Planning Healthy Habits With a Hectic Schedule
Written By: Brandy Baxter, MS, RD, LDN
Time is a valuable resource. One that many people do not feel they have enough of. In today’s fast-paced society, balancing work, family, friends, and responsibilities isn’t easy. Unfortunately, a lot of times healthy habits get pushed to the bottom of the list. Not because it’s not important to us, but because the demands of every day life can be crazy! Between soccer practices, graduate school, science experiments, taking care of our elderly parents, graduate school, or working late, we stay busy.
While planning ahead for meals or mapping out our exercise for the week seems like extra work or something else to take up time, it actually can help GIVE you more time in your day while staying healthy at the same time! Taking twenty minutes on a Sunday evening to sketch out what dinners will be for the week will save you the panic at 3 pm when you have no idea what to make for dinner and the kids have practice on Wednesday night. It will also save you the time you’d spend in the drive-thru if you already put dinner in the crock-pot that morning.
No matter the situation, it is important to have a healthy eating or physical activity plan in place. There will always be someone’s birthday, or a vacation, or a holiday coming up so it is important to plan on how to maintain your healthy habits even DURING those times! For example, if you’re going to a cookout this weekend, think ahead to how you’re going to keep your portion sizes small or bring a healthy dish so you know there will be something for you to have. Going on vacation? Maybe plan walks on the beach each day so that you stay active. A family member in the hospital? Look ahead of time to see if the cafeteria has a salad bar.
We also have many idle times throughout the day that we could take advantage of. Waiting for the elevator at the doctors? Look up the nutrition information for the restaurant you’re going to tonight for dinner so you know what your healthy options are. Finished your work for the day ten minutes early? Take the time to write out meals or a grocery list. Finished lunch early? Take a few laps around the building at work to sneak in a few extra steps on your lunch break.
Many of these tips may be things you already know you SHOULD do. But how do you change the should do into something you are doing? Use tools you have on hand to reinforce and remind you to stay on track. Set the timer on your phone to go off at the same time each week reminding you to plan meals. Put workouts in your calendar like you would an appointment. Write your goals and hang it up on the fridge so you see them whenever you’re in the kitchen.
Keep practicing your planning skills! Over time, planning ahead will become second nature instead of being something that is overwhelming or time-consuming!