By Guest Blogger Sara Lester

The struggle is real.  We live busy lives and wear many hats filling our schedules with giving, loving and serving others.  All good things, yes, but we often forget to put on our oxygen mask first, and so by mid-day we are exhausted, depleted, running to the pantry for comfort, giving up on our exercise plans and literally gasping for air.

I recently conducted a Facebook survey of my friends and clients, and discovered they are most challenged with busy schedules and massive responsibilities that leave little time to plan, prep and stay consistent with a healthy eating plan and regular exercise.  Oh, how I can relate.

Rewind four year ago, I was working full time as a physical therapist , busy with young kiddos, (ages 2, 6, and 8), trying to find time to prioritize God, my marriage, my friendships, service, teaching fitness classes and somewhere trying to prep four to five meals per day and train for triathlons and fitness. It just wasn’t working.

I was exhausted, frustrated and not meeting my physical or health goals.  One day I decided to stop using my struggles and my life as an excuse and find a solution.  I went on a mission to find a wellness plan that I loved and would give me the results I so desperately wanted without sacrificing my lifestyle.

So here are my top 10 tips on how to FIT it all in and finally meet your wellness goals.

16839775_10210495638780665_1002994316_n1.) Plan your meals and workouts in advance and write them on your calendar.

If you don’t write it down, it doesn’t happen or at least it doesn’t happen consistently.

2.) Food Prep- (protein, veggies , healthy carbs and snacks)

I invest one to two hours on Sunday afternoon and it saves me at least one hour every day at meal time. It also sets me and my family up for success, and decreases the impulsive to eat out. My prep-ahead go-to favorites are…

~ Grilled chicken breasts that can be used on salad, in fajitas, in stir-fry, etc.
~ Hard boiled eggs ready to grab (they’re also so easy to make in an Instapot!)
~ Raw veggie bags with some yummy low- calorie dip. I love OPA Greek yogurt-based creamy dips. The kids love to help me make these bags, and it encourages them to eat them.
~ Pre-cook one or two clean carbs. My current favorites are Farro and baked sweet potatoes.
~ Pre-cook one to two fresh veggies. We love kale steamed with beef broth and Himalyan Sea Salt and steamed broccoli with some apple cider vinegar.

3.) Super food meal replacements

This is essential for my success.  I do two super food meal replacement shakes everyday (2 out of my 4-5 meals per day). This allows me to get in my needed protein, minerals and enzymes lacking in even the best whole food diets. They satisfy my sweet cravings and provide an easy, quick and perfect macro-balanced meal that is cost-effective and delicious.

16838178_10210495501337229_578337196_n4.) Intermittent Fasting and Nutritional Cleansing

I’ll let you do your own research, but the proof is in the science. This was the ultimate game-changer for me.  Our world is so full of environmental toxins, and toxins live in our fat cells. Once I introduced intermittent fasting and nutritional cleansing into my plan, my body just starting releasing the fat.

5.) Community/Coaching

Find a group of friends or a Facebook group of like-minded people with similar goals.  I currently help manage a group of over 3,000 people where we share wellness research, recipes, inspiration, transformations, workouts, goals, wins, and struggles.  We hold each other accountable and cheer one another along.   If you want a more customized plan and approach, invest in a wellness coach.  This is some of the BEST money I have ever spent.

6.) High Intensity Interval Training
I am a true believer in high intensity interval training.  I work hard, lift heavy, go all out, and am done in 30 minutes or less.  The effect this type of exercise has on your body is increased metabolism for 24-48 hours after the workout. I used to spend hours exercising and it was working against me.  Exercise is a great thing but it does stress the body and increases cortisol levels.  High cortisol levels can hinder weight loss.

7.) Restorative exercise and activity
This is the type of exercise that lowers that cortisol levels. My favorites are yoga, leisure walking, hot baths, and yes, sex.

16838111_10210495642580760_324011564_n8.) Stretching

As a physical therapist and expert in human performance and health, I realize the importance of flexibility and normal joint range of motion to maintain a healthy body.  I love implementing hot yoga into my plan. Evidence shows that holding a stretch of a muscle group for 60 seconds at a time is sufficient. But don’t skip the stretch! You can’t work out when you are injured and ain’t nobody got time to be hurt!

9.) Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night

Being sleep deprived leads to increased cortisol (stress) levels and increased brain fog. Not only that, but research has shown that those who are sleep deprived eat on average 385 calories more than they normally would.  Evidence states that lack of sleep is one of the largest contributors to the growing obesity epidemic.  GET TO BED!

10.) Be Consistent

If you are anything like me, you want results and you want them yesterday.  “Consistency is the mother of all learning.” Stay the course, and you will meet your goals.

Sara is a wife, mom of three, mompreneur, physical therapist, wellness and lifestyle coach. Her mission is to help woman live to their fullest potential in all areas of their wellness. Do you have more tips to share or a question for Sara? Leave a comment below!