SOMTIMES I’M BUSY JUST TO distract myself from the things I truly want to do or accomplish. Other times I feel restless, bored or unhappy so I fill it with other “things” — projects, volunteering or even food.
In our busy lives, it’s important to focus on “the major players” of your health (ie. diet, exercise, sleep, stress management). But these are broad categories and are easier said than done.
If, from this article, you can take away just one of the following tips from each category, practice it and make it second nature – then this article is a success. I open up the challenge to you…
12 Go-To Healthy Snacks
Sometimes paying attention to the “in between” meals or snacks can fall by the wayside and offset your perfect meal plans:
- 3 serving veg
- 1 serving lean protein
- 1 healthy fat
- 1 superfood
- 1 serving of complex carbs or root vegetables
The “infrequent” cookies, chips, donuts, candy, sugary drinks, ‘health’ bars, chocolate and french fries seem to always pop up when you are most hungry. The coconut water you were planning on getting from the local convenient store suddenly turned into pretzels, Nutella and a handful of $0.25 cent candies hidden in your bag.
Picking up snacks at the office, coffee shop, gas station, convenient store, vending machine, cafeteria or even your kitchen cupboard will often be greasy, heavy, salty, or too sweet and overall unhealthy.
When Jon and I are on one of our long road trips or traveling the world, eating healthy can be a challenge. In these circumstances, we pick up a cooler, cutting board, pocket knife, shaker bottle, utensils and these best on-the-road and on-the-run snacks:
- WATER – many people (including myself) confuse low energy of dehydration with hunger. Keep water or herbal teas in arms reach and take a sip anytime you are bored or hungry.
- Veggies: carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, small peppers, sliced cucumber (washed)
- Greens: pre-washed lettuce, spinach, mixed greens
- Fruit: apples, cut-up orange and grapefruit, grapes, berries (washed)
- Yogurt: dairy or vegan, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt
- Dips: hummus, baba ganoush, guacamole, peanut butter, almond butter, other nut or seed butters
- Mixed nuts and seeds: raw almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
- Ready-to-eat bbq chickens – avoid cold cuts and deli meats because of all the additives to preserve the meat.
- Crackers: rice crackers, rice cakes, nut crackers, lentil chips, dried seaweed snacks – because they are not quite as addictive or greasy as potato chips.
- Dark chocolate (>75%) – don’t think I forgot to include you chocolate fanatics. TIP: cut up your chocolate into small pieces and only bring 1-2 squares with you.
- Green shakes and vitamin C – to keep your nutrition and immune system strong
- Protein powder and bars – eating enough protein on the go can be tough, but it also helps to have you feeling full and with less sugar cravings. Stick to low sugar, vegan products if you are maintaining a hypo-allergenic diet.
If you can always have 2-3 of these foods with you at all times (ie. in the car, at the office, in your cupboards) and eliminate anything that you consider “junk” (ie. providing little to no nutritional value besides calories), you will regain control over your snacking.
It’s nearly impossible to pass off that cookie for a veggie stick, but if there are no cookies and only veggie sticks I guarantee you’ll be okay to just be munching on something, even if it’s doesn’t cut your cravings 100%.
9 Meal Prep Tips for the “I Don’t Have the Time” Kind of People
If you are a busy parent or working crazy hours, preparation is key but can also feel daunting. Thinking about shopping, spending your free time cooking and planning what meals to make for the week might be enough to throw you over-the-edge.
So, here are some SIMPLE suggestions:
- Ask someone else to cook healthy meals for you. Maybe you have a spouse, parent, grandparent or friend who adores cooking. Why not buy the groceries for both of you and have them make a larger portion for you as well. It’s a win-win.
- Hire someone else to cook healthy meals for you or get a drop service (Here’s a list of services in Toronto).
- Invest in a slow cooker and throw in any vegetable and protein that you have in the fridge. Add in either tomato sauce, coconut milk, soup broth or a soup mix with water. Make a big batch and freeze some for later.
- Invest in a blender and make daily smoothies at the office or at home. Smoothies are the one of my favorite ways to ensure you are getting enough protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, greens and and healthy fat all in one delicious and drinkable snack. Read all about my love of smoothies.
- Make a shopping and cooking routine. You may need to do a major meat and canned goods shop once a week (ie Saturday) to prep for your slow-cooker big stew or curry (ie. on Sunday) then do your day-to-day produce pick-ups on your way home from work throughout the week. Taking 15 minutes to shop daily may feel more manageable than one 2 hour bonanza on the busy weekend, not to mention less spoilage.
- Weekly online grocery orders with stores or local farmer who can drop off your produce at your door. Online grocery shopping is very popular with comparable prices to local stores. The upfront work to make a list of foods you order on a regular basis will be well worth it for repeat orders.
- Make extra and learn to use leftovers. I love using left overs in creative ways, although I’m also a big fan of chopping up leftovers and making them into a fried rice, stir fry or noodle dish.
- Stock up on tupperware and zip-lock bags. I like to make small snack-sized potions of meals, nuts, veg, fruit, etc. Little baggies are easy to grab-and-go when you’re in a rush.
- Build a meal routine. I’m not saying to eat the exact same things everyday, but if you know a general meal plan that you enjoy day-to-day, it will take the mental effort out of deciding and feeling over-whelmed. For example, you may like to have:
- eggs and a yogurt for breakfast
- a smoothie mid-morning
- a salad with protein for lunch
- veggie sticks and nuts mid-afternoon
- nut butter and crackers late-afternoon
- 1 protein, 1 carb, 1 green, and 1 other veg for dinner
- 1 fruit for dessert
9 Tips to Stay Active for Work-a-Holics
The other part of being on-the-go is being active throughout the day. Sometimes during busy times of the year you won’t be able to even shower every day, let alone go pump weights for an hour-a-day or attend your favorite spin class. As long as you understand the ebb-and-flow to your year, you’ll be able to plan accordingly.
Think of exercise as a way to be more productive. Not only at work, but in your home life and within your body. Everybody works better and feels better with bits of exercise and rest.
Here are 9 ways to fit in exercise into your busy day, read the full article here:
- Park in the last spot or take the local transit, ride a bike, rollerblade or walk.
- Take additional stairs and avoid escaladors and elevators when possible.
- Take hourly breaks – whether it’s to take a walk around the office, get some fresh air or a water and pee break get some circulation to your brain and muscles for health and productivity.
- Don’t sit so much – try a standing desk or even a treadmill desk, especially if you work from home.
- Practice healthy posture while sitting and standing – Proper posture is key for confidence, open lung span, strengthening core and back muscles.
- Workout in awkward spaces – Click here to see my 5 favorite workouts to do in awkward spaces.
- The Outdoor Circuit
- The Cardio Interval Trainer
- The Beach Booty Workout
- The Deskerciser
- The Private Dance Party
- Travel consciously by taking care of your sleep, eating, drinking and exercise.
- Plan social get togethers that are active – start a corporate health movement at work or a local mommy walk in your neighborhood. Get creative with your community.
- Be strong and sexy – Exercise isn’t really about looking slimmer or wearing a smaller dress size, it’s about how you feel. The confidence that you exude when you feel strong and healthy is what I consider sexy. Try my free 7 day e-course and sign-up here –> SEVEN DAYS TO SEXY
18 Ways to Improve Sleep, Recovery and Meditation for Busy Minds
- 7 hours of sleep per night – Yes, some people need more or less sleep than others, but even 1 poor night of sleep can have significant effect on your ability to function and make sound decisions.
- Creativity and hobbies – Picking up knitting, drawing or a musical instrument could have major positive impacts on your physical health, mental well-being and build resilience to overcome future stressors.
- Meditation – Meditation is a family of emotional and attentional regulatory practices to cultivation a sense of well-being and emotional balance. Read more here.
- Gratitude – Experiencing and expressing gratitude can lead to increased positive affect, life satisfaction and overall well-being.
- Breathing – Deep belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing starts with proper posture to allow your lungs to expand fully to take in as much O2 and to exhale fully to limit the amount of residual air left in the lungs.
- Human touch and contact – Contact with other humans and animals trigger a release of oxytocin in the body, which improves stress and overall well-being. So start hugging and kissing one another more often.
- Perception and empathy – Our perceptions influence how we think, feel and act towards ourselves, objects, situations and other people. Empathy is developed from a deep reflection of self, which allows one to imagine the experience of another.
- Mindfulness – Mindfulness—as a state, trait, process, type of meditation, and intervention has proven to be beneficial across a diverse group of psychological disorders as well as for general stress reduction
- Positive self talk, while avoiding gossip and comparisons – Negative self talk, gossip and comparing ourselves to others or our past selves poisons our minds and diverts our attention away from being mindful.
- Smiling and laughter – Smiling and laughter can support positive affect under stressful conditions while also improving heart health, immune function, pain tolerance and long-term anxiety.
- Electronic impact – Radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields (EMF) have gained some attention for their potential negative effects on disrupting cellular function, sleep, mood and over all health.
- Physical activity – It has been well documented that physical activity has several short- and long-term health benefits. Short-term benefits include reductions in anxiety, depression and stress, while long-term benefits include reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, some cancers and diabetes.
- Intention and optimism – Setting daily positive intentions can increase productivity, happiness, mindfulness, and overall optimism and quality of life.
- Wholesome entertainment – Replacing negative stimulation with music, books, movies, and cognitive games has been shown to increase creativity, improved medical symptoms and encourage positive attitudes to manage future stressful events.
- Community and social support – Pets, spouses and social communities provide a vital role in influencing mood, cardiovascular health, positive perception towards life and quality of life.
- Creating healthy boundaries – Toxic relationships can hold you back from reaching your true potential. But it’s not an excuse to blame those people. Inevitably, it is your responsibility to surround yourself with positive and healthy people, even if it seems difficult.
- Completing tasks – Humans have a natural desire for immediate reward-based motivation. Breaking up larger tasks into more manageable steps increases motivation, task completion success and positive associations with the task.
- Food for mood – Many natural foods, supplements and botanical herbs are beneficial for improving daily mood and cognitive functioning, for example:
- Foods that contain L-tyrosine: Meat (poultry, turkey, salmon), dairy (cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese), eggs, wheat, yeast, peanuts, almonds, avocados, bananas, lima beans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soy protein, raw spirulina, seaweed
- Other Foods: Fish oil, coconut oil, soy, nuts (ie. almonds, walnuts)
- Supplements: Phosphatidylcholine (PC), Phosphatidylserine (PS), Glycine, Branched chain amino acids (BCAA- valine, leucine, isoleucine), Magnesium
- Herbs: Gotu kola, Ginkgo, Rosemary leaf, Bacopa
How did you do on these health and life tips? Any that really jump out at you? Let me know by commenting below: