The Lazy Girl's Smart Guide to Good Health
For most Lazy Girls, the label is a misnomer. In a society where women are under increasing pressure to be Super Girl, Super Mom, or "Super Something," lack of time - not motivation - is a busy woman's kryptonite.
For example, if you follow the recommended 45 minutes to 1 hour of aerobic exercise 3 times per week and factor in the half-hour lost in getting to a gym and dressed; plus, the hour lost showering, changing clothes, applying makeup and driving to the next scheduled event, you’ve lost almost one entire 8-hour work day each week.
The result is that eventually something has to give and more often than not the decision as to what has to give usually comes down to priorities. And in this job market - maintaining good health often loses out.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The good news is that just like sneaking in a snack here and there every day is cumulative toward gaining weight, sneaking in a little exercise and some healthy habits is cumulative toward good health. By implementing the following practices into your daily routine, you can save time, sweat less and make your friends wonder how such a “Lazy Girl” can do it all and still stay fit.
Smart Tip #1: Start the day with enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is the number one factor toward good health. It doesn’t matter how many miles you jog or how fat-free your diet is, without enough sleep your body will be unable to cope with the stress of not having enough energy to perform as well as it should. Lack of sleep will not only prevent you from getting the most out of your exercise, but opens you to the risk of injury as well. Furthermore, it is a proven fact that lack of sleep leads to increased snacking in an attempt to achieve a temporary sugar fix for needed energy. Research has also shown that lack of sleep leads to excess levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is damaging to the heart, blood vessels and other organs.
Smart Tip #2: Be hygienic and not a dirty girl
Good hygiene is the easiest and best way to avoid disease such as the cold and flu. Just like you learned in kindergarten—keep your hands to yourself and wash them often.
Studies have shown that commonly touched objects such as doorknobs, gas pump handles and light switches are often filthier than toilet seats. Furthermore, that “hands to yourself” kindergarten lesson should be amended to “hands off yourself” as well. One study done at Berkeley showed that students touched their faces an average of 16 times per hour. The transmission of germs from contaminated surfaces aided by your touching your nose, eyes or mouth is just as likely to cause you to become ill as it is by sitting beside someone on the bus with a cold.
Washing all of your fruits and vegetables with warm water and regular soap after a trip to the market is also a highly recommended hygienic practice toward maintaining good health. For vegetables like broccoli that are a little more difficult to surface-wash, allow the vegetables to soak in a large bowl of water for a several minutes and then dump and rinse up to 3 times.
Smart tip #3: Stay hydrated
Eight 8-oz glasses of water a day will keep you hydrated and reduce your chances of developing a urinary tract infection. Frequent urination is one way your body protects itself by flushing away harmful bacteria that can enter through the urethra. One way to tell if you are hydrated enough is to look at your lips in a mirror. If they appear creased and/or rough, it is likely that your body is slightly dehydrated even though you may not necessarily feel thirsty at the moment.
Another benefit of staying hydrated by drinking lots of water is that studies have shown people consume less calories and report feeling fuller if they drink 1 ½ glasses of water just before eating at meal time.
Smart tip #4: Portion size it rather than super-size it
Plan out your portions before spooning it on your plate. By thinking ahead about what you really want to eat and what to skip, you can better control your intake while at the same time avoid the temptation to “try out” that extra dish you missed the first time around. Another portion tip is a time-saver by cooking a large pot of soup or stew that can be divided into multiple small containers and frozen away for a quick re-heating later. By portioning out the soup or stew ahead of time, you will also prevent yourself from eating “just a little bit more” to clean out the pot.
Another portion trick is to eat larger portions of fruits and vegetables before selecting that mouth-watering main dish. Feeling fuller beforehand prevents a fuller plate afterward.
Smart tip #5: Take out take-out the right way
Lazy Girls (and guys) love take-out—no dishes, no cooking, no problem. However, choosing the right take-out to take out takes a little food smarts. For pizza lovers, Mediterranean style pizza with olives, basil pesto sauce and feta cheese on a thin whole grain crust is one of the best take-out choices available. And, if you just have to have some meat with it, order a topping of chicken breast rather than pepperoni or sausage. Another alternative is to microwave pre-cooked turkey sausage that you can crumble-up and sprinkle over the pizza once it arrives.
However, if your tastes are more “South of the Border,” choose black bean burritos with corn, brown rice and just enough low-fat cheddar to barely hold it all together. Guacamole and salsa on the side adds flavor as well as healthful nutrients.
Smart tip #6: Stand up against sitting down
Regardless of how busy we are, not everyone or everything runs at our pace thereby requiring having to spend a significant amount of time waiting for others. One tip is to spend that time waiting standing up rather than sitting down.
Studies have shown that standing up over sitting down results in a significant amount of calories burned over time. Furthermore, scientists now understand why people who sit a lot have bigger butts relative to those in jobs where they are on their feet more. Recent research shows that when pressure is placed on the fat pads over the gluteal muscles while sitting, that it actually stretches the fat cells causing new and additional fat cells to form and thereby lead to the development of a bigger butt.
Smart tip #7: Exercise in intervals
High intensity interval training (HIIT) has been shown to be the ultimate Lazy Girl’s way to achieve fitness with less sweat and less time invested than the traditional 45 minutes to one hour 3 times a week regimen.
Researchers have discovered that when sedentary, but otherwise healthy individuals performed a modified exercise routine that involves one minute of strenuous effort, at about 90 percent of a person’s maximum heart rate followed by one minute of easy recovery, that the resulting benefits were essentially comparable to those achieved by longer, less intense workout sessions. The researchers found that as little as two weeks of modified high intensity interval training resulted in the production of increased levels of cellular proteins involved in energy production and oxygen. The training also improved the study participants’ insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation, thereby lowering their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
They suggest that repeating the one minute full on/ one-minute rest sequence performed 10 times over a 20 minute period on a daily basis results in not only a health benefitting response by the body, but that it was also much more preferable by people who found that longer workouts were non-conducive to their overly-busy lifestyle. One example of a high intensity exercise routine is to run up a hill for one minute followed by a slow easy walk back down the hill.
To make the interval training more enjoyable, Wii-related dance and workout games offer a wide range of high intensity, short period interval exercise type routines that are just as effective as running up a hill or climbing a long, steep stairwell.
The take home message is that these are just a few of many ways a Lazy Girl can become a smart girl and a fit girl when time is a rare commodity in your daily life. Not all tips will fit everyone’s life; however, discovering what works for you can do more for your health and well-being than being a slave to convention.
Image Source: Courtesy of MorgueFile
Reference: “Low-volume interval training improves muscle oxidative capacity in sedentary adults” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2011 Oct; 43(10):1849-56; Hood MS, Little JP, Tarnopolsky MA, Myslik F, and Gabala MJ.