A pretty common excuse for not living healthy is not having enough time or energy to do so. But there’s no excuse anymore!
When it comes to balance, we must keep in mind that it’s important to focus on and prioritize what matters in our lives and put those items at the top of our “to do” lists. In the midst of juggling work, family, friends, daily stresses, and distractions, it is often challenging to find the time to focus on our health goals. So how do we create positive adjustments in our lives? Here are a few ways to initiate energy-promoting habits and balance a healthy lifestyle with a tight schedule.
Building New Habits
The key to success is found in our daily actions and routines. We consciously make decisions every day which become mirror images of our lives. If you feel off-balance, stressed, or far from completing your goals, it may be time to simply shape new habits and different choices from the ones you’ve become comfortable with. According to author Charles Duhigg, writer of The Power of Habit, it is imperative to establish new, subtle habits that stick when looking for long-term changes. Duhigg’s theory suggests this can be accomplished in three easy steps.
1. Find a cue that works for you
“A cue can be a particular time of day, a certain place, the presence of certain other people, a particular emotion or a preceding behavior that has become ritualized,” states Duhigg.
In other words, you can play with a variety of routines or patterns that incorporate friends, family, careers, and workout schedules until you find one that fits your specific lifestyle. This might be joining classes at a local gym to keep you motivated and held accountable, squeezing in a workout before you begin your day, or simply changing the people you surround yourself with—begin to move outside the comfort zone and explore your options. Find a “cue” that will benefit you and help you achieve your goals.
Surround yourself with motivating and inspiring people. Sometimes it’s best to take a moment and reflect on your life and the relationships it is built on. What do the people you associate with have you feeling, thinking, saying, and how do they have you acting? If you are reevaluating any negative relationships, you may need to separate yourself from them and make room for the positive in life.
2. Choose Rewards that Grant Instant Pleasure
Find simple pleasures that provide you with instant gratification, like taking a warm bath, scheduling a massage session, enjoying a relaxing Skype date session with a friend, or participating in a workout class you enjoy.
3. Demolish Bad Habits
Learn to focus on what truly matter and let go of distractions. Duhigg states, “You need to recognize what the cue and reward are and then find something else that delivers a similar reward.” For instance, if you notice that the fatigue from a long work day (cue) leaves you feeling tired and missing the gym, schedule a morning workout with a friend before work. You will feel energized and accomplished all morning, helping you perform better in the work environment. Leave your clothes and iPod next to your bed the night before so you’re ready to hit the gym in the morning!
If stress is a “cue” for you and you tend to reach for fast-food when you are on the go and pressed for time, practice premaking meals to take with you to always have a healthy food option on hand.
When it comes to forming habits with exercise, it’s just as simple. Find something you can do that you genuinely enjoy and that fits into your routine. For example, if you wish to add in cardio to your training program but are not a fan of running in place on a treadmill, find innovative ways to increase your aerobic activity by trying out new activities such as biking, hiking outdoors, joining group classes, or kickboxing.
Focus on Executing Your Goals
According to the Cancer Research Centre at UCL Epidemiology and Public Health, it takes an average of 66 days to shape a habit. When it boils down to making positive changes and forming balance in your life, focus all of your energy on making that change.
There are going to be many variables standing in your way. Expect that! Whether it’s school, your long job hours, children, or the fear of leaving a comfort zone, wasting time worrying will never help you become the individual you are fully capable of becoming. You’ll likely have a reason why it won’t work, but it's all about finding the many reasons why it can and focusing mentally on how it will benefit you, your life, and those around you. Believe in yourself—you can and you will find a way to stick to your nutrition and workout regimen. Whether you think you can or you can’t you are right.
More Tips to Keep Healthy When Busy!
1. Prep your weekly meals on the weekend. Store your food in single serving size containers in the freezer so it is readily available during the week.
2. Cook a batch of steel cut oats or oatmeal in a large crockpot with fresh fruit at the beginning of the week. Store the remaining food in the fridge to enjoy on busy mornings!
3. Carry protein bars and Sunwarrior protein shakes in your car at all times! You never know when you may be busy and need a healthy snack.
4. Create a list of all the many benefits that living a healthy lifestyle will bring into your life. Tape this list on your mirror so you see it daily. This list will remind you why waking up for morning workouts, eating healthy, and building positive relationships in your life will be worth the effort! Some examples to help you start your list:
- Stress relief
- Healthier body and mind
- Demolished personal records
- Muscle gain
- Fat loss
- Toned body
- A positive remodel to your children, friends, or family
- Feel accomplished, organized, and content
(Waking up at 5 a.m. for a workout will be a challenge, so daily visual reminders of why the effort will be well worth it will be an extra incentive to get the job done.)
5. Plan your workouts on a calendar as you would an appointment. Make yourself a priority. You deserve that.
Surround yourself with others who have goals that correlate with your own. Leave no time spent on negative energy that will interfere with your plan to stay on track.
Duhigg, Charles. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. New York: Random House, 2012. Print.
Lally, Phillippa. "UCL News." How Long Does It Take to Form a Habit? Colleagues from the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre Based at UCL Epidemiology and Public Health., 4 Aug. 2009. Web. 28 Mar. 2014.
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