Let’s face it—lawyers spend long hours typing away and researching at a desk or conference room. There isn’t much that is going to change about that aspect of our jobs, regardless of whether you get on trend and opt for a snazzy stand up desk (note that this author does indeed have a stand up desk). However, what can change is how we compartmentalize our time so that we are able to incorporate healthy habits into our weekly routine. This is especially important because we are approaching the holidays, and if you are anything like me, that means you are about to find yourself face deep in pumpkin pie and leftover green bean casserole. I am going to provide 5 easy tips to incorporate into your week so that come the holidays, you have several weeks of healthy habits behind you. In January of this year, I sought out to make healthy lifestyle changes and have been working on that goal since that time. I am currently training for a marathon and working full time as a law clerk—so while I would not consider myself a health expert, I will share what has worked for me in losing weight and finding the motivation (and time) to work out again.
Just start moving. Pick tomorrow. Or better yet, pick this evening after work. But do not hesitate one more day to get outside and walk or move around for at least ten minutes. Do yoga in your backyard (or front yard if you’re really bold). The point is to start a habit-you don’t have to start with a 90 minute shredding abs workout video. In fact, that may set you up for failure. Just plug in your headphones, pick a podcast you’ve been meaning to listen to, and move for whatever amount of time you have. Kids have practice after school? Walk around the [insert sport here] field. Set your alarm for a few minutes earlier and use that time to get in exercise. Go for a ten minute walk during lunch.
Set your clothes out the night before. I am telling you this is the single biggest predictor of whether or not I am going to get up in the morning and go for a run or make it to the gym. It sounds silly, but if you remember to set out whatever items you may need (shoes, top, shorts, headphones), it is so much easier to will yourself out of that bed. The hardest part is finding the motivation to get started. Having step one of the process already complete by sunrise works wonders. I get up at 4:30 a.m. most mornings so that I can get a workout in before helping get my step sons ready for school—trust me when I tell you this tip makes or breaks me.
Do not place exercise on your “to do” list. Yes you read that right. Do not place exercise on your list next to grocery shopping and picking up a baby shower gift for the following weekend. The difference is that the items on your “to do” list may or may not get done, depending on what happens in your day. Exercise should not be a task that has the opportunity to “fall of the balance beam” so to speak. It should be a non-negotiable and on your calendar, just like a YLD meeting or a conference call.
Make one healthy food choice a day. I will be the first one to tell you that I absolutely love desserts. For me, diet has been the most difficult thing to change. So I started with the meal I cared about the least—breakfast. Instead of picking a sugary muffin, I started choosing a hardboiled egg and some other form of protein or a piece of fruit. I found that starting the day off healthy helped dictate how the rest of the day would go, while also helping me stay full.
Don’t beat yourself up if you get off track. Life happens. Sometimes you get sick or have to run an emergency errand and you lose the will to workout. Maybe you went to a potluck and ate all of the brownies on the platter (I may or may not have actually done this). The best thing you can do at that point is to drink a glass of water and figure out how to make healthier choices the next day. Vowing to only eat celery sticks for the next three days will only send you into another tailspin of bad choices.
I hope one or more of these tips might help you or motivate you to get up and get moving. Lawyers spend a great deal of their time sitting down, attending lunch meetings, and working long hours in the office. Making small, incremental changes if you feel your health goals slipping away will help you stay connected to a healthy mindset, while not overwhelming you at the same time.