I’m one of those people who’s chronically late. In my defense, punctuality is virtuous in America, but my father is Romanian, and they can take a more…relaxed approach. Case in point, one of my friends was coordinating a meeting among Romanians and Americans, and he made sure to clarify, “We’ll meet at 7 o’clock American time, not Romanian time, okay guys?”
Growing up, I never really worried about showing up late, and was surprised to learn later in life that some of my friends see being late as some kind of moral failure. Hoo boy. So of course, I’ve been leaving the house earlier in an effort not to be late.
Just kidding. I picked up running instead. Even though I plan to leave the house early, somehow my plans always go askew. I end up running the last ten minutes and arrive gasping and out of breath — although, it must be said, on time. It makes for great first impressions.
So take it from me, someone who literally runs to get to appointments on time. Even if you’re crazy busy, you have time to lose weight.
The most important thing you have to know about saving time is that being able to manage your time is mostly about knowing how to prioritize what you do. We all have the same 24 hours, so when you spend time on something, you’re saying that it’s important to you, intentionally or not. If your day is already full and you want to add something new to the roster, like losing weight, something else is going to go down in priority and take up less time. That’s just how it works.
That said, even though you know it’s going to take up some time, you probably want to minimize how much. I mean, who doesn’t want to swap their Netflix time for measuring their food and feeling like they’re going to die on the elliptical?
Here are a few ways you can save yourself some time:
1. Don’t Work Out
If you don’t have time to exercise, it’s okay. You don’t need to exercise to lose weight. Remember, watching what you eat is mandatory, but exercise is optional. If you thought you needed to work out to lose weight, then hey presto, you just saved some time by not adding exercise to your schedule.
2. Have a Routine
Do you ever feel like deciding whether you want to eat — and if so, what — takes as much time as actually eating? There are so many questions you have to ask yourself. Am I hungry? Do I want a snack? Should I get something from the vending machine? Hm, how many calories are in that bag of jerky? Do I feel like jerky or a granola bar today? And on and on… Not only is this a time waster, it takes way too much effort to do several times a day.
Instead, decide what snack you want to eat and when you’re going to eat it, then repeat the same thing every day. Boom, a good choice has already been made, and you can run on autopilot. And you don’t have to apply this technique only to snacks. Use it to make a routine for when you work out or eat your meals. Whenever you don’t have to make a brand new decision, you save yourself both time and effort.
3. Healthy Choices That Don’t Take Any Time
Many weight loss habits take no time at all. Take, for example, swapping out high-calorie options for low-calorie ones. If you drink water instead of juice or soda, that didn’t take up any time, did it? And yet you had fewer calories. When you’re at a restaurant that lists its calories, eat food in your calorie range. If you’re cooking dinner, buy frozen, pre-cut veggies to make the prep go faster. None of these choices take a significant amount of time, but they’re big for achieving your goals.
4. Meal Plans
If you’re someone who wants to cook at home but don’t love the idea of spending all your free time looking for recipes, you should try meal plans. Meal plans are when someone else has already picked out recipes for you to cook that week, so all you have to do is make a grocery list and go shopping. It’s super nice to not spend extra time in the middle of the week asking yourself, “What should I make for dinner tonight?” and making last-minute runs to the grocery store.
There are websites where you can purchase meal plans, and they come with grocery lists and coupons and all sorts of nifty things. But there are some free plans out there as well. If you want to check them out, here are two options to get you started: Skinnytaste, The Kitchn.
5. Weekly Meal Prep
Imagine not cooking during the entire work week. For lunch and dinner, all you have to do is take your homemade, pre-portioned meal out of the fridge, heat, and eat.
Sound like a dream? You can make it come true by prepping all your meals during the weekend! Okay, I know, it’s maybe not your first choice for weekend plans, but it will save you a lot of stress during the week. Plus, raise your hand if you want to wash fewer dishes during the week. Yeah, I thought so.
On Sunday night, cook two meals in bulk — one for lunch, one for dinner — and portion out each meal in its own container. Then you’ve done the bulk of the work all in one go, which saves you time not only during the week but in general. Because what’s faster — picking recipes, going grocery shopping, doing dishes, and cooking from scratch three times during the week or just once? Yeah, doing all those things just once, even if that one batch is larger than normal, saves you a ton of time.
If you don’t want to do all the cooking in one night, you can still prep for the week by washing and cutting all your vegetables and measuring all your cooking ingredients on Sunday.
6. Meal Planning Kits
If you want to outsource grocery shopping and meal planning altogether, there are a ton of meal planning kits available. You just go online, pick what meals you’d like to cook at home, and all the ingredients and the recipe will arrive at your door. There are a ton of companies who do this now, such as Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Purple Carrot, and a host of others. Most of them have plans for people who are keeping an eye on their calories, so this is a great option if you’re willing to throw money at the problem.
One Last Thought
Remember that losing weight will take extra time in the beginning. Like any new thing you learn, there will be a learning curve. But as you figure out what works for you and make it part of your routine, it’ll take up less and less time.
What About You?
What are your favorite tips for saving time while still losing weight? Let me know in the comments!