Time-Saving Tricks for the Busy Lady: Exercise, Cooking & More

25 Oct

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I’m a big fan of doing things that save me time. After all, my time (and your time) is precious so why complicate life any further by doing things that are going to take away our time? When you find yourself saying, “Now if only I had more time in the day…” ,”I just have no time to_____” or “I’m soooooo busy with my new job. I never have any time!” first of all, stop. You are being annoying, and it’s not true. You do have time; really I promise you do. And second of all, maybe it’s time to reconsider how you are are spending your time and do something about it! If you’re anything like me, you want to relish every waking hour, minute and second of your day, so here are some time-saving tricks for the busy lady who “doesn’t have any time”. 

Save Time During Your Workout: This is something a whole lot of people struggle with. “I don’t have time to go to the gym, so I just won’t go,” is something I hear every day. Do you really not have any possible time to squeeze in a workout, or do you just not have time to take two hours out of your day? News flash: workouts don’t have to be marathon sessions! In fact, short and sweaty wins the race in most cases.

Take today for example. I had a lot to do, but still wanted to give my body a good workout, so I incorporated strength training with cardio intervals into one quick, 45-minute workout. The entire round trip (including transportation) took less than an hour. Now, that’s what I call efficient. I used to think I had to live at the gym for two hours at a time (including an hour just for cardio alone) to see results, but now I’ve transformed my routine drastically. Today I did a metabolism-boosting workout I tore out of Women’s Health magazine that you can find here. (I like the Tabata method best.) With quick movements and little resting time, I was dripping in sweat in no time, a feeling that I absolutely adore. I love, love, looove challenging my body in new ways, and that’s exactly what this workout did for me. I concluded with five fast ‘n’ furious minutes on the step mill, with 10 minutes of intervals (15 second sprint followed by 30 seconds moderate) on the elliptical. I was in and out of there in 45 minutes. How’s that for time-saving? 

Save Time in the Morning: You know when you wake up for work and you want to smash your alarm clock then go into monster-mode for the next hour? Well, what if I told you you could have up to 60 additional minutes of sleep? Sounds pretty tempting now, doesn’t it? There are a few things you can do in the evening to shed time off your morning get-ready scramble:

  • shower at night (-up to 30 minutes if you let your hair air-dry)
  • pack a lunch before bed, something my roommates are experts at (-5 to 10 minutes and hundreds of calories from buying lunch at work)
  • set your coffee pot on automatic the night before (-3 minutes OR 15 minutes if you’re one to stop on the way to work…the lines at Starbucks these days are insane!)
  • take it back to middle school days and lay out an outfit (-up to 30 minutes on “I look fat” / “Nothing looks good on me” days)
  • make a quickie breakfast, instead of stopping for bagels, like oatmeal ‘n’ organic nut butter or a healthy smoothie with banana, berries, soy milk and protein powder. (-15 minutes from bagel detour, -150 calories, + a whole lot-o’ energy) 

Save Time in the Kitchen: I know a lot of people who moan that they don’t have time to cook, and end up settling for take-out or frozen meals. But guess what, you do have time to cook if you cook it right! The biggest misconception people have is that cooking has to be complicated and time-consuming. But it most definitely does not. I am living proof of that because most of my (extremely healthy meals) take less than 15 minutes to prepare! Nothing painful about that. Some of my faves?

  • Chop up a bunch of veggies like zucchini, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and asparagus, put them in a baking dish, drizzle on salt and olive oil, pop ’em in the oven and roast for 30 minutes on 400 degrees. 
  • Bake a sweet potato and top with agave & cinnamon (for sweet) or olive oil, cajun and red pepper flakes (for spicy). Pair with brown rice or a big, fun salad.
  • Speaking of salads, jazz up a boring salad with avocado, walnuts, tomatoes, feta cheese, apple bits, pear, and even tofu! Buy whatever is in season in the supermarket, then have fun with your salads…get creative!
  • Sauté chicken or salmon with a little olive oil, lemon, dill/rosemary/other herbs you have on hand. I also LOVE topping salmon with plain greek yogurt mixed with dijon mustard and dill. The greek yogurt is a perfect substitute for mayo! 
  • Sauteed veggies in garlic! Garlic makes any dish extra delish. Add the veggies to a salad, some brown rice or whole grain pasta or enjoy on their own!
  • Breakfast for dinner: Make an egg white omelet with 2 egg whites whisked with a little water, mushrooms, onions, spinach and some low fat cheddar or feta cheese. Serve with a piece of ezekiel toast with Smart Balance butter , some grapefruit wedges and even some turkey bacon! (Mmm)
  • Take a trip to Trader Joe’s! They always have delicious, ready-to-go healthy meals. My favorites are their packaged rissotto (takes about 5 minutes to cook), frozen mahi burgers (you can grill or saute stove-top), and ready-to-go sushi & salads. 
  • Have fun with lean ground turkey-form into burgers or cook in with zucchini and onion and cajun seasoning for a zesty dinner

To save even more time in the kitchen, try cooking your meals ahead of time and storing them in the freezer. That way, you can have a meal ready to go for you and your family instead of worrying about cooking all night long. I understand, you’re tired and not in the mood. Also look into places near you that make pre-packaged healthy meals, like my recent post on Healthy Habits Kitchen. 

What do you do to save time throughout the day? Do you hear yourself saying, “I don’t have time” more often than not? 

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7 Responses to “Time-Saving Tricks for the Busy Lady: Exercise, Cooking & More”

  1. Smash @ Appreciate The Now October 25, 2010 at 4:54 pm #

    This is a fantastic post and the points are so true! After I shower, I like to let my hair partially air dry while I do my make-up, so it cuts down on dryer time. Making your lunch the night before is a good tip — I’ve even made omlettes the night before for breakfast; they reheat better than eggs.

    • healthychicks October 25, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

      Yup, another great idea! My mom likes to make frittatas with part egg whites/part whole eggs, low fat cheese, potato, and asparagus or broccoli. You just bake it as you would a casserole, then store it in the fridge for a quick heat and take-on-the-go breakfast.

  2. Stephanie @ The Cookie Battle October 25, 2010 at 5:22 pm #

    I constantly feel like I don’t have enough time! What I do to save time is not washing my hair everyday (this by far takes up the most time in my morning routine). Dry shampoo has saved my life and hours of my time during the week.

    • healthychicks October 26, 2010 at 9:15 am #

      I don’t wash my hair every day either Stephanie, especially if I’m not drenching it in sweat from an intense workout. It definitely saves TONS of time. Dry shampoo…interesting…do tell more!

      • Stephanie @ The Cookie Battle October 26, 2010 at 6:12 pm #

        They have a few different kinds at Sephora…you just spray it in your hair and go…it absorbs any grease and makes it look like you washed it. The great thing about a few of them is that they are volumizing…so actually going a few days not washing my hair makes it look great!

  3. Rachael October 26, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    I love all your quick dinner ideas. You just gave me a whole bunch of new stuff I never really thought about.

    I love getting easy frozen stuff at trader joes. Right now they have these “gordita” things that you pop in the toaster, they are cornmeal with some beans and lf cheese stuffed inside. I served it with some veggie chilli (turkey chilli for my husband) and it was a filling dinner!

    • healthychicks October 26, 2010 at 11:41 am #

      Thanks, glad you enjoyed the ideas! And seriously, Trader Joe’s is heaven. I get excited like a little kid on Christmas every time I go in there, and let me tell you that’s quite often haha

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