Usually I am one to spend many hours a week in the kitchen prepping healthy meals and I would also train 7-8 times per week doing a mix of HIIT sessions, strength training, running, pilates and yoga. These two things have always been priorities for me because I know I feel my best when I am in routine with these habits (note: everyone's ideal routines will be different). However over the last few months from caring for our sick dog and having him pass away, to renovating our kitchen, a trip to Bali and an enormous work load (a few 80 hour weeks may have accidentally snuck in!), it's fair to say that time to prep healthy meals and exercise has been very limited!
But that's life and this will happen sometimes (note if this is all the time for you then it might be time to re-shuffle your priority list ;)). However, what is important is that you don't drop off the bandwagon altogether. It's busy and stressful times like these where healthy eating and exercise are most important because it will help sustain you and support your body to make it through without burning out.
So if there is ever a time when I can't prioritise healthy eating or exercise, I simply look at it as a maintenance phase where you're not trying to be 100% perfect with your eating or break any fitness records, your are just trying to be consistent with a healthy diet and maintain your fitness levels. Your body is an amazing thing and it's crazy how quickly you can lose the benefits of a healthy lifestyle if you stop your routine altogether. So here's my top five tips for how I eat healthy and stay fit when I have no time:
1. Stock up your pantry, fridge and freezer with food that doesn't require cooking. I'm talking everything that helps you throw together a 5 minute healthy meal. Frozen cooked vegetables, fresh salad vegetables, herbs, canned legumes, canned fish, precooked rice, precooked quinoa, precooked noodles, rice paper, nuts, seeds, yoghurt, fetta, hummus, ready to eat tempeh.
- Defrosted broccoli, peas, cauliflower, brown rice, tuna, hummus, fetta and almonds.
- Spinach, cherry tomatoes, radish, cucumber with mashed avocado, black beans, quinoa and yoghurt.
- Noodles tossed with salmon, cashews, sesame seeds, shredded snow peas and red cabbage.
- Tempeh rice paper rolls with wombok, carrot, coriander, tamari and lime.
2. Make friends with your slow cooker. All you need is 10-15 minutes to roughly chop up and chuck all ingredients into a slow cooker in the morning and then come home to a house smelling like heaven and a warm bowl of goodness waiting for you. My Slow Cooked Turmeric Chicken Curry might actually change your life!
3. Have someone else make the meals for you. There's many meal delivery companies out there at the moment but Eat Fit Food are the closest I have found to my own home cooked meals. I am happy to pay the cost for quality food that actually tastes delicious and I love being able to have a sigh of relief when I see the bags sitting at my doorstep and know there's one less thing on my to do list for the day!
4. Shorter, higher intensity workouts. Many of you may not know that I have a degree in Exercise and Sports Science but my partner is also a personal trainer and whenever we go on holidays he suggests 20-30 minute workouts that really get your heart rate up (think HIIT sessions and interval running). This was perfect in Bali when the weather was too hot for long sessions anyway and so I have just kept this up since I have been back and haven't had time for longer workouts. I get up at 5:15am and can easily get a 20-30 minute workout in even if my day needs to start at 6:00am. Your lunch break (and yes you will be more productive in the afternoon if you actually take one!) is also a good time to do a quick 20 minute interval run and get some fresh air at the same time.
5. Incidental exercise. Okay so for this one, it might sound crazy but think about how many times a day you walk from one place to the next, even if it's from your car to the front door, or from home to the train station. Well turn this into a power walk or a run instead, and include stairs and hills where you can. Even if it's only a short distance it will add up across the day!