Healthy Habit #10 – A Month of Getting Moving

Get Moving

Here we are in October, so it’s time for a new Healthy Habit.  I have put this one off as long as I could, being the sedentary person that I am.  It’s time though.

I can’t wait any longer.

I’ve got to get moving!

Since I did a month of yoga back in March, I haven’t done any real exercise. I’ve done a yoga class here and there, and I’ve done yoga at home from time to time, but that’s it.  So this month is going to be the month of getting moving.  In my last post, I talked about how difficult the coming months are for me.  I’ve been down and sluggish and not at all active.  My inclination is to go to work and then come home and lay around…doing nothing.   I am hopeful that adding a little bit of activity will not only improve my physical health, but also my mental health.

Here’s my plan: there is no real plan.  I don’t do so well with plans that are set in stone…I get bored and then I quit.  What I am going to work toward is doing something physical every day.  I have a little fitness center just across the parking lot from my apartment, I can go use the treadmill or the elliptical.  I have yoga DVDs that I can do at home.  I can walk around the lake at the park that is less than half a mile away.  I can use the weights that have been collecting dust beside my sofa.  The weather has cooled off here in the desert, so hiking on the weekends is an option.  Whatever it is that I do each day, I know that something is better than nothing.  🙂

I’ll see how it goes, and hopefully I’ll be healthier and happier.

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Update on brown bagging it:  Taking my lunch to work every day, along with making sure that I take a real lunch break away from my desk (Healthy Habit #8), have definitely become a habit.  I haven’t eaten at my desk more than a couple of times in the last two months, and I haven’t ordered out or gotten Subway or pizza for over a month.  I find that I look forward to my lunches, and that I feel refreshed and more motivated in the afternoon.  Success!!

Healthy Habit #9 – A month of brown bagging it

brown_bag_lunch

I know I’m a little late on this post, it’s already the 6th of the month, but for the month of September my Healthy Habit is taking my lunch to work instead of buying fast food every day.  It goes hand in hand with my healthy habit from last month, which was to actually take a lunch break away from my desk at work.  That, by the way, has been a great success.  I’ve enjoyed my lunch breaks and getting away from my desk, and I’ve noticed that my afternoons go faster and I am actually more productive.  So the time that I was “saving” by eating at my desk wasn’t really time saved after all.

Back to this month’s plan, though.  The idea is to take my lunch to work and not run to the Subway next door or the pizza place at the end of the complex.  Those two places have become my solution to being lazy in the morning and not wanting to fix a lunch before I leave for work.  It’s relatively cheap and it’s very convenient.  That said, I know that I consume more calories than I should and I know that fast food can’t be that great for me.  So if I take my own healthy lunches I can avoid those negatives.  All of that sounds great, right?  But there is a drawback.  And for me, it’s kind of a big one.  This whole taking my lunch every day is going to require some planning on my part.  I’m not so great at this planning stuff.  I tend to more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl when it comes to planning those kinds of things.  But, I’m going to do my best to prepare the night before and pack my brown bag each day.

If this healthy habit is successful I might just feel better and lose a little bit of weight…sounds good to me!

 

Healthy Habit #8 – A Month of Breaks (and an update on gratitude)

At the beginning of the year, I decided to try to add healthy habits instead of making resolutions, hoping that at least a few of them will stick and I will end the year healthier than I was at the beginning.  So far, there have been a few that have stuck, and those have made my life healthier and happier.

One day a couple of weeks ago, I was sitting at my desk at work, scarfing down a piece of pizza, trying not to get grease all over a report I was working on, and it hit me –  working through lunches, eating at my desk and not really paying attention to what I was chewing, cannot be healthy.  I had already decided what my healthy habit for August was going to be, but in that moment, I decided to put that one off and remedy my unhealthy lunchtime routine this month instead.  So for this month, the new habit I am going to try out is taking a break.  I am going to actually leave my office and eat my lunch without trying to multi-task my way through it.

This is what I look like at lunch time.

This is what I look like at lunch time.

It turns out that there is a lot of information out there about the benefits of actually stepping away from the office for lunch, and an equal amount of studies and statistics that show just how many employees are not reaping those benefits.  Here is some of what I’ve learned:

  • the typical American lunch break is less than 30 minutes
  • up to two-thirds of workers skip lunch or eat at their desks
  • depending on which study you look at, 18-34 percent of workers always eat at their desks and 16-31 percent reported that they almost always skip lunch in favor of continuing to work
  • the reason that most people cite for not taking time out for lunch is that the demands of work are increasingly high and workplaces are increasingly understaffed

I fall into the eating-at-my-desk category.  Sometimes I pack a lunch, sometimes a coworker runs out and gets us lunch, and sometimes I run next door to Subway, grab a sandwich and settle back in at my desk to eat while I continue to work.  Not stepping away for my break and taking a break from my computer screen makes the day long, and I often feel tired and grumpy in the afternoon.  I may get a couple of extra things done, but am I really more productive than if I took some time out to recharge?  Studies say no. Here are some of the benefits to taking a lunch break:

  • Taking a break restores your psychological resources.  It is a proven way to increase productivity and decision-making and actually improve your mood in the afternoon.
  • It improves your physical health.  There is a lot of medical mumbo-jumbo to support this finding, but what it boils down to is this:  taking a break lowers the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn, lowers your risk of high blood pressure, insomnia, and other related illnesses.
  • Taking a lunch break away from your work surroundings decreases fatigue.  Getting up and walking away for a bit, eating something healthy, and taking some you-time is like pushing a natural reset button.  It revives you for the afternoon, giving you more energy to tackle work issues.

For the past week, I have taken a lunch break each day, and gotten away from my office to do it.  I have noticed that I have more motivation and energy after doing so.  So far, it seems like my productivity has remained the same, but my mood in the afternoon is improved and I don’t feel as worn out by the end of the day.

So for the rest of the month, I am going to make sure that I take a break for lunch each work day, and I will let you know how it goes.

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Update on a month of gratitude:  By far, July’s healthy habit of gratitude is the one that has made the biggest difference for me.  I am continuing to write down the things for which I’m grateful every day in my journal, and doing so has added loads of peace and joy to my life.  Anytime I need a quick change of perspective about a situation, my mind now automatically goes to seeking out the things that make me thankful.  It’s a practice that is definitely becoming a habit.  I call that a win!