December 9th, 2008
12:03 PM ET

How can I work diet, fitness into my busy life?

As a new feature of CNNhealth.com, our team of expert doctors will answer readers' questions. Here's a question for Dr. Gupta.

Asked by Lillian, Washington, D.C.

"I go to school and work and never seem to have time to cook healthy meals or fit in a workout routine.  Can you give me some advice on how to get a program started?"


Lillian, I can vouch firsthand that with a busy schedule, healthy eating habits and exercise routines are often the hardest to keep up 

One thing we know is that vegetables are one of the best foods for us to eat. They are filling, and packed with vitamins and nutrients. 

Look for vegetables at the store that are easy to prepare: pre-washed salads, carrots, grape tomatoes, celery. 

 One thing my family does is create vegetable snack-packs.  We get zip-lock bags and mix up the vegetables so they are easy to grab and eat on the road or bring for lunch.   Also, give grilling a try! It is an easy way to add a healthy, gourmet touch to dinner. Season vegetables-like asparagus, mushrooms, green peppers-with low-sodium seasonings and grill for about 5 to 10 minutes.

As for exercising, since your time is limited, try to find an activity that you can do socially while gaining health benefits.   One example is joining a dance group.  You can burn up to 500 calories dancing an hour.   Have a dog? Look for dog-walking group in your area.  It’s a great way to meet people, and help you..and Rover get in shape. 

The bottom line is you have to make health a priority.  Even if you have just 30 minutes a day of free time to exercise -make it happen! You will end up having more energy for your daily tasks at work and school.  Good luck, Lillian!

soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Melissa, Los Angeles

    Dr. Gupta I'd like to add there are things a person can do at home for 20-30 minutes. Buy some dumbbells for arm and shoulder exercises. Ab work can be done as well as lunges while we're watching a TV program. There are so many at home exercises we can do everyday that can be done while we're watching TV.

    December 9, 2008 at 19:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. dark under eyes

    thanks for the information,

    good healty meal is allways better then any other meal!

    December 11, 2008 at 08:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Laura

    "things to be done while watchng tv". Who has time to watch TV?

    December 11, 2008 at 10:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. GF, Los Angeles

    @ Laura you'd be surprised how many people at work ask me if I watched last night's "Dancing with the Stars", etc. My answer is always no – I was at the gym! They on the other hand could've been doing some form of exercise while they were watching their show(s) but many people choose not to.

    December 12, 2008 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Amy Philips

    Everyone needs to look good and feel fabulous about themselves. It’s simply part of how a natural self esteem works. And because we are all intrigued with improving ourselves more, dieting has become a regular role of life. If you wish to take simple strides in tweaking your normal day to day diet, here are suggestions on what the foremost vegetables for dieting are.
    We are all conscious of the healthy impact that vegetables have on our diets as it has always been the better source for important vitamins and minerals our body requires. In linking this to a weight loss diet, there are certain vegetables that can help you lose weight either by raising your metabolism rate or reducing water retention.
    If you need to feel fullness after eating your meals then you should load up on portions of assorted leafy vegetables. Greens such as spinach and lettuces carry a high content of carotenoids, which is a vitamin constituent that eradicates free radicals from invading the cells in your body. Leafed vegetables, especially consumed natural, rev up the metabolism so that it functions efficiently.
    Tomatoes are also taken to be one of the best veggies for dieting as it discourages your body from keeping water. Tomatoes are also rich in lycopene, a well-known cancer buster. Chiles are also fantastic in getting rid of water retention because of its heavy content of enzymes that encourage fluids to freely course around the body.
    Discover more about the best vegetables for dieting and incorporate them in your diet today for a fitter and better variation of you.

    October 27, 2009 at 21:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Carin Becerra

    My 48 year old son has been suffering for a long time. He tells me that he is very negatively affected by the environment. 2days ago he came home after being outside on a sunny day with a excruciating migraine as well as aching all over his body, sweating and chills. He gets these attacks frequently and believes it is related to the Suns solar flares when they are extra strong. He also s affected when there are planes clouding the sky and believes that they are spraying something into the atmosphere . Please can you find some answer for this, My son is not able to live a normal life and is constantly in pain. I worry about him and his emotional and mental state. He has partial perapeligia in his legs but is otherwise healthy if it were not for these dreadful episodes. Dr. Gupta had a program on once that dealt with people affected by our technology whose life was severely altered. Dr. Gupta do you have any answers to this life altering situation ? Please let me know, I am sure there are others who suffer the same symptoms as my son.
    Thank you. Carin Becerra

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.