I don’t have time. This is one of my very favorite *eye roll* excuses. The truth is, each and every one of us only has 24 hours per day, and therefore we only make time for the things that are important to us. Sure, very few of us have time to cook gourmet meals regularly, spend 2 hours in the gym each day, or get 10 hours of sleep per night. I get it. But staying healthy doesn’t have to be time consuming, and a little investment in yourself goes a long way! Consider this:

According to the CDC and Journal of American Medicine, 34.9% of adults were obese in 2011, with obesity being linked to an increased risk of heart disease, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, type II diabetes, stroke, and some types of cancer. Personally, I feel that there is too much emphasis on weight in the United States, and the focus should be on establishing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The aforementioned conditions are correlated with obesity, but more importantly, directly proven to be, for the most part, preventable through lifestyle change. With heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke ranking the top 4 causes of death in the U.S. in 2011 respectively (according to the CDC), why wouldn’t you want to make time for your health?

Here are some of my favorite tips to get you started:

1. First things first, get in tune with your thoughts. If you can identify and correct a self-defeating attitude and negative mindset, you are well on your way. Hone in on your excuses and justifications and make a point to adjust them or work through them.
2. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Do your best, but don’t feel that you have to give all or nothing.
3. Prioritize. Make time for the people and things that make you feel good or improve your life, and cut out the rest.
4. Delegate and consolidate. Are you spending a lot of time on tasks that others could and should help you with? Are you running back and forth to complete tasks that could have all been done in one location or chunk of time?
5. Be efficient. Start prepping food and cooking meals for the week in advance, and increase the intensity of your exercise so as to decrease the time spent on exercise.
6. Start slow. Focus on implementing one change until it is habit, and then move on to the next. Temporary, often extreme, changes DO NOT work for leading a healthy and balanced life.
7. Visualize the ultimate goal. As I said earlier, there is an emphasis on weight in our current culture that I do not agree with. Think about your healthy future not in terms of appearance, being thin, or a number on a scale, but rather improved quality of life and the ability to do the things you love with the people you love. That sounds like a worthy reason to make the time, wouldn’t you agree?