Wouldn’t it be nice to have every day be one of those “perfect” days? You know, the kind of day that includes a peaceful walk in the park, a heart-pounding workout, a playful few hours with the kids, and healthy, delicious eats at each meal—all the good stuff, in other words.
While somewhere in a far off land that may be reality, here on planet Earth, it’s not. Most of us spend our days meeting deadlines at work, shuffling the kids to and from school (and soccer practice, ballet, and baseball too), and hoping to have the chance to actually sit down for a meal.
Finding the time to work out and cook healthy meals is easily pushed to the wayside in our ordinary, busy lives. But sneaking it in isn’t impossible if you prioritize it. Fortunately, I’ve found some no-fail, simple strategies that will help keep you on track, no matter what life’s throwing at you.
Here are my top 8 everyday tips that work for busy people (aka, everyone).
We’ve all heard this one before, but how many of us actually put it into action? Drink a big glass of water upon waking in the morning, and then keep a bottle with you throughout the day. By always having water on hand, you’ll be more likely to skip soda or other sugary beverages, which saves you a ton of calories. Bonus: staying hydrated can help keep you focused during those busy days.
On Sundays, schedule an hour or two (just like you would for any appointment) for prepping some easy snacks and meals to get you and your family through the week. While that might seem like a long time, it will save you many more hours during the week. And it will help you and your family avoid just ordering greasy takeout.
You don’t have to do anything fancy, even just prepping the basics can help. Try cooking or grilling a bunch of chicken breasts, chopping up assorted fruits and veggies so they’re ready to be cooked or snacked on. When you’re short on time, you’ll have a few things ready to whip up quickly.
It’s also a good idea to portion out small baggies of nuts and trail mix so that you always have healthy snacks ready, too.
Spread it out
While you should aim to get a workout in a few days per week, sometimes it isn’t possible. On days when you don’t have an hour for the gym, make sure to move more throughout the day. You can do this by playing with your kids, taking the stairs, and walking instead of driving to close-by errands.
To get your strength moves in, do squats while you’re waiting for water to boil, lunge from room to room instead of walking, and hammer out a few quick tricep dips on the couch every time you pass by. These little things add up quickly, and trust me after the third pass of the couch, you will definitely feel the burn.
Read about your health
Looking for some quick motivation? Whether it’s clicking articles like this one, scanning health news headlines or even keeping a motivating or interesting body book on your nightstand, reading about health and fitness can help keep your head in the game by keeping healthy living top of mind, which in turn helps you to make better decisions without really having to think about it.
This is another one we hear all too often, but rarely enforce. Being tired raises levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and this boost has been linked to overeating. Set a bedtime for yourself and do your absolute best to tuck yourself in right on time. You’ll notice an improvement in not only your decision-making, but your patience, workouts, and work quality as well.
Remember those portioned trail mixes you made a head of time? Bring them with you everywhere. By eating every few hours (even if it’s just a few bites), it will help to ward off intense cravings for junk food. Try keeping a few snacks in your purse or car, so you always have them.
While it can be hard on some days (hello, screaming toddler and crying infant!), sometimes just taking 5 minutes to step outside and take a few deep breaths is all you need to center yourself and re-group. If you can, try for 10-15 minutes and take a quick walk around the block while you’re at it. (Every step counts, remember.)
Don’t beat yourself up
Repeat after me: perfect isn’t possible. The healthiest people are those that have found balance, not perfection. If you find yourself in a weak moment, eating chocolate chips straight out of the bag, don’t spend the next hour beating yourself up over it. Enjoy the chocolate, think about how you could have handled the situation differently next time, and move on with your life. Life is too short and sweet to dwell on those small instances. Plus, sometimes a girl just needs to let go with some chocolate, and maybe a glass of wine, too.