‘Being healthy’ can feel like a lot of work. Here’s 7 tricks to help

As a personal trainer and weight loss coach, I have been teaching people how to create better habits and help them achieve a healthy weight for almost 15 years.

My first success story was mine: I went from being 25 pounds overweight, plagued by anxiety and insomnia, and living on soda, chips, and desserts, to having a healthy relationship with food, a regular exercise program, and a yoga practice. and meditation that calms my mind. At first, establishing these habits took a long time. But over the years, I’ve perfected them and created tons of shortcuts not only for myself, but for my clients as well.

Many people think that making their health a priority takes a long time. There was a time when I thought that too! But the small changes we make can really have a big impact. Here are some of my diet, fitness, and mental health hacks that will help you prioritize your health without disrupting your daily routine.

1. Cook for a crowd, even if you eat alone

As many of us have learned during the pandemic, preparing home-cooked meals every day can quickly become exhausting. It is unrealistic to assume that you will be able (or want to!) to prepare three nutritious meals a day. That’s why I recommend cooking a few extra servings every time you take the time to prepare a meal to get the most bang for your buck.

If you’re worried you’ll get tired of eating the same thing, don’t! There are many ways to reuse ingredients to make different meals. Pair roasted vegetables with grilled chicken one night and salmon the next; enjoy beans over a whole grain cereal for dinner and then in a breakfast burrito the next morning; or make a big batch of quinoa or brown rice and enjoy it with different combinations of protein and vegetables throughout the week.

Taking an hour to cook dinner on Monday doesn’t seem so daunting when you’re getting multiple meals. This will make healthy eating easier and save you time in the long run.

2. Pre-schedule your workouts for the week

This tip seems simple, but it makes all the difference. With everything we’re going through, if it’s not on the calendar, it won’t happen!

Treat your workout like a meeting at work or a doctor’s appointment by giving it a dedicated space on your calendar. Yes, you need to create an event in your phone’s calendar app, and add it to your Outlook calendar too! This makes that time non-negotiable and seeing it visually blocked will help encourage you to stick to it and not let other obligations or tasks take your training out of the schedule.

I also suggest mapping out what each workout will be like, whether you plan to go for a walk, do a strength training routine, or join a virtual training class. This will save you the time and mental burden of choosing a workout on the day of. You can simply lace up your shoes and go!

3. Freeze

Cutting up fruits and vegetables can become a chore, making you more likely to skip them for the easy-to-reach bag of chips.

Eating frozen fruits and vegetables has been linked to increased intake of produce, which is not surprising. Because frozen items are easier to buy, last longer, and reduce preparation time, they help increase the overall amount of produce we eat.

I recommend using frozen fruit in smoothies, blending it into oatmeal, or adding it to water to boost flavor. Frozen vegetables are always stored in my freezer. Spinach has no flavor in smoothies or sauces. I always add 1 cup of frozen veggies to my daily smoothie to include an extra serving of veggies. For dinner, there’s nothing easier than heating up some frozen, chopped veggies in a skillet and pairing them with a lean protein or whole grain.

4. Prepare your food and go to the movies on Sunday

One of the biggest barriers to eating healthy is time. Buying fresh produce, chopping and cooking it can often take time that we don’t have. The best solution to this problem is to pre-chop all the vegetables so that they are ready to eat and carry throughout the week. But I get it, spending precious weekend time preparing food doesn’t sound all that appealing.

So why not combine it with activities you enjoy and make it a fun ritual? Pour yourself a glass of wine or a cup of your favorite tea, pick a movie you’ve been wanting to watch or press play your latest Netflix obsession, and cut while you watch.

Not only will you have a relaxing “me” moment to end the week, but you’ll also be setting yourself up for a healthier week ahead. Pre-cut greens are easy to toss into a salad, steam or bake to enjoy with a lean protein, or eaten raw.

5. Combine cardio and strength training in one

You only have 30 minutes: Should you spend your time lifting weights or going for a run? I used to find myself struggling to choose between cardio and strength training. Many of my clients want to burn calories and get their heart rate up, but also tone their muscles and have limited time. That’s why I recommend combining the two workouts into one.

By choosing activities that incorporate strength and cardio, you’ll save time and get a well-rounded workout that gets you results.

For example, take a brisk walk while carrying light weights to get your heart rate up, improve endurance, and also work your arms (include some weighted squats and lunges too!). HIIT workouts that incorporate bodyweight strength exercises like squats and planks are also a great way to get your heart rate up while also toning and strengthening.

6. Leave yourself love notes

Every week, I create a new mantra for myself. This is written on a sticky note and placed on my bathroom mirror. In the past, when I looked at myself in the mirror, it was hard to silence the babble of negative self-talk. He would often say something judgmental or petty to me, like “Why did you gain weight?” or “What’s wrong with you?” You identify? Many of my weight loss clients struggle with their relationship with themselves and the way they talk to themselves.

This can be a difficult cycle to break, so I encourage people to practice positive self-talk by writing little notes to each other. With no extra time or mental effort, you’ll hit the notes and get that much-needed boost of positivity and a quick mindset shift.

I still put sticky notes front and center, even now after all these years. Writing things like, “I am in control of my food choices!” or “My body is strong!” or even “Peace” helps remind me to better talk to myself and accept my body where it is.

7. Train in the bathroom and kitchen

I love incorporating movement into other parts of my routine, not just saving it for “exercise” time. When I’m getting ready in the bathroom or standing in front of the stove cooking dinner, I do some exercises. Over the course of a day, these short bursts of activity can really add up!

While waiting for the shower to heat up, do 10 incline push-ups using the sink to build core and upper body strength. While brushing your teeth, perform a wall squat to build leg strength. Drop onto a board while you wait for your coffee to brew in the morning. While you’re stirring a pot on the stove, do a few calf raises. There are so many moves you can include in your daily routine that will make you feel more energized and allow you to use your time more efficiently.