We’re realistic people. When it comes to being healthy, we all know we should be going to the gym instead of binge-watching Game of Thrones (again). But who wants to go to the gym after a long day at the office or, worse, lose that extra hour of sleep in the morning to run on a treadmill instead?
And even when we do work up the motivation to pack a bag and set the alarm, our brains seem to love that snooze button, don’t they? Such is life.
The good news is that being physically and mentally healthier doesn’t have to mean committing to an overzealous workout schedule, journalling obsessively or eating yard trimmings three times a day. It can be as easy as a couple of super-small tweaks and enough willpower to overcome that voice inside your head.
Your inner voice: “I’m not hungry first thing in the morning, and there’s no time to make anything anyhow.”
Solution: Make it ahead of time. Whether you cut up some fruit the night before and store it alongside a portion of Greek yogourt, make some breakfast bars on the weekend or go all out with these delicious overnight recipes, there’s no need to spend a lot of time in the kitchen first thing in the morning. Still not hungry? How about a cup of chocolate milk to rev up that metabolism? Or pre-package your own smoothie packs for a quick on-the-go pick-me-up.
Pack your lunch
Your inner voice: “Bo-ring. Plus, I’m way too rushed.”
Solution: Although making yourself sustenance the night before is the obvious answer here, there are also several quick and easy lunches you can whip up in five minutes or less. Make a pact or bet with an office buddy that you’ll both brown bag it for added motivation.
Take the stairs
Your inner voice: “Are you kidding?! Then I’m going to be all sweaty and gross for my morning meeting”
Solution: Keeping a small pick-me-up pack in your desk – travel-sized deodorant, a comb, some wet wipes and a body spray – will help you freshen up before starting your day. Still don’t feel like taking all those flights? Just get off the elevator one floor earlier. Baby steps, people.
Get outside during lunch
Your inner voice: “I’ve got too much work on my plate.”
Solution: If you don’t work near a window, getting enough vitamin D into your daily routine can be tough. But taking breaks throughout the day is not only recommended for your back, eyes and neck, but it also helps you to refocus and become more productive than you would be from just sitting there for eight hours straight.
Your inner voice: “Then I’m going to have to go to the bathroom all day. Plus, I usually try but forget.”
Solution: Usually this problem stems from coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages. But if you need a hot cup of comfort, try some herbal tea instead, or hot water with lemon and ginger for a little extra zing. Keep forgetting to fill the glass? When you’re making your coffee in the morning or putting your lunch away, make it part of your routine to fill up a water bottle to keep at your desk all day long.
Don’t eat mindlessly
Your inner voice: “Snacks make me happy.”
Solution: Snacks make everyone happy and stave off that terrible thing called “hanger.” However, there’s a difference between pre-planned snacks (fruit, hummus and whole-wheat crackers) and reaching into a bag of chips again and again…and again while watching TV or sitting at the computer. Portion size is everything, so measure yours out ahead of time and guzzle some H2O at least 10 minutes before eating to make sure you’re definitely hungry and not just dehydrated.
Make your next doctor or dentist appointment
Your inner voice: “I keep meaning to and I forget to call when they’re open.”
Solution: Write yourself a note and leave it on your desk, so it will be staring at you first thing in the morning before you get busy with the daily grind.
Unwind and focus
Your inner voice: “I’m too busy to sit around and do nothing.”
Solution: If you don’t have 10 minutes in the day to sit still, and a yoga class or video just isn’t your thing, here are six other simple ways to incorporate meditation into your daily routine – no mat required.
Stop ordering takeout
Your inner voice: “I really don’t feel like cooking. I’m hungry now.”
Solution: This is where Crock-Pots are a lazy chef’s best friend. But because not all of us have time to set them up in the morning, buying or assembling pre-washed and already cut up veggies is key. Or, if you find time on the weekend, do it yourself before storing away your groceries. Then, it’s a only matter of throwing together a quick salad, stir-fry or pasta before you settle onto the couch. Heck, even one-pot meals can be whipped up in 30 minutes or less. It takes less time than ordering and waiting for food, but you’re still thinking you want pizza? Top a pre-made whole-wheat pizza crust with loads of veggies and a little goat cheese for a way healthier option.
Make a meal plan
Your inner voice: “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
Solution: Let someone else do the work for you. For nine bucks a month, That Clean Life will not only give you access to easy and healthy meal plans, but it will allow you to easily make and modify your own, too.
Go Vegan (for a night)
Your inner voice: “I love my meat. And cooking vegan requires way more effort.”
Solution: We love our meat, too. But one day a week won’t hurt us; it actually helps. There are many healthy benefits from eating like a vegan even once a week, and doing so doesn’t at all mean you have to learn to cook tofu. In fact, there are plenty of vegetarian recipes for those who hate it.
Your inner voice: “I’ve had a long day. I just want to go home and watch TV.”
Solution: Once your show is on, settle on a yoga mat or stability ball instead of the couch and soothe out those tired muscles after sitting at a desk all day while you watch.
Do Jumping Jacks
Your inner voice: “I don’t want to have to shower before bed.”
Solution: Remember that show you wanted to watch? Five commercial breaks x 20 super-quick jumping jacks per break = 100 total jumping jacks. Without breaking a sweat. Unless you sweat really easily, of course.
Wash your sheets
Your inner voice: “They take too long to dry and I want to go to bed early tonight.”
Solution: Remember when you were talking about investing in a second set of sheets anyhow? Alternate between the two every month or so and then save yourself waiting time by drying them overnight.
Turn off the phone
Your inner voice: “I’m about to beat that stupid level on Candy Crush.”
Solution: Give yourself all five lives to do it (hey, everyone needs to indulge every once in a while) but then don’t use any of those extra lives your friend sent you. Or if social media is your thing, check out your Facebook feed but only for an allotted amount of time. Then put your phone away in another room and give yourself some detachment time.
Read before bed
Your inner voice: “But watching TV is so much easier.”
Solution: The less electronics in the bedroom, the better, but what’s there is there. If reading a full-on book isn’t your jam, opt to glance at a magazine or comic book for 20 minutes before your scheduled bedtime, which helps you sleep better. And hey, reading the actual Game of Thrones books will probably help you understand the series that much more anyhow.