Minor Life Hacks to Stay Healthy Despite a Demanding Work Schedule

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I run a start-up business in Irvine. Like you, I have unpredictable, overscheduled, stress-filled workdays. As a Certified Wellness Coach and Weight Loss Specialist, I teach busy professionals and business owners the skills they need to keep their health front-and-center despite their challenging work schedules.   

Don’t relegate your health to the back burner until you get devastating news at your annual physical or end up in the ER. Making just a few changes to your lifestyle can reap big health rewards. Losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of your body weight yields significant benefits, including reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of colon and breast cancer, and decreasing the risk of depression.  

Here are some minor life hacks that will make it feasible to keep your weight under control and live healthfully. I’ve grouped them into common scenarios:

Normal Workdays

  • Bring healthy snacks: Some suggestions: almonds, apple slices, string cheese, hummus and crackers, grapes, turkey jerky, Kind Bars, cut up melons, and baby carrots.
  • Bring your lunch: Prepare your lunch the evening before. Try a Mason jar salad, a packaged salad from Trader Joe’s, or bring dinner leftovers.
  • Take breaks: Sitting is being called “the new smoking.” Take exer-snacks throughout the day. Get up and walk around frequently. Squeeze in at least one short outdoor walk every day. Wear a fitness tracker to keep motivated.

Entertaining and Eating Out with Colleagues

  • Do your homework: Go online, look at the menu, and make a healthy choice before you go to the restaurant.
  • Prepare: Don’t go to the restaurant hungry. Eat a snack or drink a glass of water before you go.
  • Take charge: When eating with a group, take the initiative and suggest a restaurant with healthy options.
  • Have it your way: Request changes to the method of preparation, order sauces and dressings on the side, and substitute the starch for extra vegetables.
  • Stay busy: Instead of diving into the breadbasket, focus on socializing with your dining companions. Drink lots of water or order a non-creamy soup to tide you over until the entrees arrive.
  • Out of sight, out of mind: Ask for a to-go box with your entrée and stash away half of the serving immediately.

Traveling on Business

  • Do your research: Select a hotel room with a refrigerator and a nearby grocery store so you won’t have to order room service.
  • Air travel: If you’re flying, bring your own meal and snacks, or buy something healthy in the terminal.
  • Plan to stay healthy: Book a hotel with a good workout room or nearby gym or running route. Set out your exercise clothes before you go to bed.
  • Pack healthy snacks: You’ll need them for the plane or car ride, and you’ll be less tempted to partake in the mini-bar offerings.
  • Cocktail parties: Snack before you go to resist the fatty appetizers. Limit yourself to one glass of wine.
  • Limitless buffet: Survey the offerings, then load up your plate with vegetables and greens and some healthy protein and whole grains. Skip the bread and desserts.
  • Hang with the healthy crowd: Identify the healthy eaters in the group and mimic their eating habits.

Just Plain Exhausted

  • Be realistic: Figure out the best way to eat healthy dinners when you get home after an exhausting work day. Be realistic about what works with your schedule and energy level, then choose the strategy that works for you. For example:
    • #1: Cook your meals the weekend before: Set aside weekend time to shop, dice, cook, and portion your meals for the week, or
    • #2: Assemble your meals: Buy healthy ingredients that you can quickly make into a good meal. Suggestions include buying a whole roasted chicken, salad greens, canned beans, and pre-cut vegetables, or
    • #3: Buy it prepared: Pick up healthy take-out, like Whole Foods, Veggie Grill or Baja Fresh, or
    • #4: Have it delivered: If you don’t want to cook or assemble, there’s no shame in ordering home delivered meals.

Lorie Eber is member of the Greater Irvine Chamber, serving as an Ambassador and Leads Group Chair. President of Lorie Eber Wellness Coaching, she is a Mayo Clinic Certified Wellness Coach and NASM Certified Personal Trainer, gerontologist, attorney, and author of books the healthy eating books “40 Ways to Leave Your Lover: That Would be Junk Food,” How to Stay Healthy in a World Designed to Make Us Fat and Lazy,” and “Boomers: Aging Beats the Alternative – And a Sense of Humor Helps.”

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