The Healthy Lifestyle Guide For Busy People

In our last Shape “Road To Health” blog post, we covered why it’s important to make being healthy a priority in your life despite your perhaps busy lifestyle. Often, when facing diets we end up feeling overwhelmed integrating these complete lifestyle overhauls into our daily routine. Being healthy doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time, sure you won’t become an athlete, but there are some quick fixes that will bring you onto the right paths.
This week we have asked around and come up with 18 everyday, healthy tips for busy bodies to stay fit and in shape.

1) Track How Your Time Is Spent

Sometimes we are so “busy” that we don’t realize that there’s a lot of “waste” throughout the day. Time is for many of us the biggest and most dear asset that we have. Is your time well spent? We suggest to create a snapshot of your daily life by breaking down your day into 30-60 minutes segments for one or two days.
This will allow you to identify time sinks of perhaps urgent but low priority work that is either unnecessary, could be scheduled at another time or might be better off in someone else’s hands. Especially frequent interruptions such as ad-hoc answering of emails, can quickly turn your day unproductive. Think of time as your main currency and spend it wisely.

2) Head to Bed Earlier

It’s almost common knowledge these days, that getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep every day will make you more productive and energetic throughout the day.
A study in the SLEEP journal has confirmed that sleep deprivation leads to an increase of the stress level hormone Cortisol and a decrease in production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for energy needed for physical activity.  In short, having not enough sleep increases the likelihood of fatigue, lack of focus and energy.
Now look at your journal, is there a chance that you could need more sleep and head to bed too late? Explore the reasons behind doing so and force yourself to sleep earlier. It will make your time during the day more worthwhile.

3) Schedule Your Workouts — Make Them A Habit

How often do you get into the spontaneous mood to hit the gym or go for a run? Less than we’d like to, because surely there’s always something more “urgent” on our plate. A way to break this cycle is to schedule your workouts just as if they were meetings. Force yourself to actually reserve the time for your activities. By making them regular activities you will also create powerful habits.

4) Attend Classes, Get A Workout Buddy

Working out in a social setting helps to keep us accountable. Let’s face it, if have someone expecting at a certain time then you are much less likely to blow of a workout. We have been running our own bootcamp meetup in Mountain View, and having people waiting for us to attend our workouts at 7am in the morning is one of the biggest motivators to get out of bed at 6. 😃

5) Put Money On The Table

This may not be for everyone, but many busy professionals like to keep themselves accountable by committing money towards their workouts and goals.
Some like to book some sessions with a personal trainer, sign up for a set amount of Yoga classes or depart with some hard earned cash to sign up for a race or athletic event. There are also some cool apps and tools. The Pact app that rewards you for going to the gym, runs, or eating your veggies. If you fail to adhere to some of your weekly activities it can often cost you dearly. That run that you wanted to do this week? Well, now you stand to lose 10 bucks if you fail to go for it! DietBet is another app that allows you to bet money to loose weight in a certain period of time.

6) Join Competitions

Nothing is more rewarding than beating your own personal record on a half-marathon time, or working towards your life-time goal of completing a marathon within four hours. Joining a competition can be a great motivator for goal driven personalities.

7) Set Goals & Track Your Progress

For the goal driven among us, making no progress towards our own physique and/or performance can be incredibly frustrating. Often however we don’t even know whether we are making progress because we haven’t set up our own goals nor are we effectively measuring key metrics towards them.
Here a few examples of what you could measure:

– Weight / Body Fat
– Before / After Looks
– Body Measurements
– Amount of Weight Lifted / set of exercise
– Amount of reps you can do of a certain exercise until failure, for example burpees, push-ups and pull-ups.
– Time taken to complete 5k/10k/half-marathon/marathon.
– Pace/Time for sprint dashes
– VO2 Max
– Mastering certain gymnastique movements and tricks.
– Average Daily steps taken using a pedometer / fitness tracker.

There are many more. And they can be a fun way to motivate yourself.

8 ) Multi-Task During Workouts

Feel like you are being unproductive during your workouts? Well why don’t you listen to educational podcasts or audiobooks during your run or gym workout. Others like to read books or answer their emails on a stepper at the gym. If you want to take things to the next level you may even consider working from a standing desk paired with a treadmill. It’s the most easy way to increase your daily mileage without losing any “productive time”.

9) Make Batches of Healthy Food

If you are busy, you are probably eating out a lot or buying a lot of ready-made meals that you just end up microwaving. Cooking takes time, but you can end up conserving a lot of time by cooking larger portions that you can then later split up into several lunch packs ready to re-heat at work throughout the week. Soup, stews and snacks are very easily prepared in this fashion. Check out these recipes [NEED TO FIND LINK] for some ideas.

10) Get Healthy Food Delivered

There are now a number of options of getting healthy food delivered. Either ready-to-eat food such as Farm Hill or ingredients for healthy recipes that can be prepared within 10-20 minutes delivered by services such as Din, GobbleBlue Apron and Platejoy.

11) Don’t Underestimate Frozen Food

Another easy food hack is to have a ready supply of frozen food nearby. Unlike canned food, frozen food still preserves all of the food’s ingredients. It’s super easy to have some lean meat, fish and/or veggies in your freezer that can make a healthy meal within a few minutes.

12) Drink More Water

Yes, you have probably heard this one before. But drinking water is not only essential for you skin, digestive system, and circulatory system, but it also makes you feel more full if you consume a glass of water before every meal. If you feel fatigued during the day, it may often be because your body isn’t hydrated enough.

13) Mindful Eating

Another great hack that will make you more healthy, yet doesn’t require much extra time is to be just mindful about your food. Too many times we just chow down our meals in front of a screen without even truly appreciating the food that we consume. This often leads to not only faster but also over-eating. Next time you have meal, try to be conscious about every bit of your meal. You will notice that you will not only appreciate the flavor of your dish much more but you’ll also be way more satisfied at the end.

14) Less Is More

Sometimes having less of something can have greater value to you as well, without sacrificing excess time. Think about sodas, desserts, junk food and alcohol. All of them are heavy in carbohydrates and low in nutrients. You don’t have to forego them altogether but consciously limiting their intake can have dramatic positive effects on your long-term health.

15) Healthy Snacks

If you live a hectic lifestyle you probably often just snack and end up skipping meals altogether. Why we definitely recommend to have at least three full meals every day, we know that it often cannot be avoided. Actually snacking may also have its benefits as it keeps you more satisfied throughout the day. Yet, when you snack, try to replace those sugary, chocolate bars and chips with something more natural such as crunchy vegetables like carrots and celery or nuts, seeds and healthy fruits such as berries. If you need to replace entire meals you may also consider meal replacement shakes or protein bars, which can be an okay emergency solution.

16) Have A Quick Workout At Home

If you do not have the time to go to a local health club or you find it too cold to go for that run, then you can always try to integrate a quick workout into your daily routine. There are a number of free 7 Minute Workout apps such as from Fitness Guide, Perigee and Wahoo. If you like something more advanced and intense then you should also check out the Fitstar app, installing a pull-up bar, purchasing an abs wheel and jump rope. The bottom line is there are many ways to get started, even at home and at a small budget. 

17) Take A Walk

We live an age of abundance and convenience, often we take our car or public transport for the smallest distances. Yet, we don’t always have to. Especially short distances for errands can often be bridged by using your bike or by taking a walk. If that’s not an option you may consider parking a little further from the store than usual. You may even consider taking a walk during your lunch break or after work. It’s a great way to get some fresh air, clear your head and/or listen to an audiobook. Others also like to take a walking meeting. If you get yourself a pedometer or fitness tracker you can even keep track of how much you move every day and slowly increase your goals as you see fit.

18) Have A Sports Meeting / Date

A lot of time with those important around us is spend in a sedentary way such as eating a meal, having a coffee or watching a movie together. Why not catch up with friends and acquaintances on a hike, paintballing, tennis, golfing or another fun activity? It’s also a great way to bond.
What do you think? Have you started to make changes to your daily routine yet? What approaches have worked for you so far to get a little healthier? Let us know in the comments!
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Martin Kessler

COO and Co-Founder of Shape. Enjoys tackling video games at high difficulty and crazy, muddy obstacle course races.
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... start working on your unique diet plan.
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