By Larry Greene.
No matter how much you want to make healthy choices, it often feels like there simply isn’t enough time. When heading out for work, it’s much easier to grab a pre-packaged granola bar than whip up some oatmeal from scratch.
You may also find yourself sacrificing the gym to complete an extra hour of work. What many business professionals don’t realize is that there is a way to be both the busiest and the healthiest version of you. No, it doesn’t mean you’ll only get three hours sleep! You can start by adding these four easy and healthy habits into your schedule.
Sleep 7-8 hours per day
Not just sleep but quality sleep is extremely important to your ability to function on a daily basis. Good sleep improves memory, increases lifespan, and reduces inflammation that can lead to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging. When you’re working out regularly, sleep is where your body recovers and gets stronger. Whether your goal is weight loss, muscle gain, a longer life, or overall health – you are drastically inhibiting your progress by not sleeping well.
Do you feel like you don’t have enough time to sleep well? Maybe at the end of the night you decide to get one extra hour of work in instead of an extra hour of sleep. Consider this – the tasks you accomplish in that extra hour of work are far less efficient and you are far less productive the next day than if you’d gotten an extra hour of quality sleep. Whatever tasks you’re staying up late to complete can likely be done first thing in the morning after a good night’s rest with much better efficiency!
If you constantly wake up tired, or if you grind your teeth or snore at night, the quality of your sleep is most likely impaired. Quantity vs quality of sleep must be considered.
Make 3-ingredient meals
Peanut butter, jelly, and whole-wheat bread. Tofu, veggies, and rice. Hummus, veggies, and crackers. There’s an entire world of easy and delicious meals that you can make with just three ingredients.
These meals require minimum grocery shopping and even less prep-work! Eating these balanced meals frequently throughout the day will increase your energy levels and keep you from the vicious cycle of crashing and then overeating.
Walk it out
Many jobs these days require sitting in front of a computer screen for hours on end. Add your 8+ hour work shift at the desk to the time you spend driving, traveling, even just sitting down for dinner. Many professionals admit to spending 10-12 hours per day sitting in a chair. To combat sitting down for the better half of your day, take a break to walk and stretch regularly. Better yet, park further away from work and walk!
Areas to focus on for stretching include quadricep muscles on the top front of your leg, hips, pectoral chest muscles, and latissimus upper-back muscles. All of them are directly affected by all that sitting and lead to back pain, poor posture, and overall dysfunction in movement patterns.
Eliminate white food
Things like bread, white rice, flour, pasta, crackers, and sugar are just a few examples of “white foods.” But white goes beyond their color, the white signifies that they are largely processed and refined foods made up of chemicals and preservatives. The body doesn’t recognize these substances as food it can use as fuel.
In addition, sugar exists (and is often hidden) in most processed foods. Sugar is a scientifically addictive substance to the brain and activates the same brain centers as heroin. Think about how well you’d perform at work if you showed up each morning on heroin. Being addicted to sugar has long term health consequences, sabotages weight loss efforts, and will decrease energy levels on a daily basis. Reduced energy translates into diminished cognitive function, reduced creativity, and general malaise.
Increase your effectiveness and productivity by adopting these four lifestyle shifts. You will feel better, look better, and be more powerful in everything you do. Eating is to fuel your body. Movement adds strength and mobility to your body. Good quality sleep repairs and restores your body. In turn, your body will work for you and allow you to become a more effective, healthier litigator.
Larry Greene is a certified personal trainer with over 14 years experience. He can be reached at Genesis Performance & Fitness in Thousand Oaks, CA.