When life gets busy, eating healthy and getting active might seem like a challenge — but even small steps can make a big difference. So start from where you are, and remember that there’s no one way to develop healthy habits — there’s only your way.
Learn how Cheryl is taking small steps to make healthy changes despite a hectic schedule.
How I move my way
Getting physically active never seemed like a priority to me in the past. Sure, I’d go on a walk if a friend called and invited me along, but I did it for the social aspect. I never thought too much about being active as part of staying healthy. Plus I have a hectic schedule — I’m a manager at a big clothing store, and I work a lot of hours. I’m also a caregiver for my elderly parents, so I don’t get a lot of time to myself.
But last year my brother had a heart attack that put him in the hospital for weeks. That was a wake-up call for me. I went to see my doctor for a checkup, and we made a plan to help me build healthier habits, starting with moving more.
Finding time in my busy schedule hasn’t been easy, but I’ve learned that there’s lots of ways I can build activity into my regular routine. For example, I take the stairs to my third-floor apartment instead of the elevator, and I try to take walks during my lunch break a few days a week. Sometimes a couple of colleagues come along, which I enjoy! We keep each other motivated, and walking together is more fun.
Adults need a mix of physical activity to stay healthy
Moderate-intensity aerobic activity
Adults need at least 150 minutes each week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity — anything that gets the heart beating faster. You don’t have to do it all at once, and when time is tight, you can look for ways to work activity into your day. For example, park farther away at the grocery store, do squats while brushing your teeth, or walk in place during your favorite TV show — it all adds up!
How I make every bite count
My doctor and I also talked about making healthy changes to my diet. He suggested adding more fruits and vegetables — I knew those are good for you, but I had no idea they’re supposed to fill up half my plate! I also learned there’s more to protein than just meat and eggs. Now I try to switch it up with seafood, tofu, or beans a few times a week.
At first, I worried I wasn’t going to be able to make all those changes with everything that’s going on in my life. It definitely was an adjustment — and some days it’s still not easy! But I’ve found some simple tricks that help me save time and still eat healthier. A big one is that I stock up on frozen fruit, vegetables, meat, and fish when they’re on sale. Then I have them on hand whenever I don’t have time to get to the store. I also fill the pantry with canned proteins like beans and chickpeas — I look for “low sodium” or “no salt added” on the label.
I try to plan meals differently, too. Whenever I have time to cook at home, I make a healthy recipe in the slow cooker and freeze it in portions. Veggie chili and chicken noodle soup are my favorites! Plus, I can make extra and share with my parents.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to take a big chunk of time out of your day. When time is tight, keep it simple! Try following these tips: