Starting full-time work can be tiring as your body gets used to new routines. It can also be difficult to fit in healthy habits around a longer and more structured day than perhaps you have been used to with study. It is important to schedule in healthy habits from the start to ensure they become embedded in your new lifestyle and do not get neglected due to lack of time or planning.
We all know that regular exercise and healthy eating is good for maintaining a healthy weight, but there are numerous other benefits. Regular exercise makes you happier, it also improves bone density and helps improve muscle strength and ability to repair. Exercise helps you feel more energised, improves brain function and promotes restful, replenishing sleep. Putting healthy, unprocessed food in only adds to the benefits and keeps your system working effectively, to improve skin, digestion, energy and to avoid chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes.
So, how do we make sure we fit in healthy eating and exercise on top of a busy work schedule? Here are some tips to help you along:
•Find exercise you enjoy – it is much easier to get motivated when you enjoy being active. Investigate local gyms, classes, running clubs and sports teams and try a few things out. Your organisation may also have clubs and teams already set up so see what is on offer.
•Figure out what motivates you – some people find exercising in a team, or with a group helps get them up and out, while others have to work towards a goal, like a particular time for running, or lifting a particular weight. You might set yourself a body mass goal, or the number of times you exercise per week. Play about with different motivations and see what gets you moving. Motivation is more powerful when we are working towards a positive goal, rather than avoiding a negative outcome so bear this in mind when you think about what might get you moving.
•Find a cause – training for an event and raising money for a charity you feel passionate about can be a fantastic motivation and has the added benefit of the feel good factor of giving back.
•Vary what you do – whether it is varying what kind of exercise you do (mixing up team sport with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and running, for example) or the routes that you take, variety can help to keep exercise fresh.
•Get it done early – if you struggle with motivation, getting up and out to exercise early can be the best way to ensure it gets done. It also gives you a great sense of satisfaction at having done something good for your body and mind before you even start your day! People who exercise first thing also tend to make healthier food choices throughout the day, so you get a double-whammy!
•Volunteer with your local rescue centre to walk the dogs.
•Get organised – plan your meals ahead and shop for the week. Shopping when you are tired and hungry is a recipe for fast food binging!
•Be prepared (literally!) – prepare as much as you can ahead of time. Cooking a batch of meals at the weekend and freezing them in portions to reheat each evening is a great way to ensure you get good food, fast when you are tired at the end of the working day.
•Have healthy snacks to hand – pack your cupboards with nuts and healthy bars (try to pick bars with low sugar content) or make them yourself, there are some great recipes out there. Keep your fridge stocked with carrots, peppers, cucumber, celery sticks chopped and ready to munch. These make a great snack with a dollop of hummus. See what other healthy snacks you can come up with and, as with exercise, get as much variety as you can to prevent boredom creeping in and sabotaging your efforts.
Good luck and enjoy!