Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Jae Ber­man

With food and ex­er­cise, a sim­ple tool or new habit can make what once felt dif­fi­cult in­stead seem ef­fort­less.

I call these tools “game-chang­ers.” Pouched wild salmon is a game-changer for me. Fresh salmon is too ex­pen­sive, and even if I did pay the price, I can’t batch-cook salmon for the week, as it won’t last. But I re­ally want to in­crease my in­take of omega-3 fatty acids, and wild salmon is the best op­tion. I now order pre­cooked, 3-ounce por­tions of wild salmon on­line and en­joy it reg­u­larly for lunch. What once felt im­pos­si­ble is now easy.

When you open your mind to ex­plor­ing a prob­lem, a tool or change of per­spec­tive, even some­thing ex­traor­di­nar­ily small and ba­sic can have a pro­found im­pact.

Un­pack the prob­lem and un­der­stand your “why.” Start notic­ing when you’re feel­ing rushed, an­noyed or frus­trated. If so, take a breath and try to un­der­stand the frus­tra­tion. Why does this con­tinue to be a prob­lem? Get spe­cific. Then de­cide whether it’s un­der your con­trol to find a tool, change the rou­tine or cre­ate a new habit to make life easier. Here are some ideas.


Stock your freezer and pantry: Find frozen, canned and jarred prod­ucts that can be in­cor­po­rated into your rou­tine so you al­ways have food ready to go. I have blue­ber­ries, spinach, burg­ers and bread in my freezer and canned soup, tuna, beans, al­mond but­ter and olives in my pantry.

Life is easier when you have food avail­able for din­ner. Read the in­gre­di­ents on the la­bel to en­sure you’re eat­ing whole and real in­gre­di­ents, and watch sodium lev­els based on your di­etary needs.

Out­fit your kitchen: A slow cooker, sharp knife, qual­ity blender, pro­gram­mable cof­fee maker, air­tight stor­age con­tain­ers and an all-pur­pose pan can make cook­ing and prep­ping into much easier tasks. If you al­ways no­tice one step of your cook­ing is slow­ing you down, it might be worth in­vest­ing in a prod­uct that will make you more ef­fi­cient. Stash on-the-go snacks: Find sin­gle-serve op­tions for your fa­vorites so you can eat in line with your val­ues no mat­ter where you are. Cof­fee, tea, nut/seed but­ter, nuts and seeds, crack­ers, oils, fruit, bars and pow­ders can help you eat nu­tri-

tiously dur­ing a busy day. Pack your lunch the night be­fore: When cook- ing din­ner, prep lunches for you and your fam­ily so the next morn­ing there is one less task on the to-do list. Gro­cery shop on­line: You’d be amazed what can be bought on­line. De­liv­ery will let you avoid gro­cery shop­ping trips al­to­gether, but s ome stores also have a cheaper pickup op­tion.

Prep food in batches: If you’re go­ing to take pre­cious time to prep f ood, make sev­eral serv­ings at a time.

Chop veg­eta­bles and cook prote in­sand­starchesto­last the en­tire week in­stead of one meal.


Choose your clothes the night be­fore: In­cred­i­bly ba­sic, but a true game- changer. I do this ev­ery night. If you want a morn­ing work- out, have your gym clothes ready at your bed and pack your work clothes the night be­fore. If you want an evening work­out, have your gym bag ready at the door so you never have the “for­got my gym clothes” ex­cuse. Add squats and push

ups: These two ex­er­cises can work many mus­cles. Adding a five-minute work­out into your day — three sets of 10 squats and pushups while watch­ing tele­vi­sion — can be a step to­ward im­prov­ing wellness.

Try a tracker: Track­ing data for ex­er­cise can keep you ac­count­able, fo­cused, chal­lenged, mo­ti­vated and in­formed. Track steps, heart rate, mileage, breath rate, speed, freque ncy­orint en­sity us­ing a wear­able de­vice. One or more of these pieces of in­for­mat ion can be the game-changer to im­prove

your ex­er­cise rou­tine. Treat your­self to some

gear: Water­proof head- phones to wear while swim­ming, a yoga mat that’s just right, a run­ning jacket that’s per­fect for the weather, an at-home spin bike, a pullup bar in a doorwa yatthe­of­fice or wire­less head­phones that sound fan­tas­tic. These can make ex­er­cise en­joy­able and con­ve­nient.

Other life hacks

Im­prove sleep hy­giene: For ideal sleep, a bed­room will be dark, cool, clean and have no noise dis­trac­tions. A com­fort­able eye mask, black- out cur­tains, fan, hu­mid­i­fier, white noise ma­chine and a stor­age con­tainer to hold clut­ter could all be small things to im­prove a night’s sleep. Take ad­van­tage of tech­nol­ogy: There are all sorts of apps and ser­vices that can as­sist in wellness, or in all the er­rands that take away from the time we have to im­prove our wellness. Ex­am­ples in­clude work­out rou­tines, recipes and meal plans, or­der­ing gro­ceries and take­out, pay­ing your

park­ing me­ter, or­der­ing pre­scrip­tions, guided med­i­ta­tions with prompts, sleep cues, re­minders to floss, grat­i­tude jour­nals, sched­ul­ing as­sis­tants and so much more. Re­search on­line and in your phone’s app store to ex­per­i­ment.

Ask for help: It can seem ex­traor­di­nar­ily dif­fi­cult to ask­for help. But some­thing as sim­ple as or­der­ing gro­ceries on­line is an ex­am­ple of ask­ing for help. There are also ser­vices to run er­rands,

put to­gether fur­ni­ture, fix that one thing in the house you’ve been mean­ing to fix, de­clut­ter your garage, or any of the ot her tasks on your list. In­vest in your­self: A skilled per­sonal trainer, di­eti­tian, body­worker or health spe­cial­ist may be the per­son you need. Or maybe your game-changer is a phe­nom­e­nal mat­tress, piece of sports equip­ment, kitchen tool, fur­ni­ture or other tech­nol­ogy.


Keep­ing food ready to go in the freezer is one way to make meals — and your life — easier.


Treat your­self! A yoga mat, head­phones or run­ning jacket can help make mov­ing your body con­ve­nient and en­joy­able.

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