family riding bicycles together

Are You Making Tradeoffs for a Healthier Lifestyle?

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the post here.

AMERICANS HAVE DIFFICULTY FINDING TIME FOR HEALTHY BEHAVIORS LIKE GOOD NUTRITION AND REGULAR EXERCISE

How do you keep track of what you and the rest of your family have to do each day? I know plenty of households that use a common wall calendar with big boxes for each day so all of their appointments and activities can be recorded. Other families I know share their daily schedules with one another on smart phones so they always know who’s going where, and when.

Still, it seems no matter how we do it, there are never enough hours in the day for all we have to do. And when we’re all so busy, how can you make time for a healthier lifestyle?

Must We Choose Between Cooking vs Working Out?

Results of a study presented at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America suggest many of us must make concessions when it comes to healthy behaviors. Using U.S. Census data from more than 112, 000 American adults, researchers at Ohio State University analyzed how much time was spend on meal preparation and exercise in a single day

What they found was, on average, we’re spending less than an hour a day combined for these time-consuming healthy behaviors and if we try to do them both in the same day we have to choose between one of the other.

Does that sound true for you?

It must be pointed out that the Census data only captures one day’s worth of activity, so the researchers could not tell if people cooked one day and exercised the next.

Making Time for a Healthier Lifestyle

I don’t think good nutrition and fitness have to be exclusive, no matter how jam-packed my calendar is. It all comes down to time management. Here’s what I have learned works:

Blocked out the time each day to make breakfast, pack lunches and cook dinner

Become more efficient at getting nutritious meals on the table fast by using quick cooking ideas that take the toil out of food preparation

Remove some items from the schedule, like watching every episode of the latest BBC series in one night, if it takes time away from the healthy behaviors you’re trying to establish

While everyone complains about how hard it is to get enough exercise, it is actually easier than eating right. All you really have to do is get up and move around more. In fact, standing instead of sitting is even beneficial! In addition to the dozens of things you can do standing, you can also incorporate 10 minute bursts of activity throughout your day without making a trip to the gym.

The key is to be open to the opportunity. We can all do a better job of pushing those shopping carts back to the corral in the parking lot. How about walking to the school to meet your child so you can walk home together? I loved marching in place while waiting to pick up my teen from marching band practice.

Best of all, when we make good nutrition and physical activity a family affair, we only need to reserve one time slot on the calendar!

Other great ways to help you achieve a healthier lifestyle:

  • Quick Healthy Meals Begin with Pasta
  • Need Dinner Menu Ideas? Soup Makes Quick Easy Meals
  • Want a Quick Grilled Cheese Sandwich? Just Load Up Your Freezer
  • What To Do With Leftover Food? Create Makeover Meals
Eating breakfast doesn't take much time if you plan for it

Making Time for Breakfast

This blog was written for the Bell Institute for Heath and Nutrition. You can read the original post here.

The most common reason I hear from my clients for not eating breakfast is that they aren’t hungry in the morning. Upon further questioning, I usually find this applies on mornings when they have to be up early and out the door for school or work and eating breakfast on weekends and other days off is no problem.
When people say they aren’t hungry in the morning, what they are often feeling is anxiety about being late. Anyone rushing frantically to catch a bus or punch a time clock cannot fathom eating – let alone sitting down to a simple meal.
A solution to this issue is better planning. Here are some “time-tested” steps you can share that help make breakfast a regular part the day. Feel free to use these handy abbreviations to get the message across!
  • GTB = Go To Bed. The best way to avoid the morning rush is to wake up earlier, but that requires going to bed earlier to ensure enough sleep. Turn off the phone, TV, computer and lights at least 15 minutes sooner than usual to gradually work towards an earlier bedtime.
  • WUH = Wake Up Hungry. If you stop eating 10-12 hours before breakfast, you’ll wake up looking forward to that next meal. Make a point to brush and floss two hours before bedtime to prevent late-night eating and you’ll be sure to wake up with an appetite.
  • RTG = Ready To Go. When you organize everything you’ll need to take with you in the morning the night before, you won’t have a knot in your stomach trying to find things at the last minute. This includes the clothes you’ll wear, school assignments, sports equipment, special reports, and anything needed for those after-work errands.
  • PYM = Plan Your Meal. Check to see what’s available for breakfast and decide what you’re going to eat before you go to bed to avoid having to make a decision in the morning. If there’s some leftover pizza, wrap a slice in foil so it’s ready to slip into the toaster oven. Or, set the table with a bowl, spoon, juice glass and your favorite cereal so all you have to do is pour and eat to save precious time.
  • MIP = Make It Portable. Sometimes the best plan is to have something ready to take with you. Combining cereal, dried fruit and nuts in a plastic bag is easy to eat when in transit. Or, bring a granola bar, piece of fruit and a yogurt to eat when you arrive. Whatever travels well will do!
Poor time management can lead to weight gain

Lack of Time Can Cause Weight Gain

Learning time management can lead to weight management

People are always complaining they don’t have enough time. They blame their lack of time for not reading more good books, not visiting their favorite relatives and not improving their tennis serve. The lack of time is also keeping people from losing weight.

Weight control requires that you have control over two other things in your life: the number of calories you consume and the amount of energy you expend. Controlling those two halves of the weight control equation requires a big investment of time.

To control the calories coming in, you have to be willing and able to prepare foods that can fill you up without exceeding your allotted calories for the day. To keep that number high enough to be satisfying, you have to be willing and able to be in motion more hours of the day.

Both take time.

The foods that are most filling while also being lower in calories are fruits and vegetables; lean meats, fish and poultry; and whole grains. Building your diet around these foods requires more time to shop for them and prepare them. No matter how many modern appliances you have in your kitchen, none of them can do the labor-intensive part of food preparation.

You can let the food industry do some of your fresh produce prep, like husking your corn and shredding your cabbage, but you’ll pay more and get less nutritional value for that time savings. And as good as frozen vegetables are, there are no frozen salads.

Turning lean cuts of beef, pork and chicken into tasty dishes takes time, too. Lacking fat, flavor must be provided by marinades, spice rubs and sauces, preferably not from a jar. And a side of brown rice, pearl barley or bagged beans takes longer to cook than their white, instant and canned counterparts.

Fortunately, shopping and cooking are a form of physical activity, the other half of the weight control equation. Whether done in a gym four times a week or wedged into each day, finding time to stop everything else and put your body in motion is an anti-obesity strategy that deserves your time, too.

If you are one of those people who is time-starved and overfed, this is your wake up call. Please don’t hit the snooze button. It’s time to take control of your time.

To get started, here’s 3 Smart Time Management Tips for Better Weight Management.

  1. Handle food in batches to avoid duplication of effort. Examples: Prefill coffee filters with ground coffee and stack them up for the week, cook a large amount of brown rice and freeze extra portions in zip-top bags for easy thawing, chop 3 onions at a time and save some for another day.
  2. Put other things in the oven once it’s preheated and in use. Examples: Add a few potatoes or yams so they’re ready for a quick lunch, cut-up pita bread or corn tortillas for homemade chips, slice and drain tofu and bake for use in a stir fry later in the week.
  3. Stand instead of sit whenever you can. Examples: In any waiting room, at airport gates, when talking on the phone, watching kid’s sporting events.