A Millennial’s Guide to Healthy Living on the Go — Part 1: Planning

MillennialGuide_HealthyLiving

I don’t have time to cook. I’m too busy to go to the gym. I can’t fit being healthy into my schedule.

Sound familiar? If you’ve fallen into the trap of these excuses — this series is for you.

When you’re constantly on the go, it’s difficult to stick to a nutrition plan and a workout schedule. But It’s not impossible. Getting your health in order will make you feel better both inside and out. You’ll feel more confident, have more energy and be able to do more of the things you think you don’t have time for. 

The truth is — you don’t have time NOT to be healthy. Older relatives are always telling us to enjoy our metabolism while it lasts. But if you develop bad habits now they are more likely to follow you through life.

About a year ago, just six months after graduation, my freshman 15 had become a permanent fixture. My self-esteem was at an all time low and my energy was dwindling. I decided to make a change and signed up for Weight Watchers as a method of keeping track of what I was putting into my body and a resource for healthy recipes and support. After a few short months, I had dropped the weight and a year later, I’m happy to report it’s still off, and I feel great.

Throughout my journey, I’ve learned a few things that I believe are the keys to healthy living for millennials on the go, and I hope they’ll inspire you to make a lifestyle change too.  In this weekly series, I will identify the factors that I found most helpful as a busy young professional trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It’s up to you how you plan to get healthy, and the method you choose should also depend on your goals and your individual needs, but these tips will help you select a plan that you can stick to. 

Part 1: Planning

The first step to any lifestyle change is making plans. When creating a new habit, you should start out by planning for every detail. Although it may seem like overkill, planning makes healthy decisions easier and with practice, your planning will just become a force of habit.

One of my favorite blogs — A Life Less Bullshit — talks about decision making overload in her Goal Setting Formula. When you have to make too many decisions in the day — what to wear and what’s for breakfast, let alone making work decisions — you start to get overwhelmed and you shut down.

That’s when cookies become your dinner or you end up crying on the floor in a pile of the contents of your closet. Or is that just me?

The result of decision-making overload

The result of decision-making overload

If you allow yourself to “decide” what to do at the end of the work day — its a slim to none chance that you’ll select an intense cardio workout over your bed, the couch or the dinner table. However, if you set a workout schedule and make yourself accountable to it, you’re more apt to follow through.

Planning meals is more difficult. When you first get started you have to try out new recipes and learn how to cook and eat healthily. You have to train your body to stop when it’s full and not start up again when it’s bored. Once you have your go-to recipes and basic knowledge of healthy cooking, the time it takes you to plan your weekly menu will decrease.

Planning meals also means… dun dun dun… weekly food shopping. UGH. This is one of my least favorite chores. It’s hard for me to put into works how much I hate going to the grocery store, but this GIF sums it up pretty well.

hate-the-grocery-store

However, when you make the switch to healthy eating, it’s important to always have fresh fruits and vegetables and this requires more frequent trips to the grocery store. On Weight Watchers, most fruits and vegetables are ZERO points, so I try to eat as many as I can to get the nutrients my body needs and feel more full. And if you’re like me and you hate food shopping — try to avoid the busiest times, go to the store on a full stomach and make sure you have enough time to browse.

Along with planning what you’re eating, you should plan when you eat. I try to eat 6 meals a day, roughly every 2-3 hours. Plan out your meals and snacks to keep yourself within a healthy range — whether you count in WW points, calories, or some other system, planning is the key to staying within your limits. For example, I always save a few WW points for an evening snack because I’ve found that no matter how late I eat dinner, my sweet tooth kicks in around 9 p.m. This way, I’m less likely to go over my points for the day.

Over time, healthy eating and daily exercise will become intuitive. Now, I don’t think about whether or not I want to exercise each day, I just do. Healthy eating hasn’t quite become a habit yet, but I’m on the right track. After a few days of poor eating my body will let me know that it needs nutrients, and I get back on my plan.

It’s not about being perfect — it’s about making a lifestyle change one step at a time. If you’re committed to becoming a better, healthier you, you have to make a commitment to yourself and find the time.

Stay tuned for part 2 next week!

What “Lean In” Means for Millennials

I originally thought “Lean In” was a book for feminists, working moms and female executives — in other words, not for me. I have never felt judged in the workplace by my gender, and I’ve never been held back just because I’m a woman (at least not to my knowledge).

And perhaps this is naivety or a sign of my lack of experience in the workforce. But I was always told growing up that I could do anything, and I’ve always believed that.

So, I really didn’t think I needed this book…

lean in

But, when my boss’s boss’s boss (yes, It is possible to be that low on the totem pole) said the book “changed her life” — I knew it was something I couldn’t ignore.

For the disbelievers out there, I recommend downloading the free sample from Kindle. Sheryl Sandberg dispels most of your doubts in the very first chapter and the next thing you know you’re forking over $12.99 to finish the book.

I am begging you. Add this to your summer reading list. You’ll thank me later.

“Lean In” opened my eyes to all of the sexism that goes on behind closed doors and the discrimination that isn’t always intended, but certainly exists.

Sexism isn’t always as simple as “You’re a girl, you can’t play” and “Lean In” isn’t about blaming men for all of women’s shortcomings. One of Sandberg’s key takeaways is that women also hold themselves and each other back from success.

Fear is at the root of so many of the barriers that women face. Fear of not being liked. Fear of making the wrong choice. Fear of drawing negative attention. Fear of overreaching. Fear of being judged. Fear of failure. And the holy trinity of fear: the fear of being a bad mother/wife/daughter. 

We’re afraid — and that’s only half the battle. If a women is able to conquer fear and move up in her career, she is typically disliked by the majority of her female peers.

This has to stop.

As females we have to band together and support each other rather than fighting each other to the top. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

This idea in particular is why I think this book is so important for my generation to take in. As millennials enter the workforce and are beginning our careers, being aware of these discrepancies is the first step to fighting back.

I am very aware of the fear that holds me back each and every day.  As someone just starting her career, there is A LOT to be afraid of. But the one fear that I battle most often is the fear of being judged or not liked by my peers and my superiors.

Sandberg, too, has struggled with this, until she received an excellent piece of advice from Arianna Huffington. She said, it isn’t realistic to tell women not to care what others think or say about us — we just can’t let it consume us.

Her advice is that we should let ourselves react emotionally and feel whatever anger or sadness being criticized evokes for us. And then we should quickly move on. 

I like this tactic much better than “In one ear and out the other.”

I can’t ignore what others think about me, but I can learn to let it go. And other women starting their careers should learn to do the same.

If you want to change things you can’t please everyone. And if you do please everyone, you aren’t making enough progress.

It is common knowledge that women make less money than men. In 2010, women made 77 cents for every dollar made by a man.

But in addition to the fear that holds women back, a lack of confidence can also be a major factor. Sandberg’s research shows that women, even experts in their field, do not feel confident in their abilities.

Women don’t give themselves the credit they deserve in the workplace and are less likely to take credit for a success than a male counterpart. Females typically attribute their success to luck, the help of others and hard work — while males cite innate qualities and skills for their achievements.

Do you know a girl who always seems to have it all — the guy? the job? perfect hair?

Her secret is simple…

Confidence.

Confidence breeds success and it helps us get what we want. Even in the dating scene an average-looking girl with the confidence of a 10 gets hit on more than a 10, who feels like a 5.

The way you carry yourself is important.

Sandberg says, when you don’t feel confident, fake it. We’ve all heard the saying “fake it til you make it” — but research actually backs it up. By acting like you have it all together, you will actually become more efficient.

“Lean In” is a call to action — and Millenials are a very important part of the change that needs to happen for women in the workplace.

We must begin our careers without fear, exude confidence in everything we do and take the credit we deserve.

But most of all, we have to come together as women. We have to hold the ladder for other women on their way to the top, in the hopes that someone will be there to hold it for us in the future.

I hope that you  — yes, you — have the ambition to lean in to your career and run the world. Because the world needs you to change it. Women all around the world are counting on you.

So ask yourself what would I do if I weren’t afraid?

And then go do it.