Sunday, September 26, 2010

Busy Weeks Can Be Healthy Too

Do you ever feel like you just don't have time to work in eating healthy and exercising?  Life moves fast and it feels like we are trying harder and harder to fit more and more into each 24 hour segment.  I won't lie, it DOES take quite a bit of time to get the shopping done, meal plan, prepare the meals, track the points and exercise, but certainly not nearly as much as anticipated.  I've also found some work-arounds which not only save me time but help me stay on program.

1. Really prepare foods.  Have you ever brought that fresh fruit home and by the time you got around to cutting it up it is no longer in a form that is recognizable and you think some mad scientist entered your kitchen and left something behind?  Yeah, me too.  Or, you do cut it up and you put it in a giant container in your fridge.  It's beautiful, all that color in the bowl, but it's so much easier to stop by the vending machine at work or find some other grab and go snack later.

There is an easy work around to this.  I've found if I cut and clean my fruits and veggies as soon as I get home from the store and package them in my refrigerator in single servings, I'm more likely to use it as my grab and go foods.  It's also so much easier to drop a baggie of grapes in a lunch bag in the morning vs having to get the giant bowl out of the fridge, scoop them into a baggie or take along dish and then put it all back in the fridge.

2.  Pre-planning on the weekends saves time during the week.  I work full-time and go to school in the evenings, full-time.  There are many nights that I really don't have time to prepare a meal after work as I don't even make it home - I go straight to school and get home after 9pm.  But, this doesn't have to be a  deal breaker.  Often I will cook several meals on Sundays, the crockpot and the oven will be filling the house with yummy goodness.  Then it's super simple for my husband just to heat up something when I'm not here and I can take dinner with me in my lunch bag.  I don't skip meals (which is not healthy and unlike popular myth, doesn't assist in weight loss), I still eat on plan and skip running through a drive-thru.  A bonus is food prep during the week doesn't suck into hours that don't exist. 

3.  Make a 1/2 hour of "me" time each day.  I've created a blog entry completely devoted to this one, so I'll try to keep this short.  Stop looking at your workout as just one more thing on an already stretched to-do list.  Everyone needs time for themselves.  Look at your exercise time as a little "you" time and actually use it that way.  If you enjoy music, jam out to some favorite songs (I recommend listening to energizing music during a workout anyway - I know I get much more out of it).  If you enjoy dancing, nothing is stopping you from mentally taking yourself to the club as you pound the pavement getting that 1/2 hour walk in.  Shoot, sometimes my jogging turns into a rhythmical motion to the beat of Lady Gaga singing "Just Dance. . ."  If you are spiritual, I've found my exercise time to be a great way to stay closer to God.  I've had many conversations with Him as the sweat poured.  (I try to stay away from Lady Gaga songs when I'm praying. LOL)

4.  Know your week.  If you know it's going to be crazy and you aren't sure you will have time to spend in the kitchen prepping foods, consider the cost difference of purchasing some things prepared.  For example, if I know I'm not going to have the time to clean a lot of fruits I will buy one of those bowls of fresh fruit from the produce section.  Price difference?  About $3 for the purchase - granted it's a little less quantity.  Am I worth the extra $3 on the weeks that I'm busy?  You bet I am!  I apply this reasoning to any frozen Weight Watchers entrees or desserts I purchase also.  Money comes and goes - weight stays and is DIFFICULT to get rid of before it kills you.  I'd rather spend a little extra, do myself and my family a favor.

Don't set yourself up for failure.  You know life is busy.  You know that many profits have been made by selling unhealthy, fast options for those that need the gift of time.  Don't allow yourself to be caught up in a whirlwind of the week, ill prepared, no meal plans and ready to lay down a few dollars at the golden arches or releasing all your stress with a midnight date with Little Debbie.  Don't allow these foods to wiggle their way into your life, again.  If it's not in the house, you can't eat it.  If the money isn't spent on those things, you can't eat it.  If you have children and find this difficult, remember, you are changing your lifestyle from what you grew up knowing to something better - perhaps if you make the change now, they will never have to make it.  It's ok to not have potato chips in the house.  It's ok not to have Little Debbie in the house.  Especially on weeks you know will be stressful and pushing you to the max.

If you are a stress eater, go ahead and get some healthy alternatives to those cravings you have with stress and put them in your food planner for your trigger times.  On my stressed weeks, often the ones I have the least amount of time, I crave chocolate.  I know I do, I know I will want it so I purchase Weight Watchers chocolate cake or ice creams - or Vitatop Vitamuffins Deep Chocolate.  I can then look forward to enjoying it when my day winds down but stay on track.

Do you have any foods or ideas that keep you on track during those weeks that keep you stretched to your max?

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