A Choice, Not a Challenge: Incorporating Healthy Strategies into Your Busy Life

By Jennifer McGregor

Adopting a healthier lifestyle can be a challenge, though you’re probably better off not thinking of it in that way. Seeing it as a hurdle can be discouraging, and may dissuade you from making changes that are not only necessary and good for you, but which can be enjoyable and satisfying. Incorporating beneficial habits into your daily routine can put you in a better place physically and mentally by making it easier to live healthy. And it proves that good health doesn’t have to be a challenge, just a choice.

Health care

Don’t overlook or dismiss the importance of healthcare. Make time for medical and dental appointments, especially if you’re a senior. Whether you’re an older adult or not, always make full use of your insurance coverage. Getting the care you need depends on knowing your coverage options - if you’re enrolled in Medicare, be sure to check your coverage every year, as plans often change. If you need alternative coverage, be aware that some Medicare Advantage plans, including those offered by Aetna, provide dental and vision care (original Medicare doesn’t).

Plan healthy meals

A nutritional, well-rounded diet is a cornerstone of a healthy life, but maintaining one is easier said than done when your weekly schedule is wall-to-wall. Getting the kids to school and getting to work on time doesn’t leave a lot of time for a leisurely breakfast, and a hyper-speed workday full of meetings and conference calls can make it hard to make time for a healthy lunch and a balanced dinner. That’s where so many of us get into trouble, when good sense and the nutritional needs of your body give way to an expeditious and convenient view of food; from there, it’s a short step to the fast food line and a litany of health issues, from obesity to high blood pressure and diabetes.

Try planning healthy meals in advance based on your caloric needs and dietary goals. It’s a good way of getting 3 square meals a day instead of winging it and hoping for the best. If you find it difficult to plan and prepare meals yourself, consider online apps and services like Epicurious, Foodily and Big Oven.

Keep that water bottle filled

According to the Institute for Medicine, men should drink 13 cups of fluid and women should drink 9 cups every day to stay adequately hydrated. The best way to build regular hydration into your routine is to keep a water bottle with you and sip from it throughout the day. There are many healthy drinks, such as green tea, that will also do a good job, but nothing’s quite as beneficial to your skin, hair, teeth and major organs as water.

If you’re wondering how to tell if you’re adequately hydrated, keep an eye on your urine. If it’s clear or light yellow, you can consider yourself well-hydrated. If you just can’t bring yourself to drop the coffee habit, cut out the cream and sugar and enjoy it black - it’s better for you, and you’ll taste the natural oils that give coffee its flavor.

A short workout is better than none

A lot of people share the same excuse for not exercising - a lack of time. While many people are short on time these days, that won’t help you maintain a healthy weight or keep your heart working at peak efficiency. You need to find ways around the obstacle of limited time. A brief workout is better than no workout at all, so look for ways to interject a few minutes of intense exercise into your routine.

For example, hopping on your bike or walking to the store instead of driving a few blocks is a great way to get some exercise, or try walking a few flights of stairs at work instead of always taking the elevator. And on those rare days when you actually do get to take a lunch break, use the opportunity to go for a couple laps around the block. It’s not quite a full-on gym workout, but it’s better than nothing.

Sometimes, you have to adapt good health habits to your lifestyle. It’s doable. Incorporating healthy strategies doesn’t have to be a daunting challenge or a longshot. It’s well within your ability, and certainly to your benefit, to do so.