Feeling Great: Why is it so hard to keep active?

A few weeks back some of our patients were chatting on the sofa in our Guisborough clinic while enjoying a cup of coffee, and the conversation was all about wanting to get fitter, but why sometimes it’s so hard to stay in shape.

They all agreed that they knew they needed to exercise, sleep more, and eat healthier – but knowing and actually doing, are two different things. So it got me thinking about the real reason why it can be so difficult to keep active and healthy, and these are the three things that always come up in conversation: one - people are too busy.

Two- they plan to make healthy decisions, but when the time comes, they feel too tired to cook, exercise, or resist the temptation of reaching for the biscuit tin.

And three - in social situations and with family, people feel the pressure to eat like everyone else and join in.

It’s actually a lot easier than it seems to incorporate healthy habits when you’re on the go and when life feels busy. It’s not about being ‘perfect’, it’s just about being ‘prepared’.

So here’s five simple things you can do, to stay in shape even if you feel like you haven’t got the time:

1. Make water taste better - a lot of people find drinking water ‘boring’, and sometimes I do too! But drinking enough water not only quenches my thirst, but also prevents me from feeling hungry when I’ve already eaten. To make it easier to drink more and to make it less ‘boring’, I stick some lemon in it overnight to add flavour. And if lemons aren’t your thing, you can add anything you like! Berries, limes, anything.

2 Make sleep a priority - Most people need 7-9 hours of sleep a night, and if they don’t get it, the next day doesn’t always feel so great! It’s a known fact that when people don’t get enough sleep, their mood drops, they overeat and they’re unproductive.

3 Fill up on veggies - Include a rainbow of vegetables with every meal, and eat as many as you like, in any way you like! Filling your plate full of vegetables will help you get more fibre and more of the good nutrients your body needs to feel great.

4 Double up on dinner - Whenever you cook your evening meal, double up on it! (Or cook even more). Cooking more than one serving at a time will mean you’ll have something healthy on hand in the fridge to take to work the next day, or pop in the microwave to heat up during the week.

Tip: choose times to cook extra meals when you know you’ve got time, like a relaxing Sunday evening, or as soon as you get home from work. Don’t choose a time when you know you won’t feel like doing it, such as a late Saturday night, or when you’ve been running around all day. When you’re prepared, there’s less of a chance of going off track.

5 Walk when you talk - My rule is no phone calls sitting down. I put my headphones in and walk around for every call I take during the day. Also, getting up and walking and talking on your feet can lift your mood and energy, which is great for any telephone conversation.

Still think this won’t work for you and you’re worried you don’t have enough time? Of course you do!

Staying in shape only takes a couple of hours a week – and when you can include these simple tips above in your daily routine, you don’t have to change much in your routine, or even put any extra time aside.

Most of the time when people say they ‘don’t have time’, what they really mean is, they don’t have the energy. But that’s exactly why we make sure to get movement in with our daily activities – like walking to the shops instead of using the car - and making sleep a priority and cooking enough healthy meals for your week, to keep your energy levels high.

There’s no reason to not make your health a priority, no matter how busy you are. Life can get in the way for all of us. But being healthy and active is a win-win; it gives you more energy, so that you can be more productive, feel great, and have more time to do the things you enjoy.

If you want to create good habits to stay in shape, keep active and healthy, then head over here to take a look at Paul’s book The Healthy Habit: www.thehealthyhabitbook.com – designed to help you live a more healthy, active life, free from pain.