• Livia Ly, MS, RD, LDN

4 Steps for the Beginner Minimalist to Be More with Less

Updated: Feb 21, 2019

Our article was published at SHARPHEELS!


4 Steps for the Beginner Minimalist to Be More with Less  

In this era of abundance, it is easy to create clutter. How can you clear clutter from your life and live a healthier lifestyle? Become a minimalist.  A new trend among young adults called minimalism is emerging and goes way beyond de-cluttering a closet. A minimalist is a person who strives to avoid accumulation and unnecessary purchases.  When people seek organization in their environment, they increase productivity, promote sustainability, and have more time to focus on their health and wellness.

What is urgent in your life and what is important to your life are often very different things. This is especially true with your health, where the important issues almost never seem urgent.

Many people want to improve their health and wellness but think that it takes too much time to incorporate healthy changes, and after a few weeks or months, give up. They make excuses about not having enough time to put in the effort. What they don’t realize is that getting healthier is a lifestyle change. The truth is that a person can actually transform health habits while saving time by incorporating a minimalist approach in her routine and lifestyle.

Review and follow this list of 4 categories with tips to start on a minimalist journey so that health goals can be achieved before the year ends:

1. Exercise intensely for 10-minutes every day

Research shows that people can trigger the same physical adaptations to their heart and muscles through short bursts of intense activity that you can with longer, easier bouts of exercise. That’s because intense exercise is more metabolically demanding on your body. So, save time, avoid excuses, and exercise daily.

2. Boost productivity

Here are three techniques to use every day to work and to help save time:

  • The Pomodoro Technique. Pick a task, set a timer for 25 minutes, work on the task until the timer rings, and then take a 5-minute break. This is one Pomodoro. Then repeat the process. After four Pomodoros, take a longer, 30-minute break. Grab a cup of coffee, refill your water bottle, stretch a little or take a coffee nap. One can actually get a lot accomplished by following this type of disciplined procedure.

  • A Coffee Nap. Drink some coffee, fluff your pillow, set the timer to 30 minutes, and take a nap. Twenty  minutes is sufficient if sleep comes easily. This technique will rejuvenate and increase energy and focus levels since sleep comes before the caffeine kicks in. Upon waking, energy is maximized as the caffeine begins to do its job.

  • Ivy Lee Method. Try the Ivy Lee Method of creating lists. At the end of the day, write down six tasks that you want to accomplish the next day. Lists will help a busy professional to stay focused on what needs to be done. Do the most important things first and learn how to prioritize daily tasks in descending order of importance. Determine when energy levels are the highest. If higher in the morning, then do your most important tasks in the morning. Work on each task using the Pomodoro technique until it’s finished.

3. Declutter

The kitchen and dining areas are good places to start when deciding to declutter your environment to improve your health. Start with one drawer at a time and vow to accomplish one small step or area every day.

  • Start

  • Donate unnecessary kitchen gadgets and unhealthy food.

  • Recycle plastic containers with BPA.

  • Toss any items from your pantry, fridge, and freezer that have expired.

  • Clean your appliances, cabinets, and drawers with nontoxic cleaning products and add dusty or greasy dishwasher-safe objects into your machine.

  • Organize

  • Make healthy food visible by storing healthy snacks and fresh food at the front and center of your fridge and pantry or in any storage bin that is convenient to grab-and-go.

  • Pre-prepare your vegetables by using a blanching and freezing technique to save time while cooking and also to avoid food waste.

  • Pre-portion ready-to-eat snacks and meals (based on what your dietitian has determined for you) into reusable glass or stainless steel containers.

  • Pre-pack ingredients for Crockpot meals or breakfast smoothies.

  • Store fresh food properly. Do not overcrowd your fridge or pantry so you can allow air circulation. Also use the method first in, first out, where you place the first to expire to the front to avoid unnecessary food waste.

  • Clear your countertops of appliances to motivate you to cook healthily more often.

  • Create a space for dining to avoid eating in front of the television or computer. This can lead to mindless eating that makes it harder to tune into satiety levels.

  • Separate foods by type. For example, place the baking ingredients on the top shelf, then grains and beans, nuts, seeds, and snack foods next, followed by dried herbs, spices, and condiments, and canned and jarred goods on the bottom.

  • Purchase

  • Healthy foods that your dietitian has suggested for you

  • Magnetic containers, hooks, racks, and bars to hold spices, utensils, pens, and coupons

  • Reusable chalkboard labels to identify foods and to date leftovers and blanched-frozen foods

  • Nontoxic pans, containers, and other kitchen objects (silicone, nickel-free stainless steel, pure ceramic or lead-free enameled ones, and glass materials are the best options)

  • Shelf dividers to split one shelf into two. Plate dividers are ideal for both storing and stacking small items, like cans. Baskets and trays are ideal for keeping “like” things together. Cabinet door hangers and hooks are also great tools for tidiness inside cabinets.

  • Avoid

  • Buying in bulk to avoid food waste, especially herbal teas, dried spices, dried beans, flours or oils. These can go rancid, spoil easily or lose some of their powerful nutrition properties.

  • Purchasing unhealthy foods and bringing them home.

The environment in which one eats plays an important role in one’s health journey. Take a few moments today to choose a step or two to tackle. By making just a few changes, one will become more mindful of food choices, as well as creating a healthier and more optimal kitchen space.

4. Plan Smart to Eat Healthy with Smart Ways to Buy and Store Food

Friday evenings and Saturday mornings are two recommended times for optimal grocery shopping. Friday evening allows a person to avoid going out to eat over the weekend, at least for one night. Saturday mornings are also recommended because fruits and vegetables can be prepared over the weekend for the following week.

Produce can also be purchased online! It’s a convenient option to have food delivered to the doorstep. Try AmazonFresh, Peapod, Instacart or Local Harvest. In addition, there are a few companies like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Plated that deliver pre-portioned food items to use in recipes.

Purchase lasting fruits and vegetables if not cooking them right away. Usually, “root” vegetables, such as yams, potatoes, and radishes last a long time. Also, the method for storing produce will have an impact on its freshness and life cycle. For example, tomatoes are better stored on a countertop and leafy greens can be washed and patted dry, then stored wrapped in a paper towel in a closed plastic bag away from fruits like apples that release ethylene gas.

Buy peeled, pre-washed, pre-cut fruits and vegetables to save you prep time and as a bonus, they are readily available and more likely to eat them often. Also, purchasing frozen, canned or microwave food are options as well. There are many BPA-free canned options to consider and ways to avoid BPA when microwaving.

Also, read up on nutrition facts by checking the ingredients label. For example, the ingredients label on frozen mangoes ideally should list “frozen mangoes,” no chemicals. When buying canned food, where salt is used as a preservation method, check the sodium content and choose a brand with the lowest amount.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle. Therefore, one’s life is essentially the sum of one’s habits. Changing lifestyle to focus on health is a big commitment. It usually involves finding time to exercise, boosting productivity, removing clutter and planning ahead. It can be overwhelming, but following these four steps will make the transition easier.

November 28, 2017

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