You swear that tomorrow you’ll have time to pack a nutritious lunch before leaving for work, but that tomorrow rarely comes. You’re convinced you’ll get to the gym on your lunch hour or do a workout video at night after the kids go to bed—and that happens close to never. Your intentions are good, but sometimes it feels like your busy life is getting in the way of your weight loss plans. No giving up. You can still eat healthy and squeeze in some exercise, even on the craziest days. Here are some strategies that will help you lose weight when you’re always busy:
Mornings are nuts, so don’t try to add something else to your to-do list. Instead, use the night before to make-ahead your lunch, and spend a afternoon on the weekend portioning out a bunch of healthy snacks that you can grab on your way out the door: apple slices and a tablespoon of almond butter, a quarter cup of raisins and a half cup of low-fat, no salt added cottage cheese, two tablespoons of nuts or a quarter cup of dried fruit. Also, keep an extra box of Nutrisystem snacks in your car or at work for backup.
Seriously. Any opportunity you have to be standing instead of sitting, you should take—like at a staff meeting, when you’re on the phone, or during commercials while you’re watching TV. That little movement not only burns more calories, but it also helps keep your metabolism humming. When you sit, body processes that help break down fats and sugar in your body stall; get up, or fidget, or walk a little and you kick the processes back into action.
Make Smart Swaps
When hunger strikes and you realize your only choice is a vending machine, deli or drive-through, you can still stay on track: Get the smallest, plainest burger; think grilled, not crispy; get your sandwich on a whole wheat pita, not a white roll; skip the cheese; and replace fries with a salad or coleslaw with fruit. And if you just need a little snack to hold you over, opt for unsalted trail mix or pretzels, baked chips or small packs of whole-wheat crackers with peanut butter.
Break Up Your Workout
Your goal is 30 minutes a day, but 10 minutes is much more realistic. So take a 10-minute walk—just make sure you do it three times a day. You get the same health benefits in more manageable bursts. Keep an extra pair of walking shoes at work or in the car to sneak in extra steps whenever you can: if you’re out running errands, for example, speed walk between stores for an extra calorie burn. Get some more simple tips for squeezing in a workout here.