Welcome to our new series called Balancing Acts, where we will meet once a month to find better ways to discover a better work-life-balance. This series is directed at nurses but has universal application for doctors, medics, and other health professionals. We hope you enjoy this first piece...
So, you’ve resolved to lose a few kilos in 2016, but you probably haven’t told anyone yet. Once people notice your results, you’ll want to share your diabolic plan. Good plan. Makes sense. The last thing you want is everyone asking how your goals are coming along.
What you need are a few course corrections to get you going towards your goals. We’ve got you covered with ten easy steps. Some of them you may already be doing.
1) Stand more.
Sitting may or may not be the new smoking, but standing is definitely the new mineral water. Standing can burn calories up to a 30% higher rate than sitting. For most medical professionals this is not a problem. Removing chairs from workstations where you may stand can be helpful. If there’s no place to sit, you’ll stay standing.
2) Walk more.
This is like standing 2.0. When you walk you further increase your calorie burn. The calories you burn are calories you won’t store in the form of body fat.
Since you’re probably already walking more than Gandhi, try parking your car as far away from your destination as possible, like at home if you can manage. The more you walk, the more you burn.
You can track your steps with one of these
. Your daily goal should be 10,000 steps. That’s not exercise. It’s standard locomotion.
3) Measure your food.
You could weigh every morsel of food. Some people do. If you insist, we suggest this scale
Most of us struggle just to make better choices at meal time. That could be a measurement in and of itself: how many good choices can you count?
A good general health goal is to eat one leafy-green salad per day. When the week is done if you consumed seven salads, you are officially measuring your food. Have that dressing on the side and dip your fork for each bite, rather than slather it on your healthy salad.
4) Measure yourself.
As we push further into the future, the myriad of ways in which we can be tracked grows. It doesn’t seem we will see it slow down. For most of us, the question is how private is that information?
The most private ways in which you can measure yourself are by how your clothes fit and how you weigh. If you’re really savvy you could go for body fat measurements, but this list is supposed to be the easy stuff!
Belts should be getting looser, rings rolling between knuckles, and generally clothing will seem borrowed. You may have to up your clothes shopping.
The most objective way to know if you are getting results is to measure your mass with a scale, like this one
. It even has Wi-Fi so you can upload your data to a PC or tablet.
Just keep in mind that a scale only measures total mass. While it’s likely that weight loss will be focused on body fat, you can’t be certain without testing your body fat percentages as well.
If you really want to get analytical, purchase and use a fitness monitor, like this one
. It comes in male
versions taking into account the differences between male and female heart rates.
5) Stop eating in the cafeteria.
This is a big one. For many health professionals, their biggest opportunity is the communal eating area.
Here you are usually coming in famished. A healthy snack in the middle of a long shift can help with the cravings, which snowball as you work. By the time you get to the food options you want to have your head screwed on correctly.
This would be a good time to get that salad. It will fill you up, and if you keep the croutons, nuts, and dressings off, you should be eating a pretty well-balanced meal. An even better option is to avoid buying your lunch out altogether and make your own food.
6) Shop smart for food.
To start off on the right foot making your own food you need to shop smart.
A healthy rule of thumb at the grocery store is to avoid the center aisles. There you’ll usually find the processed food.
In the outside ring of your average supermarket, you'll find veggies, fruit, fresh cuts of meat, and other staples. These things should make up 90% of your grocery basket.
Some exceptions to this rule are dried legumes, frozen veggies, and coffee. You’ll have to venture into to the middle of the store for those things. As you pick up some frozen veggies, beware of the frozen/pre-packaged meals, they are usually full of sodium.
7) Cut your produce.
This trick works well for getting yourself and your family to eat the right things when they open the fridge. Plan when you get home to cut your veggies and fruit. Then put them in containers where everyone can see them.
You can freeze your fruit cuttings to lengthen their lives or even better, turn them into a healthy snack. Banana bits are awesome frozen.
8) Workout Rewards are key.
The way your brain is wired for habits requires that there be some reward for your behaviour; action equals reward. (Think: turning on light switch means ambient light. So much easier than reading in the dark.)
A crazy trick to hack your brain is to eat a small square of chocolate right after your workout. If you can’t stop at one square, try enjoying a light smoothie with added protein as a reward. It works.
Note: Pizza would NOT be a good alternative.
9) Use a cheat day.
This is a highly debated topic, but worth trying. Enough fitness professionals engage in cheat days that it just may work for you. This means you live like a saint for six days of the week, eating smart.
On the seventh day you don’t skip your salad, but maybe you enjoy that stack of pancakes or a heavier dinner. No guilt. It’s your cheat day. You earned it.
When all this works it’s time to unveil your diabolic plan. It’s time to hit Instagram with some selfies, or at least, one good one.
Expect your friends to message you for advice. There’s no shame in it. You can send them this article. We won’t mind. In fact, you can send it to all of them right now by posting it on Facebook.
Stay tuned for the next installment in our Balancing Act series in February! Thanks for reading. Be sure to follow us on Pinterest