We all want to be healthier, but it sounds super overwhelming at times. Work out! Eat twelve servings of veggies per day! Don’t drink a case of beer! Exist on only green tea and pure sunshine! Who has time for all of that?
I hear plastic is full of fiber and low in saturated fats.
Well, if you don’t have time to make your own kombucha and grow your own organic veggie garden while running marathons daily, you’re not alone. Here’s ten ways you can actually get healthier with a barely noticeable effort and time commitment in your day once they become a habit.
1. Here’s the biggie: get 8+ hours of sleep as often as you can. If I’m sleep deprived, I’d rather sleep in than work out in the morning (as long as it’s not all the time). Sometimes means you have to go to bed instead of finding out who’s going to die next while binge watching Game of Thrones, and that sucks, but you’re at your best when you get the amount of sleep your body needs to feel rested and awesome. A lot of other things fall into place when you’re caught up on sleep.
2. Swap your easy carby breakfast for something with protein. Switch your cereal and milk for cereal and greek yogurt with berries and a drizzle of honey. They take about the same amount of time to prepare – almost nothing – and you’ll feel a world of difference. Huge protein and fullness boost.
Tip: Hate yogurt like my husband and want something else easy? Grab a decent quality protein bar like a Quest bar (or the cheaper Costco brand) or make a protein shake. My fave is Muscle Milk Strawberry with frozen strawberries and coconut milk.
Looks messy. Tastes yummy and takes less than a minute to make.
3. Break like a smoker. I’ve noticed the only people at offices actually take breaks are the smokers. Be a smoker! Except, don’t smoke, and take a walk. If it’s too hot or cold, you can typically find a parking garage to walk and be sheltered from the elements. Or pace up and down your hallway at work and make everyone nervous. Breaks help your productivity, creativity, and if I walk at breaks and lunch for about 20 minutes a pop – I rarely have trouble hitting 10k steps in a day.
4. Water is Life. Use a 20+ oz bottle and aim to refill it 2 times before the end of the workday (and then once at home). I am so terrible at water but it is super important so I make it a priority. It decreases your appetite, improves your mood, fights fatigue, aids in proper digestion, its good for your skin, improves memory… basically, if you’re feeling a little off, chances are you’re dehydrated and you can improve your life with the proper amount of H20. While the amount you need is variable, aiming for 60-80 ounces minimum during the day is key (and add more to supplement workouts).
Tip: if you spend a lot of time in the heat or workout more than an hour a day, you should replace your electrolytes. If you generally work indoors and hit the treadmill for 20 minutes a few times a week, you’ll probably be fine with just water. And if water just doesn’t sit well, try it with some lemon or lime or other fruit for some light flavor.
But… but… I put water in my smoothie… but then also tequila…
5. Walk the walk. Instead of driving to McDonalds for some fast food or ordering delivery, spend some time outside and get some activity at the same time. Pack your lunch and eat at your desk after you’ve worked up an appetite OR get healthy take out within walking distance (but you have to walk there and back). Lunch is a great time to get some fresh air and activity without even getting too sweaty.
6. Hierarchy of snackings. Feeling munchy in the afternoon and want some candy? First, try a cup of tea or some water. A lot of time we’re actually thirsty instead of being hungry. If that doesn’t do it for you, try some crisp veggies – carrots and snap peas are my fave, if you can’t eat them plain try with some hummus or low fat yogurt dip. If you NEEEEED something salty try about 20 pistachios (in the shell, so you have to work for them). And you know what? Occasionally you need the chocolate. If you can keep it to a square or two of dark chocolate (instead of a whole bar of milk), it’s practically health food because there’s antioxidants in that shit (though more in this case is not better – a dab’ll do ya).
Tip: here’s a chart for what your cravings are supposed to mean. However, I’m going to call shenanigans on the alcohol one – when I want whiskey, I want whiskey. Or to be independently wealthy. But, at least immediately, whiskey.
Are chips tastier? Sure. But they also taste good and you won’t hate yourself after…
7. Feeling tired in the afternoon? Instead of coffee or snacks, try getting up to take a 15 minute walk outside. We’re not meant to be indoors as much as we are and some sunshine and activity (or at least being outside) usually will perk you up. Yes, I’ve mentioned walks three times in seven tips. You will be a happier, healthier person, and better employee, if you get up from your desk a few times a day and see daylight and move around a bit.
8. Don’t give up your favorite foods, but make them healthier. For example, I love spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. Yum. However, go to Olive Garden and get it and it will set you back about 1000 calories (and that’s BEFORE salad and crack breadsticks). Even making it at home, you will probably use two servings of pasta because one serving of pasta looks really sad in anything but a kiddie bowl. So, I’ll put that one serving of pasta, tomato sauce, and meatballs on top of some sauteed spinach in garlic and serve with a green salad. As they say, you can have your pasta and eat it too (without gaining weight).
Tip: If you want to be extra awesome, try one of these healthier pastas. But if that sounds overwhelming, one step at a time. Add some veggies you like and think about that later.
Bacon cheddar onion pepper oatmeal breakfast muffins. Almost as good as a kolache or breakfast sandwich…
9. Enact a bedtime ritual. I typically use my foam roller for about 5 minutes and have a cup of sleepytime tea before I pick up my book and read until my eyes close. You might take a bubblebath or meditate or something. Whatever it is, it’s nice to have a ritual that signals your brain “ok, it’s time to go to sleep soon” that’s different from what you’ve been doing before (watching TV, surfing on your phone, fighting crime in a mask and tights, etc).
10. Try to stay away from screens as you wind down. I used to watch TV to fall asleep and I’d sleep fitfully. Now I read my (paperwhite) kindle to sleep and I generally fall asleep quicker, don’t wake up when the episode ends and have to watch another one, and sleep more soundly. And I get to dream about aliens and lasers because I like to read pulpy sci fi. Win!
TIP: Read something you enjoy but isn’t too exciting or makes your brain work too much. I can’t really fall alseep reading non-fiction on subjects I’m interested in and sometimes I’ll just have to put the book down right before the exciting showdown because I know I’ll read until the end if I don’t.
All of these things at one time seemed completely overwhelming to me. Who has time to take walks at work? Water is yucky. I don’t WANT all these vegetables. I CAN’T fall asleep without the TV on. These are things that I’ve said to myself over the years. However, sometime if you give something a try for a week or two, it becomes a habit you look forward (or at least makes you feel good) to instead of dread.
Do you have a great healthy habit that doesn’t take much effort that I haven’t mentioned here? Hit me up.