5 Steps to Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle With Your Career
We all go to work. It’s how we make a living, it’s satisfying, it’s tiring, and, unfortunately, it’s the reason why our health and fitness can get put on the back burner at times. Whether you’ve been holding a 9-5 job for years, are fresh out of college and getting acclimated to full-time work life, or still a student, I’m writing this post for YOU.
As a recent college graduate, I took a job in the corporate world 1 month out of school and it proved to be a difficult life transition (yes, what the professors said was true!). Gone were the days of planning my daily routine around the 3 hours of class I was obligated to go to. No longer did I have free reign to decide when I studied, when I worked out, and when and where I ate my meals. That freedom of choice was obviously a luxury of college.
My first job out of college was a challenge and an incredible opportunity altogether. I was working 12-13 hour days at some points and also doing some weekend work. On the days that I worked 9:00am into the late night, it wasn’t always easy to eat exactly how I wanted to. I would haul a big gym bag to the office with me in an effort to fit my workouts in before work or over my lunch break. When I had some free time, my number one priority would be to take time to mentally chill out, which usually happened at the mercy of my social life. At the same time, I was putting my heart into my job and giving it my all each day.
Being one who has always made her health and fitness a priority I was determined to not let my work life interfere with my personal fitness goals. I didn’t have the luxury of time on my side anymore, but I had the motivation to make it all work.
We’re all presented with our own unique challenges. You may work long hours, nights and weekends like me. You may work the overnight shift in a hospital. Or maybe you’re a small business owner who never stops working. The time you spend at work obviously challenges your personal health schedule. But it’s not the end of the world! Amidst the stress and obstacles presented from a full time job and career, we can all take steps to ensure we are still living active and healthy lifestyles.
Below are 5 habits I’ve developed to maintain my healthy lifestyle at work:
#1. Find a routine that works for you and stick with it.
Know your work schedule and make a set plan each week for when you will be working out and when you will be taking rest days. Actually write down that plan in your calendar. This way there will be no surprises and you will have a set workout schedule to stick with. Predictability is key for me, and I’m more at ease when I have a routine laid out for me to follow. Treat exercise like any other work commitment you have.
I personally like to schedule my work outs for the mornings before work. I love the feeling of beginning my day with a good sweat, kick starting my metabolism, getting my blood pumping, and feeling alive and motivated for work. Also, I’m usually tired after work and would prefer to have the rest of my night to decompress and do other things (i.e. read a book, cook a good dinner, write or study). It feels great when I know I have my workout done and out of the way after a long day at work.
#2. Pack a lunch the night before.
Plan ahead. So many times I’ve had the intention of making a lunch in the morning before work, only to have 1 of 2 things happen:
- Run out of time and opt to just buy a lunch on my break instead (hello increase in spending $$$)
- Throw together an incomplete meal as I run out the door that leaves me either still hungry after lunch or craving something else.
For those reasons, I’ve learned it’s best for me to prepare my lunch the night before, when I’m relaxed and don’t have anywhere else to be in the night.
You don’t have to full-out meal plan, but taking 10 or less minutes at night before you go to bed to make your lunch and store it in the fridge is a lot less stressful than scrambling in the morning!
#3. Dedicate some time on Sunday or Monday to cook, clean, and chop your go-to lunch items.
This goes along with #2. My go-to lunch has always been a salad consisting of a lot of veggies and some sort of protein. I always find myself lacking cooked meat to add to my salad last minute because cooking meat takes time, care, and energy (and that’s usually something I put off).
Take the time at the beginning of the week to cook/grill any protein of choice, roast some vegetables, make rice or quinoa, cook a few servings of pasta, whatever it is you like to eat for lunch, and have it on hand in your fridge so you’re prepared for the week. Like I said earlier, this doesn’t have to be meal-planning or measuring out portion sizes, but just having prepared staple foods on hand is easier than starting from scratch. *Although, if you want properly portioned meals ready to go, spending a little extra time meal-prepping would be very beneficial, and I would highly recommend.*
#4. Get enough sleep.
Sleep is so often overlooked as an important factor in living a healthy lifestyle. Honestly, I am horrible about making sure I sleep enough each night, so this is something I need to work on. Lack of sleep can affect your mood, your appetite, your immune system and your ability to function. Don’t run yourself into the ground. Rest up!
#5. Breathe and don’t sweat the little things.
Work is tiring and can be stressful. Fun activities outside of work may come up that you want to participate in after a long week. If you stray from your workout routine or have to buy a lunch here and there, it’s okay! Just pick back up where you left off and start each day fresh and new. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that stress only makes you backpedal in way too many aspects of life.
Go with the flow, take care of yourself, take care of your relationships, and perform at your highest potential at work and you’ll find you are a much happier and healthier human being.
Well, there you go! My 5 steps to balancing wellness and work. Remember:
It’s possible to let our work life live in harmony with our healthy objectives!
With healthy intent,