The Mayo Clinic Diet blog

Tips to save time, eat healthy and exercise regularly

By Donald Hensrud, M.D. July 10, 2012

We live in a busy world and few people have too much time on their hands. This makes living a healthy lifestyle and managing weight challenging, because it takes time and effort. So, how can we more effectively manage weight in this busy world we live in?

It helps to have the right perspective. For almost all of us, I'd suggest it isn't time that prevents us from making efforts, it's priorities. Achieving a healthy weight can help improve health in many ways, improve quality of life, and help us live longer. What could be more important than that?

Although it takes time to implement healthy lifestyle habits, the return on investment is tremendous — which makes the time investment worth it.

Another helpful item is to look at managing weight not as something "extra" to do, but rather a part of our everyday lifestyle. Just as we eat and sleep every day, we should get some type of physical activity every day, whether it's exercise, activities throughout the day or both.

Taking time to seek out and prepare or purchase healthy, low-calorie food should also be part of our lifestyle, just like brushing our teeth. This doesn't mean you need to spend hours in the kitchen or gym. And some days are certainly tighter than others.

But there are strategies you can employ to make healthy weight management part of your life. At first, it will take a little longer, just like it takes longer to make a recipe you've never made before.

But as time goes on, it becomes more second nature to eat well and be active. For example, many people say they don't feel right if they don't get regular physical activity.

Here are some ways to save time but still eat healthy and get regular physical activity:

  • Keep staples on hand for quick, healthy meals. At our house, we can quickly make Greek salads, bean burritos, and whole wheat pasta with red sauce and vegetables because we try and keep the ingredients in the house.
  • Look for excuses to walk during the day. Walk while talking on the phone, walk after lunch or better yet — to and from lunch. Walk to talk to a colleague instead of emailing, park a little farther away — you've heard that one before, but have you tried it? Calories burned can add up quickly.
  • Buy prepackaged salads, frozen vegetables, canned no-fat beans, canned tuna and other healthy convenience foods for a pinch.
  • Set a time to get exercise or other physical activity and stick to it. Put it in pen on your regular schedule — it's more important than almost anything else you do.

"The Mayo Clinic Diet" book has other suggestions for effective and time-efficient weight management strategies.  What are some of the ways you incorporate time-saving weight management strategies in diet and physical activity in your lifestyle? Please share.

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Jul. 10, 2012