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15 Ways To Get In Shape For Busy People

15 Ways To Get In Shape For Busy People

Are you struggling to find the time to work out or prepare healthy meals during the week?

If you are working a full-time job, or are a student or mom, you know that life gets busy and it is hard to dedicate time for your health. Those new year’s resolutions may motivate you to push harder for the first few weeks, but without a concrete plan of action life will get in your way.

Today, I would like to share 15 tips to get in shape for busy people. As a medical student in her last year, I have to try hard to balance studies and health. I hope you will find my tips useful (and read until the end for a little reward)!

1. Plan ahead

Plan your week

    Of all my tips, this is the most important one. If you are working a full-time job, are busy with collage exams, or have to look after the kids, planning your week ahead of time is a game changer.

    Every Sunday, take out a notebook, open a new file in word, or use the notebook app on your mobile device. Write down your schedule for every day for the next week. This includes working hours, when you need to get up, what time you get back home, what time you have a lunch break, etc. If you really struggle with making time for healthy eating and fitness, this will help you out a lot.

    The next step is to determine which days you can fit in a workout and prepare your meals for the next day. If you have to leave very early in the morning, make sure to have everything ready the night before. Maybe you have a little 20-minute time frame in the evening to fit in a quick sweat session?

    The first time, things might go wrong and you might not be able to stick to your plan. Don’t get discouraged! After a while, you will notice how much free time you actually have.

    2. Set realistic goals

    While planning your week ahead, don’t schedule hour-long workouts on days you know you might be too busy to complete them. You have to be honest with yourself. If you know you are going to come home very late and will be tired but still have to cook dinner, chances are you will have to skip the workout.

    Instead, write down which days you are 80% sure you can fit in at least 20 minutes of exercise. It is okay not to work out and take rest days. Your goal should be to stick to your plan and not to skip workouts.

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    3. Cook in bulk

    Cook in bulk

      For healthy nutrition, cooking in bulk is my main tool. If you are studying for exams all day long or are working at your job, you will not have the time to cook a special meal every day.

      Most meals can be reheated and eaten 2-3 days after being cooked. This way, you only have to cook 2-3 times during the week.

      If you lack ideas, you can find delicious and easy recipes on Pinterest.

      4. Prepare snacks

      Many people eat healthy at home but fail to stick to their diet when they are on the go. Temptation is everywhere, and if your friends or collegues don’t understand your lifestyle, it is easy to fall off the wagon.

      It is okay to enjoy little treats here and there and have a not-so-healthy meal. What matters is that you don’t make it a habit to buy the easiest fast food when you are eating out.

      Instead, pack yourself snacks that are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats to fill you up. The fat and protein will also increase hormones that decrease hunger and stabilize blood sugar levels. This will aid in weight and fat loss and you will not feel deprived either.

      Examples for great snacks are nuts, self-made protein bars, cookies, fruit, and greek yoghurt.

      5. Prepare portable meals

      If you are going to be at work the whole day, little snacks won’t suffice. Also, eating out every day can be very expensive, especially if you try to stick to healthy food options.

      So, prepare lunch the night before and take it with you to work or school. I highly recommend sticking to easy, basic recipes. A salad with chicken, wild rice, and avocado is one of my favorite options.

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      You can also prepare meatballs, beans, pasta, eggs—the options are endless. I recommend not to take anything liquid, like soup, unless you have a very safe container.

      6. Avoid food cravings

      Cravings usually occur during a low-calorie diet, when your body is lacking nutrients and when you are stressed or otherwise emotionally unbalanced. In fact, your cravings could be a sign of a vitamin deficiency in your body.

      If you are constantly stressed, try to find ways to calm down other than using food. Take a hot bath, drink some soothing tea, try a yoga class or video from youtube. Sometimes, writing down your thoughts on a piece of paper helps too.

      In addition to that, I recommend not to follow a restricted diet. Clean eating means sticking to non-processed foods most of the time.

      However, if you want to make it a lifestyle, you need to ask yourself if you could commit to this style of eating for the rest of your life. If your answer is “no,” you will fall off the wagon easily.

      Instead, fit in small treats like a piece of chocolate or half a serving of ice cream into your diet.

      Also, you can bake healthy versions of your favorite cookies and cakes to satisfy your sweet tooth. You can even prepare them beforehand and store them in the freezer. They taste just as amazing as freshly baked, trust me!

      7. Adjust your food intake

      You don’t have to work out 5-7 times per week to get in shape. At the end of the day, your weight loss success depends on calories in versus calories out. Thus, you need to change your food intake according to your activity level.

      If you are sitting and not very active for most of the day, you should eat less than someone who is on their feet all day long. On training days, eat more, especially post-workout. This way, your body will learn to use the extra fuel on training days to build muscle and not store as fat.

      8. Eat frequently

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      Healthy snacks

        During clinical rotations at med school, we don’t always have time for a lunch break. Many doctors skip eating and go out for dinner afterwards.

        However, if you let your body starve for such a long period of time, you will most likely overeat and consume more calories than you have burned that day in one sitting. I always have either self-made protein bars or little portable meals with me and eat those.

        It just takes 5 minutes but goes a long way, trust me. When you arrive home, your blood sugar levels will not be that low and you will make healthier choices and stick to reasonable portion sizes.

        9. Choose intensity over duration

        When it comes to fitness, it does not matter how many hours you work out per week. What matters is intensity.

        You can work out for an hour long and just go through the movements and hardly break a sweat. Or, you can fit in a quick 15-minute sweat session and push really hard—until your muscles and lungs are burning.

        Which technique will benefit you more in the long run? The latter version will not only burn more calories during but also after the session—your metabolism is revved for up to 24 hours following!

        10. Be active in general

        15 Tips to get in shape for busy people

          Make it a habit to take the stairs, always. Don’t use your car to get groceries from a nearby store. Try to find ways to be generally active during the day. It might not sound like a lot of exercise to you now, but these little actions add up and will keep your metabolism high. Even if you fail to do a workout, at least you were active and tried your best!

          11. Use the weekends

          The weekends are the best time to focus on fitness and nutrition. Don’t panic, you can still relax and enjoy time with your family and friends. A good workout only takes one hour of your day, but you will benefit from it forever. If you are only able to fit in 10-15 minutes a few times during the week, make use of your free time on the weekend.

          Lift heavy weights, do high intensity interval training, and sweat a lot! You will be proud of yourself afterwards and have more energy than when you started.

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          12. Try home workouts

          Home workouts

            You don’t need a gym membership to get in shape. If you are beginner, bodyweight strength training will be hard enough for you. There are amazing workout videos on Youtube, I recommend fitnessblender. It is motivating to work out along with the trainers. After a while, you will get used to finishing your day with a 15-minute workout, done in the comfort of your own living room.

            13. Drink water

            When you are out all day, it is easy to forget to drink enough. However, proper hydration is crucial to keeping your metabolism high and curbing cravings. Always keep a water bottle with you and sip on it whenever you feel like you might be getting hungry. Most of the time, it is not real hunger but thirst—our brain can’t fully distinguish between both sometimes.

            14. Get plenty of sleep

            When people contact me because they are unable to lose weight, despite proper nutrition and training, the first thing I ask is if they sleep enough.

            You may not realize how much lack of sleep impacts all hormones in your body. Cortisol, the stress hormone, increases and modulates all metabolic processes in your body. Thus, people with high cortisol levels store fat easily and also get hungry much faster. Try to go to bed at a decent time and find ways to calm down in the evening. Don’t spend too much time in front of the computer—read a book, take a bath, relax. I also recommend listening to some calming music before going to bed.

            15. Don’t stress it

            Some weeks you will stick to your plan without any effort. Then, there are those weeks where everything seems to go wrong. Sometimes, things happen we cannot control. Your child might get sick or you have to stay longer at work or school. On those days, you might fall off track and have to skip a workout. Unless this becomes a habit, don’t stress it. It is okay to fail now and then. What matters is your determination to get back up and continue where you left.

            And now, your little surprise:

            Get in shape for busy people — A workout plan!

            If you have made it until the very end of this article—you rock! Thank you for staying with me. As a little reward, I designed a week of workouts for you busy people! Now, you don’t even need to search for workouts. Just save this workout schedule and you are good to go!

            Workout plan for busy people

              If you liked this weekly workout plan and my tips to get in shape for busy people, comment below and share it!

              Do you have other tips to get fit while living a busy lifestyle? Share your ways to stay healthy!

              Featured photo credit: Runner/ Garry Knight via flickr.com

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              Last Updated on July 28, 2020

              14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet

              14 Low GI Foods for a Healthier Diet

              Diet trends may come and go, but a low-GI diet remains one of the few that has been shown to include benefits based on science. Low GI foods provide substantial health benefits over those with a high index, and they are key to maintaining a healthy weight.

              What is GI? Glycemic index (GI) is the rate at which the carbohydrate content of a food is broken down into glucose and absorbed from the gut into the blood. When you eat foods containing carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose, which is then absorbed into your bloodstream.[1]

              The higher the GI of a food, the faster it will be broken down and cause your blood glucose (sugar) to rise. Foods with a high GI rating are digested very quickly and cause your blood sugar to spike. This is why it’s advisable to stick to low GI foods as much as possible, as the carbohydrate content of low GI foods will be digested slowly, allowing a more gradual rise in blood glucose levels.

              Foods with a GI scale rating of 70 or more are considered to be high GI. Foods with a rating of 55 or below are considered low GI foods.

              It’s important to note that the glycemic index of a food doesn’t factor in the quantity that you eat. For example, although watermelon has a high glycemic index, the water and fiber content of a standard serving of water means it won’t have a significant impact on your blood sugar.

              Like watermelon, some high GI foods (such as baked potatoes) are high in nutrients. And some low GI foods (such as corn chips) contain high amounts of trans fats.

              In most cases, however, the GI is an important means of gauging the right foods for a healthy diet.

              Eating mainly low GI foods every day helps to provide your body with a slow, continuous supply of energy. The carbohydrates in low GI foods is digested slowly, so you feel satisfied for longer. This means you’ll be less likely to suffer from fluctuating sugar levels that can lead to cravings and snacking.

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              Let’s continue with some of the best examples of low GI foods.

              1. Quinoa

              GI: 53

              Quinoa has a slightly higher GI than rice or barley, but it contains a much higher proportion of protein. If you don’t get enough protein from the rest of your diet, quinoa could help. It’s technically a seed, so it’s also high in fiber–again, more than most grains. It’s also gluten-free, which makes it excellent for those with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

              2. Brown Rice (Steamed)

              GI: 50

              Versatile and satisfying, brown rice is one of the best low GI foods and is a staple for many dishes around the world. It’s whole rice from which only the husk (the outermost layer) is removed, so it’s a great source of fiber. In fact, brown rice has been shown to help lower cholesterol, improve digestive function, promote fullness, and may even help prevent the formation of blood clots. Just remember to always choose brown over white!

              3. Corn on the Cob

              GI: 48

              Although it tastes sweet, corn on the cob is a good source of slow-burning energy (and one of the tastiest low GI foods). It’s also a good plant source of Vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron, all of which are required for the healthy production of red blood cells in the body. It’s healthiest when eaten without butter and salt!

              4. Bananas

              GI: 47

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              Bananas are a superfood in many ways. They’re rich in potassium and manganese and contain a good amount of vitamin C. Their low GI rating means they’re great for replenishing your fuel stores after a workout.

              They are easy to add to smoothies, cereal, or kept on your desk for a quick snack. The less ripe they are, the lower the sugar content is! As one of the best low GI foods, it’s a great addition to any daily diet.

              5. Bran Cereal

              GI: 43

              Bran is famous for being one of the highest cereal sources of fiber. It’s also rich in a huge range of nutrients: calcium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, and a host of B vitamins. Although bran may not be to everyone’s tastes, it can easily be added to other cereals to boost the fiber content and lower the overall GI rating.

              6. Natural Muesli

              GI: 40

              Muesli–when made with unsweetened rolled oats, nuts, dried fruit, and other sugar-free ingredients–is one of the healthiest ways to start the day. It’s also very easy to make at home with a variety of other low GI foods. Add yogurt and fresh fruit for a nourishing, energy-packed breakfast.

              7. Apples

              GI: 40

              Apple skin is a great source of pectin, an important prebiotic that helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut. Apples are also high in polyphenols, which function as antioxidants, and contain a good amount of vitamin C. They are best eaten raw with the skin on! Apples are one of a number of fruits[2] that have a low glycemic index. Be careful which fruits you choose, as many have a large amount of natural sugars[3].

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              8. Apricots

              GI: 30

              Apricots provide both fiber and potassium, which make them an ideal snack for both athletes and anyone trying to keep sugar cravings at bay. They’re also a source of antioxidants and a range of minerals.

              Apricots can be added to salads, cereals, or eaten as part of a healthy mix with nuts at any time of the day.

              9. Kidney Beans

              GI: 29

              Kidney beans and other legumes provide a substantial serving of plant-based protein, so they can be used in lots of vegetarian dishes if you’re looking to adopt a plant-based diet[4]. They’re also packed with fiber and a variety of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds. They are great in soups, stews, or with (whole grain) tacos.

              10. Barley

              GI: 22

              Barley is a cereal grain that can be eaten in lots of ways. It’s an excellent source of B vitamins, including niacin, thiamin, and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), fiber, molybdenum, manganese, and selenium. It also contains beta-glucans, a type of fiber that can support gut health and has been shown to reduce appetite and food intake.

              Please note that barley does contain gluten, which makes it unsuitable for anyone who is Celiac[5] or who follows a gluten-free diet. In this case, gluten-free alternatives might include quinoa, buckwheat, or millet.

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              11. Raw Nuts

              GI: 20

              Most nuts have a low GI of between 0 and 20, with cashews slightly higher at around 22. Nuts, as one of the best low GI foods, are a crucial part of the Mediterranean diet[6] and are really the perfect snack: they’re a source of plant-based protein, high in fiber, and contain healthy fats. Add them to smoothies and salads to boost the nutritional content. Try to avoid roasted and salted nuts, as these are made with large amounts of added salt and (usually) trans fats.

              12. Carrots

              GI: 16

              Raw carrots are not only a delicious low GI vegetable, but they really do help your vision! They contain vitamin A (beta carotene) and a host of antioxidants. They’re also low-calorie and high in fiber, and they contain good amounts of vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants. Carrots are great for those monitoring their weight as they’ve been linked to lower cholesterol levels.

              13. Greek Yogurt

              GI: 12

              Unsweetened Greek yogurt is not only low GI, but it’s an excellent source of calcium and probiotics, as well. Probiotics help to keep your gut microbiome in balance and support your overall digestive health and immune function. Greek yogurt makes a healthy breakfast, snack, dessert, or a replacement for dip. The most common probiotic strains found in yogurt are Streptococcus thermophilus[7] (found naturally in yogurt) and Lactobacillus acidophilus[8] (which is often added by the manufacturer). You can also look into probiotic supplements for improving your gut health.

              14. Hummus

              GI: 6

              When made the traditional way from chickpeas and tahini, hummus is a fantastic, low-GI dish. It’s a staple in many Middle Eastern countries and can be eaten with almost any savory meal. Full of fiber to maintain satiety and feed your good gut bacteria, hummus is great paired with freshly-chopped vegetables, such as carrots and celery.

              Bottom Line

              If you’re looking to eat healthier or simply cut down on snacking throughout the day, eating low GI foods is a great way to get started. Choose any of the above foods for a healthy addition to your daily diet and start feeling better for longer.

              More Tips on Eating Healthy

              Featured photo credit: Alexander Mils via unsplash.com

              Reference

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