Just as we’re all re-adjusting to the new norm of working, studying, relaxing, and dining in different ways ― in comes more change.
Whether it’s back to school or work, in person or online, our wellness goals are often first to suffer when life throws its inevitable curves and upsets our daily routines. This may leave you with little time to execute your well-intentioned health goals. Instead of letting change derail you, put these simple strategies in place to set you up for success:
- Embrace change: The first step to weathering change is to recognize it’s happening and give yourself permission to compromise. Adjust your wellness goals rather than declare defeated and give up altogether.
- Make a (flexible) plan: Take a few minutes at the beginning of every week to schedule your exercise (put it on your calendar, just like any other appointment) and plan your meals and snacks. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of your day, and removes the dreaded “what’s for dinner?” question. Your meal plan should have enough flexibility, however, to let you shift to one meal (or another) through the week.
- Make the most of your grocery time: Don’t set off for the grocery store until you’ve outlined your meals. A well-stocked kitchen (or mini-fridge “kitchen area” in your dorm room) makes healthy choices an easy decision. Scope out online shopping options that allow you to minimize in-store time!
- Cook once, eat twice (or more!): Prepare some meal components on the weekends when you have a little free time. This could mean marinating your proteins, making salad dressings, and chopping vegetables or it might involve precooking proteins, vegetables, and whole grains that you can then combine in multiple dishes through the week. Either way, you’ll have a head start when time is tighter during the week.
- Keep healthy snacks on hand: Most people feel hungry every three to four hours. Instead of heading to the vending machine or, even worse, not eating (which leaves you “hangry” and more likely to overeat at your next meal), keep the right snacks on hand. Trail mix and hand fruit like apples and bananas are great portable snacks, but if you’re looking for new ideas, check out our 50 Snacks for Success.
- Prioritize sleep: Research has shown that people who sleep fewer than seven to eight hours per night are more likely to be overweight or obese. Lack of sleep can affect your hunger and fullness hormones, tricking you into feeling like you need to eat more. (And often that ends up being refined carbohydrates — after all, you need energy from somewhere!) Not to mention, if you’ve gotten less sleep, you’re also less likely to exercise.
- Stay social (from a comfortable distance): Don’t neglect your mental health. For many people overall wellness involves staying connected to family, friends, and their community. Look for ways to visit (or exercise together) safely, in a manner that you’re comfortable with. Try joining together for virtual dinners, and engage in the ever-growing number of online opportunities to socialize.
Sometimes life doesn’t go as expected, so learn what derails you so you can set a plan in place. And know that you can always get right back on track with your next meal or next workout (don’t wait for a new week or new year!). Need even more inspiration? We’ve got it!