One thing I emphasize to all of my clients is that if you truly want to transform your health habits and see sustainable results, spending time in the kitchen is a MUST (i.e. cooking). But hey, I get it–life happens, and sometimes their just isn’t enough time in the week.
Picture this: you spend weeks being over-the-top committed to grocery shopping, food prepping, taking your lunch to work, working out after work, making dinner at home every night. You feel on top of the world. And then, all of the sudden, sh!t hits the fan. You don’t make it to the grocery store, you’re forced to eat on-the-go, you drink too much coffee and you find yourself reaching for the candy jar at work on the daily. All of that hard work down the drain because of one bad week. Sound familiar?
STOP RIGHT THERE.
Life will always be hectic, crazy, chaotic. Things won’t get easier or less stressful. There will always be a million excuses to neglect your self-care practices. If it’s not one thing, it’s something else. FACT.
So, how do you find balance in your health routine when everything else in your life is completely unpredictable? Is it even possible? The answer is yes, ABSOLUTELY YES!
The first step: forget about being perfect. Perfect is impossible (and boring)! What you need instead are shortcuts and efficiency. Utilizing shortcuts is a skill that goes a long way and with practice is really very easy. When life makes it possible, definitely go to the grocery store, spend time cooking and food prepping and exercise regularly. When life makes it difficult, do this:
- Jet to Whole Foods on your lunch break and stock up on pre-made veggies and fresh food from the salad bar. Not just for that day, but for the next few days. Instead of making a big salad that will wilt overnight, make separate containers for different foods. This way you will have a lot of fresh options at home. Things that are great for this: roasted beets, kale and quinoa salads, hard-boiled eggs, grilled chicken, beans, dolmas, sweet potatoes and squashes, marinated mushrooms, olives, etc.
- When you have to go to a restaurant, order off the side menu. Instead of getting a heavy, starchy meal, order veggie sides and a salad. Skip out on the heavy dressings and ask for olive oil and balsamic (or a lemon) instead. Opt for vegetarian choices since the quality of meat at restaurants is usually not very good.
- Juice/smoothie bars are excellent for breakfast on-the-go! You can get something light and nutritious rather than a greasy, heavy breakfast sandwich from Starbucks that will make you tired for the rest of the day. Also, juice bars usually have a great selection of pre-made snacks and salads you can pick up for lunch.
- No matter what, stay away from processed crap. Fast food, junk sandwiches (like Subway), pizza, burgers and fries, microwave meals, queso, etc.; I know how tempting it sounds in the middle of a stressful workday, but the inevitable energy slump that follows is never worth it. Something to consider: if it’s food that will leave you with a hangover the next day, it’s a bad decision.
- Even when you don’t have time to pack your lunch for work or make your dinner at home, always pack your snacks and water bottle. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger, so the more conscious you are about staying hydrated, the less likely you are to eat junk (or reach for the candy jar at work). Snacks can be as simple as a piece of fruit or a small bag of nuts or seeds–something you can throw in your bag without any prep work. Also, if you come prepared with a snack, you can still hit the gym or your favorite workout class after work without the excuse that you’re too hungry to exercise! Which brings me to my the next tip…
- GET YOUR BOOTY TO THE GYM. Or spin class. Or yoga. Or pilates. Even when your food routine feels completely disorganized and unplanned, make your workout happen no matter what! Maintaining your fitness routine will not only make you feel better and give you more energy, it will also keep your cravings in check and motivate you to eat healthier amidst the chaos.
If you’re always waiting for things to “calm down” to get back into your healthy routine, let me tell you something: honey, it ain’t gonna happen! A super-crazy-hectic day or week (or month) doesn’t have to be a setback to your health and energy. Truth is, it’s life. Successful people find ways to be efficient when circumstances aren’t so forgiving and prioritize self-care practices. And, the people who do this are noticeably more self-confident, more productive and happier overall!