, will give you more bang for your buck. In a short amount of time, high intensity exercises like these boost your calorie burn throughout the day—for a time commitment of as little as 15 minutes.
7. Keep things interesting.
Doing the same workout every day can get tedious and decrease your motivation. Try taking a class, doing some yoga, or hitting the weights if you usually run or ride the bike—or vice-versa. Switching up your routine helps maximize your workout results and makes it easy to get excited for something new.
8. Avoid staying sedentary.
Do some stretches during a conference call, park farther away, or get off the bus one stop earlier. A study shows that a lunchtime walk “can perceptibly—and immediately—buoy people’s moods and ability to handle stress at work.” Adding a few extra steps to your routine can actually put a pep in all your steps.
9. Plan it out.
When you’re coming from a day full of decision making, having to choose between weight training and aerobics can add to the stress. Planning your workout ahead of time helps you focus on fitness. When you’re finished, you’ll feel strong and accomplished!
10. Anything is better than nothing.
Realistically, squeezing in even 30 minutes of exercise each day is close to impossible for many. Remembering that fitness is accomplished in little efforts—the 10 minutes before your morning shower, or the sliver of time before bed, will help you achieve those health and fitness goals. YouTube has tons of quick exercise videos for all levels, so you can stay active within any time constraints.
11. Start off every day with intention.
Try setting a reminder on your phone when you wake up to keep your health and wellness in mind throughout the day. Being mindful about your intentions means that you’ll be less likely to give in to small temptations that add up in the long run.
12. Switch the sound to silent.
It’s tempting to scroll through Instagram all evening long or zone out watching a new series. Although it’s second nature—and may even seem relaxing—studies from the National Sleep Foundation show that electronic (and particularly blue) light before bed promotes insomnia and disrupts circadian rhythms. Don’t underestimate the power of getting enough quality sleep! So shut off the phone, turn off the TV, and get some shut-eye for a more productive day tomorrow!
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13. Take it one moment at a time.
Whether you overdid it on the hors d’oeuvres last night or caved for the cookie during lunchtime, it’s never too late to get back on the wagon! Don’t let those hiccups throw you off track. If you’re working hard every day toward personal or professional growth, you have every right to indulge once in a while. Stay positive, eat your veggies, and try again.
14. Schedule for self-care.
Prioritize yourself. Carve out 10 minutes in the day for slow stretching, take a power nap, or go for a relaxing walk on your lunch break. Personal wellness is critical to productivity, and a happier you is a more productive you.
15. Don’t be hard on yourself.
Balance is key. Having a slice of pizza won’t change the fact that you’re living a healthy lifestyle, and sometimes skipping a workout is actually the right thing to do. Don’t overwork yourself and don’t add extra stress to your life by worrying about things you can’t control, like injury or illness.
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