Work, Social Life, Fitness and Sleep. Pick Three.
Many will argue that this is an inevitability in modern society. A rewarding career, fulfilling family and a good night's rest come at the expense of neglecting health and wellbeing. Add fitness into the equation, and you've either got sacrifice getting enough Z's to be productive at work, or you have to prioritise a late night gym session over staff drinks on a Friday night.
But you can have it all.
By implementing subtle yet effective tweaks to your day to day routine, you'l find that balancing the scales is actually a lot easier than once thought. Be bold, be brave and challenge yourself! Breaking the habit and changing your routine is the hardest part, but it's important to stick at it and remain consistent.
Reduce Sitting Time
Sitting for long periods of day has been well founded to cause detrimental damage to muscular function, circulation and the cardio vascular system. Unfortunetly, sitting is ingrained into many professions, and can sometimes be perceived as inevitable, resulting in bad posture, back and neck pain, and may even result in trips to the chiropractor or physiotherapist.
The human body was not made to sit for prolonged periods of time!
There are a number of ways to combat this, however, the one change that will have the greatest effect is to switch to a standing desk. More and more employers are investing in these desks with adjustable heights, with a variety of studies indicating an increase in productivity, cognitive function and moral as a result. Standing up at work all day may sound tedious, but you can easily phase into this by giving your legs a break by taking seated rest throughout the day, until your quadraceps, hamstrings and glutes become acustom to supporting your weight throughout the day.
If a standing desk isn't on the cards, that doesn't mean you out of luck! Find as many opportunities as you can throughout the day to stretch your legs. Why not have a walking meeting? The more mobile you are throughout the day, the better you will feel, and your body will definitely thank you for it. Challenge yourself with a fitness tracker or pedometer to see how many steps you're taking, and aim to beat that number each day!
Chronic snoozer? Can't get out of bed in the morning without a serious cup of coffee? You might be in bed for eight hours, but how much of that is good quality sleep?
On average, we spend about a third of our lives in bed, so if you haven't invested in a good quality mattress and pillow, now is the time. A countour pillow may also provide additional neck support, particularly for those who suffer from neck or back pain!
Try taking a break from screens for an hour before you go to bed. This will allow your brain to naturally release melatonin, and prepares you both mentally and physically for a good night's rest. If you're in the habit of watching a movie before settling in, install Flux on your laptop. Flux gradually adjusts your display to warmer tones after sunset, to prevent the bright lights of your computer monitor keeping your brain buzzing!
If you sleep smarter, you won't have to sleep longer!
If the jolt of the alarm seems to come too early no matter how early you set it, try downloading an app such as Sleep Cycle for your phone. Sleep Cycle, as well as many fitness trackers on the market, not only track your sleep cycles and give you a quantatitive analysis of your rest, but wakes you up as you are coming out of a deep sleep cycle during a dedicated 30 minute window. This allows you to have a natural wakeup every morning, no matter how early your alarm is set, and you'll find that you feel more refreshed upon waking, and you might even have an extra 10-15 minutes up your sleeve!
Although some people love to spend 60-90 minutes in the gym, a 10-20 minute workout can be just as effective if you're short on time. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) revolving around short periods of extreme exertion, alternated with active recovery windows, such as sprinting and walking/jogging, kicks the body's cardivascular function into over-drive, burning an insane amount of calories in a short period of time.
Short on time? HIIT is your answer.
If you're fortunate enough to have a gym that offers classes within walking distance of the office, a lunch time fitness class a few times a week will easily put you on the right track, without taking any additional time out of your day. Don't be surprised if working out gives you a rush of energy and boosts your cognitive function in the afternoon too! You'll be more productive, feel better, look better and still be home in time for dinner.
Speaking of efficiency, have you considered preparing your week's worth of lunches on the weekend? A big Sunday cook-up can be incredibly cost effective, and investing an hour or so preparing fresh and nutritious food will keep you away from the fast-food temptations that quickly add up, both financially and in terms of calories! If cooking isn't your thing, there are plenty of options for pre-prepared and healthy lunches which can be delivered to your workplace in your local area. A quick Google search will deliver a plethora of options, high in protein and can often be customisable to suit all tastes and dietary requirements!
At the end of the day, it comes down to the lifestyle changes that make the way for a healthier and fitter you. Forcing yourself to workout day in and day out isn't going to be sustainable in the long term if it's wearing you down. Tweak your lifestyle and build exercise and physical activity into your daily schedule, and before you know it, a 30 minute workout before or after work will sound like a treat, not a chore.