Health Tips from the Decision Point Team
As the busiest time of year for most finance teams approaches, the DPA team has come together to share our favourite health tips and tricks to stay sharp and focused throughout this season. This includes mental and physical health, and overall wellbeing to avoid burnout.
Most of us would like to lead a healthier lifestyle, but it’s not an easy thing to achieve. We all know what we should and shouldn’t eat, how to exercise, that we need more sleep, but for ‘reasons’, most of us don’t follow our own advice. Whether it’s a busy schedule, lack of energy, the demands or influences of our family and friends; life has a way of dictating to you how it wants to be lived. Even if you do try to change things, it’s often difficult to stay motivated, especially if you’re not getting support from those around you.
If you ask most people who seem to take better care of themselves how they do it, they’ll often tell you they were motivated by someone close to them a serious health issue or scare. This kind of fear can be a motivating factor, but it’s unlikely to prove sustainable long term. The problem with the fear route is that it’s inherently negative and it’s much harder to make positive changes or build good habits based on negative motivation. Instead, we need to make positivity our driving force. Most of us dream about being the best version of ourselves and what better way to achieve that than living healthy. It’s deceptively simple, but if you ask yourself would the best version of you eat that cake, go for that walk, put off that thing again, you’ll find it’s easier to make better choices and every time you do, you’ll feel better about yourself. These little opportunities to be proud of yourself will soon build into a strong sense of pride that’s almost addictive! Throw in the lack of guilt you’re feeling because you’re finally living the way you’ve always wanted to, along with the positive influence you’ll have on those around you, and you have a recipe for sustainable positive change.
Healthy living is a choice we all have available to us, it’s usually not an easy choice, but it helps have a broader goal in mind. Become the best version of yourself, give yourself the lifestyle you deserve. What would the best version of you do?
I like to start every day with exercise. The physical activity gives me a chance to get into a focused mindset, which helps me push through long workdays. A bonus of starting the day this way is knowing that however hectic or long the day becomes, I have already looked after my physical well-being. This allows me to concentrate fully on work for the rest of the day. Beyond the gym, keeping a healthy and well-rounded diet full of lean proteins, vegetables and healthy fats keeps me feeling sharp. I do my best to keep coffee limited to two cups consumed before noon (this is hard because I am a true coffee addict) and eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day to keep myself feeling full. If I am really swamped, I will order my meals for the week from 2 Guys With Knives – they make amazing, well-balanced and tasty meals with upfront nutritional information. Lastly, I safeguard my sleep! This generally means minimizing or eliminating alcohol consumption during busier times of the year, as alcohol is a sleep disrupter.
I am definitely not a morning person, so I like to start my day with some stretching, yoga, and sunlight if possible. Waking up with natural sunlight is hard in the winter, but even on grey Vancouver days, having my mid-morning coffee by the window is enough light to wake me up. I have more energy in the evenings, so I like to exercise after work and before I eat dinner. This allows me to not only burn off energy and get a good night’s sleep but also to relieve any stress from my day. Lastly, having at least 30 minutes to wind down before going to bed is my key to falling asleep quickly. This can be anything from more yoga and stretching, an Epsom salt bath, or reading a book. These three steps are my non-negotiables and allow me to stay healthy throughout busy times of the year.
I practice yoga and use a foam roller from the Running Room to relieve muscle pain. Sometimes muscle and joint pain can be reduced or eliminated by identifying the root cause and correcting it, rather than just taking over-the-counter pain medication. Yoga also has other health benefits, including improving strength, balance and flexibility. It can even help you sleep better and manage stress. If you have no time to make it to a yoga class there are plenty of yoga videos for all skill sets on YouTube, making it more accessible than ever.
“That which is measured improves”. If your focus is to lose weight, then regularly measure your weight and log it. If your goal is improving your 5km run time, then log it. The fact you are making the effort to measure and track the metrics important to you is a great step towards improving.
“Everything in moderation”. I love ice cream. But the perfect blend of fats and sugar is not as good for our health as our tastebuds would let us believe! 😉 So I still treat myself, but over the years I have adjusted my portion sizes to be smaller. Using smaller and smaller bowls over the years, but also smaller and smaller spoons as well. So, I still get the hit of a sweet treat, but not the same negative impact on my health.
“Do an activity with somebody else”. It is tough getting going with a healthy routine. We all would love to get out more often but find excuses as to why we can’t do it that day. However, when we have regular appointments with friends, teammates, or a dog to walk, it forces us to get out.
My tip is to create a daily routine that fits your schedule and lifestyle that includes time for a good nights sleep, daily meditation and exercise. Consistently doing these three things makes a huge difference to my day!
For healthier weight control, keep moving. You don’t need to schedule formal workouts to get exercise. Keep it simple - take the dog for a walk, take the stairs instead of an elevator, when you have a nice evening go for a walk around the block before you sit down in a chair and binge watch Netflix. Also, if it suits you, be aware of your weight. Get a digital scale that allows you to track your weight over time and track gains or losses. Look for patterns as to what types of meals result in a gain or a loss. Train yourself to make better snack decisions with how your body reacts to the snacks you do eat.
Plant-based iron and vitamins help in the detoxification of the body. This is why I include a healthy smoothie in my diet regime that contains spinach, kale, red chard, turmeric, lemon, avocado, blueberries and nutritional yeast. For my overall diet, I try to maintain low carbs with proteins and plant-based fiber in my meals.
Also, I work-out at least four times a week, covering each muscle of the body. My plan usually looks like this:
Day 1 – Back and Biceps (Starting with Deadlifts, Back exercises and finishing with Biceps)
Day 2 – Chest & Triceps (Incline, Decline and regular chest exercises and finishing with triceps) Day 3 – Legs and glutes (Lunges, Squats, Leg Press, Calves, Glutes and other parts)
Day 4 – Shoulders and Core (Shoulder press and core workout)
Anxious people might often suffer from racing thoughts which are fast-moving and often repetitive thought patterns that can become overwhelming. Starting the day with so much on the mind can affect your job performance, concentration, and personal life. Thirty minutes of yoga followed by a few minutes of meditation really helps to get rid of the racing thoughts and gives you a clear state of mind to start your day. If even after the yoga and meditation exercise you feel you still have a lot going on your mind, try to write down every thought down on a To-Do list. Once you do this, you'll be amazed that your worries are not that scary and your To-Do list is not as long as you thought. This helps to promote a sense of relief and accomplishment.
Imogen Ni Ealai:
Don’t put off going to the doctors’ and other practitioner appointments. A lot of people may have put off these appointments because of COVID but it’s more important than ever to look after your physical and mental health, so go and see your GP, your therapist and your chiropractor!
Play games - a survey by game developer RealNetworks found that 53% of people play games for stress relief and 64% percent of respondents cited game playing as a way to relax. So, get out the Monopoly or Minecraft and play away!
Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, affects 10-20% of us in the grey, winter months. If you feel a little down during the darker seasons a sunlight-simulating lamp can help alleviate symptoms and are also fantastic to wake up in a more natural relaxed way.