Sometimes being healthy can be a major time suck. There's hitting the gym every day, making sure to cook healthy, and so much more that goes into maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But it doesn't always have to be that way. Between eating right and fitting in exercise, there are a few shortcuts you can take when being perfect seems unthinkable. Best of all, none of these shortcuts skimp out on health. Here's a look at the standard gold rules of a healthy lifestyle and the shortcuts that go with them!
1. Eat Fresh Fruits and Veggies
When it comes to diet, the ideal is to eat as close to the natural source as possible: fresher is better, and organic rules all. Let's be real though, sometimes prepping fresh veggies seems like a pain or we're not able to fit in enough fresh fruit between meals.
The shortcut: Rather than forgoing fruits and veggies altogether, always keep frozen produce stocked. In the morning, throw some frozen berries in a smoothie or on top of cereal or yogurt. At night, quickly heat up a serving of frozen veggies to go with any meal. Still without your fruit and veggie fix? Have a snack of unsweetened dried fruit and stock your pantry with canned fruits and veggies that haven't been doused in salt and sugar — think unsweetened applesauce and sugar- and salt-free stewed tomatoes. Even if it didn't fall off of the farmer's truck, these are all ways to get the nutrients that veggies and fruit provide.
2. Get Enough Sleep
Wouldn't it be great if eight hours of sleep each night was a reality? Proper sleep increases brain function and promotes weight loss. But if you miss out on a good night's rest, it may result in a host of problems including irritability, heart disease, and overindulging.
The shortcut: On days when you're short on sleep, make like your 5-year-old self and grab a nap. Studies show that naps lower the risk of heart disease and naps also help with memory. To help increase the amount of deep sleep you're getting, start small by getting to bed 15 minutes earlier than you normally do. Continue this pattern for a few weeks to add a full hour onto your sleep schedule! If the above still seems unimaginable, find a few minutes throughout your day to meditate; this will help clear your mind while also helping to decrease stress.
See how to shave hours off of your workout after the break!
3. 30 Minutes of Cardio a Day
To reduce the risk of disease while also improving heart health, the surgeon general recommends doing 30 minutes of cardio, five times a week. The plus is that regular exercise also aids in weight loss or maintenance, sleep, and mood. While 30 minutes of exercise each day may sound manageable, sometimes work and a social life get in the way.
The shortcut: Never underestimate the power of a short workout and its benefits. When you don't have time for a long workout, do what you can: 15 minutes of moderate exercise can add three years to your life and just five minutes of exercise can burn up to 60 calories. On days you have to skip a workout, move as much as you can — take the stairs, walk everywhere, and do a few extra laps around the office!
4. Strength Train
Any good fitness routine should include some weight training; strength training increases metabolic rate and burns serious calories while also helping you become stronger and toned. But how the heck can you strength train when you're barely fitting in your cardio workouts?
The shortcut: Combination workouts, people! Maximize your time by rolling cardio and strength workouts into one. Circuit training intervals and boot-camp-style workouts focus on mixing bursts of cardio with serious strength training moves, the payoff being that your heart rate stays elevated the entire time. If you don't have time for a long strength training session, use the time you do have and perform supersets of compound moves, which add intensity to any workout while also shaving away time. If all else fails, drop and give me 20! The great thing about strength training is that there are a ton of exercises that require no equipment at all. Make a point to strength train during commercial breaks or whenever you have a few extra minutes.