Like many of you, I try to live a healthy life. I try to eat well, exercise (occasionally), and take my vitamins. But even though I know that I should be doing those things it can be a struggle to keep up with it all; it gets even harder to do so when things in life and work get busy.
I’ll be honest – nothing in this post is earth-shattering information. I’m not here to lecture you on why it’s important to stay healthy, the benefits of drinking more water or oil pulling. I don’t have five super unique ways to stay fit. Instead, I’m sharing some common-sense ways to stay health. You know, stay active, drink water, track your progress. But I’m also outlining how I actually achieve these goals and, more importantly, the tactics that I’ve used that have failed miserably. Just straight up disasters. My tips may or may not work for you. Hell, maybe something that I label as a big fail is your go-to strategy. Either way, I’d love to hear your input in the comments.
Shocking, I know.
What didn’t work: Apps and websites. If there is an app or website that is meant to jump start your exercise routine then it’s probably sitting on my phone or computer. Sitting there and collecting electronic dust. I’m sure that apps (e.g., C5K, etc) are great for a lot of people but they don’t provide enough motivation for me. This is not the first time that I’ve talked about my struggle with exercise (as in I hate it). I’m just not the type of person that can motivate myself to go on a run (gawd I hate running) or even go to the gym in my apartment building.
What worked: Group classes / activities that I actually enjoy. And being flexible with my routine. Two years ago I was really into rock climbing. Last year I was going to Pilates three times a week. This year you can find me in the yoga studio MWF and rock climbing two to three other days. I’ve had a lot of success finding studios and classes that I enjoy. ClassPass also helps me actually get to a class when I’m traveling for work.
Drinking More Water
What didn’t work: Keeping a glass of water on my desk; water tracker in my bullet journal.
What worked: I found that two tricks really help me meet my water goals each day. The first is that I use a water bottle with times marked on the side. I keep that water bottle right next to my computer monitor at work so that I can always check to see if I’m meeting my goal. Oh, it’s 2pm? Have I drank enough water to hit the 2pm mark? It’s not a ton of water to drink each hour but each bit adds up.
But real talk – drinking plain water can be kind of boring. To keep drinking water from becoming a straight up chore, I also drink flavored carbonated/sparkling water. I usually grab a can of citrusy flavored water (e.g., lime or lemon) but lately I’ve been adding some other flavors into the mix like Perrier's new strawberry flavor. A fridge full of sparkling water keeps me hydrated without getting bored.
What didn’t work: Saying “I should walk more.” Because like that was going to happen.
What worked: Planning out my walks each week. Now that I am no longer working from home, I have two ways to commute to the office. 1) Drive 7-10 minutes or 2) Walk 25 minutes. Once I decided that I would be walking to work at least 2 days a week, I found that it was easy to meet that goal and I started working 3 times a week. Now I find that I prefer walking to work (except when it’s too hot to walk with my pup) and I easily hit my goal. Similarly, I found that walking to my yoga class takes about the same time as driving to the studio and struggling with parking and rush hour traffic. Walking to work and yoga gives me more energy throughout the day, saves me from spending an outrageous amount in parking feels, and keeps my stress in check since I don’t have to battle traffic.
Using a Habit Tracker
What didn’t work: Using a bullet journal (I know!) Don’t get me wrong, I love my bullet journal and find that it’s a great way to organize my thoughts, tasks, and events. I do not like, however, that I need to carry it around with me everywhere in order to check off a task. I also don’t love that the whole bullet journal mentality plays into my perfectionism (have you seen bullet journal Instagram?!), which can hold me up from actually completing a task. In short, I spent more time making my bullet journal habit tracker looking gorgeous than actually focusing on my habits.
What worked: Using Shared Habit. I don’t have a problem completing tasks and forming habits on my own but I do really well when I am held accountable. The Mr. and I tried creating a paper habit tracker that we hung on the fridge so that we could hold each other accountable for our desired habits. It worked really well in theory but the one thing that we forgot to hold each other accountable to way actually completing our habit tracker. Oops. I recently found Shared Habit and have found that it works really well and it’s all of my needs: 1) It has a simple and easy UX, 2) the layout of the app is still really beautiful, 3) it’s easy to track habits with a few taps, and 4) I can share my habits with friends on the app so that they can hold me accountable.
What didn’t work: Buying a cookbook and ‘meal planning.’ Looking, I know that lots of people swear that meal planning is a life saver. And I’m sure it is – for them. Trying to work through a cookbook just doesn’t do it for me. I ended up buying too many groceries, wasting food, and getting overwhelmed every week.
What worked: Weekly meal box. I know it’s on the pricy side, but Blue Apron ends up saving us money, not to mention time and stress. We get the 3 meals for 2 people BlueApron box and easily turn that box into 6 meals a week. The secret (or key, because I don’t think this is any kind of secret)? Side salads and tupperware. Right after we have finished making one of the meals, we divide it into four servings – two on our dinner plates and two into containers for lunch. We also make a quick and easy salad to serve as a side for both our dinner that night and lunch the next day. Boom, 3 dinners and 3 lunches (and sometimes more) out of the way. The other nights of the week we fall back on favorite recipes or going out with friends. What I really like about the meal box, however, is that I no longer get sick and tired of making the same meals over and over again or stressing out about cooking dinner after a long day at work.
Wearing A Fitness Tracker
What didn’t work: Using a basic, entry-level Fitbit
What worked: Buying a more advanced fitness tracker. Call me crazy but I bought an Apple Watch. I know, I know. It’s slightly ridiculous but I love it (and have decided to blame Cassie for basically talking me into it). I’m very much a goal-oriented person, so I really love being able to see my steps and track my workouts right from my watch. I also really like the little reminders to stand up every hour. I take the time to do a little light stretching and some toe raises to sneak in a tiny, but killer exercise. I am also trying to update My Fitness Pal but I haven’t been quite as good at that.