Tips for a Balanced Life

Hey ya’ll!  So this week has been crazy around here.  The boys got sick from daycare, which in turn means that mom and dad got sick.  And oh boy, did we get sick!  The husband had a fever of 103 off and on throughout the week, I couldn’t stop coughing, and the two of us felt like we’d been hit by a train.  But work and parenthood continues on.

That being said, one of the most common things I hear is “I’m too busy to be healthy.”  I get it-life is busy, life is hectic, and life will never be perfect.  Waiting for the “right time” to get healthy is going to leave you waiting for the rest of your life.  There will always be something.  But I totally hear ya, I really do.  I work full-time, I have twin babies, I have pets, no family nearby, not many friends in this area, and so… life is busy.  But there is always someone else who is busier, and a chance that any day, life could get even busier.  So waiting doesn’t do us any good.

Here are some simple tips that can help you reach some of your health goals today.

1. Use minimally processed convenience foods.

I use certain convenience foods all the time.  I use the frozen brown rice every week in various meals for my husband and I.  I used to only buy bulk bin brown rice that I’d cook for 45 minutes until tender.  Well, forget that these days!  I barely have time to wash my hair, never-mind watch rice cook.  I also use the steam-in-bag frozen vegetables.  Other time-saving foods: pre-washed bagged lettuce, baby carrots, hand fruit instead of fruit that needs to be prepped (such as melons and pineapple), canned fish for fast protein.

2. Go outside the box for protein sources.

You don’t need to eat chicken, meat, and fish to get adequate protein.  Look to other sources for easy, simple protein.  I use lentils for high plant-based protein meals.  I also LOVE tempeh, which is super simple to make.  I cube it, toss it with some dried spices, bake with some coconut oil for 10 minutes.  Tofu isn’t too difficult, either, but it is slightly more time-consuming than tempeh.  Other super easy protein sources include beans, nuts, seeds, nut and seed butters, eggs (including the yolk!), Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and quinoa.

3. Prep ahead.

I have to do some prep ahead of time or we’d never get out the door in the morning.  In the evenings, I make our breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for the following day.  It’s all in the fridge and ready to go in the morning.

4. Protein and snack bars.

Honestly, sometimes you just need something fast and portable.  Some of the ones we’ve had on hand recently include: Rx Bars, Macrobars, Victory bars, Kind bars, and Lara Bars.

5. Mini-meals

You don’t have to have time to sit down for 4-course meals.  Just try to eat something regularly throughout the day.  I definitely prefer the sit down, relax, and connect with your food approach (which is the preferred way of intuitive eating).  But the reality is, some days, that’s not gonna happen.  Perhaps it’s not gonna happen for you for a while.  Maybe you’re in a phase of life where lunch breaks aren’t realistic at all.  Again, that’s okay.  Pack some snacks and graze throughout your day, having a mini-meal every 2-4 hours.  Personally, I tend to have breakfast and dinner and mini-meals in-between (generally a snack portion every few hours).

6. Make meals simple again.

Stop trying to think of recipes or find meal plans to follow.  Dinner can be simple.  Pick some produce (like frozen green beans), pair it with a starch (brown rice or sweet potato), add some protein (chicken or tempeh), and finish with a fat source (coconut oil, avocado, or sunflower seeds).  That’s it!  Same thing for breakfast: starch (oatmeal), produce (banana), protein (seeds or egg white or protein powder), fat (almond butter).  In a pinch for lunch because you have nothing but odds and ends around the house?  That’s okay because eating is simple again!  Produce (apple slices), protein (Greek yogurt) carb + fat (Lara bar), more fat (cashews).

Produce + starch + protein + fat = a meal.

7. Have a mantra or affirmation that’s your go-to.

Mantras may seem silly if you’ve never done it before, but they can be very soothing and aid in releasing anxiety and worry.  They allow your mind to focus and let all the mental chaos fall away.  Generally, mantas are a great part of meditation, but you can do them anywhere at any time.  Try it in your car, while cooking/prepping dinner, or in the shower.  And it can be anything that you need to hear.  A few examples: “I am beautiful.”  “I trust that I am on the right path.”  “I believe in power of my faith.”  “Today will be amazing.”

8. Be in the moment.

Let’s be honest, this is much easier said than done.  Staying present is an ongoing battle in our society.  There are distractions everywhere and we’re all running around like crazy trying to juggle way too many balls.  But being in the moment, remaining present, doesn’t have to be about perfection. You can do this by focusing on whatever you are doing, whatever is in front of you.  So for example, if you’re like me, you don’t have time to make and eat breakfast at home before going to work.  I pack it the night before and eat it at my desk while reviewing my patient list for the day.  If this is like you, too, then yes, you’re multitasking, not really eating mindfully, and thinking about a lot of work related issues.  But, in the midst of all that, take a single moment to look into your coffee mug and focus on the look and smell.  Take a sip, really taste the rich, creamy dark brew.  Focus on what you are doing and where you are in your day, week, month.  Take it in for just a minute.  Then, continue on with your busy day.  Do that same thing throughout your day, over and over, and eventually, you’ll find yourself in the habit of being more present and mindful in everything you do.

9. Take a walk outside.

Honestly, nature is the cure for almost everything.  If you have kids and a family and don’t have time for personal strolls, that’s okay, take the family with you!  I’m sure they could use some fresh air, too.  And again, be as present as possible.  Breathe in the air, notice the clouds, the sky, the grass.  Smell the air-what does it smell like?  Ocean?  Rain?  Fresh-cut grass?  Just notice it.

10. Do whatever is good for your soul.

Only you can figure this one out.  What are you passionate about?  What does your mind and heart automatically turn to?  What do you love but ignore?  DO THAT!  I can’t tell you how often to do it because lack of time might be an issue, but make it a priority.  Try for once a week or once every other week.  And this can be anything at all.  Maybe it’s playing tennis, hiking, going to church, baking cakes, yoga, writing poems, or blogging.  Whatever you know you love deep down, keep that fire going, keep fueling that flame.

Life is messy and hectic, but take some of these simple steps to make it a little more balanced.  Happy living, ya’ll!

And here’s something else that we all need to be more balanced – touch and love.  Hug your loved ones, even if it feels awkward at times.  We all need hugs 🙂

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