For many busy women, their daily grind can make it seem impossible to maintain a healthy, balanced life. Between career and family obligations, personal care often takes a back seat in many women’s lives. Improved overall wellness can make all aspects of life easier to manage. The foundation of wellness is our bodies, and diet and exercise are the tools for reinforcement.

Healthy Eating Is Not the Same as Dieting

There is a pervasive “diet culture” in the world, partly spurred by an obsession with body image and partly necessitated by unhealthy habits that have led to increased obesity among the population. Busy schedules tend to foist unhealthy meals in our direction, and even the best-intentioned trips to fast-food drive-thrus usually end with excess calories and bad nutrition.
Whether you are looking to lose weight or add nutrients to your diet, health begins in the kitchen. Take an assessment of your pantry and refrigerator and eliminate all of the junk. High sugar and fat snacks not only add pounds, but they also detract from healthy options. Get rid of their temptation and replace unhealthy processed foods with good stuff, such as:

  • Mixed nuts. Almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, and pistachios are packed with nutrients, good fats, and protein. Because of their high-fat content, be sure to eat just a handful or so as a snack, and avoid sugared varieties.
  • Fruits, such as apples, bananas, and grapes. Fill your refrigerator with handy natural snacks and you won’t miss packaged goodies.
  • Natural Nut butters, such as peanut, almond and cashew butter. Look for brands that have no sugar or added fats.
  • Natural deli meat and cheese. A slice of meat or cheese is a satisfying snack if you feel the urge between meals.

Once your kitchen is free of junk food, start planning meals. Often, busy people grab unhealthy food because they do not invest the small amount of time necessary to plan meals for the week. Unwind on a weekend day by planning your lunches and dinners. Make a large batch of a simple healthy meal on Sunday, such as a hearty homemade soup, and spread it out over the week so you’ll be less likely to eat burgers and fries.

Plan Your Workouts as Well

Exercise is easy to miss when it’s seen as a burden rather than a part of your normal routine. Find an activity that you enjoy, then look for ways to incorporate that activity into your life. Once you find that activity, experiment with workouts at different times of the day so you can see when you are most receptive to working out. If you enjoy going to the gym, try to find friends who can help you make gym classes a social activity. If you cannot stand being inside a gym, explore outdoor activities that you can commit to on a frequent basis. A healthy lifestyle doesn’t come from sporadic stabs at fitness, but sustainable exercise for the future.
One way to help stay on a constant exercise schedule is to create a small but effective home gym. Home gyms only require a small investment in equipment and can lay the foundation of healthy activity. The types of workouts that can be done at home include strength training with kettlebells, dumbbells, and resistance bands. Balance can be developed with Bosu balls, and flexibility can be improved with some simple stretches on a yoga mat.

The aim with improved diet and increased exercise is to complement other areas of your life, so be careful not to go overboard. If getting your daily workout is causing undue stress on your schedule, be flexible and try longer sessions every other day. And while a busy schedule may not allow healthy home-cooked meals every single day, even replacing half of your weekly fast-food stops is better than no dietary change.

With a little planning and a small amount of work, women can reduce stress and benefit physically from improved wellness.

By: Julia Merrell