Health & Wellness Articles

Fitting Healthy Habits Into Your Hectic Life

13 Tips to Get More Nutrition and Fitness into Your Day

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There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to accomplish everything you need to do. And it can feel like an added stressor when you are trying to integrate healthy habits into your already hectic schedule. But if you make time for healthy habits, you’ll find yourself with extra reserves of energy that will lower your stress and help you get through life’s challenges.

Here are a few things you can start doing right now to make healthy habits a relatively painless part of your routine:

1. Drink water throughout the day. You don’t hear this nearly enough: water is an all-purpose wonder-substance. It’s great for your skin, your digestive system, and circulatory system, and aids in weight loss and cellulite reduction. If you feel fatigued during the day, it’s often because you aren’t hydrated properly. Drink water throughout the day, sipping from a large bottle or glass. If you have it nearby, it’s easy to remember. If you don’t like the “taste” of water, keep a supply of lemon so that you can add a slice to your water – it cuts any bitterness, adds a bit of vitamin C and makes it taste more festive!

2. Cut back on the amount of soda and coffee you drink. Sugar and caffeine dehydrate you and create energy rushes followed by crashes, which are ultimately energy-depleting. Substitute with drinks like green tea or 100% fruit juice.

3. Replace high-sugar foods with low-sugar versions. Cutting back on the amount of refined sugar you consume helps reduce calories and weight gain and also helps you avoid the energy slumps that come from sugar withdrawal. Items high in refined sugar include most soft drinks, cereals, baked goods, and of course, candy and ice cream. Look for low-sugar or no-sugar versions of these, or simply opt for healthy snacks instead.

4. Stock up on healthy, portable snacks. When you are grocery shopping, pick up bags of baby carrots, string cheese, nuts, fresh and dried fruit, single serving packs of applesauce, yogurt, wholegrain crackers, peanut butter, turkey jerky, etc. Having healthy portable snacks around will help you avoid bad vending-machine, convenience store and fast-food options. Read some more portable snack ideas.

5. Take the time to plan healthy meals for the week. Spend 15 minutes or so to map out your meals. Keep it simple. Then, when you shop for groceries, make your purchases based on the meals you will make during the week. This will help you avoid relying on less healthy take-out or fast food choices. Learn even more grocery store tips.

6. Purchase frozen, ready-to-cook ingredients. Frozen fruits and vegetables have high vitamin and mineral content because they don’t sit around losing these nutrients for long before they are preserved. Although you’ll want to keep plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables around, it’s great to have frozen produce available for quick meal additions and smaller servings. Also, some grocery stores offer frozen boneless chicken breasts and a wide variety of seafood items in re-sealable packages. These are great for quick, healthy meals.

7. Pack your lunch the night before. You'll have given yourself the gift of extra time in the morning and you will assure that you have a healthy meal during the day. Don’t forget to pack snack items so you can avoid the vending machine.

8. Cook double batches of whatever you’re cooking. When you prepare dinner, especially on weekends, cook extra and freeze to use for another dinner or lunch. Then, you'll have a healthy meal ready to go when you are.

9. Give yourself some slack. If you are stressed out about preparing healthy meals every day, use what some experts call the "80/20" rule in your eating. If 80 percent of what you eat is healthy, then allow yourself to take it a little easier for the remaining 20 percent. You and your diet will survive.

10. Fit in exercise whenever you can. Experts recommend that adults exercise a minimum of 30 minutes three times per week. Aim for this amount, but don’t kick yourself if you can’t meet this goal. Any amount of exercise is better than none. No time to go to a gym? Build a stock of exercise tapes – many have routines that you can complete in 20-40 minutes. Use hand weights or do crunches, leg-lifts and lunges while watching television. Or invest in an exercise bike – you can pedal while catching up on your reading. Think of what would be most interesting to you and what best fits your schedule and budget.

11. Take a walk break during the day. Even 20 minutes can make a difference in your energy level, plus it gives you time to clear your head. If you walk with a friend or colleague, it also gives you time to socialize.

12. Whenever possible, walk. Increase the amount of time you can walk, versus sit or drive. It doesn’t take that much extra time to park a bit farther from the store entrance, or to make a personal visit to a colleague rather than phoning, instant messaging or e-mailing.

13. Get enough sleep. Even if you gain more time in your day by cutting back on sleep, you will be less effective throughout the day, as your energy level and cognitive functioning will be reduced. Insufficient sleep also makes you more susceptible to illness. By getting enough sleep, you become more efficient during the time you are awake.

Begin integrating some or all of these habits today. Make them part of your normal routine. You’ll be surprised at how little time is involved and how much better you’ll feel!


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Member Comments

  • ETHELMERZ
    That picture they use here cracked us ALL up, thanks for the laugh!!
  • Of all of these 13 tips, two don't apply to me. I'm already doing the others to some degree, some more than others. The habits already established are: I sleep at least 7 hours a night. I menu plan every week if not weeks in advance. I prepare my grocery list based on my menu plan for the week. I always cook in batches and portion my meals and snacks. I buy frozen vegetables and fresh fruit.

    I know the winter time is the hardest time of year for me to get everything done. During the spring/summer and early fall, I do a great job of exercising at the gym three days a week. My energy level and desire to exercise drops off to nothing during the late fall and winter. So, over the next month, I will work on developing the following habits:
    Drinking more water.
    Since the roads make it hard to get to the gym, I will make time to exercise at least 10 minutes a day at home
    Take a 10-20 walk outside every day.
    If I find myself sitting a lot, set a timer to get myself up to take walk breaks throughout the day.
  • KPLOUNGE, you verbalized my current situation perfectly! We have arrived and finished this part of our life journey, and now what. Almost more stressful without the hectic lifestyle, how to pace an unstructured day!
  • KPLOUNGE- I faced the same thing when I retired so I took up quilting. It is a hobby I can go to anytime for a long time or a short few minutes. Maybe finding a hobby that can fill in the hours might work for you. Good luck.
  • Curbing the sweets is the hardest of all for me...
  • You know, they ALWAYS seem to say that you should walk to visit a coworker rather than calling, emailing, or IMing. It must be nice to be in a work environment that should prize productivity above all else which allows time in your workload to walk to see one. I've yet to have a job where managers are happy to see you taking the longer way to get things done.
  • I like the 80/20 rule about healthy eating choices. I have most of these tips working but still need to work on the menu plans and exercise.
    I am also retired. We have done a lot of traveling as missionaries. But this year we are home for the winter. I am hoping that staying in one spot for a few months will help me develop routine.
  • I can relate to some of what KPLOUNGE said about being retired. I've been retired a while now and my habits keep evolving. Finally have gotten involved in some hiking groups and have figured out the new ways of handling meals. At first it was very tempting to snack my way through the day. Now I like to cook for myself and eat mostly healthy. Still working on getting all the right kinds and amounts of exercise. Sleep is usually an issue for older adults, an article on that would be helpful.
  • I already so most of this,esp. drinking water. I never drink soda if I can help it. I could probably do a better job of planning lunch, since breakfast is the same set routine during the week and my hubby cooks supper I am retired so having too much to do is usually not a problem - too much couch time is but I did make exercise a part of my morning routine starting this past week (6 days and counting) . I think I am on my way!
  • My life is the exact opposite. Since I've retired, I don't live a hectic lifestyle. There is only so much exercise, just sitting, reading, watching TV/Netflix, talking to family/friends, studying the Bible, meditating, and volunteering one can do in a day. After those things, I find myself laying down to rest and then waking up at midnight; therefore, I might be getting to much sleep. I also find myself struggling with eating healthy or unhealthy snacks because I've nothing more to do. Maybe the sugar from unhealthy snacks bring on that sugar rush. So maybe we can have a conversation about retirement life-style and healthy habits as well...
  • I have nastered most of these suggestions, but sleep continues to be an issue. I have to work at that every day to get eight hours in. I function the best if I have 9 hours of sleep. Today, I could really tell the difference. I am already counting the days down for the weekend.
  • I really needed to read this article a second time. Great Article and definitely will be putting these tips to use!

    Thanks SP.

    Nola
  • This is definitely one of those, heard it all before posts, but most definitely needed to hear it again. Its amazing how we can complicate things that are as simple as being prepared, park further away from where you normally would. WALK TO THE SUPERMARKET.. Thank you for this Article. Definitely bookmarking as a favourite. :)

    #Reminders
  • For those of you who are busy with kids and get interupted by them while trying to do a video, CHASE the kids around the house! They'll love it, you'll get some cardio in, some laughter in and some great family memories. Then, if you wear them down enough and YOU still want to workout maybe you'll have some quiet time then.
    One day, one of my teen sons was experimenting with a new electric piano we inherited from Grandma. Two of the kids began dancing ridiculously, then I joined in. Then in passing by the living room, another kid saw us and came in. Then another one. Then another one...and soon all 9 kids and I were dancing, carrying on and laughing for about 30 minutes. It was a lot of fun and a great memory. Never let family responsibilities be our excuse. MAKE it happen.
  • The portable snack idea is good for those of us with family or friends in the hospital for a long stay. As an all day visitor, the vending machine is tempting and gets expensive. Our hospital vending machines have some healthy choices, but not all do.

About The Author

Mary Guarino, Ph.D. Mary Guarino, Ph.D.
Mary Guarino is a life coach who helps people evaluate and improve their lives and relationships. She holds a doctorate in lifespan developmental psychology and a coaching certificate from the Institute for Life Coaching.

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