In our busy lives, it’s very easy to neglect the healthy habits that keep us eating right and feeling great. When we’re super busy, we tend to act on autopilot, make excuses, avoid what’s important and judge ourselves for not being perfect.
When we are frazzled and overwhelmed, being “too tired” to eat healthy and exercise is one of those “chicken and egg” dilemmas. It’s difficult to say which one comes first: are we too tired and run down because of unhealthy eating, or do we choose fast food and skip exercise because we’re exhausted?
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Regardless, if we don’t pay attention, we can drive automatically into overeating, overstressing and poor health. The result is feeling stuck, rundown and ultimately not as productive and dynamic as we desire to be. Prioritising your health when you’re busy involves weaving healthy habits into your day so that they become automatic and part of your daily routine.
Here are a few tips to help you stay focused;
1. When you eat, just eat
Mindlessly munching while distracted can lead to eating more than we need and leave us feeling strangely unsatisfied. When we are busy it’s tempting to eat on the run, chow down while doing desk work or eat lunch while talking on the phone. But such distractions make it difficult to hear the whisper of satiety and we often overshoot it.
To avoid this, try scheduling your meals so you have the opportunity to give eating your full attention. Even if you only have ten minutes, you can still bring your mind back to your body, connect with your sandwich or sushi and savour every bite. When you eat, just eat, then when you are finished it’s easier to go about your day with energy and a clear head.
2. Keep a Handle on Stress
Stress is harmful to our health because it imbalances every hormone in our body and is one of the major triggers for overeating and over drinking. Everyday work stress can feel overwhelming, especially when events occur that are beyond our control. How you perceive the stressor is crucial – ask yourself “Will this matter in a day, a week or even a year?” Take a few minutes to mentally review what you can do to keep yourself healthy and balanced. It may involve asking for help, learning to say “no”, carving out some adequate rest and relaxation time or taking regular ten minute walks outside to keep you balanced.
3. Pack your walking shoes
Exercise is often put to the bottom of our list of priorities when we are busy. When you don’t have time for a structured work-out, integrating extra steps into your daily life is a great way to stay active naturally. A pair of walking shoes is all it usually takes. A brisk 15 minute walk outside twice a day, while at work, is a great start. If there are stairs available, take them a couple of times a day. If you need to talk on the phone, try pacing and talking hands free. If you need to have a one on one meeting, you can always suggest a walk meeting too.
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4. Choose Non-Food Rewards
Who among us hasn’t thought “I had a stressful day, so I deserve this chocolate cake”. When we’re busy and tired it is all too easy to fall into the trap of using food as a reward. Yet there are many good rewards other than food. Processed treats are often just a Band-Aid for stress, but the relief is only fleeting. Furthermore, you may end up more stressed by misusing food because it results in weight gain.
It’s important to take care of your needs in more effective ways than eating. You deserve so much more than the comfort of food. Try to lower your stress by doing activities that appeal to you on a daily basis, such as soaking in a bath, treat yourself to a new book, having a massage or meditating.
5.To Stay Balanced…
Whether you eat out or eat in, always be mindful to balance your meals with adequate protein, healthy fats, non-starchy vegetables and adjust your carbohydrate intake to suit your activity level. This will help to keep your blood sugar stable and your moods even.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day and if you must snack, a handful of nuts, some Greek yoghurt or a Babybel cheese are great foods that will not cause a sugar spike and subsequent crash.Even when you’re super busy, it’s crucial to make self-care is a priority. Keeping your health front of mind may require some forethought, but the rewards of looking and feeling your best makes it well worth the effort.
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Sally Asher is an author, health scientist and healthy living blogger. After losing 3 dress sizes 12 years ago while living in Paris, Sally now coaches women globally to lose weight the French way.