Leading the executive life has its fair share of rewards and drawbacks.
The pace is fast, the pressure is high, and there are always events to be at. Yet, did you know that spending so much time confined in meetings, rushing through airports, and hosting clients can lead to an expanding waistline and long-term health risks?
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a busy work schedule can be difficult. With a few tips and strategies from FENIX, you can keep your waistline slim and your heart healthy while climbing the corporate ladder.
We know you’re busy, so we’ve pulled together the top issues likely to affect your waistline and what you can do to turn them around.
Problem 1: You have an overflowing calendar
Company lunches, catch-up dinners with ex-colleagues, and after-work drinks with friends are great occasions to bond with colleagues and friends. At the same time, they are tempting opportunities to overindulge or to eat the wrong things.
When there’s a constructive flow of conversation, food and drinks, and perhaps generous, diet-dismissing colleagues, it becomes challenging to stay on track.
To make the most of these occasions yet still honour your health goals follow these three easy steps:
- Decide wisely when agreeing to attend events and activities. Carefully consider their benefit to you and choose those that will best support your goals.
- Choose venues that offer healthier options and high-protein foods, such as lean meats and seafood.
- Plan ahead and familiarise yourself with the menu before arriving, so you can make smart decisions when ordering.
Problem 2: No breaks
With the sheer amount of work, it always feels like there’s never enough time. However, it’s important to remember that breaks are essential for recharging and maintaining energy levels.
After all, you didn’t evolve to sit in an office chair all day.
The break you that you thought you could never afford to take, could actually boost your productivity and support your wellbeing.
So here’s how to do it:
- Schedule small breaks throughout the day. Even just five minutes to stretch can make a difference.
- Try the Pomodoro Technique. It is an effective way to force breaks and improve productivity.
- Go for lunch breaks. Aim for 30 minutes or more if possible. Use this time to escape from the desk and get some fresh air.
Problem 3: A lack of quality sleep
We all know that sleep is essential, but not many people realise how important it is to promote weight loss (Flor, 2022). If you are regularly getting too little sleep, that affects your body in several ways, such as:
- A lower immune response means getting sick more often, which affects your ability to work out and stay active.
- Food cravings which make it challenging to make good food choices when you are short of sleep.
- Increased inflammation levels affect how quickly you can recover from workouts and leave you feeling tired and sore for longer.
- Difficulty in focusing and getting things done makes you less inclined to go to the gym or schedule healthy activities outside of work.
Here’s what to do to get more and better sleep:
- Set a bedtime. Aim to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night, and don’t let work demands compromise your rest. Use a bedtime alarm on your phone as a strong reminder.
- Stay away from work emails and tasks before bed. Without clear separation, you’ll end up with work rolling through your head all night.
- Create a pre-bed routine. 30 to 40 minutes before you sleep, turn off all the screens in your house and dim the lights. Read or listen to calming music instead of watching TV or browsing social media.
- Manage your caffeine intake. If you love coffee, keep your cups in the morning, not in the afternoon or evening. Taking caffeine later in the day can keep you up at night or adversely affect your sleep quality (Pacheco, 2023).
For more information, read our latest sleep science article here.
Problem 4: Using food to cope
When work becomes overwhelming, turning to food for comfort can be tempting.
Food is closely tied to our emotions (Mantell, 2013) and can light up the reward centres in our brains. Consuming food, especially the holy trinity of Sugar, Fat, and Salt, releases vast amounts of dopamine, which brings pleasure and satisfaction.
Unfortunately, that happy feeling is short-lived, and you’re often left feeling bad about snacking or reaching out for more.
Later when concerned about our weight, it is tempting to try and shed kilos as quickly as possible. However, losing more than 1% of your body weight per week is unhealthy and can even be dangerous (Davis, 2021). The key is to start with small changes and work to make them habits.
Here is how to take back control:
- Identify your triggers. What situations trigger the urge to snack? Is it deadlines, emails, needing to escape, or visits from a co-worker? Learn your triggers and start to block or switch your automatic responses.
- Drink Water. We often mistake thirst for hunger (Cohen, 2022), so keep a bottle on hand and start there before you reach for a snack.
- Swap your go-to snacks. Have a stash of healthy foods on your desk, such as a jar of Almonds or fresh fruit. Its proximity and availability make it a quick and easy alternative to the vending machine or other junk food in the pantry.
- Try mindful eating. Pay attention to your cravings and acknowledge their presence. Then, when you are eating, savour your food mindfully, so that you’ll enjoy it more and eat less to feel satisfied.
Problem 5: A lack of support
How many times have you tried to make healthier choices for lunch but ended up eating with colleagues at their favourite spots?
It takes a lot of discipline to adopt new behaviours. While you don’t want to be seen as upsetting the status quo, you must plan ahead to avoid falling into old traps.
If you are ready to do things differently and start honouring your health and body goals, there are ways to work around this situation.
- Have the conversation. Let your colleagues know you’re on a health journey, and would appreciate their support. You might even inspire some to do the same.
- Take the lead. Suggest a new place for lunch with healthier options, let the group know where you’re going, and ask if they’d like to join you.
- Make the next team-building activity active, like dragon boating or a hike. Doing an outdoor activity in a group is a great way to wash off office stress and get to know the fun side of your colleagues.
- Find a Friend. Inspire a colleague to start a fitness journey with you. You can keep each other on track, plan outside activities, and train together.
Problem 6: No time to work out
For busy executives, making time to work out can be a great challenge. Not only do you need time, but you also need energy.
The positive note is that momentum will work in your favour once you take the first step and you’ll find yourself starting to look forward to your workouts rather than dreading them. Choose a gym and a fitness Coach who make you feel delighted to be going there and working out.
Here are some tips for fitting physical activity into your already-packed schedule:
- Invest in a pair of “work sneakers” for under the desk and take a walk on your lunch break. Even 10 minutes can help you burn calories, reduce stress, and get your heart pumping.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Consider it “exercise time” and use it to recharge during a busy day.
- Book a training session before, during, or after work. A good trainer will push you, but a great one will develop you.
It’s safe to say that navigating executive life can be difficult, and without proper guidance, it can be even more challenging.
We’ve looked at the common pitfalls of maintaining a healthy lifestyle in a fast-paced work life, from overflowing social calendars to an inability to fit physical activity into your day.
By understanding the obstacles and strategising how best to integrate strategic changes into our lifestyles, we can work towards better health with greater ease.
At Fenix Fitness, we have a unique approach to training that resonates with our executive members.
We are evidence-based, meaning that our team keeps up-to-date with the latest research to deliver the best results for you. In this way, we provide our executive members with optimal workouts that leave you energised, not exhausted.
You deserve a Coach and a training program which understands you and leaves you energised not exhausted.
Taking control—exercising regularly and eating healthily—does not mean sacrificing your work ambition or performance. In fact, by incorporating strategies such as these into your daily routine, you’ll likely find yourself far more energised and successful in both your business and personal life.
If you need help starting your health and fitness journey, book a free initial consultation and speak with one of our expert health and fitness Coaches. We’re always happy to help and we’d love to hear more about what you want to achieve.
This article was contributed by the talented Fenix Fitness Coach Madhu Giri.
Cohen, L. (2022). Are you hungry or thirsty? the link between hydration and appetite. healthylife.com.au. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.healthylife.com.au/learn/hungry-or-thirsty
Davis, M. (2021). STOP RUSHING YOUR WEIGHT LOSS! . Renaissance Periodization. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://rpstrength.com/expert-advice/slow-losses
Flor, P. (2022, February 13). 10 ways to get better sleep, today. Revive Stronger. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://revivestronger.com/10-ways-get-better-sleep-today/
Hurford, M., & Marie, E. (2023). What Does it Mean to be in a Calorie Deficit? Health Digest. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.healthdigest.com/316915/what-does-it-mean-to-bhttps://www.healthdigest.com/316915/what-does-it-mean-to-be-in-a-calorie-deficit/e-in-a-calorie-deficit/
Mantell, M. (2013). Are you an emotional eater? ACE. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.acefitness.org/resources/everyone/blog/3508/are-you-an-emotional-eater/
Pacheco, D. (2023, February 7). Caffeine’s connection to sleep problems. Sleep Foundation. Retrieved February 28, 2023, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/nutrition/caffeine-and-sleep
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