Healthy Habits for the Busy Woman
Healthy women have healthy habits, even when life gets crazy. We all know the best way to keep our health in tip-top shape, but the issues lie in the how. In our busy lives, there must be an easier way to…
- Eat nutritious foods
- Get your muscles moving
- Get quality rest and relaxation
Below we will discuss a variety of ways to incorporate each of these principles into our daily lives, as well as something that we might be neglecting that has tremendous physical and mental benefits.
As busy women, we can wear many hats. Whether 28 or 68, busyness is a part of life. From carpooling kids, to gardening, to managing a corporate business—wherever we are in life—our daily duties and dearest hobbies can keep us extremely busy.
Let’s look at practical ways to incorporate healthy eating, keep ourselves moving, and schedule much-needed downtime.
Better Eating for the Busy Woman
It’s not about perfect eating, but better eating. Are their areas of your diet that could be cleaned up? You don’t have to cut all treats and comfort foods; in fact, many health professionals will say this kind of eating isn’t mentally healthy.
This type of restriction can often backfire and leave you feeling deprived. Instead, know there will be times you are going to have cake at your granddaughter’s birthday party, or a s’more during a cookout in the summer. Enjoy those moments!
Additionally, if strict eating doesn’t cause a sense of being overwhelmed, being inundated with endless and contradicting health information can cause anyone to throw in the towel on healthy eating.
Instead, take a few steps in the right direction. These simple steps can lead down a path to better health.
Add more plants.
Look for seasonal produce and fill up your fridge and plate. Even adding in an extra serving of leafy greens to one meal a day is a great place to start. With more plant foods you get the necessary vitamins your body needs and also lower the risk of diseases and chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Build in more protein.
Protein is incredibly beneficial for the body. It is the building blocks of your muscles, as well as keeping your tummy fuller longer. Foods like lean meats, fish, and beans contain protein. Quality protein is essential because it provides essential amino acids that are crucial for both brain and body functions. Having a hand-sized portion of lean meat and adding in protein-rich plant foods are easy steps to adding bulk to your diet.
Munch on more grains.
Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It can be tricky, however, because whole grains products are often overeaten and end up crowing out other nutrients needed from plants and protein sources.
Most healthcare professionals and dieticians suggest 3 servings of grain a day. Whole grain bread and cereal are great options… but read your labels! Some have added sugar that can hinder your goal of a healthier lifestyle.
Regularity can make a difference.
We are creatures of habit, and our bodies function best this way too. Spreading out meals throughout the day can help you maintain energy as well as not overeating which causes a host of issues like gastrointestinal pain, discomfort, and irregularity.
For the busy women, this can be a challenge. Prep meals or snacks ahead of time as much as possible or keep to-go items in your cabinets and fridge to grab as you’re heading out the door to run errands. Snacks like cheese, nuts, carrots, and fruit help you stay on track and stave off hunger.
Don’t forget the water!
In the busyness, we can often forget to stop and consume the most essential nutrient, water. We might take time to pause and eat, but we need to drink water all throughout the day. Having a water bottle handy helps to hydrate the body. A lot of times people will think they are hungry when they are thirsty. Before you dig into your next snack, try drinking a glass of water first.
Get Exercise Without Going to the Gym
You might have goals of getting to the gym 3 to 5 times a week, but the truth is sometimes your schedule doesn’t allow it. You can still make the most out of our movements throughout the day.
Do an at-home workout.
There are easy to find at-home workouts that range from 10 to 20 minutes in length. Body weight workouts at-home have become very popular and are very effective. Movements such as planks, push-up, squats, sit-ups, and lunges build strength, balance, and you don’t need equipment.
If you do want to add a little weight, some exercise enthusiasts will even use items around the house like canned goods or milk jugs to hold for added intensity.
Other easy to use equipment you likely have at your fingertips are stairs and chairs. And don’t forget that carrying laundry baskets full of clothes and lifting your little ones also builds strength and burns calories.
Go for a walk or run.
You might think this will take too much time in your busy schedule, but there are some helpful tips to consider.
Schedule your walk with a partner.
Take your kids, grandkids, spouse, or friend with you and double dip with quality time and exercise.
Even a quick walk or run for 10 minutes can get your metabolism and muscles moving, and if you get a day when you can do it 2 or 3 times, great! Add that in and see results even faster.
House and yard work.
We can rethink our attitudes about house and yard work… think about it as a workout! Don’t underestimate the calories burned and the strength you gain from digging up dirt, planting flowers, and cleaning the floors.
Turn on some music and add a little more movement… and you’ve got yourself a fun and efficient workout while checking off your to-do list!
The Importance of Rest and Relaxation
As hard as relaxing may be, it’s incredibly important to your physical and mental health. There are numerous amounts of literature and research done on the effect sleep has on cognition and overall wellbeing.
A study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found this…
“34.8 percent of American adults are getting less than seven hours of sleep—the minimum length of time adults should sleep in order to reduce risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, mental distress, coronary heart disease and early death. In total, an estimated 83.6 million adults in the U.S. are sleep deprived, the CDC report estimates…”[i]
It may do your body good to look for something to cut out of your schedule in order to allow for rest and sleep. If you’re juggling a busy schedule, ask for help from friends or family. It’s okay to say, “no” at times when others ask for help. Consider connecting them to another person who might be able to serve their needs.
Look at your calendar. Are there less important commitments you can cancel on busy weeks and replace with intentional rest?
Above we talked about using housework and yard work as exercise. But it’s important to find balance. If you have a week you are worn out and tired, ask for help with these tasks too.
Quality Relationships Have Health Benefits
When it comes to health, we associate eating, exercise, and rest as linked to the benefits. However, there has been an overwhelming amount of research about emotional ties with others and health.
One study, done by researchers at Boston College found that a quality relationship between grandparents and grandchildren decreased depressive symptoms in both groups.
“For both grandparents and adult grandchildren, greater affinity reduced depressive symptoms and more frequent contact increased symptoms. For grandparents only, receiving functional support without also providing it increased depressive symptoms.”[ii]
Quality time is the foundation of stronger relationships. Intact and healthy relationships have been linked to longer life, reduction in diseases, as well as reduction in mental health issues.
Take a walk, or cook a healthy meal with a loved one. Or simply cuddle up on the couch and read a book with your grandchild today. Incorporating these tips where you can will help you live a happier and healthier life.
[ii] https://academic.oup.com/gerontologist/article/56/3/408/2605571 Oxford Academic