Take 15: How Just 15 Minutes a Day Can Change Your Life

10/22/2015 12:37 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The No. 1 excuse people give for not making time for their health and well-being is "I DON'T HAVE TIME." While some people have less free time than others, that statement is still 100% bogus. Let's face it; you make time for the things you value. So when you make that statement, you are saying NO I don't value myself, instead whatever is monopolizing my time is more important. You've convinced yourself that running yourself into the ground will help you achieve long-lasting success, right? Wrong.

Life isn't one-dimensional, although most people seem to think so. Everyone, whether they verbalize it or not, wants to look and/or feel good. But instead of making time, you opt for the microwave version of wellness. That looks like diet pills, pharmaceutical drugs, fad diets, and the list goes on. Living a healthier lifestyle does require some time, but it's worth it. Instead of putting a "Band-Aid" on your symptoms or hoping to undo your destructive habits in a week, you have to make time and commit.

Most people often wait for a negative report from the doctor, an anxiety attack, burnout, or a near death experience to pay attention to destructive habits that affect their health, work and/or personal life. Now I'm not throwing shade, or pointing fingers, nor am I saying you are a bad person if you fall into this category. It happens to the best of us, in fact it happened to me. If anyone knows how it feels to have lived an imbalanced life, it's ME!

Long work hours, office politics (not even going to go there), a long commute, and lack of job satisfaction led to stress, burnout, 30-pound weight gain, depression, digestive issues, bad acne, a painful pinched nerve in my neck, and a hospital visit. "No time" led to unhappiness, poor health, and life unfulfillment. Work became my new identity, and it nearly took me out. Now I'm no stranger to hard work, but when you notice rapid changes in your behavior, mind, and body; it's time to make an assessment of the root cause and develop an action plan.

I eventually left that industry in order to discover the next chapter in my life. Bold, yes, but worth the risk. It just wasn't for me. I view that experience as one piece of the puzzle in my journey towards discovering my purpose. I dropped the weight by eating healthier and working out. I also did some personal development work, but the most crucial piece was putting my spiritual practice first. Making time to put God first, and striving towards maintaining continuous peace, joy and happiness.

This experience lead me to start my global campaign Take 15, which encourages people to make time to nourish their mind, body and spirit, even if it's only 15 minutes a day. True balance begins with the nourishment of those three areas, and when out of balance it can lead to unhappiness, physical ailments and even destructive habits. Participants of the campaign will learn how to make small changes in their lives, that sets them on the path to living a healthier lifestyle. Say bye bye to chronic stress, burnout, emotional eating, weight gain, emotional distress, and unhappiness.

Take 15 Challenge & Pledge

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To help me spread the message of the campaign, I asked one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers and multiple New York Times Best Selling Author Joyce Meyer of Joyce Meyer Ministries, and Dᅢᄅjᅢᅠ Vu of WBLS & Inner View Coaching to help me promote the message of balance, and living a holistic life.

Joyce Meyer talks about importance of making time in the morning to commune with God. Asking God for guidance to get through your everyday life trials. She also talks about being spiritually sound, in order to handle everything that may happen to you in life. By casting your cares, you will worry less, and it will help you reduce the stress in your life. As Joyce often says, "Where the mind goes, the man follows." Approximately 75-90 percent of all doctors visits are stress related, so be sure to always take a mind inventory. One festered thought, can lead to chronic stress.

Deja "Dᅢᄅjᅢᅠ Vu" Parker also speaks on the benefits of prayer in the morning. She also emphasizes the importance of working out. If you don't take care of your self, and you aren't at optimal health, then how will you be able to take care of loved ones or take your career to the next level. Lastly she talks about how showing gratitude can transform your life. Being grateful for what you have in life, and telling others that you appreciate them. It helps you to experience life on a totally different level.

These successful, and powerful women world changers know the importance of making time for self-care, as its critical to maintain and sustain a busy lifestyle. Even if you are a stay at home mom or dad, it's critical you make time, as it'll help you to be more effective and efficient. You can't expect to thrive professionally and/or personally without taking care of yourself.

In an effort to get you started, I've listed five lifestyle changes from the Take 15 challenge help to get you on track to living a healthier, happier and more balanced life.

1. Reduce Stress

Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your physical and psychological health. The long-term activation of the stress-response system can disrupt almost all your body's processes. This puts you at increased risk for numerous health problems such as: anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain, memory, and brain fog. Always take breaks throughout your day to make sure you are okay. Stop pushing through stress, because you'll pay for it later in the aforementioned ailments. Guard your thoughts, and pay attention to what you are thinking about. Go for a walk, pray/mediate, read a book, or grab your gym gear and workout; at the onset of stress and tension.

2. Write out your "Why"

When it comes to losing weight, and living your best life, you should pinpoint your exact reason for doing it -- your "why." Clearly define it and emotionally connect to it (e.g. having more energy to play with your kids, mental clarity to improve job performance etc.) When you figure it out, make sure you post it everywhere to hold you accountable (ahem... at work, your refrigerator, car, bathroom wall... you get the point!)

3. Drink a Smoothie

Smoothies can be utilized to get more nutrients in, or serve as an on-the-go meal replacement. According to a CDC report, only about one in every 10 Americans eat enough fruits and vegetables. Yikes! That's very disturbing. In an effort to help you out, check out these two great smoothie options here. These recipes are packed with healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants and protein!

3. Meal Prep

It has been well-documented that Americans have shifted towards eating out more and cooking at home less. Meal planning is an essential part of living a healthier lifestyle. Planning meals in advance helps you save time, plus it keeps your waistline in check! It can turn a hectic week into one that is nearly stress-free.

4. Try Something New

You only have one life to live, don't be a bore and uptight. Yes, work needs to get done, but you also need your sanity. Is there something you've always meant to do, wanted to do, but just... haven't? It may be sky diving, going on vacation to a place you normally wouldn't go to etc. Check out Matt Cutts TED Talk if you need an extra push, and go for it!

5. Drink More Water

Currently ranked #2 for the most consumed beverage, kind of sad but it's reality. It's time to break up your love affair with soda (currently #1), because it's just a toxic concoction that does more harm than good to your body. Water is essential, as it's needed for the proper functioning of your cells, and bodily functions. You'll also reap the benefits of good skin, increased energy, toxic waste removal, improved regularity and more. As a tip, drink water half your body weight in ounces (e.g., 150 lbs. = 75 ounces.)

I hope this article serves you and that these tips are helpful in your quest to live a happier, healthier, and a more fulfilled life.

And remember...

It's okay to strive for great success, but not at the cost of your health and personal life. It's not cool to get to the top, and you end up with a lifestyle related health issue, no friends or family around, and/or a dependency on substances to help you get through your days. No more looking good on the outside, but you're dead on the inside.

To get more tips, head on over iTake15.com. Take the pledge and join the challenge now!

Video Producer/editor: Moriah Grace Gaffney of MG Designs
Videographer (Deja Vu): Rhemah Gaffney of Through God's Eye Photography

Vanessa Cunningham is a nutrition & wellness expert of Unhealthy No More, Inc., best selling author, writer and speaker. A graduate of Pace University, she also studied at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She helps busy professionals and entrepreneurs reduce stress, banish unhealthy cravings, lose weight and increase their energy levels. Through her one-on-one coaching programs, dynamic workshops and scintillating blog posts, she empowers her clients to thrive at work and in life. Meet Vanessa and get ready to live a life of vibrant health and happiness instead of living stressed and overwhelmed by visiting her page at www.unhealthynomore.com.