Sometimes the thought of trying to lead a healthier lifestyle just seems too daunting. We spend every week promising ourselves that we will start on Monday and then when we do, it just takes one little hiccup and we've 'ruined' the week and wait until the following Monday to start again.
The first thing I want you to learn is that being healthy isn't a strict regime, it's not something that can only be started at the beginning of the week and it's not something which you can destroy when you have a piece of chocolate.
Being healthy is a lifestyle and an ethos that you live by. It's also subjective so what you determine as being healthy is completely different to someone else so it's never right to compare yourself.
'We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit' - Aristotle
I live my life by this ethos, I don't repeatedly eat cake, but when I do I don't spend the whole day angry at myself as I know I make healthier choices the majority of the time and it is those actions that I do repeatedly that form who I am.
Therefore creating healthy habits is key to building a happy, balanced and nourishing lifestyle.
Below are my top 5 healthy habits that you can start implementing immediately!
1. Drink More
Our body is on average 75% water so hydration is so important to ensure our bodies are functioning as they should. If you don't keep hydrated you will find you become increasingly tired, have difficultly concentrating and also find your mood will drop. So simply just increasing your water intake is one of the quickest health wins.
Start the day with a warm water and a squeeze of lemon, this will help cleanse the body and kickstart your digestive system.
Throughout the day aim to drink a minimum of 1.5 litres. Keep a 500ml water bottle at your desk and challenge yourself to drink it by certain points in the day e.g. 1 bottle by lunch, another by the end of the day and one before bed. You will be surprised at the difference you will feel in just a couple of days of doing this.
2. Eat More
When you get tied up in work the first thing that usually get's thrown out is a regular eating pattern. We've all been there when we've picked up a coffee on our way to work with the full intention of eating at our desk and then you get carried away and before you know it it's 11am and you haven't eaten anything yet!
Trying to stick to a regular and frequent eating pattern will not only help regulate your energy and moods, but it will also help maintain your metabolism.
Start as you mean to go on with a good breakfast, either prepare you breakfasts the night before, or buy a tub of full fat plain yogurt, some seasonal fruit and top with nuts and seeds for a speedy desk breakfast that you can enjoy all week!
Challenge yourself to eat breakfast every morning for a whole week and take note of your energy throughout the day, you will quickly notice the mid morning slump disappears. If you are looking for some inspiration try some of my speedy breakfast recipes such as this Bircher Muesli or Vanilla and Raspberry Porridge
3. Sleep More
You will have heard this hundreds of times, but sleep is one of the most important things for your overall health. Ensuring you are getting enough hours of quality sleep a night minimises the risk of illness, helps your body recover, improves your mood, helps with weight control, ensures clearer thinking and improves your memory. To be honest it's completely fundamental for your body to function throughout the day!
There are always too many things to do in a day and it is very easy to compromise your sleep to get that extra waking hour, but doing this will just make you even less productive within your working hours.
So it's so important that you start to prioritise your sleep! It may seem odd, but set yourself a regular bedtime, dependent on what time you usually wake up, so you know you will average about 7-8 hours a night. You won't always make this, but having the set routine will ensure that you become aware of the hours you are getting each night and it will also help your body adapt to a regular sleep pattern.
4. Move More
Another activity which tends to be the first one out the door when things get busy, but exercise is so important for so many elements of your health that it really should stay a top priority, especially during stressful and busy times.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to exercise, but finding a regular routine that suits you will help increase your energy levels, decrease anxiety, improve sleep patterns and mood as well as helping to reduce the risk of diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure and many other chronic illnesses.
Just adding 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise into your routine will make a huge difference to your overall wellbeing. It doesn't need to be high intensity workout, it could be a easy as walking to work or the train station, you just need to find out what is right for you and then make it a habit!
5. Live More
I would say that the majority of people feel as if they don't have their ideal work/life balance. It's one of the hardest things to conquer, but it is also one of the most important things to accomplish in order to find contentment. Everyone's ideal balance will differ, but the key thing is to work at finding a balance where you feel as if you are getting the best of both worlds.
If you are in a situation where you feel like work may be getting the lion share of your attention, then it's time to start doing a bit more for yourself.
A great way of kick starting this is to take up something new, something which you have always wanted to try but have never got round to doing (usually because you have been too busy prioritising work or other people).
It can be anything from yoga to learning a new language, but you have to make a commitment to it, even if it's just for one or two evenings a week. Being committed to something that makes you turn off your computer is the best way of forcing yourself to prioritise your life outside of work. Don't be unrealistic and expect yourself to be out of the office on time every night of the week, but just that day or two when you prioritise your new found hobby and time with yourself will immediately start to alter your work/life balance.
Lucie is a Health and Wellness Consultant who specialises in helping busy professionals lead a healthy life, for more tips and healthy recipes head to her website www.the9to5foodie.co.uk.