Life can often get in the way of our fitness resolutions, and healthy life changes can be difficult to find time for. If getting in an hour run in the morning, cooking wholesome dinners every night and hitting the gym after work sounds like an impossible feat, you might feel like you simply don't have time to realistically consider losing weight.
Here's the good news: upgrading your diet, making healthy choices and squeezing in moments of physical activity can be done with even the tightest schedule, and can make a huge impact on the quality of your life and your weight. Here are some simple ways to re-evaluate your cramped agenda and make it work for you weight loss goals.
Method #1 - Get Your Beauty Sleep
When you find yourself incredibly busy, it's often a good night's sleep that is first to be sacrificed. Whether you find yourself frequently staying up late to finish overdue work, or getting up with the sun in order to get a head start on those daily to-dos, it's important that you're still giving yourself enough time to rest and regenerate each night.
Missing out on sleep can wreak havoc on your hormones, which can actually decrease your body's ability to regulate appetite. Late night snack binges are not simply a shared cultural phenomenon, they're a result of the lack of leptin, a hormone that is dependent on you getting enough shut eye.
Studies have shown that people who don't get enough quality sleep have a higher risk of obesity. It can also be hard for you to stay motivated and positive if you're constantly exhausted. Do your best to go to bed at a decent hour, make sure and that your quality of sleep is good.
Method #2 - Upgrade Your Cardio
You may not have enough time to put in an hour at the gym every morning, but consider a quick session of HIIT, or high-intensity interval training. The exercise is based on going all-out for short bursts of time, letting your body briefly cool off and then getting right back into it. This can be done through multiple methods of cardio"if you're out of shape, try easing yourself into it through power walking.
Warm up at a brisk pace for five to ten minutes. Speed up to the fastest pace you feel comfortable with for thirty seconds, and then slow down for forty-five seconds. Repeat this process five more times, and then cool down with an easy pace for another five to ten minutes.
As your fitness level increases, try upping the number of reps you do or increase the time you spend at your maximum speed. This is a great way to both ease into working out and save time.
Method #3 - Take a Walk
It's easy to become trapped at your desk at work for hours on end. Give yourself a reason to get up at least once every hour, even just to do a lap around the office. Offer to do the morning coffee run, or take the office dog around the block. Basically, seize every opportunity to get up and out of your chair.
Consider upgrading your commute"biking to work can be a great way to start your day, and can multitask as a functional workout. You can also try getting off the bus a few stops early and walking part way, or parking a little further than you usually would.
Get out of the office at lunch, if you can, even just to eat your lunch in a park in a sunny spot a few blocks away. Every step counts, and the more often you are physically active the quicker it will become a habit.
Method #4 - Use Health Food "Cheats"
In a perfect world you would wake early each morning, eat a balanced breakfast and prepare a nutritious lunch for the day. In reality, you're probably grabbing a banana as you run out the door, and buying your lunch from whatever cafÃ© is the closest to your office. Luckily today there are tons of healthy and convenient options available for quick and clean meals.
At the grocery store, pre-cut veggies, fresh hummus, guacamole and nut mixes can make fantastic easy healthy snacks. For meals, a rotisserie chicken can become a simple wrap, sandwich or add protein to a salad. There are a lot of excellent options in the freezer aisle as well"with low sodium and vegetarian options. Just be careful to avoid the options that have too many additives.
As a last resort, do a quick inventory of the restaurants close to your work, and figure out what meal options are the healthiest. Salad bars can be a great place to hit up, and the same goes for anywhere you can select the toppings and contents of your meal. Remember to load up on veggies and stay away from processed meats, heavy dressing and anything deep fried. Also, watch the carbohydrate content of extras like croutons or crackers, these can add up quickly if you add them into every salad serving. Stick to mostly protein and veggies with your salads and avoid adding too much dressing.
Method #5 - Tech Up
It can be difficult to track how much exercise you get during the day"having a way to record your steps and activity levels is a great way to challenge yourself to beat your daily record. Today there are a number of apps and devices that can help you without any extra effort on your part, available on both Apple and Android devices.
As an added benefit, some trackers that are worn on your wrist can also be programmed to collect data on how much sleep you are getting. These devices are a fantastic way to motivate you to continue to improve your life.
Method #6 - Get Friends Involved
Bringing friends into the mix is a great way to have fun while working towards your goals. Sign up for an activity that you'd normally never do on your own"rock-climbing, kayaking or even dance class. You may find that going to the gym becomes much less tedious when you have someone to chat with.
If you enjoy jogging, consider signing up together for a fun run. If you have an adventurous streak, look into mountain biking. If you're strapped for cash (and have a sense of humor) have a friend over to work out to the most over the top 80's exercise DVD you can find.
Method #7 - Treat Yourself
We all have our guilty pleasures, be it dark chocolate, salt and vinegar chips or strawberry margaritas. If you are at a healthy weight you can eat these foods in moderation. But, moderation is the key, and it's important that you maintain a healthy diet so these occasional treats don't make a significant impact. If you are trying to lose weight you'll have to avoid these foods for at least a while, but you can find alternative options.
While you are in the process of upgrading your diet, it's important to find tasty substitutes for the food that you decide to cut out.
If you like the crunch factor of potato chips, try baby carrots or celery. If you crave the sweetness of candy, try sliced mango or strawberries. Dark chocolate is an easy substitute for milk or white chocolate, and contains fewer refined sugars and saturated fats than its less healthy counterparts.
Use this transitioning period as an opportunity to stop mindlessly chowing down on nutritionally void food and to rediscover what you actually enjoy eating. The benefits to your health will be significant, and you might even discover some dishes that you would have otherwise never tried.