So many of us have lives that are overrun with tasks and obligations that seem to leave us little or no time for anything else. From work to school to kids with sports and families to care for, sometimes it can seem a bit overwhelming. When you add to that a desire to lead a healthy life…well that involves eating right and exercising and finding time to rest. What’s a person to do?
The first thing to consider is that the moment we begin treating our bodies with the care and attention that they deserve, time starts to expand. Think about it. When we’re spiraling down in a flurry of endless activity and all we have time to eat is something processed from a box or grabbed from a drive-thru, our energy decreases dramatically. Then we’re too tired to exercise and think that we don’t have the time anyway, so why not just go take a nap? On the flip side, when we fuel our bodies with healthy, nutritious food that provides us with consistent energy instead of a carb-crash and help our muscles and minds feel energized by creating a regular flow of blood and oxygen through exercise, then we end up creating pockets of free time because we aren’t sluggish or distracted.
I realize that it’s hard at times and that, in the beginning, it seems like you’ll never have more time or energy, but trust me, you will!
One of the things that I hear quite frequently from people is that Paleo or Eating Clean requires a lot more time in the kitchen. There’s truth in this. You do have to start prepping and cooking more – breakfast is something you cook rather than something you pour from a box and lunch is no longer a quick sandwich. I get it! Truly I do. But once you have a few routines under your belt, it gets a lot easier. And if you plan for the occasional emergency, before you know it, you’ll be a pro!
Busy Week? Prep on the Weekend!
If you find that your weeks are too crazy to cook, then take some time on the weekend to ensure that you have things on hand. There are many different ways to handle weekend prep. I’ve said this before, but if you haven’t seen my Whole 30 Fast 5 post, you should really check it out. I get these things ready nearly every week. Use your weekend to get a few extra veggies ready to go as well. Maybe that means cooking up a batch of roasted broccoli or washing/peeling carrots, celery, and snap peas. Make some ranch dressing or guacamole to go along with it and you’ll be in business. You can even prep a giant bowl of salad with lettuce, bell peppers, and carrots and put a lid on it for the beginning of the week. When you’re ready to eat, toss in a few cherry tomatoes and top with your favorite Paleo dressing and you’ve got a side for any protein you want. Like meatballs!
Busy Night? Use Your Slow Cooker!
I love my slow cooker. One of my favorite things to do is challenge myself to get dinner ready while I’m scrambling up some eggs for breakfast. That means get some meat seasoned, veggies cut, and the whole thing going in the slow cooker in about 5 minutes. I know that some people insist on browning their meat and precooking certain vegetables, but I’m lazy. If I’m using my slow cooker, it’s because I need to get in and out in a hurry and have something tasty when I get home. Check out this Pork Shoulder with Sage or my favorite from Nom Nom Paleo Slow Cooker Kalua Pig.
Busy All the Time? Use Your Freezer!
If you are someone who is constantly running around, who never has a moment to spare in the kitchen, then the freezer is your friend. It means you’ll need to do a little prep on the weekend or maybe even a cooking marathon, but in a day or two you can have several different things cooked and tucked away in your freezer. In my own freezer, you’ll often find this or this or even this. I tend to save things in two different ways: single-serve or large batch. I like to have both on hand because if I come home from somewhere and need lunch in a hurry, then grabbing a single serving of meat sauce from the freezer can satisfy me in about 10 minutes with nothing more than a microwave. Other times, I save several servings of something because I know a day will come when I don’t feel like cooking and my kind of take-out is the one I take out of the freezer!
Emergency? Try This!
Have you ever had a day when your kid’s soccer game went too long or you stayed late at work? What about coming home after running just one last errand and suddenly you’re starving? These are the moments when you’re tired, exhausted even, and really don’t want to cook. Maybe this is one of those times where delivery seems the only option. It’s not! When you’re really hungry, it can be tough to think straight and our old habits kick in and we think, we truly believe, that what will taste best is pizza or Chinese food or a giant burrito. What I have found is that during these moments, if I can just summon enough energy to make an omelet or open a can of tuna and mix it with mayo, lemon, and a few cherry tomatoes, then I am home free. You’re hungry and your body needs fuel. Don’t give it junk – give it what it really needs and your emergency can become your success.
Prioritizing health and wellness in a busy life can be challenging, but I assure you, it’s totally worth it and absolutely doable!