How to stay healthy at work

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By now I’ve become convinced that I need to stay healthy at work. After all.. working is a large component of my life. Also – ‘You are what you eat’ has taken on a whole new meaning in the past few months.

Good thing that I love reading

Book worm in action

Since I came home from hospital last July, I started reading books exploring the connection between nutrition and health. Some of the books I’ve read are:

In addition to these books, I also read a lot of articles and research and watched hours of Ted Talks and YouTube videos on the connection between the food we eat and the health of our body. I’m fascinated by all this! (Some might say obsessed…)

The reason why I started reading all these books is because I was trying to understand why my body decided to make this massive 2kg tumour. Every person has cancer cells in their body – it just depends on the environment whether or not these cells develop into a tumour. Now that I know that the environment was created to grow this tumour I wanted to find out why, so that I can help my body to make it super difficult to go through this again. (Note that I’m not saying that I think I can control my body so that a tumour will never grow again – I just want to make it super difficult for this to happen).

Most doctors and authors seem to agree on 3 main reasons for disease to happen: stress, lack of exercise and nutrition.

How can I improve these three parts of my life while still going to work every day?

  1. Part 1. Manage stress.

Stress is a part of life and I don’t think life would be interesting or memorable without a bit of stress. Where it becomes unhealthy is where we seem to lose control over our stress levels. Or even worse… where stress controls us. And to stay healthy at work means I needed to learn how to take some of that control back.

I found that going to yoga 1 – 2 times per week really helps me with my stress management. The breathing exercises really help getting control back when I feel stress is starting to take over.

In addition to yoga I also stay focused on what I want to achieve and why. This helps put things into perspective and I found that the activities that cause me stress have less of an effect on me.. perhaps because I now have context?

Lastly – now that I’m getting stronger I have increased my exercise regime. The fact that I’m exercising 5 times per week really helps with managing stress. Nothing like being out of breath to make you stop thinking about anything else!

Most of the stress in my life has to do with work. So how to stay healthy at works also means: how to manage stress at work. This is where the goal setting and focus comes in handy. What do I need to achieve and why? When I stay focused on the results I don’t fret about the little curve balls that life throws at me.
I also like to make lists… there is something strangely satisfying about ticking of a to do item from a list. It feels like I’ve achieved something and that makes me feel good.

 

  1. Part 2. Exercise

I try to do some exercise every day. (Doesn’t always work… but it’s my intention anyway). Even if it’s only a short 15-30 minute yoga session when I wake up in the morning. This is a great way to stretch out those muscles that have rested all night. It gives me energy and prepares me for the day.

I love following a free yoga session on YouTube, for example: YogaTX

At the very least I ride my horse every second day (5 times per week) – this not only exercises my body but also forces me to be present for the 45-60 minutes I spend with my horse. My mind can’t wonder as the horse notices this straight away (he’s a young horse so think toddler brain… as soon as he feels you’re not on the ball he thinks of ways to get into trouble!).

Dr. Greger (http://nutritionfacts.org/book/ ) recommends 90 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each day, or 40 minutes of vigorous activity – but with my busy schedule I struggle to get 60 minutes in each day. Definitely room for improvement here…

During the day my fitbit Charge2 watch tells me when it’s time to get up and walk. A great reminder not to get stuck at my desk – even if it’s to grab a glass of water from the kitchen or to go to the ladies room. Doesn’t have to take long – just move a little. Sitting is not healthy, especially for a long period of time, as tends to happen when you have an office job. Remind yourself to be healthy at work.. remind yourself to move.

  • Part 3. Nutrition

The third factor was actually the easiest change. I really thought I would struggle with this one but I read so much evidence about the impact nutrition has on our bodies that making the change in my diet and lifestyle became very easy.

Everything I read pointed quite clearly towards the connection between nutrition – inflammation responses in your body – the advantage cancer cells and other diseases can take from this scenario. I’m not a doctor or a trained nutritional dietician but my understanding is that eating animal protein (and yes that includes chicken, fish, eggs, dairy and cheese) makes it easier for your body to create tumour / cancer cells, increase the opportunity to develop heart diseases, high blood pressure, obesity and a range of other issues.

If you would like to research this further, check out dr. Neal Barnard on Youtube  or dr. McDougall 

I started eating plant based in January and haven’t looked back. I love the taste of the food, and the fact that I am not hungry during the day… It also gives me lots of energy. And the best part?? I had my follow up blood test last week and my cholesterol levels have dropped from high to normal and my Vit. D levels have increased from extremely low to normal.

So… how to stay healthy at work?

Nutrition first – I bring my snacks and lunch food. There is a bag of almonds in my desk drawer that I use to nibble on. Sometimes I bring hummus with dip things (carrots, celery, crackers). For lunch I often have a wrap or left overs dinner from the night before. The spiralizer that I bought makes super cute salads in a heart beat! Super easy – and with some fresh herbs and lemon juice is just a lovely lunch at my desk.

Exercise at work is a bit tricky, but as I mentioned earlier simply getting up and walking around every hour or so really helps during the day. I usually exercise before work to give me the energy and focus I need for my job. You may want to do your exercise after work to wind down and relax… we are all different.
At the old office we had a gym close by that did high intensity lunchtime sessions which was an awesome break during the day!

Stress management – Context, focus and breathing are the three words that work for me. If that doesn’t work.. go for a quick walk and regroup away from your desk, the phone or maybe even go outside to be away from your colleagues or boss! Do whatever it takes to take back the control over your breathing and heart rate.

I wish you lots of happiness and health!

Ivanka