Working women are some of the busiest women on earth. More women are providing for the family, both in the office and at home, and sometimes, those commitments mean that focusing on your wellness slips down the list of priorities. But in order to juggle life’s various challenges, your health is integral, because if we don’t have our health, we don’t have anything.
Eat for energy and stamina
The best place to start your journey to wellness is by assessing your diet. It’s easy to succumb to the temptations of your co-workers treats (we’ve all been there), but if you have a sedentary job, it’s important to consider what you eat and how easily your body will be able to digest it. Jobs that require you to sit for long periods of time slow your metabolism, so packing yourself a healthy, balanced lunch is key to avoid binge eating Tim Tams in the afternoon.
The key to feeling satisfied at work is to make sure you’re getting enough of the three main food groups: carbohydrates, fats and protein, which function together to ensure that you feel full, satisfied and energised.
For example, a large salad for lunch with salmon or chicken and lots of colourful veggies and a bit of healthy fat, such as an avocado, contains all three key food groups to keep you going. Dress it with olive oil, balsamic vinegar or lemon.
To switch it around, incorporate the salad into a wholemeal bread wrap. If a salad bores you, how about some rice paper rolls, sushi, or a small bowl of stir fried meat and veggies? If you’re craving something a bit warmer for the winter season, a chicken and vegetable soup is always filling and nutritious.
It’s wise to break up the three main meals with regular snacks and natural is best. Processed foods, even those labelled as “low fat” or “fat free” are full of sneaky additives like sugar and preservatives, which actually lead to weight gain rather than weight loss. Pack yourself some fresh fruit, protein balls, muesli bars, nuts, or hummus with celery or carrot sticks. A good strategy is to buy a stash of snacks to leave work so you never get caught out and have to resort to the vending machine.
Organisation is your friend
Sure, this may be something you have heard before, but may not have been able to put into action. At the end of the day all it takes is a few minutes’ preparation at the start of the week – cook your meals for the week ahead on the weekend and you’ll be laughing. The key is organisation!
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
It’s also vital to stay hydrated throughout the day. People often report a 3pm slump in energy, but many don’t know that this often has to do with dehydration. The daily recommended water intake for women is two litres – the equivalent of about eight glasses. You have eight hours at work – challenge yourself to drink one glass an hour. This will also help you feel full and keep you from over-snacking.
Incorporate exercise into your working day
It’s important to move throughout the day as well. I can’t reiterate enough that sitting for long periods of time leads to a slower metabolism, so make an effort to move a bit each hour. If you can, go for a walk at lunch. Getting out of the office to move is refreshing and energising. You’re not going to be the only one in the office with fitness goals; find a walking buddy and encourage each other to get moving! If you don’t have time, park further away to force yourself into a short walk each morning and evening and commit to taking the stairs instead of the lift.
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And of course, away from the office, getting to the gym is a great way to de-stress. However if you hate the gym – don’t force it on yourself! Find a physical activity that you actually enjoy – whether that’s running, joining a sports team or maybe even hip hop dancing – and you will be able to stick to it.
Listen to your instincts
Finally, the most important tip is to be self-aware. You know your limits better than anyone else. It’s beneficial for your health to take time off work, whether it’s a staycation or a trip to an exotic destination. Getting your mind off of the happenings of the office to focus on yourself will help you to remember what life is all about – and reset your goals and expectations.
We only have a few hours each day, and when many of them are spent in the office, you have to re-purpose your work hours to fit your health goals as well as your career goals. Eating better, moving more and focusing on your mindset will help you to seize the day with energy and passion.
Karina Francois is a leading Australian naturopath, health educator and public speaker with over 14 years experience running her own clinic in Melbourne, Infinite Health Practice. She is also an international author, releasing her first book, Clean Food, Clear Thinking in 2015. After visiting a naturopath who assisted her back to health following a period of illness, Karina was inspired to help others to achieve optimal health, and pursued a career in naturopathy.