I’m sure that I’m not the only one that can attest to sitting at my desk and glancing at the clock only to see that is almost seven in the evening and I have no plans and really no energy to cook dinner. Today, employees may have to work longer hours, more shifts, more days, or more jobs just to make ends meet. Putting in so many hours definitely takes its toll on your free time. If you are anything like me, you’re doing your best to lead a much healthier life than in the past. With such a busy schedule, sometimes it can be really difficult to find the time to lead a healthy lifestyle. Do you think it’s impossible? Well I’m here to tell you that it isn’t. Yes, it can be more difficult, but once you get in the swing of things and get yourself a routine, it’s more than achievable. I’m here to discuss with you ways in which you can manage both your heavy work load and healthy lifestyle.
Prepare and pack
One of the easiest ways we slip off of our healthy track is by eating out. It’s hard to want to cook when working a long day, the energy just isn’t always there, or the time. Sure more and more places are adding healthier menu items but if you’re stopping at Burger King, the last thing you’ll want to get is a salad. My suggestion is planning out your meals for the week. Get a good idea of what healthy options you would like to eat for the week. From there, prepare and package your meals for a couple days at a time. Now it can be hard when in a rush to know what you’re grabbing if it’s all in containers, so throw some labels on them. “Breakfast: Monday” or “Lunch: Tuesday” is all it takes to get your meals in order. By labeling and preparing your meals in advance, you’ll save yourself plenty of time and be much less inclined to swing by the ‘King on your way home and have it your way.
Sometimes it’s not even what we eat as it is the size of the portion we’re eating. Carrying small healthy snacks that you can snack on throughout the day is a great way to keep yourself fed without waiting till you’re extremely hungry and binge eating.
Exercise your way to start the day
If you’re looking at a long work day, the last thing you’re going to want to do when you get home is return to the gym. Sometimes it is pretty hard however to hit the weights or go on a morning jog at 5 or 6 am. What’s helped me is I’ve put up some sticky notes and motivational posters around my house. Now that might seem a little bit silly but it puts things in perspective. When I’m warming up in my garage before I leave, I take a look at picture of the athlete running up some stadium steps and as trite and cliche as it is, I put myself in that athletes shoes. What it comes down to is to do what works for you, not what works best for everyone else. I get a smile on my face and I feel inspired to hit the ground running.
Don’t skip out on breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, there’s no denying that. However, sometimes it’s hard to feel hungry that early in the morning. If you’re exercising when you wake up, by the time you’re done, it won’t feel quite as early and your work out will have worked up your appetite. Grab some Greek yogurt, fruit, or an egg and juice and feed your engine. By eating in the morning, it will also help cure those mid-morning cravings that sometimes end is less than healthy results. I like to take a protein shaker bottle and fill it up with my whey protein the night before that way in the morning all I have to do is add some water or milk and take it out the door with me.
Lunch breaks just aren’t for lunch
Who says you have to spend your entire lunch break eating? I’m not saying you should skip eating but that doesn’t mean you have to devote your entire break to eating a meal. Now it can be hard to remember to this every day when you’ve had a stressful morning at the office. Even running a gym, I used to have a lot of trouble remembering to take a mid-day exercise break when I had so much other stuff on my plate. I tell a lot of my clients that exercise can come in so many forms. If you have stairs in your office take a few minutes to work on your calves by doing single or double calve raises. Is there an empty office space somewhere? You can take advantage of this space and do things like lunges, crunches or even a wall-sit. You may get a few weird stares but embrace these, you’re burning calories and fat and a month and some sculpted calves later, they’ll turn that judgement around.
Water is your friend
Water is a great way to stay healthy and is a great source of clean energy. Often we will eat because we think we’re hungry, but in fact we are just thirsty. Drinking plenty of water also helps us stay hydrated and gets us on our feet throughout the day. There’s more and more research coming out that says sitting for hours may shrink our life span. By drinking plenty of water, you’ll be sure to get up throughout the day for a bathroom break. Buy a Nalgene bottle and make sure you fill it up at least twice a day, that way you know you have reached you daily amounts.
Pack your gym bag and a snack
As I mentioned earlier, it’s always good to try and exercise in the morning. However, that sometimes just isn’t in the cards. I have to urge the importance of not returning home before you plan to exercise. Once you return home from a long day, it’s just THAT much harder to find the motivation. By packing a gym bag and a snack, you’ll cure that hunger craving to go home for dinner, and you’ll be ready to exercise before you make your way home. Before my office was not directly above a gym, I would mix up my pre-workout drink on the way to the gym. By drinking this on the commute to exercise I would have plenty of energy and focus to start my workout the second I walked in the doors.
Now that’s not to say these are the only things you can do to stay healthy despite a busy and hectic work schedule, but these are just some tips that have worked for me, and I wanted to share them with you. The key points I’d like you to take with you is that a good portion of it is time management and remembering your game plan. By planning out and preparing your meals, working out in the morning and at lunch, you’ll find yourself with more you time and even more energy in the evening to spend on kids or other loved ones.
Sam Omidi is a health coach, educator, and blogs about the weight loss and training ecosphere. He is the founder of WeightLossandTraining.com, a health blog that specializes in just about everything in the fitness world, including carb cycling meal plans.
Sam works to help people take control of their fitness destiny through a comprehensive and holistic approach, tailor-fitted to their goals.