GETTING INTO SHAPE AND STAYING HEALTHY has suddenly taken an elitist position. Only the well-educated, financially stable and motivated individuals can make it. Right?
You see photos of celebrities, fitness models and health gurus posting images of themselves working out, posing in skimpy outfits and cooking “all-organic new-fad foods”. I am no exception. I’m guilty of sharing this part of my life too.
It’s true, people judge you on how you look and how you represent yourself. In those first few seconds of meeting a person you have formulated an opinion about him/ her and they of you. If you look energetic, vibrant and well-dressed, you will likely make a positive impression. If you are disheveled, tired and slouched over, you are probably not showing your best side.
But health doesn’t mean looking skinny. Health doesn’t mean eating the newest fad diet. And health is definitely not reserved for a specific type of person.
Everyone has the right to be healthy (Tweet this).
“Health is not about having a six-pack or eating paleo or living without disease.
Health is living optimally given your situation, genetics, living conditions and financial state.”
Finding the motivation to go to the gym, make home-cooked meals everyday and maintain sanity with work, family and your social life will take steps– baby steps. If you’ve ever tried to “over-haul” your life in one giant leap it’s often very difficult to maintain, if not impossible. There will always be some occasion, family emergency, or important work function that will interrupt your new healthy way of living.
I don’t mean to dissuade you from trying to make a giant leap with your health. Sometimes it is a matter of “life or death”. If you are morbidly obese and suffer from heart attacks and clogged arteries, a major change in your eating and lifestyle will be required to continue living. But this is not the majority. And if you are reading this article, I hope you are not in an emergent state.
Healthy living is just that — living with health. Figuring out a way to live as optimally as possible given your current situation, genetic make-up, living conditions and financial state. With this description, everyone can live a healthy life. But it takes conscious effort and desire.
What is the motivating force that will get you taking on these simple tasks each and every day? It may be superficial at first, but after you start implementing these habits, a whole new world may open up for you.
For example, you might want to lose 20 lbs to fit into your old bikini, and as you start to live a healthier regiment you may feel more energetic, more vibrant, and have even more motivation to live optimally. With this new attitude, you might finally ask the guy from HR out on a date, meet with your boss for a promotion or join an outdoor workout group and make new friends. Maybe you will finally have the energy and physical ability to run around with your children on the new playground this summer?
Start small and keep consistent. Each little step you take will build healthier habits to a more vibrant you.
It doesn’t take much, but it does take consistent effort. Even on those days you “don’t feel like it”. Avoid the yo-yo diets and hard-core weight loss fads. Work with your everyday life to become a healthier you, one day at a time.
1. Park in the last spot or take the local transit
Get that little bit extra walk in and avoid the parking lot wars. The stress of driving, being stuck in traffic, circling the parking lot and getting upset for being cut off is normally not worth it. Take local transit when possible to easy up local traffic, city pollution and your own sanity.
2. Take additional stairs
I have a friend who refuses to take the elevators and escalators. She works a demanding job and walks everywhere as her exercise and stress relief. Walking and taking the stairs can actually be very meditating. Treat it like your private time to think and be with yourself. The only other times that happens is while sitting on the toilet or driving.
3. Take Hourly water and pee breaks
Set a timer on your phone or computer and make sure to get up from your desk or chair for at least 5 minutes. Not only does taking regular breaks help with productivity and concentration, it will keep you in tune with your body. When your timer goes off, think about what your body needs – drink of water, to go pee, to stretch, get some fresh air.
4. Don’t sit so much
5. Practice proper posture while sitting and standing
Proper posture not only helps with your physical form but also your confidence. The minute you see someone with great posture, WOW. You really take notice because of the confidence they exude. Whether sitting or standing, maintain an erect spine, retracted shoulder, long neck and eyes looking forward.
Ergonomics – the posture while sitting is where most people spend their time hunched forward, straining their eyes and extending their necks for hours at a time. Getting fitted for a ergonomic work station and taking hourly breaks to get up and walk can help your physical health and mental well-being.
Proper ergonomics includes a supportive chair with both feet planted on the floor and all angles of the body at 90˚ right angles: elbows, hips, knees, ankles. The screen, book or object in focus should be slightly lower than eye level to avoid exhausting stress on the neck. Similarly to the anatomical position, the ears, shoulders and hips should be in line with one another.
6. Keep healthy snacks at the office and at home to keep your brain sharp
- Home-made guacamole (avocado, onion, garlic, tomato, salt, pepper)
- Air popped popcorn with nutritional yeast and dried herbs
- Dried seaweed snacks
- Kale chips (make them at home with some olive oil and salt on each leaf and pop them into the oven at 350˚C for 30 minutes then turn off the oven and let the kale sit for another hour to dry out)
- Yogurt (dairy or non-dairy) and homemade granola
- Frozen yogurt or coconut ice cream
- Chopped fruits and veggies with hummus –Veggies, veggies, veggies. NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THEM
- Trail mix (nuts, dried fruit, granola, cocoa nibs) – I always have some in my purse and in the car too
- Flavored water (ie. water with berries, lemon, cucumber, lime, mint, grapefruit)
- Green tea as a stimulant, anti-oxidant, for fat loss support and hormonal balance
- Protein shake with pre-made frozen baggies (spinach, frozen blueberries, bananas, green’s powder, protein powder, flax seeds), fish oil and almond milk. Read about my favorite smoothies.
7. Deskercise: Exercises to do at the office
- Squat to chair
- Desk push ups
- Static lunge
- Desk mountain climber
- Wall angels
- Wall sit
Additionally, if you buy some resistance bands and you can do pretty much every exercise. Because the bands come in a range of strengths, choosing a thicker band for your larger muscles works great, or you can shorten the band length to increase tension and resistance.
8. Home and Outdoor Workouts
Interval and resistance training is applicable no matter what fitness goal you have:
- fat loss and muscle gain
- maintenance and preventative health
- or stress management
Home workouts are ideal for many busy and traveling people. Lack of time and fitness equipment are fine excuses to tell your spouse, but you know better. You know that small amounts of exercise every day (or every other day) is more realistic than committing to a 6-week gym program, but getting yourself to do it is another story.
The hard part with self-regulated workouts is staying motivated and committed. With an individual or group personal training session you have a commitment to the trainer and are more likely to stay accountable to regular exercise because of the social and financial obligations.
So I recommend that you call up a friend, enroll your husband, or make a routine out of doing your workout at the same time every day and allow for few exceptions.
Even if you are tired, have other plans or are traveling, do something. Start with 10 minutes everyday at the same time of the day and slowly increase the intensity and duration. Try out this free sample workout, videos and a fitness tracker with my “Seven Days to Sexy” e-course.
Body weight exercises work well, and to challenge your muscles even more, I recommend purchasing resistance bands of different intensities and lengths (easy, moderate, difficult).
Spending time with your family is on the top of most people’s priorities. You work hard all day so that you can spend your off time with your loved ones… not to visit a gym. So, get to a local park, beach, hiking trail or playground with your family. If you have children, nephews, nieces or little kids in your life, try to keep up with them for 10 minutes.
If you can keep up for even 5 minutes I’d be impressed!
Your body was made to move and laugh and hug and sometimes even get dirty, so have fun.
9. Travel Consciously
I travel a lot and usually it’s to places without gym access, so I make due. I bring some bands and do body weight training along with some cardio (ie. running up sand dunes, jumping the waves, jogging along the beach).
However, most people who travel for work have at least some access to a hotel gym. But it’s about planning your days and not leaving it up to chance that you’ll sneak in a workout after your all-you-can-eat buffet and social pub night.
Here are some tips for when you’re traveling to stay in good shape:
- Sleep – especially if you are traveling to a place outside of your time zone, get your sleep so you can reset your clock and be productive.
- Time to workout – the only time in the day that you have complete control over is the mornings. Don’t wait until after the conference or work event to get your exercise done. Do it before everyone else is up, even if it’s just a brisk walk outdoors.
- Efficient exercises – don’t spend hours at the gym. Set a buffer of 30 minutes and stay on track. Once you start, it’s easy to take long breaks or get distracted by other people. Get in and get out. Have your routine set and focus.
- Eating out – This one is tough for most travelers. No one wants to stand out as the “healthy one” ordering salads, it’s your reputation on the line, I get it. Now, if you order a steak with a side salad and only eat 1/3 of your steak, that could definitely work. What ever you order, make sure you are eating some vegetables and approximately a palm-sized portion of protein. Skip the heavy-carbs, appetizers and dessert, they have bad news written all across them. Remember, this is a work trip not a party.
- Drinking out – Many of the social events revolve around alcohol. If you have difficulty limiting yourself to 1 or 2 drinks, just avoid it all together. Ask for a soda water with a wedge of lime in a normal glass and drink that all night.
Focusing your energy on ways to be productive and efficient can be challenging in itself. Read about many home remedies for stress management here. However, there are more specific treatments to stimulate the mind to be sharp and have clarity:
- Rest and sleep – Even after 1 night of sleep deprivation, research shows performance deficits. Go to bed between 10-11pm and wake at the same time every day.
- Water hydration – Keep a water bottle beside you at all times to stay hydrated. I use the elastic band trick to keep track of my water intake — Start your day off with 6 rubber bands on your water bottle. Each time you drink a glass, remove a band and place it on your wrist. When you’ve drank all 6 glasses replace them back on your bottle for the next day.
- Avoid additives – artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, trans fats, olestra, food dyes, sodium chloride/ sulfite/ nitrate/ nitrite, BHA/ BHT/ propyl gallate, sulfur dioxide, potassium bromate and parabens. Read more about the truth behind the 13 most feared additives
- Limit your toxin exposures – Toxins surround us all the time. Whether it’s in the fast-foods we eat, the poor water quality we drink, the pollution from the city air or the harmful self-talk that we say to ourselves– these all have accumulating negative effects on the body, so limit them as much as possible. Click here to learn more about The Best Solutions to Limit Toxin Accumulation from Everyday Exposures.
- EAT! – I can’t tell you how many entrepreneurs I’ve met that go all day on just coffee and a bite of a bagel. Food is your fuel not caffeine. Focus on highly nutritious foods that give you the most bang for your buck. This includes leafy green vegetables, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. Avoid the sugary treats, carb-loaded meals, and starchy snacks. Eat real food. Find out more here.
- Supplement your diet – Healthy fats from fish oil, coconut oil, soy (Phosphatidyl choline, Posphatidyl serine), and vitamin D play an important role in your nervous system, brain function and cellular membrane.
- Herbs: Gotu kola, Ginkgo, Rosemary leaf, and Bacopa are natural nootropic herbs that help stimulate more blood flow to the brain and helps with memory, creativity, concentration and productivity without the hangover side effect of some drugs.
- Sun and exercise – Get your vitamin D and circulate those endorphines everyday.
- Stay positive – Create positivity by visualizing success, standing in powerful poses (proper posture, arms up, hands on hips), repeating powerful mantras and surrounding yourself with positive people
- Habituation – Find a signal that kick starts your productivity. It could be a specific song, favorite chair, taking off your watch, turning social media off, working with a pencil between your teeth, or wearing headphones.
- Taking breaks – Set a timer to go off every 50-90 minutes and get up. Help stimulate circulation and productivity by taking a short break.
- Tuning into yourself – What does your body need? A short walk, water, to use the washroom, to readjust your posture, to breath, relax your shoulders, get outside or stretch.
- Create a happy workplace – Stimulate your creativity and productivity by working in a space that you love (Tweetable).
11. Plan Social Get-Togethers
Strengthen your community by planning social work or neighborhood events. Use a healthy theme so that everyone is welcome to enjoy the activities. For example:
- Bring your pet and children to the park – have a pot luck or bbq where everyone is encouraged to be active and playful.
- Healthy recipe food swap – make your favorite healthy dish for everyone to try and print out the recipe so others can make it themselves
- Tea swaps – bring a box of your favorite tea and let everyone take a tea bag in exchange for one of theirs. Have a pot of boiling water going to taste out some new flavors.
- Walking lunch club – take 20 minutes out of your lunch break to walk as a group. Preferably before you eat to clear your mind, increase circulation, get your muscles moving and prevent unwanted health concerns. This can be a time to collaborate on work concepts or to connect on a level outside of the office.
- Bagged lunch month – choose a month where everyone is encouraged to make and bring their own lunch. No more catering or eating out or eating while at your desk. Get everyone outside and away from their work for 30 minutes, at least.
- Corporate health – bring in a Naturopathic doctor and personal trainer to the office to consult with your employees. Preventative health care has shown time and time again to reduce missed days at work, sickness, chronic illness and improve productivity. The cost of taking care of your employees now will pay you back 10-folds and have your business thriving with energy and motivation.
12. Take on the “7 Days to Sexy” E-Course
Because health isn’t only about looking good, but feeling good. Sexy is a state of mind that gives you the confidence to take on something that you really want but are too afraid to try.
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