I doubt there’s anyone who doesn’t know the broad outline to a healthier life – choose more nutritious foods, keep moving during your waking hours and get good sleep. That is the zoomed-out roadmap towards staying healthy and how you manage to tick these boxes is irrelevant.
Despite knowing this, we get caught up in little things along the way which cost us valuable mind space and make us fall off the path. However, it isn’t impossible to achieve your health goals in the midst of a hectic life. Here’s a simple four-step plan to help you stay on track without any extra effort.
When we don’t plan our day, we keep getting dragged into all directions and at the end of the day, there is a sense of dissatisfaction. For example, if you don’t know what your meals of the day are going to be or when you will be scheduling your workout, in all probability, you may not be able to stick to your diet and fitness goals.
With more choices available, and more time each decision requires, the fatigued mind becomes less capable of making optimal choices. Reduce the number of daily decisions you need to make. The key here is planning.
During the weekend, spare an hour to create a weekly meal plan. Whether you cook yourself, employ a cook, or order in, having a menu plan is invaluable. Planning your meals and snacks ahead of time reduces the chances of making impulsive, unhealthy food choices when you're hungry and short on time.
Create a meal plan that includes a balance of nutrients and helps you shop and prep ingredients in advance.
The same goes for workouts. While spontaneous movements during the day are a good thing, scheduling some more focused workouts during the week helps you improve your strength and stamina gradually.
Having a clear plan reduces decision fatigue and helps you stick to healthier choices. You also free up mental energy for other important decisions.
Automate Routine Tasks
In our digital age, automation has become a powerful tool for simplifying our lives. Use this to your advantage in your pursuit of a healthier lifestyle. Identify routine tasks that you can automate so that you don’t burden your memory with these items. This is where our smartphones and smartwatches can be of real help.
Recurrent purchases of daily, weekly, and monthly groceries, reminder alerts to take your supplements, calendar alerts for workouts, health check reminders and children’s vaccination reminders are all examples of how automation can help you achieve your healthy lifestyle goals. By minimising the number of things to remember every day, you allow your mind to focus on more critical aspects of your wellness journey.
Organise Your Space
Organisation vlogs are a hot topic on YouTube these days and for good reason. Just watching these videos brings a sense of calm to my mind. An organised home and office can be the biggest support for a healthy lifestyle as proximity and ease of access strongly influence our choices.
Picture this — it’s 5 am and your barely awake mind must scrounge around the wardrobe and laundry to find your workout gear. You may need to turn on the lights in your room and wake up your sleeping partner. This starts the day on a high-stress mode, while also giving you reasons to cancel your workout plan altogether.
A simple habit change involving keeping all the necessary things for your morning workout at reach the night before such as shoes, gym bag, water bottle, workout wear, charged smartwatch, headphones, and anything else you may need, is the best way to eliminate barriers to getting started.
An organised lifestyle reduces stress as you're better equipped to handle everyday challenges. This supports your mental and emotional well-being, which is essential for a holistic healthy lifestyle. An organised approach to health helps you create sustainable habits. When routines are structured and manageable, you're more likely to maintain them in the long run.
Design Your Kitchen
According to a TED Health podcast, people ate 70% less without even trying when foods needed to be reached using a stool, for example, chocolate. This shows how design can have a significant impact on your consumption patterns. Make use of this principle to encourage healthier choices.
Arrange your kitchen, pantry and refrigerator so that healthy foods are easily visible and accessible, promoting a natural inclination towards nutritious options. Store those indulgent treats on higher shelves that require you to climb a stool to reach. If you want to cut down on drinking, keep alcohol at the lowest level of the bar cabinet instead of keeping the bottles at eye level. Keep healthier beverages within reach. While cookies and snacks displayed in beautiful glass jars in open kitchen shelves look aesthetic, it’s tough to resist them if they are constantly in your view. On the other hand, if your goal is to drink more water, keep a filled bottle on your desk at all times.
An article by James Clear on ‘how to eat healthy without thinking’ lists simple design strategies like choosing smaller plates, using larger boxes for healthier foods and smaller ones for the ultra-processed, wrapping healthier options in see-through cling wrap or storing them in glass containers.
The modern world bombards us with choices, and our brains can only handle so much temptation and decision-making routines before succumbing to fatigue. By planning your meals and workouts, automating routine tasks, organising your environment, and designing for success, you make it much easier for yourself to make healthier choices with less effort.