Most of us lead busy lives, making it harder to find time to train, easy to grab the less healthy snack or meal, and tricky to unwind and relax. Earlier this week I read an interesting article by precision nutrition on how we often treat our health with an all or nothing approach, in that we go full swing, eating well and training loads, but when we are busy, we pause it all, planning to take it back up when we are less busy. Not only does this make it harder to reach your goals, get fit or lose weight, but also our bodies are like formula 1 cars - to get the best out of them, they need careful looking after. John Berardi talked about having mini healthy habits that you could stick to when busy, so you don’t ‘pause’ your healthy habits, you just turn the dials up or down according to have how much time you have. So what mini healthy habits can you form?
- Prep ahead - I know I bang on a fair bit about planning ahead, and we know I like a meal plan, but whilst planning what you eat is essential for healthy eating habits, if you are pushed for time, that can easily go out the window. So at the weekend, prep some of the veggies ahead, make a batch of soup etc, anything that reduces your workload during the week.
- Have an emergency stash - We can all start the day with good intentions, but when hunger kicks in and there is nothing healthy to hand that we fancy, it’s easy to reach for quick, unhealthy option. So have a few healthy snacks that you can keep in your desk, bag, car home etc. I love to eat natural packed protein bars, but there are also some great little bags of nuts mixed with a bit of dry fruit etc
- Dig out the slow cooker - At this time of year, supper needs to be warming and filling, as salads don’t always satisfy you in the winter. If you are busy, turn on the slow cooker, chuck in your ingredients and leave it cooking during the day, giving you a yummy healthy option to dive into when you are ready
- Be mindful - When you are rushing about, it is very easy to eat on the go, but by doing this you miss out on how satisfying the food tastes, how hungry we are, or when to stop. We also tend to chew it less, making it harder for our bodies to digest and draw the nutrients out. Instead give yourself some down time, to help clear the head and enjoy your food
- Spice it up - by adding spices, you will boost your metabolism, helping to burn those few extra calories. Herbs and spices also offer a range of other health benefits, such as boosting your antioxidants, increasing blood circulation, reducing cholesterol etc.
- Interval it up - you don’t need to sit on the bike for ages, or run for miles. Just by adding harder intervals you will work harder and can be finished quicker. You can either up the pace, incline or resistance.
- Work the whole body - Rather than just working lower body or upper body, choose exercises that work the whole lot - press ups with a squat, burpees, lunge whilst pushing weights above your head etc. That way you are strengthening more muscles at once, getting better results in a short space of time.
- Quick strength session - If time is tight, rather than dropping your workout totally, aim for 15mins, linking up exercises so you get no or little rest. That way your body has to work extra hard, but for a short space of time, enabling you to squeeze in a workout, when you might have easily missed it.
- Drink - I know this can become a bit repetitive, but just 1% dehydration will make you feel tired and affect your concentration. Once you feel thirsty you are already past that point, so drink regularly during the day, aiming for a fluid intake of 30-40ml per kg of body weight.
- Don’t forget you head - This is simply to remind you that being busy is one thing, but take time every day to catch your breath, unwind and relax. Our brain needs that time to work to its best, and will help you to focus more effectively, which in turn will mean you get more done in less time.