One of the biggest challenges in reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is figuring out how to eat well and exercise amid a busy and hectic schedule. I touched on this briefly in the Breakfast Post, but I think it bears a little explanation. At least for me, when I’m home, it’s easy to live a healthy lifestyle! I’ll do some yoga stretches in the morning or go for a run and fix a healthy breakfast, but when I’m out and about going to work and running errands, I’m more likely to pick up a Pop Tart than a carrot stick. I’m sure that’s true for many of you as well, so this post is devoted to how to stay on track with your diet while you’re on the go.
First of all, it’s really important to plan ahead! If you know that you follow roughly the same routine every day or every week, write it down, and map out the times to eat and where can squeeze in some exercise. If you’re aware that you get hungry for lunch every day between 12:00 and 1:00, you’ll be less likely to wait until 2:30 and then run ravenously to the snack machine for a bag of chips. Writing down your schedule can also alert you to extra time that you might not think you have, enabling you to make time for exercise or cooking. If you find that you have an extra fifteen minutes between when you would normally get off work and picking up your kids at daycare, instead of checking your facebook, you could use that extra time to go for a quick walk around the neighborhood.
Second, pack what you need! This might be second nature for parents, who always have a zip lock bag full of graham crackers for their toddlers stowed away in their bags. Even if you’re not a parent, apply this same logic to yourself. Pack sandwich bags of chopped up vegetables, or fruits to snack on throughout the day. Remember to keep it low fat: many snack foods that we might think of as nutritious, like trail mix or granola, are actually very high fat and calorie dense. Along the same lines, it’ll be easier to exercise if you keep exercise equipment on you when you’re out and about. If you have to wear dress shoes to work, keep a pair of athletic shoes or sandals in your car so you can easily switch into them to go for a walk. You can also keep things like towels, water bottles, light free weights, or a yoga mat with you.
Finally, if you don’t have time for additional exercise in your schedule, find a way to work exercising into your commute. Since you do that anyway, it can be a great way to fit a work out into an ordinary day. If it’s close enough, ride your bike or walk to work. If that’s not possible, when you’re running errands, park your car at the first place you need to go and then walk to the others. To give you an example, in my neighborhood I would park at the grocery store, then walk to the post office, the Laundromat, the library and the post office, which are all within a four block radius of each other. Although they’re all close by, I would get a lot more steps than if I drove to each! Even taking public transportation is more exercise intensive than driving, because you will almost always walk between bus stops.
Try these suggestions and think of others on your own. Good luck with incorporating a healthy lifestyle with being on the go.