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How to maintain a healthy lifestyle in a busy world using smarter goal setting and nutrition


Posted on 29 August 2023

studio-fitness-academy-logoBy Charlotte Steptoe, Studio E Fitness Academy. Charlotte delivers Active IQ Qualifications at her Studio E Fitness Academy, including Level 2 Certificate in Gym Instructing and Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training

In today’s fast-paced world, where schedules are usually packed and time becomes a precious commodity, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can often feel like a daunting challenge. However, keeping healthy doesn’t necessarily require drastic changes or all-consuming efforts.

By harnessing the power of smarter goal setting and making informed decisions about food, it’s possible to navigate a hectic schedule at work whilst still prioritising your health and vitality. Here, I will give some tips on how to strike a harmonious balance between a busy routine and your well-being, which I also try to incorporate into my teaching.

Small changes to a healthier lifestyle eventually add up to make a positive impact, both to your mindset and physical body. To do this we need to plot these small changes as goals- work SMART! The SMART acronym stands for:

  • Specific - Be detailed about what you are trying to accomplish- the how, what, where and when of the overall aim
  • Measurable – How are you going to track your progress and measure success?
  • Achievable – How can you ensure this goal can be reached?
  • Relevant – Why is this goal worthwhile?
  • Timed – When will you complete this goal by?

Replace “I’m just going to eat salads for the next month, I feel gross after overindulging” with, for example, “For the next two weeks at every lunch and dinner I will add vegetables and fruit, and this will ensure I get a balance of what I fancy and the nutrients I need”. In theory, this little trick should fill you up on the healthier options and satisfy your appetite, and it will gradually shift towards healthier choices all-round.

These SMART goals are more successful over the typical vague goals that people often make, as they can help guide you on what to do next, for example, if you come off track. This reduces your chances of quitting when things get tough. They also require you to act now, rather than putting something off until “some” day, and help you visualise what your journey to getting what you want will look like. Even using just one of these SMART goals will have a positive impact on your health and lifestyle.

Another acronym I like to remember is BACE, which I use to balance my day for a positive lifestyle. The BACE acronym stands for:

  • Body Care – Taking part in physical activity, exercise, healthy eating to nourish the body, hydrating, moisturising, having your hair done, resting, recovering, and taking time out
  • Achievement – Completing work, studying to complete a hand-in date, competing in your favourite sport or getting that “To Do List” ticked off
  • Connecting with others – Meeting with friends, spending time with loved ones, seeing family, reaching out with a message to somebody special you haven’t had contact with for a while, or even just smiling at a stranger
  • Enjoyment – Having a fun day or evening out, watching a fun film, and catching up over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee with friends. If one area remains empty throughout your day or another is over-scheduled, then this may mean you are not achieving balance in lifestyle and well-being

Remember that saying “all work and no play”? This can mean we are not living and just going through the motions. For each day in the week ahead try and make sure you include your BACE, to live mindfully and look after yourself. 

As we roll through summer into autumn, it is key to look after yourself as the weather changes can affect you without you noticing. For example, though it is cold in the mornings, it still heats up as the day progresses, and you may become dehydrated, especially if your home or office has air-conditioning. The top things to remember are:

  • Hydration – Try to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day, in addition to any other drinks. Water regulates body temperature, so that the body and organs can function properly, keeps joints lubricated, and delivers nutrients to cells. Being well-hydrated also improves sleep quality, concentration, performance, and focus
  • Balance – Your foods should be all different colours, to ensure you are having all the required nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. Make sure you are including foods from the nutritional components, including at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 3-4 portions of starchy foods, 2-3 portions of protein, 2-3 portions of dairy/alternatives, and small amounts of unsaturated oils and spreads. Seasonal fruit and vegetables are a great option that are also more eco-friendly
  • Don’t Skip Breakfast – The first meal of the day kick-starts your metabolism, helping you burn calories throughout the day. Studies have linked eating breakfast to better memory and concentration, lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, and lower chances of getting diabetes, heart disease, and being overweight
  • Whole-Grain over White options – Whole grains contain all parts of the grain kernel that contains vitamins, minerals, fats, protein, and fibre. However, refined grains, that make white bread and pasta, have had the fibre-dense bran and rich nutrients processed out, leaving only the starchy shell

One of the simplest ways to support new goals like a SMART goal, and help you plan to care for yourself, is to write a shopping list when doing food shopping. While making your list, you can identify essential foods and ingredients, research interesting meals and come up with new recipe ideas. This will prepare you for the week ahead and allow you to try out some exciting new meals!

A grocery list can also help you achieve fitness goals by giving you the time to identify healthy food products and ingredients to buy. You can research the nutrient content of the products as you make your list and can stock up on healthy and nutritious products, reducing the not-so-healthy food options. Then, you can focus on other habits and goals to keep yourself healthy.

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