The goals we set to improve our health often relate to the six pillars of Lifestyle Medicine:
Regular physical activity
Positive social connection
Avoidance of risky substances
Day by day, we’re surrounded by conveniences and temptations that may direct us away from our health goals. For example, when rushing out the door in the morning, it may seem easier in the moment to grab a fast-food drive-through breakfast than to prepare and enjoy a healthful and nourishing whole food plant-based meal. After a long & perhaps exhausting day at work, it may be tempting to sit on the couch rather than lace up our sneakers and get out for a walk. Or, as our day is coming to a close, we may be tempted to stare at the blue light of our phone or TV screen rather than setting time aside to wind down and devote sleep time to sleep. However, we can overcome these temptations and challenges.
It’s all about “Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice”. A small amount of planning and prepping ahead can really pay off in the end. It can be tremendously helpful to invest just a little time on the front end to make those in the moment decisions so much easier to help us stay on track.
Here are a few ideas:
- To choose healthful foods we can:
- stock our refrigerators, pantries, and countertops with healthy whole plant-food choices (such as fruits, veggies, salad blends, beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds) & greatly reduce or eliminate more highly processed unhealthful choices.
- batch prep healthy foods (such as whole grains, potatoes, salads, dressings, and sauces) so that we have the healthful foods on hand that get us closer to our goals. See this inspiring salad batch prepping video by Tami Kramer from “Nutmeg Notebook”. We can even bake whole grains ahead of time and freeze or refrigerate them for later. For instance, I love to keep cooked brown rice on hand using this “Simple Oven Baked Brown Rice Recipe“. It’s so much easier to choose the healthful meal when we have some of the main ingredients prepped and ready.
- plan ahead of social situations. When we’ll be in a situation where more tempting (& less healthful) snacks are surrounding us, we can start off by making sure we aren’t hungry when we arrive. Then, we can pack some of our favorite whole food plant-based fruits &/or vegetables to take along. For instance: berries, grapes, baby carrots, rinsed & drained garbanzo beans, or perhaps a small handful of nuts or seeds. These types of choices are super easy, nutritious, and fiber-filled…& they don’t even require any cutting or chopping!
- To promote restful and restorative sleep we can:
- get outside and absorb some sunshine each day.
- use our bedrooms only for sleep (& sex).
- make sure our bedrooms are cool and dark.
- consider moving the television out of the bedroom.
- charge our mobile phones in another room.
- use room darkening shades, and cover any light sources that may be sneaking in.
- set a regular sleep and wake time & do our best to stick to it.
- To increase our physical activity we can:
- consider sleeping in comfortable clothes that are appropriate for our early morning exercise.
- set our gym bag, tennis shoes, and socks out at night in a convenient location so that first thing in the morning, when rolling out of bed, it’ll be easy to get to the gym or get going on that early morning walk or bike ride.
- park further away from the entrances to get a few more steps in.
- look into getting a height-adjustable desk for work so that we spend some more time standing and less time sitting.
- take the stairs instead of the elevator.
As we work toward our health goals, no matter how small, we can be proud of ourselves each step of the way. Each small step we take builds on the next. Each time we make the healthy choice, we get closer & closer to the healthiest possible version of ourselves!
What are some of your favorite ways to Make the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice?