Since leaving University and entering the world of work, I have found that having a nine-to-five job can be both a blessing and a curse when considering your health and fitness. A blessing because if, like me, you thrive on having a routine, and a plan, then the consistent hours allows for a good degree of structure in your day-to-day. However, many people can struggle to balance their nine-to-five with their health and fitness goals.
Let’s imagine, for a moment, your typical nine-to-five job:
- You’re getting up unfathomably early
- You’re commuting daily on the tube, train or bus, or in the car, getting stressed about traffic
- You’re sat down at a desk for most of the day
- You’re spending most of your day staring at a computer screen
- You’re eating a sub-standard lunch, usually at your desk
- You’re putting any remaining willpower into resisting the seemingly never-ending availability of cake and biscuits that just happen to be in your direct eye-line all. the. time.
Admittedly, this isn’t a fair representation of all nine-to-five jobs, I get that. For the purposes of this blog post, we’re imagining our ultimate ‘worst-case-scenario’. Your job might not look anything like the one listed above, or maybe it looks a bit like it. Maybe you can cherry-pick one or two points that bare some resemblance. Or maybe in reading that list you think of something else, something that you now notice to be a ‘bump-in-the-road’ of staying ‘healthy’ at work…?
Staying healthy at work doesn’t have to be difficult, boring or restrictive. Of course, ‘healthy’ means something different to everyone, and it will be down to you to figure out what it means to you, personally. However, I’ve written some of my go-to ‘health hacks’ below, to hopefully help you figure out if there’s any small changes you can make to your work life, that will have a positive impact on your overall health!
Prioritise your sleep
The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep per night to function optimally the following day, and the day after that, and the day after that…(you get the picture). So, knowing what time you’re alarm will be going off in the morning, make sure you get to bed in plenty of time. Poor quality of sleep will only mean you’re less focused and more prone to mindless snacking (various research studies have suggested that sleep deprivation can result in an additional 300 calories being consumed per day!) Sleep better, feel better!
Prep like a boss
We all know the phrase “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”, don’t we. Whilst I think that’s a bit harsh, I do believe that spending some time preparing yourself for the following day can make a huge difference. It can be as simple as cooking double portions at dinner, so you have something fulfilling to take for lunch. It can be packing your bag and laying out your clothes, so you can have 15 minutes longer in bed. Small changes can make a big difference, to your nutritional intake over the week (and your bank balance, no doubt).
Sitting at a desk all day can have really damaging effects on our back and posture, so try and make a conscious effort to get up an walk around the office every 30 minutes. Make a cup of tea, refill your water-bottle or go and speak to a colleague rather than just sending an email. If you’ve got the option of a standing desk, maybe give that a go! Regular movement, and a bit of a stretch, will do wonders for your mobility, long-term.
Schedule your workouts
It is possible to keep up a fitness routine, whilst working full-time. Take some time on a Sunday night to look at your week ahead and pencil in your gym sessions. Make a date with yourself or, even better, with a friend. It might mean getting up slightly earlier to get to an early morning class (I love to start my day with a workout) or head straight there after work (you these’s no going home and sitting on the sofa to distract you). Maybe you can buddy up with someone else from the office who’s looking to get back into a fitness routine as well!
Say “yes” to the biscuits (yes, really!)
If you’ve prepped like a boss, you’ll have some healthy snacks on hand for grazing at your desk whilst you work. But, if 3pm rolls around and you’re really feeling that chocolate digestive or slice of cake to get you through until home-time, then go for it. And whilst we’re here, don’t hate on yourself for it. Biscuits are not ‘bad’ and you are not ‘bad’ – your worth is not dictated by your food choices. Image an 80/20 approach; 80% healthy, balanced and nutritious and 20% everything else. Plus, letting yourself have these ‘treats’ during the week means you’re less likely to ‘go wild’ at the weekend and helps to avoid a ‘weekday-restrict-weekend-binge’ mindset.
There will be days where these aren’t possible, or we’ll prioritise convenience and comfort over pre-planning and balance. But that’s okay. Small changes, when we can, are all positive steps in the right direction towards creating a healthier, sustainable, lifestyle. Any questions about meal prep, getting into fitness or anything else, leave me a comment below!
Until next time,