Leading a healthy lifestyle consistently can be challenging. For the career oriented or family-centered it’s often hard to find the time to take care of yourself. However, you may find that a healthier way of life is a self-fulfilling prophecy. That means, once you make a commitment to change if gets easier and easier to keep going. You’ll find you have more energy, more time, and hopefully, be genuinely happier.
So if you think it’s time to clean up your life but just can’t seem to find the time, here are 97 tips to making it happen:
1. Make a Clear Plan
Lay out what you want whether it’s to eat better, work out more or feel less stress and more at peace, or a combination of all (recommended) putting it in writing will help your realize your goals.
It might be helpful to write down how you want to feel first:
- I want to feel more at peace
- I want more joy in my life
- I want to feel rested and recharged
- I want to be more present
- I want to feel less anxious
Then write down potential activities that can help you achieve the desired feeling states. Some of the ones listed here can provide some inspiration.
2. Make Mental Health a Priority
Mental health should be priority number one. There’s a lot of people suffering in silence, fortunately there’s been significant effort to create awareness on the importance of mental health. Lots of resources are available to help those who have mental health challenges like anxiety and depression, like this one.
With a healthy mental state, we are in a better position to achieve the rest of our health goals.
Write down some of the things that you can do for yourself to achieve a calmer state of mind.
A simple movement practice can get us out of a rut – it doesn’t have to be grandiose like climbing a mountain or running a 5K – sometimes all it takes are simple yoga postures you can do right in your living room. Sometimes picking up a broom and sweeping the floor or walking up a flight of stairs or walking period.
For some, a quick run will do the trick, which can release endorphins that will improve general mood.
Choose a movement practice that takes no equipment and is easy to get started.
4. Find a Like-minded Friend
Working in a group will motivate you to stick to your plan. Walking, running, and jogging are more fun with a friend and you can push each other to go farther and faster. But more importantly, joining a friend – whether it’s a health related activity or not – promotes social connection that contributes to improved mental and physical health, and emotional well-being.
5. Routinize Your Wellness Activities
A good schedule keeps you on track. Your body realizes when it’s time to work. You will be mentally prepared to take on the task at hand. Working out at the same time is proven to keep people going back. Also scheduling time for mental wellness like meditation or gratitude journaling every morning can help to kickstart your day on a good note.
6. Take a Class
An excellent way to make a routine is to take a class with a specific time. This will force you to be on time, and provide a group to motivate you to keep up.
7. Discover What you Like
Whether it’s kickboxing, zumba, or crossfit, finding a class you like is satisfying. And if you crave a creative angle, look into art class, dance lessons, or writing class. Focusing on activities that make you feel joyful or that brings out the fun child in you, then it less of a chore on your daily list.
8. Go to the Gym on Off-hours
This may be hard for some busy professionals, but it’s more important to maximize your time. By going at off-peak times you’ll sit in less traffic and wait less for equipment once there. This is actually a net gain, even if you have to work later afterwards.
9. Get a Trainer
If you’re busy with work or the kids getting a trainer can be an excellent way to make sure you are most effective with what little time you have. A 30 minute session with a trainer can do more good than a 2-hr freelance.
10. No Gym, No Problem
Really don’t have time or don’t like gyms? That’s ok. Luckily your body is an excellent weight and you can use it to work out anywhere. Body weight routines can be as short as 15 minutes per day and just as effective as hours at the gym.
11. Set Up a Wellness Space
A yoga mat and a few light weights in the living room or the office turns the places you spend the most time into a wellness space. Why spend time getting to and from the gym?
12. Don’t Throw Money at the Problem
If you think that spending money on a gym membership, workout programs or new workout will motivate you to work out, think again. Make sure that your motivation is right-side up, meaning don’t use negative motivation to kickstart your health goals – two-thirds of gym members don’t use their memberships.
13. Don’t Miss Two
If you have a bad health day, it’s ok to forgive yourself. A tough day at home or a crisis at work can leave you exhausted. Get a lot of rest and use it as a motivator to recommit. Missing one day at the gym or eating that huge burger is a choice, but if you’re serious about being healthier, you can’t make it a habit.
14. Make a Chart
Use a calendar to mark days you’ve worked out or eaten well. You can visualize your routine and you’ll be motivated to keep it going.
15. Stash Workout Clothes
Keeping workout clothes in your office or your car means you can sneak in a quick workout whenever. That means you don’t have to go home and be tempted to sit on the couch. Not to mention the savings in time.
16. Modify your Commute
If you can, bike to work, to social events, or pick your kicks up on two wheels. The whole family will be feeling healthier in no time. You have to get there anyway, so why not exercise on the way.
17. Sign Up for a Race
If you’re finding it hard to create a plan or think the goal “be healthier” is a bit abstract, signing up for a race can give you clear purpose. Local events like 5k’s happen all the time and can also get you in touch with health minded individuals in your area.
18. Take Advantage of Technology
There are a myriad of fitness planners and biometric devices that provide feedback on your workouts. Find the app or website that works for you.
19. Don’t Forget What They Taught You
Those P.E. class exercises are actually really effective at elevating your heart rate and providing strength training with no equipment. Doing push-ups, jumping jacks, and stretching at the office will keep you steady until you have time to get in the gym.
20. Don’t Forget the Rope
A jump rope is a fantastic fitness accessory for the extremely busy. It’s lightweight, portable and can provide an intense cardio workout anywhere. There’s a reason jumping rope is a go to for boxers.
21. Pick Up a Sport
Picking up a sport is a limited time commitment and usually involves games and events after work or on the weekends. The time expended will not be more than a few hours per week, however it will motivate you to stay in shape between games or races. Also, the people you meet can help you or train with you.
22. Make it Fun
The reason most people don’t work out isn’t time. It’s because it is not fun. Making it fun is a mindset as well as a choice. There is something that will work for you, but are you willing to find it? This means joking with friends, getting a trainer you respect, or playing a sport you love.
23. Do Something With Your Kids
If you’re always busy with the family, incorporate exercise into the routine without them even noticing. Anyone with kids knows how tiring they can be. So if they like soccer, kick the ball and run with them. If they like running, join a race together. Everyone wins.
24. The Park is a Gym
Kids love the park. Little do they know it’s essentially a gym in disguise. Pull-up bars, stairs, and opportunities to jump and run make the park a perfect place to get a sneaky workout.
25. Do What You Can, When You Can
When establishing a routine, do what you can. It’s not feasible to rewrite your whole life instantly. Once you’ve got it down you can start adding time, or working harder. Don’t try to do too much and burn yourself out at first.
26. Sleep is Huge
People with kids, and busybodies know that finding time to sleep is difficult. However, it’s super important. Sleep means energy, and you can’t do anything without it. Committing to sleep is committing to health.
27. Get the Right Bed
Pick a mattress that fits your needs. You’d be shocked what it can do for your rest. The bed is no place to penny pinch.
28. Invest in Sleep
Along with the mattress, outfit your bed with sheets, blankets and pillows you love. This will go a long way to keeping your bedtime experience comfortable.
29. The Bed is Sacred
Watching TV, eating, and using technology have been shown to decrease the ability to sleep and the restfulness of sleep. You can do everything somewhere else.
30. Turn Off the Phone
If you only get a few hours of sleep per night, it’s important to get the most out of them. That means no distractions. It can usually wait till morning. Some phones have nighttime modes that will let calls through, but not buzz for texts or emails. Emergencies only.
31. Make a Choice
Health starts with a good night’s sleep. The only way to ensure that is to choose to get enough sleep. If that means cutting something from your schedule. So be it.
32. Exercise and Sleep, Sleep and Exercise
Exercise tires out your body and it’s different from everyday exhaustion. This enables you to get to sleep faster. So while the first days may be tough. You will push through it because you will start sleeping more, and sleeping better.
33. Leave Work at Work
Stressing about the next day’s events will only make things worse. Relaxing before bed can rid you of those painful hours staring at the ceiling.
34. Sleeping is Like Exercise
Creating a nighttime routine will help your body realize it’s time for bed. Doing the same things, in the same order, and hopping into bed specifically reserved for sleeping will let your body know it’s time to recharge.
Keeping a book nearby can help you get the rest you need. Reading is soothing and when incorporated into a bedtime ritual, it can help you get to sleep, just like it does for kids. Just don’t get too caught in the story.
36. Don’t Think About Tomorrow
Instead of thinking about everything you have to do, praise yourself for everything you did today.
37. List Therapy
If you’re still stressed make a list of everything you have to do tomorrow so you’ll sleep soundly knowing you’re prepared.
38. It’s More Than Just Working Out
Many busy people spend a lot of time in the gym but still don’t see the results they desire. Either because they have unrealistic expectations or they are neglecting another portion of health. It’s important to take a holistic approach that means, of course, eating better.
39. Eating Smarter
Eating well doesn’t necessarily mean spending more time in the kitchen. However, it is does entail a bit of thinking. Getting the most of your food also means optimizing what you do with cooking time.
40. Plan, Plan, Plan
Our desire to eat out or grab fast food on the way home comes from a lack of planning. If you know what and when you are eating you can adjust accordingly. If you don’t, it’s hard to make a healthy choice when you or your kids are starving.
41. Choose More Filling Food
Whole grains and lean protein will fill you up and keep you full longer. That means cooking less, and spending less time eating. Perfect for the super busy.
42. Watch Out for White
White rice, white bread, and white sugar are less nutritional than their naturally brown counter parts. If you wonder why you’re always wasting time looking in the fridge, this could be why.
43. Make it Grain
Whole grains are the best refuge of the super busy. They are filling, not hard to cook, and accompany almost any protein.
44. Veg Out
Likewise, fresh vegetables are easy to cook, go with everything and contain fiber that will keep you feeling stuffed and out of the kitchen.
45. Spice It Up
Eating spicy food can reduce your appetite. You’re more likely to stick to a normal portion of something spicy, otherwise you’ll keep searching for satisfaction on that bland plate.
46. Embrace the East
Eastern food has very unique taste profiles that are easily adapted to a variety of dishes. That means you can mix it up easily. Have Thai green curry one day, Indian Curry the next, and teriyaki the next. You’ll never get tired.
47. Less Red
Red meat is higher in fat and lower in protein. This means less bang for your proverbial buck.
48. Choose Pork Wisely
Some cuts of pork can be an excellent choice, but many are fatty. Cutting down on pork can keep you healthy. If you must have some bacon or ham, use it in moderation.
49. Keep it Lean
Embrace the lean white meats, turkey and chicken. They are also extremely malleable for a wide variety of dishes.
50. Cook en Masse
Making a week’s worth of protein is a great idea for the uber busy. That way the hard work is done ahead of time. On your way home, you’ll know dinner is mostly ready and you can securely pass that burger joint.
51. Get a Good Rice Cooker
A rice cooker takes the guess work out of making grains. Dinner can be well in the works while you’re in the shower or getting ready to work out.
52. It’s Not Just for Rice…
Don’t forget about other extremely healthful grains that take no more time. Quinoa, couscous, and farro can be an excellent side dish for many different plate. It will help make each week’s meals a bit different.
53. Have a Designated Prep Hour
This is an hour during the weekend where you get everything situated for the week’s meals. This will keep you from falling victim on the way home from work and make certain that your busy times during the week are reserved for things you must do.
54. Buy a Cookbook
Buying a cookbook is a great way to keep cooking interesting, and make sure you consistently stay on track. This will save you the time of looking for recipes or freewheeling at the stove.
55. Pre-pack Leftovers in Portion Controlled Packages
If you have leftovers, immediately pack them in portioned containers. That way you can save them for next day lunches. This will also prevent you from eating the extras as you go. You’ll be hesitant to open a whole meal as a snack.
56. Don’t Forget to Snack
Not snacking will drop your energy and have you starving by meal time.
57. Keep Snacks Around
Don’t waste your time waiting in line when you are only a bit peckish. Keeping snacks on hand is perfect for saving time and making sure you don’t eat a full meal when you don’t need to.
58. Snack Well
Nuts are an excellent source of protein, and are a filling, satisfying snack. However, they are high in fat and often heavily salted, so watch the hand.
59. Make Snack Bags Along with Meals
Making portioned snack bags along with your weekly meals makes sure you’re evenly fed and also you don’t over snack. It will save you from always running to the store for something small as well.
60. Smart Snacks
Fruit is one of the smartest snacks because not only does it keep you hydrated it requires no preparation and can be bought in bulk weekly.
61. Speaking of Hydration
Staying hydrated is paramount to health. Being dehydrated can affect your energy levels and general mood. Also the brain often mistakes dehydration for hunger which can cause unnecessary snacking.
62. More About Hydration
Hydration is best left to water. Despite what sports ads and huge corporate advertising would have you believe, water is still the best liquid to keep you going.
63. Don’t Drink your Calories
Drinking calories is a monumental waste of time and can secretly sabotage your fitness goals. If possible limit intake to water only.
64. Switch to Black Coffee
Switching to black coffee can save you calories and time. Making a simple cup of joe at home will cut down on your trips to the coffee shop, as well as your sugar intake. Some sweet coffees can be sugar bombs, so be aware and keep it natural.
65. Don’t Overdo It
Coffee can be an appetite suppressor and increase your energy/productivity but too much can cause dehydration and mess with your sleep patterns. So try to keep it at 2 cups or less.
66. Keep Breakfast Light
A small breakfast is best to jumpstart your metabolism and keep you energized throughout the day. A big heavy morning meal is best preserved for those lazy weekend mornings.
67. Oatmeal is a Life Saver
Oatmeal is quick, filling, and with brown sugar or a little honey, downright delicious. Oatmeal, fruit and coffee is all you need to get going.
68. Watch out for Cereals/Granola
Many cereals contain little to know whole grain, meaning you’ll be hungry immediately. Also, store bought granola and cereal can contain a ton of added sugar. Don’t be fooled by “healthy” looking organic options. Always read the label.
69. And Juice…
While juice may appear healthy, many brands contain unnaturally high amounts of sugar. While fruit does have high sugar levels, be on the lookout for added components that can keep you thirsty and hungry.
70. Blend It
Fresh fruit and vegetables are great. However, if you have limited time to prep, you can blend them into a smoothie and know exactly what you’re getting.
71. Have a Big Lunch
Lunch has to get you through the toughest part of the day. It’s important to leave your desk and spend time on yourself. This will refocus you and help you be productive on the back-half of the day.
72. Food as Energy
Food is our only source of energy. That means if you’re not energized, you will have trouble focusing that can drop your productivity and keep you at work longer.
73. Eating Well Will Make it Easier to Exercise
It’s a double edged sword. Eating better gives you more energy. More energy, more chances to exercise. More exercise, better sleep. It all works together.
74. Put t in a Smaller Box
Putting your food in a smaller box or on a smaller plate makes your mind think it’s a bigger portion. That means you eat the same amount but feel much fuller.
75. Get Up
Get up to eat. Don’t eat at your desk even though you may think you get more done. You’ll be less productive.
76. Body and Mind
Moving your body helps you refocus, but it’s also not good to be seated for long periods. Keep moving as much as possible to get ready for after work.
77. Stand if Possible
If you can, stand when you work you’ll feel much better and be ready for exercise without the stiff joints that come from sitting.
78. Get Outside
If you’re at home or at work dedicate some time to seeing the sun. This will provide your body with vitamin d which helps you absorb calcium and protein. You can’t get the same results from supplements.
79. Exercise Outside
Quick workouts are better outside. See if you can sneak away to a park or set up in the backyard.
80. Have a Specific Area that’s your Sacred Space
Treat a specific area where you can meditate, journal, yoga or just take a breather. All you need is a small dedicated space.
81. Don’t Forget about the Mental Side of Health
Being healthy is not just about the body. It’s also about the mind.
82. Mental Health is Often Overlooked
Even if you follow all the other tips, if you neglect your emotions and mentality, you will continue to feel down and lack energy.
83. Reduce Stress
Stress is a huge barrier to losing weight. Focus on what you can control and what is in your power. Instead of stressing about it, make a plan about how to improve the situation.
84. Let Things Go
Spend no time on things outside your control, toxic relationships, or old grudges. Prioritize your time based on what gives you the most happiness. If you aren’t enjoying a friendship or activity anymore, let it go.
85. Take Stock
Decide what you truly need. Reducing clutter and the physical size of your footprint will make it easier to manage your time. Being surrounded by the things you need will give you focus on what really matters.
86. Give Back
While you may not think you have time, volunteering in your community is important. It will give you a defined role and provide you with self-esteem. Furthermore, it often requires getting outside, meaning, it counts as exercise.
87. Stay Active
This doesn’t just apply to the physical. It’s always tough to resist mentally idle activities. Decide whether you are doing something you like or simply trying to fill time. Are you sure you actually enjoy that TV show?
88. Pick up a Hobby
With any new free time, invest it in things you do like. This can mean starting a social club, exercising, sport, or the arts. People with hobbies are generally more fulfilled.
89. Work Less
This may be easier said than done, but the best way to be healthier is to work less. Less time sitting, more time with friends and family what’s not to like?
90. Be Prepared
Having a plan equals less stress. So if you’re having a busy week, or things aren’t going well, decide how to best fill the remaining hours to make it better.
91. Don’t Stop Learning
Old habits can make you less productive. Keep your eyes peeled for new technology or methods that can save you time at work and at home. Use these improvements to free up time for things you love.
92. Surround yourself with Support
Associate with people you know can support you. This will reduce your stress by making you feel secure in knowing you can turn to others for help.
93. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Asking others for help is not a shameful act. Leaning on others can make you both feel better.
94. Keep it Simple
Don’t over think and focus on what you do well. Leave other things to other people.
95. Trust Yourself
After examining your options, trust yourself to make the right decisions second guessing and insecurity can wreak havoc on your mental health.
96. Be Yourself
Outside influences can shape your mind, but it’s important to realize you answer for the life you lead. Ultimately doing what you want to do is the most satisfying option, even if you fail.
97. Nobody’s Perfect
Realize no one can do everything. Being healthy is hard, especially in stressful professions and for parents. The truth is there’s no right answer, but no one benefits from self-destruction. The most successful people in health, and in life, realize a failure is just a chance to improve.
Sasha is a prolific writer with a passion for health and wellness, and organic farming. When not online, she loves to garden and spend time with her family. She's the co-owner of DreCampbell.com.