Like many people, you do your best to be healthy. But your family, your job, or information overload is preventing you from starting and sticking to a routine. Like I mentioned in my first post, healthy looks different to everyone. And it’s your responsibility to evaluate your habits and make the necessary adjustments. If you struggle making time or staying motivated, here are my 5 recommendations to help create a functional routine you can stick to.
1. Meal Prep
I know this may sound like the obvious one. But food is the one thing we can all do a better job of monitoring. If you find yourself eating out a lot because you don’t have food at home, that is one problem you can fix. You don't want to put the health of your body in the hands of a fast food corporation. The type of oil, amount of salt, sugar and artificial fillers and preservatives used to prepare most take-out food can be the difference between your success and failure.
Commit to preparing some of your food and you’ll notice a major difference right away. I like to cook a protein and carb on Sundays like rice and chicken or tofu with beans or a stew and that can be added to any salad, tortilla wrap, or a simple rice bowl with spinach. It may not always be pretty but it’s easy to dress up with other vegetables to maximize the nutrients.
2. Making Time For Physical Activity
If exercising is something you can never seem to find time for, try coupling it with a social activity. Most people chat on the phone, watch tv, or read during the leisure time. Why not call a friend or family member during your walk outside, or use a cardio machine with your kindle or do a quick HIIT workout at home while you watch your tv shows. Better yet, grab your friends, family or a co-worker to join you for one of those workouts. Why do you think the cross fit, yoga, and cycling community are so active? They couple exercise with accountability, and you get to connect with people who inspire or motivate you. As humans we thrive when we are connected to a community.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Who holds you accountable? If you don’t have someone, find one. If you can’t find one, pay for one and invest in yourself. A Nutritionist, Fitness Coach, Life Coach, and Therapist are all reasonable things to pay for if you’re serious.
3. Breathe and Be Still
When was the last time you took a deep breath and sat still? Even if it was for a minute. How did you feel afterwards? Try it now (long breath in through your nose, out through your mouth and repeat 5 times). You don’t have to have a special app, there are plenty of free soundtracks on YouTube and Spotify. Here is my personal nature sound meditation playlist on Spotify. Whether you like guided mediation with words, or just listening to nature sounds, studies show that making this a habit is beneficial for your health. It can reduce stress, activate your lymphatic system that is largely responsible for your immune cell production, and it puts you in a better mood.
4. Gratitude Practice
I got this idea from one of my favorite books by Oprah called “What I Know for Sure.” She keeps a gratitude journal where she writes 5 things she is grateful for every day. I like to do this at night to reflect on how the day went and set intentions for the next day. It also helps me wind down and makes it a lot easier to put my phone away or at least on do not disturb after a certain time. Finding 5 things to be grateful for can be easy at first. But then you begin to spot things you never appreciated and search for more things to be grateful for. Simple things like a phone call from a dear friend, the aroma of black coffee, a 30 minute walk outside in the sun, or having a great conversation with a stranger are all things that make me smile. Try it for a week and see how your mood changes!
5. Environment Check
Whether you thrive in chaos or order, your environment at home should be representative of how productive you want to be. Sometimes I obsess over Pinterest and Instagram interior designs for hours as I admire and envy some of the homes and spaces I see. But translating that over to my own personal space is not always the best idea. Uncomfortable modern furniture may look great on Instagram, but is it functional for me? On nights when I’m reading or working on my laptop, or when I just want to just Netflix and sleep? Comfort > aesthetics.
In addition to functional furniture, I have to be mindful of how my kitchen, living room, student desk, closet, night stand and bathroom are organized in order for me to maximize the time spent there. If I want to read more, it’s best for me to place books on my nightstand. If I want to drink more water, I place 1 liter mason jars around my apartment to remind me to drink more. If I find myself spending too much time in my closet looking for clothes, it’s a sign I need to reorganize and most likely, get rid of stuff. If I want to stretch more, I have my yoga mat and foam roller next to my tv for when my favorite shows come on.
What can you get rid of or organize to make sure your home will support your goals?
Start with focusing on one of these things, and continue to add what you feel works best for you. I'd love to hear how you are implementing changes into your daily habits. Comment below!