5 Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle When You Work 50+ Hours a Week
11:24 am, August 8th | by Sarah Kaufman, Manilla.com
Before I started exercising about six months ago, it had been years since I had worked out on a regular basis. I was working a 9-7 job, and given that I had never been a morning person, there was no way I was waking up early to engage in physical activity. Working out at 8 p.m. was out of the question (during happy hour? No thanks.) and weekends were for relaxing. That left little to no time for healthy habits, which left me feeling exhausted, overworked and groggy pretty much all of the time.
I wish I could say there was some ah-ha moment when I decided it was time to be healthier, but there really wasn’t. I think I had just had enough of being less than thrilled with the way I looked and felt, so I decided to make a change. Everyone is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for adopting healthy habits, but here are a few things that worked for me.
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1. Start small — you’re not training for the Olympics.
The key piece of advice to living a healthy lifestyle when you’re working all the time is to make small changes. Many people make the mistake, myself included, of going from zero to 100 — we don’t exercise for years and then try to commit to hitting up the gym for 90 minutes, five days a week. We eat like crap every day for a year and then decide we’re going on a raw diet for a month.
This is completely unrealistic, and when you set those types of goals for yourself, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Not only is your body going to go into shock mode and hate you, but you’ll also feel mentally, physically and emotionally drained.
When I started exercising this time around, I only went to the gym for 30 minutes at a time, no more than three times a week, and I was able to feel results almost immediately. And when you start small, you are more likely to maintain your routine.
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2. It’s a lifestyle change, not a fad diet.
Starting small is the key to making this your new lifestyle. If this is something you want to maintain, you can’t cut your calories in half or overdo it at the gym. Make realistic goals that you know you can keep, such as vowing to eat at least one piece of fruit a day. That’s a completely achievable goal that doesn’t involve starving yourself — it’s just involves making a healthy choice. Another easy goal might be to go to a certain workout class you like once a week. This is something you know you’ll be able to do, and when you achieve your goals, you’ll be motivated to keep going.
3. Find exercise you like to do, but keep it fresh.
Find an exercise you actually enjoy doing, but also find a way to mix it up. Doing the same thing over and over again — no matter what it is — gets monotonous and boring. And especially when it involves physical activity, you’re less likely to do it if it becomes dull. For example, if yoga is the exercise for you, find a yoga studio that offers different types so you can keep your practice interesting and something you look forward to doing. In my experience, finding three unique exercise classes offered at my gym each week was the way to go — they’re all different, so each time I go to the gym I look forward to new trying new exercises.
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4. Make your changes convenient.
When it comes to exercising, don’t join a gym that’s far away from your house and office because you’ll probably never go. For healthy eating, go grocery shopping at the beginning of the week so that you always have healthy snacks in your refrigerator. Plan your meals in advance and bring healthy food to work to ensure proper portion control. Even though my office building as a gourmet cafeteria with a mind-blowing salad bar, the pound of cheese I typically pour on my salad really kills the point of eating a salad. I’ve found that bringing my lunch to work helps me eat healthier because I’m confined to the portion I have and I’m not tempted by the bacon bits, creamy dressing and croutons.
5. Embrace (and believe) the principle that everything is OK in moderation.
It’s true. Everything really is OK in moderation. Despite my major cut on bacon bits, creamy dressing and croutons in tip No. 4, it’s OK to have those things once in a while, especially if you’re craving them. We live in a world that is constantly telling us the new healthiest, fittest, lowest-fat thing with the most fiber and the lowest calories and the highest calcium and it can flush out your system and help you digest better and make you feel amazing!
It gets really exhausting trying to keep up with the latest and greatest health tips. The important thing to do is to make overall healthy food choices that make you feel good physically and mentally. You don’t have to sacrifice dinners with friends, work happy hours, and other social engagements to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Sarah Kaufman is the editor-in-chief of the Manilla Blog at Manilla.com, the leading, free and secure service that helps consumers simplify and organize all of their bills and household accounts in one place online or via the 4+ star customer-rated mobile apps. Sarah is also a regular contributor to Yahoo! Finance, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Redbook, The Motley Fool, The Jane Dough and other sites. For more career development tips and advice, visit the Manilla Blog.