Being a (self-proclaimed) healthy bachelor and student, I believe I automatically have some of the accreditation associated with this article, originally titled “lifestyle for the lazy”.
The basic idea for this article is that a great majority of lifestyle change advice I see is focused around discipline…and this is lame. Lame in the educated/academic sense of course. People in advertising and business are on my side. If you want people to do something, the best way to so is to make it as easy as possible. For some reason, people in exercise, nutrition, and environmental studies were never informed of this magical rule. Anyway, grand introductions aside, lets get to some of my little tricks for being a healthy and moral-enough person. Sections to follow: everyday world-saving, exercise, food (largest section), and conclusions.
Don’t buy paper towels or ziplock bags much–if you do, keep them in a cabinet or drawer such that other options are closer at hand.
In exercise as well, if your town has decent public transit, consider getting around on a combination of bike, bus, and zipcar–makes it much easier to use less gas when you have to go through some minor hassle in order to get to/reserve your car.
Use less and less harsh cleaning products (you’re bigger than those bugs anyhow)
Get a pull-up bar, use it at random
Stretch or get up and walk around whenever you feel antsy or emotionally encumbered
Learn body-weight exercises (like pushups or squats or “burpees”)–do them whenever the mood strikes throughout the day (especially effective if you work at home)
Find something you like: dancing, kayaking, etc. — make plans to do this activity with a friend
(more in conclusion below)
The idea here is instead of forcing yourself to eat salads and avoid rich foods, the advice below should help you eat healthy and still fairly decadent compared to other health-conscious eaters.
The old adage of don’t shop hungry is helpful, actually shop when you’re feeling fairly stoic–stock up on veggies and the like so that when you’re at home the easiest thing to eat is healthy.
I am a firm believer that you can eat meat, fat, even carbohydrates and still be healthy. Here are some of my focus-points on buying healthy food–i.e. nutrient-rich food that actually tastes better than artificial crap. Couple notes: a) some of these things aren’t quite proven healthy, but most all are proven good for the world and I’d say that means it’s good for your heart and thus healthy b) a lot of the important things to say here (eat from outside of grocery store, spend more on food, eat REAL food), can be found in “food rules” by Michael Pollan.
With the above out of the way, additionally: shop at health-food stores, look for free-range meat and eggs, wild (non-farmed) fish products, dairy products from grass-fed or free-range cattle (or sheep or goats–these two might not claim free-range despite it being the case), buy organic, keep the treats at the back of your pantry/freezer so that they are just a bit more out of sight/reach, read labels–feel icky about preservatives–avoid as much as possible, look for labels filled with things like “organic tomato” or “ginger”, realize that “wheat flour” means “white flour” and
(rant on oils): “hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated” means that you shouldn’t buy the product (i.e. it has some amount of trans fat, even if it says 0g on label), oils should say: virgin or extra virgin, expeller-pressed, cold-pressed or best stone pressed–everything else is likely treated with many chemicals and at high heat (damaging, oxidizing, denaturing the oils/nutrients in the oils)–oils making the above claims might still, but are less likely to be denatured as such (if you want to be perfect buy Udo’s Choice–though I never liked the taste of his products), pay attention to the difference between “made with _” and a product made predominantly of _, ex:-often times shitty canola/soy oils are found as the primary part of a product “made with extra virgin olive oil”,
buy sustainably farmed and fair trade products, feel like you’ve spent too much money on food and find a way to feel good about that–you should.
Speaking of money–quitting the daily coffee, alcohol, and cigarettes are a great way to save money. Also, buying from a grocery store–even an expensive one–is cheaper than eating out all the time (I know eating out is easier BUT–well I’ve got some tricks for that too…
While microwave food isn’t great, there are things like amy’s spinach-tofu burritos that are all-organic, no preservatives, seem fairly good for you, and easy too. If you’re in a health-food store, you should be able to find some healthy frozen convenience foods for when you didn’t have time to make a sandwich or what have you.
When you are eating out in most places–you can generally assume the animal products are from factory-farm conditions and it’s best to eat as animal-free as possible–both for health and moral reasons.
So, the list seems a bit short, though I did write a good bit for food, an obvious interest of mine. One important comment–the above is my life. It’s kinda how I operate, I save the world, eat healthy, and exercise–most of the time, as long as it’s easy enough. The only thing I do differently is I recently combined my meditation and exercise into a daily standing regimen via Tai Chi–which is not as easy as it sounds–so I’m doing less of the random burpees, pull-ups, 1-legged squats, as I used to. A note on that though–for the true bachelor, I had a dead-lift bar in my room for a bit over some cardboard, so you can have the makings of a gym right in your house. Pavel Tsatsoline’s Power to the People and Naked Warrior are interesting reads in this regard (not necessarily tried and true evidence-based material, but interesting reading for the amateur lifter and something I’ve tried for a good bit of my life with fairly good results)–whole-body exercise in ~20min. sounds good to me.
As for the food things–my honest belief is that by choosing the right kind of real food (as outlined above) we don’t need to discipline/starve ourselves of whatever we crave. My only exception is trying to reduce sugar/simple carb intake or only use after exercise or with fiber/protein and/or fat, though this only takes minor discipline when so many fulfilling options are still on the table. Additionally, one trick for reducing sweets with some minor discipline is to try and only eat sweets that you cook yourself from scratch (i.e. make them more difficult to get).
Again, I adamantly believe that anyone in public health/environmental change movements needs to learn from the people in business and find some way to make whatever they want people to do easier/fun and whatever they don’t want them to do harder/less pleasurable. Whatever you can do to make good food choices, exercise, and general world-helping as easy as possible, do it. Reciprocally, try to make sedentary activities, unhealthy foods, wastefulness, etc. somehow harder to do, put them a little further out of reach.
You might be pleasantly surprised at how well this works (i.e. at how lazy you are).