You've heard it time and time again and deep down, in your sensible brain, you know it's true; you should be doing everything you can to make sure that your health is a priority. But it always seems like real life just does not cooperate.
For instance, you finally make an appointment for a checkup with your doctor and then have to cancel at the last minute because there is a mandatory meeting at work. Or you spend so much time taking your kids to their various activities and yes, to their doctor's appointments, that you never actually think of seeing one yourself. And although you are trying to eat healthier, by the time all of your work and chores are done for the day it's 10pm and you cannot face the idea of cooking so you settle for microwave pizza (again) instead of the salad and pasta dish you had intended on.
Despite all of this though, your own well-being should always be your top priority, both for your own sake and that of all of those people who are relying on you. And there are ways to do just that without shirking your responsibilities or having to give up anything much. Here are just five of them.
Schedule Me Time
Of all of the items on this little list of ways to make your health a priority this is the hardest to pull off, but it has to be done. Constantly feeling like you are going to explode because you have to be on the go, meet a deadline, make sure the weekly shop is done, cook dinner and still get your kid to football practice simply just isn't good for you.
The key to getting some me time – and that can be whatever works for you, whether it’s a walk in the park, a trip to the gym or simply an uninterrupted hour in front of a silly television program – is to schedule it.
Something as simple as laying down a rule that on X evening Mom/Dad gets to watch Y program for an hour free of any and all interruptions, or that a Wednesday night gym night becomes a rule, are good ways to start and you can build from there. And if work is the real problem then it's time to stand up to the boss a bit and cut back on those 'come in early, stay late, answer emails at midnight' situations that can be so stressful.
Eat Well on the Go
Very few of us actually have the time for three proper sit down meals a day and many of our meals are grabbed on the go. And often those on the go meals are far from good things. Whether that means passing over a healthier breakfast for a sugar laden muffin just because that's what you had time to grab at the train station, a fast food lunch or picking off your kids' plates rather than actually taking the time to cook for yourself none of it is good for you at all.
To help solve the problem get into the habit of packing a week's worth of healthy lunches FOR YOURSELF at the weekend and even cooking and freezing a few dinner plates too. And stock your handbag or briefcase with good for you snacks like raw nuts, cut-up veggies, whole fruit or granola bars so that the 3pm siren call of the office vending machine is not one that you have to answer.
Set Some Fitness Goals
Finding the motivation to take better care of your health and general fitness can be as hard as finding the time. Setting some goals can really help here though. Not silly, crazy ones like running a half marathon when the last cross country 3,000 meters you did was in high school, but simple ones like getting generally fit enough to play a game of football with the kids without finding yourself breathless after five minutes. Or fitting into that old pair of jeans again. And once you've met one small goal set another and so on and so forth until yes, eventually you may get to that marathon running thing and succeed.
Walking is the easiest, cheapest form of exercise there is and it's actually one of the most effective too. While you may have a hard time fitting in extra formal gym time, finding more time to walk isn't hard at all. Park the car further back from the door when you go to work or to the shops. Skip the lift a couple of times a day and take the stairs. Take over more of the dog walking responsibilities and leave someone else to do the dishes. If you don't have a dog, see how the cat does on a leash instead (OK, that last one may be tough)
Whatever you do though, make a resolution to take 10,000 steps a day, invest in a pedometer (just the inexpensive kind is fine, you don't need expensive tech) and feel proud when you see that you are actually achieving that goal without too much extra effort at all.
Make Fitness Fun
There is nothing wrong with you if you hate the gym or if the idea of taking one more step class with that annoying zealous shouty woman is totally abhorrent. If fitness is going to become a part of your life it has to be fun for you, so do what's fun for you, not the stuff the trendy fitness magazines say is 'hot' right now.
Love to dance? – go for it. Turn up the stereo and dance your way through the Saturday morning chores and you'll get as good a workout as you would have done at the gym. Love to swim? Hit the pool, it's as good for you as anything else. Try something new like a martial arts class, or something you haven't done since you were a kid, like riding a bike. If you make sure that your fitness 'routine' is fun you'll stick to it and it won't even feel like much of a chore or hardship at all.