Maybe you’re stuck working regular 10-hour days. Or maybe your manager did away with your real lunch break, and it’s now a lunch pause. Or you’re up all hours
taking care of a newborn. We get it—life these days is crazy-hectic. And when you’re stressed and time-pressed, one of the first things to go out the window is your weight-loss plan. Who has time to cook healthy food or make it to the gym when there’s just so much to take care of every day? Take a deep breath, relax, and read these brilliantly easy ways to stick to your diet.
Yep, it’ll be painful, but go through your cabinets and fridge and trash (or give away) all your sugary snacks, processed chips and crackers, frozen treats, and any other junk-food items. “When you’re busy and pressed for time, you’re more likely to reach for these over any healthier food in your kitchen, and that derails weight loss,” says Alissa Rumsey, R.D., a nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
After you’ve un-junked your kitchen, stock healthy foods and snacks, and put them right in your line of sight so you see them—and reach for them—first, suggests Rumsey. “Put Greek yogurt on the eye-level refrigerator rack, and load the first part of your cabinets with healthy canned soups, instant brown rice, tuna packets, quinoa—low-fat, lower-calorie foods you can see, grab, and prepare quickly,” she says.
Busy people are always putting their appointments in a datebook or on their smartphone planner—and doing the same for your 7:30 p.m. cardio class can help you stick to your diet goals. “If you write in the specifics for an exercise session, then you’re more likely to view it as another important appointment to keep,” says Rumsey.
Seriously, even the busiest CEO or new mom can carve out a few hours on Sunday afternoon or evening and put together a large healthy meal in advance that can serve as lunch or dinner through the week. “Make a big pot of brown rice, roast a heaping tray of veggies, make chili in your slow cooker, even roast an entire chicken,” suggests Rumsey. All of these keep well for days in the fridge, and they can be repurposed into a variety of meals for days in the time it takes to hit the drive thru.
A regular a.m. coffee is one thing. “But when we’re stressed and time-pressed, we tend to turn to stimulants like coffee and sugary treats for an energy surge throughout the day,” says Rumsey. After the initial jolt, however, both of these wear off and can leave you more tired—and with big cravings. Next time you’re dragging, try one of these natural ways to feel more energized instead.
Carry good-for-you non-perishables in your purse, or stash them in your office desk drawer so you’re never caught off-guard when your appetite kicks in. “You want snacks with a combination of protein and healthy carbs, such as peanut butter squeeze packs, trail mix, Greek yogurt, even whole-grain crackers,” says Rumsey.
Not that friend who always begs off her treadmill session or spends all her time in the snack area with a soy smoothie. But finding a partner to hit the gym with regularly helps you feel accountable to her and makes sweat sessions more social and enjoyable, says Rumsey. The best part is, you can still work out solo; you two don’t have to hit side-by-side Stairmasters. It’s just that you’re less likely to ditch if you know someone is expecting you to be at the gym at a certain time.
This is a smart strategy for those nights when you come home from work famished and exhausted and are likely to use this as an excuse to indulge in high-fat takeout. Find a couple of easy-to-make healthy options, meals you like that take almost zero time to put together. Then keep the ingredients in your kitchen. Instead of ordering Chinese takeout, you can whip up your go-to meal super-fast. “Brown rice and veggies is one idea; it takes just a bag of frozen veggies and a packet of quick rice, and you’ve got a delicious stir-fry hot dinner in minutes,” says Rumsey.
Or in your car, or at your desk at work. If your workout clothes and shoes are always on-hand or in the same easy-to-find spot, you can’t blow off a workout with the excuse that your gym clothes are missing or you can’t find your running shoes, says Rumsey.