“I don’t have time!” This is one of the most common excuses people give for why they don’t take better care of themselves. Exercising, relaxing, and cooking healthy meals are all put off in favor of other tasks that seem more important. Once you experience firsthand the benefits that come from making time for health, you will hopefully be motivated to make some changes!
Exercise: Go For It!
The recommended amount of exercise is 30 minutes of continuous, moderate movement, five times a week and the numerous benefits add up quickly, so fit in time to get fit!
Find any wiggle room in your schedule. Find ways to work exercise into your schedule as it is. Park farther from your destination, walk or bicycle to run your errands or take the stairs whenever you can. The next time you find yourself passively watching television, multitask! Do some squats, leg lifts, and other stationary exercises.
Take a class. This will keep you motivated to show up each week, keep you interested and challenged, and best of all, you will already have the time scheduled in. If you pay for six classes in advance – yoga, kickboxing, and tai chi – you will be more likely to go, if for no other reason than to not waste money. By the time you have completed five or six weeks in a row, you may have a new healthy habit! If you have your friends join, it can even be a fun and social time as well.
Ready, Set… Relax!
Step away from the phone/computer/television! Take a daily time-out to practice a guided relaxation technique. The so-called “relaxation response,” a physical state of deep rest that can actually change your physical response to stress, takes somewhere between six to 12 minutes of conscious relaxation to set in.
Add relaxation to your nightly ritual. Let your relaxation practice piggyback on before-bed habits that are already in place. Factor in just six more minutes to practice relaxation. It can help you fall asleep more quickly, improving your productive energy for tomorrow – not to mention the benefits to your heart and stress level. Simply sit lie down, close your eyes, and breathe from your nostrils. Slow your respiration to deep, abdominal breathing. With each exhalation, utter the word “calm” in your mind, and focus on relaxing each area of your body in sequence, starting from the top of your head and moving all the way down to your toes. If you are having trouble on your own, try one of my guided audio CDs, such as Meditation for Stress Release.
Relax in a way that works for you. This relaxation may not work for everyone; however, you should still take at least a 10-minute screen break every day. Pick up a book, try a calming stretching session, or take a soothing soak in a bath. When you take away all the devices that are constantly commanding your attention, you get to actually relax, spend a moment with yourself, and notice the kind of thoughts that are in your mind. This will give you a buffer from burnout.
There is a reason that many people turn to takeout and pre-packaged foods: it’s quick and easy. But it is also expensive and often very unhealthy.
Be prepared. Produce can require some planning – but it does not have to be a lot of work, especially nowadays when there are pre-cut vegetables, bagged lettuce, minced garlic, and other conveniences available. Try letting tools and time do the work for you. Invest in a pressure cooker or a slow cooker to eliminate time standing over the stove.
Stock up for success. You are what you eat – and you eat what you have on hand. So toss the chips and fill your pantry with healthy staples. Instead of a pan of brownies on the counter, have a bowl of fresh fruit, which cues you to indulge in a healthy snack. Gradually remove the no-nutrition items from your pantry: prepackaged and processed foods, butter, sugary sweets, and sodium-laden snacks. Healthy staples to stock up on include: multigrain bread, oatmeal, brown rice and other grains, beans of all kinds, savory spreads like pesto and hummus, nut butter (such as almond butter), nuts and seeds, olive oil, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and aromatic herbs and spices to dress your meals up.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has appeared regularly on “Dr. Oz,” “The Doctors,” and “EXTRA.” Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to also founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter please visit www.taoofwellness.com. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at email@example.com.