By Amber M. Carver, M.A., Health Coach
Don’t let the back to school hustle get the best of your health!
Summer is coming to an end and with that comes the start of school, after school activities, work, and a lot of time spent on the go. When we find ourselves in a new routine or just plain busy there are a few things you can do to help keep your health goals on track.
#1: Make a plan
The first thing I do, usually Thursday or Friday, is make a meal plan for dinners and include a list of lunch and breakfast options for the family in the upcoming week. I take a look at my calendar for the upcoming week and figure out what days need to be a quick 20 minute meal, what days I need to have my slow cooker do the cooking since I’ll be home late, and what days we will need to eat leftovers or grab a healthy option in transit. After I map out the types of meals we will be eating I make my grocery list. Then over the weekend I prep for my meals. Sometimes this means I put all of my ingredients for my crockpot dinner in a zip top bag, so all I have to do is dump it into the crockpot the morning of the day we’ll be eating it. Other times I’m roasting a pan of vegetables for lunches and putting spices together in a container, so that it’s all in one place and it cuts down on the time it takes to cook the meal. I also have a rule of thumb that on days I am prepping food, I don’t cook dinner. I plan for my husband to grill or I pick up a rotisserie chicken and steamed vegetables for dinner. After the time I spend prepping I don’t want to spend more time in the kitchen and away from my family!
#2: Have a go to backup plan
Even the best of plans do not always pan out. We have a few items that we always fall back on if we are in a bind. One of those is a grocery store salad bar and lunchmeat from the deli counter. Be sure to check your deli meats for undesirable preservatives of sugars. We also like to order chopped salads or pick up kabobs and roasted vegetables from our go to restaurants.
#3: Keep a snack stash
One of the biggest lessons I learned the hard way was to not leave home without a snack for everyone in my family. In order to keep our blood sugar levels stable we must not go too long without eating. When we wait too long to eat, we are more likely to be victims of the “hangry” monster, which easily leads to poor food choices caused by our body looking for a quick pick-me-up. This quick pick-me-up is inevitably a craving for sugar. I keep pre-portioned bags of nuts, protein powders and bars in my purse or in my car all the time. As the weather cools down keeping a container of snacks in your car is also an option. For my kids I like applesauce or food pouches as an option.
#4: Utilize shortcuts
While not all shortcuts help you meet your health goals (I’m talking about your prepared meal in a box) there are several that do. My go to time saver and budget saver is online grocery shopping. I simply make my meal plan, place my grocery order online, drive, and pick it up. This saves me time spent in the grocery store wandering through the aisles, not to mention wrangling the kiddos and their constant requests for this or that. An added perk I have found from utilizing online shopping is that it helps me stop the impulse purchases, which keeps my grocery budget and health in check! Shortcut favorite number two, is utilizing pre-chopped vegetables. I love cooking and spending time in the kitchen, but unfortunately I don’t always have the time to spend. This is where being able to throw a bag of broccoli florets into my crock pot or onto my sheet pan for roasted vegetables saves me! Yes, it typically costs more money to buy pre-chopped vegetables, however, it’s worth it if I don’t end up throwing away a whole head of broccoli because I didn’t have time to chop it up.
#5: Take time for yourself
When we are caught up in the hustle it’s easy to lose track of ourselves. We are so busy looking out for those around us and checking off the boxes of our to do list that we forget that we have needs too. If we are not healthy then it’s that much harder to take care of others. Take time, even if it’s 15 minutes a day, to do something you enjoy. Give yourself a moment to breathe and focus on the present blessings in front of you. When we are filled with compassion and kindness we reduce our stress and improve our health.
Whether you are a health novice and have decided now is the time to change your lifestyle or you eat healthy most of the time and are looking to reset your body we’d love to help you in your journey! If you’d like to find out more about The Smart Weigh and Ideal Protein click here.
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