Achieving a balanced and healthy lifestyle starts with having a plan in place. Without a plan of intent, implementation of healthy habits will be difficult to achieve. Being a health coach means calling out where the rubber meets the road when it comes to lifestyle and strategy. Here are 5 tried-and-true strategies for maintaining a healthy lifestyle from world-class coaches who’ve seen it all:
1. Carry a Go-Bag
Even with good planning, life is unpredictable. It’s foolish to assume that your diet will be any different. Best intentions give way to the whims of the moment when you leave the house unprepared. Health coaches who work with high-profile individuals, professional athletes and those with demanding schedules will tell you – stop leaving it to chance!
We all know how important preparation is, but how do you prepare for the unexpected? Here’s the trick: carry a go-bag with low perishable items.
This go-bag is designed to be discreet, portable, and long-lasting. Think of foods that aren’t messy and can survive in your car overnight. Again, low perishable is key. Cottage cheese and berries won’t work. Choose items like nuts, jerky, rice cakes, dried fruit (such as raisins), and peanut butter packets. Remember this isn’t your day-to-day diet. This is so you don’t get stuck with hot dogs and cotton candy at the amusement park.
2. Use Snacks to Manage Carbohydrates
No, this isn’t another bit on how protein cuts down carb cravings. Top coaches often recommend carbs with snacks – but not for the reasons you think…
We love snack-time carbs because we can control them. Snacks aren’t consumed socially. Co-workers, friends, and family dominate your lunches and dinners. This makes carb selection difficult for a variety of reasons, especially when consuming meals socially. Instead of banking on restaurants having sweet potato or quinoa, include specific “ideal” carbs with your snacks. These snacks could include applesauce, berries or other fruits such as peaches and oranges.
A meal of mostly protein and veggies is usually accessible (and more realistic) if you’ve been eating good snacks and the right carbs throughout the day.
3. Eat First, Eat Twice
Find yourself overindulging at dinner parties or events? Pro solution: eat first, eat twice.
Most people think they’ll offset an evening of indulgence by eating less during the day. Most people are wrong. Each circumstance is different, but most of our coaches find that insisting on a “light but relevant” meal prior to a decadent evening prevents snowballing. Eating “dinner twice” does less damage than the extra calories consumed in a frenzy to manage low blood sugar and a raging appetite.
Try having a small meal that’s high in fiber-rich foods (such as veggies) combined with a little protein and carbs an hour or two before heading out. You may be pleased with the extra willpower you show up with.
4. Grocery Stores, Not Fast Food Chains
Need something quick? The Deli Department is the new fast food. Long gone are the days of housing only sliced meat and cheese. More and more grocery stores are expanding their Deli Department to include prepared, healthy food options like grilled salmon, steamed vegetables, brown rice, and both salad bars and hot bars. The variety of fresh grab-and-go foods available in these departments provide you with healthy choices sans artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners or preservatives. This means the food is fresh, rather than forcing you to succumb to the limitations of fast food chains.
Whether you’re a frequent traveler in a new city, a busy executive with limited time, or a novice cooker, the Deli Department will become your secret weapon when you’re in need of a quick and healthy meal.
5. Anchor Your Exercise
That doesn’t mean stop moving! Experts are finding creative workarounds for people who don’t fit the classic nine-to-five schedule. It’s all about anchoring your exercise to fixed elements in your schedule. Exercising first thing in the morning is popular because nothing is more consistent to anchor to than waking up. Getting it done first thing is always a plus, but if that doesn’t pan out, don’t allow your exercise to become negotiable. Plan ahead. Think about the time of the day you pick up your kids from school. Or what about the gym you pass on your way home from work. Comb through your schedule for any standing appointments you know you won’t miss, and “anchor” to them!
A healthy and balanced lifestyle looks different for everyone. The best first step is to consciously think about your lifestyle, health goals, and the strategies that you can implement on a daily basis. Even when you experience unplanned changes in life, keeping these 5 strategies front of mind will help you transform healthy habits into lifelong behaviors. Living a balanced and healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be complicated, you just need the right tools to help you along the way.