Healthy living can be time consuming. It requires time purchasing food, time preparing meals and time spent exercising. Many healthy meals can even be more time consuming to eat due to the higher fiber and water content (and resulting lower caloric density). For many of us, this can be a challenge when our time is already occupied with other commitments.
Personally, this is something I have struggled with over the past few months as I have been working well over 40 hours a week on a regular basis in addition to other commitments that I have. This has resulted in having to strike a balance between maintaining my overpacked schedule, my health and my sanity.
This has led me to develop a few guidelines that I follow to make healthy choices while working within the parameters of my current day-to-day life.
- Always hit my essential checklist: Beans, Greens and Omega-3s.
- Have at least 1 “real meal” per day: The meal is often as simple as a veggie, grain and bean stir-fry or pasta based dish.
- Start the day off strong with a healthy and filling breakfast: For me I usually go with either oatmeal or Ezekiel cereal with fruit, flax seeds and either nuts or peanut butter powder.
- Eat enough calories of healthy food earlier in the day to avoid bingeing on junk food at night: I eat around 2300 calories/day. I aim for about 500 calories in both breakfast and lunch in addition to about 400 calories in snacks. This will leave me with another 900 calories when I get home (usually a meal and snack). When I don’t do this I end up bingeing on unhealthier calorie-dense foods like potato chips.
- Mentally categorize foods based on the amount of time or effort it takes to make it. I divide my meals into 5 min., 30 min. and 1 hour. I then choose a meal based on how much time I have. This helps when I tell myself I don’t have time to pack lunch and decide to resort to less than ideal choices when it is inevitably time to eat.
The exercise component is a bit harder to manage. I find the best option is to look at my schedule at the start of the week. I figure out which days I will realistically be able to workout and commit to exercising whenever I have the chance. I utilize my days off for longer workouts where I push myself to my limits.
Sometimes this may only end up being 2 workouts per week, sometimes I can get 5 in. But if I have the time I make sure I do something, even if it is just a quick 30 minute workout.
I also follow the rule that if I have time to watch TV, I have time to workout.
The Lesson Learned:
What this all comes down to is doing the best I can with the time and resources I have available. Sometimes this means accepting good enough rather than over stressing myself to meet my ideals. It is about remembering that the purpose of healthy living isn’t about health in itself, but making healthier choices to improve my quality of life overall.