A Workaholic’s Guide To Staying Healthy

Work these routines into your day to easily integrate healthy habits to your workflow.
Freelance Writer and editor, Self-employed
December 20, 2011

It’s Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. and I’m hungry. I’m also on deadline and don’t have time to make myself a nutritious snack, so I reach for the easiest thing to munch on—ice cream—and sit in front of my computer for another four hours. My well-intended workout plans are a distant memory. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.

Sound familiar?

If you’re anything like me, you find it difficult to stay healthy while also working far more than 40 hours every week. This is a frustrating fact and—in light of coming New Year’s resolutions—I’m ready to make a change. So I called up two small business owners and a fitness expert to glean a few tips on losing the pounds and getting in a better routine come 2012. First up: Laura Zander, the very-fit owner of Jimmy Beans Wool in Reno, Nevada.

“I do think it’s possible for a business owner to stay healthy, you just need to take out the guilt associated with stepping away from your company,” she says.

Zander does this by using her exercise time as what she calls “brain clearing time.” Walks with her dogs turn into brainstorming sessions for her business, and elliptical workouts translate into time to research on her iPad.

Another tactic that works: staying away from sweets. Zander doesn’t let herself have food in her office, and tries to eat light throughout the day, always waiting until dinner to have her largest meal.

How does she maintain such enviable willpower?

“It’s the same way you have the willpower to work 16 hours per day; I’m stubborn and don’t want to work to lose the weight, so I try not to gain the weight,” she says.

Next, I checked in with the 7-months-pregnant Jennifer Berson, founder of Jeneration PR in Sherman Oaks, California. Although she admits to eating junk food while pregnant (who can blame her?), Berson usually stays away from the sweet stuff and makes sure to attend at least two exercise classes per week.

“It’s hard, but I’ve found that I have to schedule working out just like any other activity—if I put it on my calendar, it’s a little easier to incorporate into my day,” she says.

When that doesn’t work, she and her team will have dance parties in the office. Yes, that’s right…dance parties.

“We will stop working for 10 minutes, crank up some Black Eyed Peas and just start dancing around our desks; it always changes our moods and we come back to work happy and energized,” she says.

While these are great ideas, I needed more. So I called up Don Miguel a personal trainer out of Dallas, Texas (who also happens to be training for the 2012 London Olympics) to get a few more tips.

Have a plan

As a small business owner himself, Miguel finds time to train by keeping a tight schedule. He’s up at 5 a.m. to workout and never misses a day. And while you may not be training for the Olympics, you can still learn from his advice.

“Set boundaries with your time; you can work 18 hours a day, but just make sure to take time off for lunch and your workout—think ahead and plan,” he suggests.

Keep water on hand

According to Miguel, most people have trouble differentiating thirst from hunger. So keep a full water bottle within reach and take a swig every time you get the urge—it can help curb snacking cravings.

Eat with intention

It’s easy to reach for the sweets or savories, but try keeping more healthy treats around such as nuts, fruits and vegetables.

“This goes back to having a plan—think about what you will eat during the day; it’s not bad to have a bag of potato chips, but make sure to eat them in moderation,” he says.

Breathe

Stress can lead to overeating and an increase in blood pressure. Miguel says it’s vital to take 30 seconds and focus on your breathing.

“A mere 30 seconds may seem like infinity to stop what you are doing at your desk, but it can relax your shoulders and decrease your stress level,” he says.

Breathe deeply through your nose and out your mouth, Miguel advises. And do it as often as possible—during your lunch break, when your boss gets on your nerves, when you go for a walk…anytime is a good time to take a moment for yourself.