Contrary to popular belief, following a healthy lifestyle can be EASY. And, despite what you may think (we can totally see you rolling your eyes at us), a few small changes can make a significant impact to your overall health, fitness, energy levels and well-being.
Focus on compound exercises
Think of compound exercises as the “bang-for-your-buck” exercises.
Aside from perks like reducing your workout time, compound exercises are fantastic for burning fat, and increasing muscle strength and size. Recruiting more muscles not only burns more calories because there is a higher energy demand, but it also stimulates hormonal release to aid in recovery, repair and growth. Therefore, by using a higher number of muscles in a single movement, you’ll be releasing more muscle-building hormones like Growth Hormone. With all this action going on, you’ll also notice compound exercises get your heart RACING, which is good news for those of you who aren’t big fans of traditional “cardio” exercises. You can simultaneously lose fat, improve strength and conditioning! Woo!
Moreover, compound exercises are “functional” (alert, fitness buzzword here) because they require your muscles to work together to perform the movement—which mirrors the demands of daily movement like walking, picking up boxes (or your kids!), etc.
More effective fat loss, strength gain AND better quality of movement, leading to a healthier, stronger, more mobile you—what could be better?!
Here are some of our favourites:
Take your time for routine tasks
Some of the best advice we’ve gotten? When you feel like you have NO time to do anything, take more time to do things.
We know, it seems counterintuitive—but hear us out.
You’re on your way to drop off your child at school for 8am. It’s 15 minutes away, so you start getting ready at 7:30am, to be out the door by 7:45am. However, this time “John” is having a rough morning, he’s refusing to get dressed. After an extra 10minutes of coaxing and promising to have his favourite dessert for supper, you’re finally in the car and speeding down the road… only to reach a school bus. After a few seemingly forever stops, you’ve finally broken free and arrived at his school- 15 minutes late. With a quick kiss and push out the door, you rush to work. Flustered and mind racing, you try to avert your attention to the tasks for the day, but find that you’re mind and heart is racing. As you calm down, you feel the stress again rising for wasting the first hour of the day trying to figure out what needs to be done, so you skip lunch to make sure you have enough time to finish everything but end up leaving the office feeling unproductive, fatigued and hungry. After work it’s soccer practice, supper, homework then bed—with this jam-packed schedule, who has time for the gym or joining a book club?! You can’t help but feel stressed, unsatisfied, and like there will never be enough time during the day to do all of things you need and WANT to do.
As an old Buddhist adage says, "You should meditate for 20 minutes a day-- unless you're too busy; then you should meditate for an hour."
Now, we're not saying that you should meditate for an hour everyday (though we'll be discussing the benefits of meditation soon!), but the idea is the same: taking more time to mentally prepare and relax on busy days can help you tackle your day more effectively.
Having a calm mind promotes mental clarity, focus and energy, which will help you determine what you need to do, prioritize and maintain level-headedness and productivity through periods of high demands—overall leading you to a happier, healthier and more productive self.
In the above example, giving yourself more time to get-up, get ready and get to school would offer a buffer time for unexpected but inevitable situations, letting you remain calm behind the wheel (which is not only good for your mental health and productivity, but safer for everyone!). Arriving to work early (or on time) let’s you take the time to take a breath and think about your day and the best way to tackle your tasks—while respecting much needed breaks that help you re-charge during the day.
Our tips for “taking more time” while making you more efficient?
Set aside 1 hour on Sunday to look at your schedule, plan your meals and prep for tasks to come
This 1 hour of prep can save you so much time, energy and, in some cases, money during the week. For example, with planned meals, you don’t have to stress about “what to make tonight” for dinner after a long day at work, and can save that money that you spend on those days when you just can’t muster the energy to think of, plan and prepare a meal.
Aim to arrive anywhere 10-15minutes early. This will give you a margin for traffic, finding parking or getting your footing for what’s to come.
Write it down. Having a clear list of things that need to be done will help you prioritize, manage your time, and keep a tab on tasks that are an undergoing project, which helps keep your mind at ease by preventing that anxiety-provoking thought of “What am I forgetting?”
As you can see, taking extra time for some of the routine things can help keep you sane and can SAVE you tons of time later on—but, most importantly, help you realize that you DO have time to schedule activities in there for YOU too.
Make your first meal of the day your best meal
“Put your best foot forward” is how the saying goes.
No truer statement has been made about breakfast (or, your first meal of the day, if you aren’t a big breakfast eater).
Eating a high-protein, moderate fat meal first thing in the morning has SO many benefits, including:
Elevating neurotransmitters like dopamine and acetylcholine, which play important roles in cognition, motivation focus, and mental clarity—meaning that having a good protein source in the morning can influence your actions and decision-making later in the day, such as actually going to the gym and deciding between a cookie and a piece of fruit for a snack
Reducing subsequent hunger/ cravings throughout the day by maintaining a stable blood sugar level for an extended period of time, keeping you feeling energized and alert (re: not HANGRY)
Okay, so we can agree on adding a great protein source to our first meal… but what to add?
Add a scoop of protein powder to a morning berry smoothie (whey, casein, hemp, pea, brown rice… tons of options etc!)
Prep some hard boiled eggs on Sunday to grab and go on those busy mornings
Prep extra meat on Sunday to cut up and throw in a pan with chopped up veggies and eggs for a quick- and delicious- omelette (check out recipe for a hack at having delicious omelettes in the morning)
For the hardcore, go for a , described by coach Charles Poliquin.