While we do our best to focus on living well all year long, we can all get on board with bringing awareness to not only living a healthier lifestyle physically, but also mentally. And it doesn’t have to mean clearing your calendar for a day of meditation, exercise, and meal prepping (although all of those things may have you feeling a whole lot better when Monday rolls around).
Instead, let’s use the day as a reason to abandon lofty goals (because aren’t we all fighting the good fight to eat better, exercise more, and manage stress all year long?) in favor of more tangible ways to immediately improve our lifestyle and boost our health.
Update your weekend plans by adding these 20 things to the agenda. We promise they won’t crowd your party plans out of the itinerary.
Slice your produce. We make 200 food decisions a day. Yes, you heard us right. So why not do just one small thing to make some of those decisions easier (and more likely to result in a healthy choice)? After you load up at the farmer’s market this weekend, slice up your veggies and fruit, so that they’re front and center in the fridge. A recent study found that pre-sliced fruit increased the average daily apple sales by 71 percent. Pretty promising for your afternoon munchies that usually result in opening your Seamless app.
Roll out your muscles. We should be rolling out our muscles before warming up and static stretches, during our cool down, and basically at any other time throughout the day you could use a little massage (think: after sitting at your desk for 4 hours straight). And you don’t need to have a foam roller: a frozen water bottle, rolling pin, and warm rice in a dress sock all get the job done.
Update your happy hour plans. Bars are a major time suck, you have your ID checked at the door and suddenly your stumbling out hours later with nothing to show for your time but a bloated stomach and a craving for French fries. For entertainment and socialization with a side of productivity, trade in the bar stool for one of these other productive ways to bond with friends and relax this weekend.
Masturbate. Oh, this was already in the schedule? Perfect. Let’s be honest: it feels great. But it also may be the most productive thing you do this weekend. It can improve your immune system, relive stress, and help you sleep better, among other things.
Tell your negative friend to put a cork in it. Just kidding. But you can deal with negative Nancys more effectively (and keep them from killing your vibe … can’t you enjoy Sunday Funday in peace?). Tactics include: agreeing with them (read the article and hear us out), asking solution-focused questions, and setting boundaries.
Take a nap — the right way. The most unproductive action, may just help you get more done this weekend. But you can’t just pass out anywhere and expect to reap the benefits. The right conditions are key. Pencil it in for the afternoon, keep it under 30 minutes, and follow these other guidelines to get the most from your snooze.
Trick yourself into eating vegetables. You know you need to eat more vegetables. But a bowl of lettuce does not appeal to you … at all. Lucky you, it doesn’t have to. Trick your mind into eating vegetables, and your stomach into enjoying them, by thinking outside the box, and reinventing the wheel when it comes to veggie-based dishes. Here are five recipes to get the creativity flowing in the kitchen.
Form a new habit. We know, you’ve been trying to get up before work to exercise for a solid 4 months now. It’s not sticking. But that was before you had these super easy tricks that make habit-formation way simpler. For example, why not put some money on it? This weekend fill a jar with 100 dollar bills and deem it your reward fund. Every time you don’t follow through with a goal (hitting the gym, practicing an instrument, or working your freelance project), remove a dollar from the jar. Watching your fancy dinner, massage, or new workout outfit shrink in value may just motivate you to stick with it.
Sound meditation. If sitting in silence just isn’t your jam, consider easing into meditation with a little sound. Believe it or not, the right noises can actually help you find your inner quiet. Research that measured brain waves showed that the sound of a gong quieted the peaks and valleys that represent the constant thoughts running through our minds. There are other sounds that can have similar effects, all available online for free. (Or, you know, hit up Craigslist for a gong player, either way.)
Make a pitstop at a meditative sanctuary. If you’re looking to get out of the house, take your meditation outdoors. Sanctuaries are popping up in major cities, or make your own. Enjoying a nature walk in the park or observing some artwork in a museum are all meditative experiences that will help bring you into the moment (you know, that mindfulness everyone is talking about).
Walking meditation. Or make it even simpler and just head out for a walk. Even if you’re the fidgety type, you can still enjoy the benefits of a mindfulness practice. The beauty of walking meditation is found in its simplicity: just walk! It might not seem like much, but fresh air, blood flowing into muscle and brain, and new sights provide a fresh outlook and may even help us to creatively solve problems.
Set yourself up to be inspired at work. Do you spend your days checking Facebook and watching the hands on the clock slowly approach 6 p.m.? It’s time to find some inspiration. Not only is it clearly not helping your career, but being disengaged at work can have some serious health consequences as well. Even if you’re not fan of your current role, there are ways to find inspiration in your everyday tasks by reframing the way you look at them and their benefit to you in the long run.
Detox the right way. No, we aren’t telling you to empty your fridge and pantry and prepare for a week of living off green juice. Detoxing has become associated with extreme measures, but the truth is that your body is equipped to detox itself and eliminate toxins all on its own. But you can make this process more efficient by loading up on foods that aid the function of the kidney and liver — and avoiding foods that hinder them. Add these foods to your grocery list and set yourself up for a natural detox next week.
Run on the opposite side of the street. We tend to run the same route around the neighborhood, but running on the same side of the street or track can cause issues. Since the street is pitched towards the curb, you will over stride on that side and can develop IT band tendonitis if you do not switch this up. So mix things up and head across the street.
Run on the treadmill the right way. While we are making adjustments to your weekend jog, pay careful attention to your time on the treadmill too. There are some pretty common mistake that you’re probably masking—which not only make your workout less effective, but can cause injury. For example, as you increase that incline, lower your speed. Sprinting it out on an incline of 9 may make you feel like you’re really pushing yourself, but it’s unnecessary and dangerous. The steeper the incline, the more pressure is placed on certain joints in your body, especially the ankles, hips and low back.
Give your gym routine a boost. It’s not just your treadmill workout that needs adjusting. Making some small adjustments to your gym routine has the potential to really accelerate your results. Consider ditching the long, steady exercise in favor of shorter intervals. You’ll free up more of your precious time off this weekend, and may even drop those pounds faster, decreasing abdominal fat and body weight, while maintaining muscle mass.
Spend time with your pet … or highjack a neighbor’s. Your pet is doing even more for you than providing a running partner and Netflix buddy. It turns out that they can have a real effect on your health, including lowering stress, boosting our immune system, and improving heart health. So pencil some quality time with man’s best friend into the schedule.
Put down your phone. We know, you need to have your phone in your hand at all times — how else are you going to keep up with the score of the game and get up-to-the minute updates on your best friend’s blind date? But there’s no shortage of research linking our devices to higher stress levels. So power-off this weekend, even if it’s just for the time you head outside for a jog or sit down to read a book.
Cut back on meat. By now it’s common knowledge (though many of us choose to forget this little tidbit) that going meatless a few days per week translates to major health benefits. But reducing our dependency on meat as a primary protein source doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience, especially if you get creative with other protein sources. Start with these 5 meat-based recipes that have gotten a plant-based makeover.
Schedule medical tests. When was the last time you saw a doctor? Yeah, that’s what we thought. Take advantage of down time this weekend to call and make an appointment. But you’re healthy you say? If you’re in your 20’s or 30’s there are a slew of preventative medical tests that you should be undergoing to ensure you stay that way; things like thyroid screenings, a vision exam, and a cholesterol check. All we’re telling you to do is make the appointment … you can even do that with a beer in one hand.