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Working long hours? 20 ways to get healthy

Jessica Sepel

Jess Sepel shares 20 healthy living tips for office workers

Jessica Sepel sitting on a white couch posing for the camera
Jessica Sepel sitting on a white couch posing for the camera

For those of us who work long, crazy hours, living the healthy life can definitely be more challenging.

I get you.

But shifting your mindset to prioritise health is so important, because it will actually help you function more efficiently in the workplace – increasing your energy levels and cognitive function, keeping you satisfied and focused throughout the day.

The trick is to commit to a little bit of healthy preparation, incorporated into your morning and evening daily routine. Once you set yourself up with a healthy routine and structure, it will become second nature. When you start to feel good, you’ll feel motivated to keep making these choices.

Here are 20 simple tips that will make a difference:

1. Commit to two-hours of weekend prep

Stock your fridge and pantry with healthy food. My online program and book contain a shopping list you can use. This really sets you up for a healthy week because you’ll be able to come home and the food will be ready to go for dinner – so there’s no excuse to order takeaway! I also like to have my vegetables (like carrots and cucumber) cut for pre-prepared snacks.

2. Breakfast is non-negotiable

Skipping breakfast can slow down your metabolism and lead to blood sugar level imbalance, which will make it difficult for you to stay focused at work. Start the day right with a high protein brekkie to help set up your blood sugar levels for the day.

For a quick and easy option, try my Superfood Brekky To-Go Smoothie (it literally takes five minutes) or prep your breakfast the night before (Bircher Muesli is a great option) if you don’t have time in the morning!

A smoothie bowl with granola, coconut, raspberries and banana

3. A healthy evening routine is essential

You need to have a delicious evening routine to look forward to – this will make you excited to wind down and head to bed. Preparing a wholesome, nourishing dinner is one of my favourite ways to switch off after a big day. I also like to enjoy an Epsom salt bath with some lavender essential oils, read a good book or watch one of my favourite television shows with my hubby. Make sure you switch off from technology at least two hours before you go to bed as this will allow your mind and body to relax before sleep.

4. Prepare snacks

Veggie sticks with hummus or tahini, my coconut and choc blender brownies or brown rice crackers with avocado are great filling options – and they can all be prepped in advance.

5. Embrace leftovers

Repeat after me; leftovers are lifesavers! Whenever you’re cooking a meal, try and make enough serves to pack as lunches; this will help curb the need to dash out for takeaway food during the day.

6. Focus on freezable foods

Healthy bolognaise, curries, mashes, soups and sweet treats are amazing to cook in batches and store in the freezer for when you need a healthy food fix quick!

7. Commit to a stress-free zone

Spend 10-20 minutes in a stress-free Zone every day. That means no phone, computer, emails or social media. Spend the time walking in nature, meditating or simply resting – this can be amazing for your stress levels.

Blender brownies sprinkled with coconut and raspberries

8. Don’t restrict and deprive yourself

Give up on dieting, it could be causing you to overeat and hold on to weight. Instead, indulge with moderation and control – practice this until it becomes a habit.

9. Be kinder to yourself

The ‘all or nothing’ approach does not work. You need to relax with yourself. If you don't eat perfectly, forgive yourself and commit to eating well at the next meal. Don't throw the towel in and say “I blew it” – the body listens to what you do most of the time, not sometimes.

10. Rest more

Schedule rest into your routine and use your weekends recoup. Say no to social arrangements when you need to. Your friends will understand.

11. Make sure you are eating enough lunch

Especially protein and good fats as these foods are our most satisfying macro nutrients – they’ll keep your blood sugar levels stable and leave you feeling full for longer.

12. Limit coffees

Ok, we need to talk about coffee. Limit coffee to one per day, before 10am if possible. Replace your coffees with herbal teas or dandelion tea (these can be found in health food shops).

13. Ditch the diet drinks

These need to go! Diet drinks cause you to crave more sugar and create a toxic load within the body. Swap to sparkling water with lemon.

Jessica Sepel sitting in a park in activewear while smiling up at the sky with her eyes shut

14. Avoid alcohol

Avoid alcohol during the week and enjoy moderately on the weekends.

15. Stock up on magnesium powder

This can assist with stress, constipation, sugar cravings and energy, but like any supplement, make sure you get guidance from your health practitioner, because it can interfere with some prescription medications.

16. Sip on apple cider vinegar

Putting a few drops in your water bottle may help to reduce sugar cravings.

17. Ensure you have a late arvo snack

The 4-5pm snack will keep your energy and blood sugar levels balanced between meals.

18. Reduce stress

Cortisol (the stress hormone) may be causing you to have disrupted sleep which is why you might be waking up between 2-4am – it also may be why you’re finding it hard to shift the weight. Reduce your stress to reduce your cortisol.

19. Avoid over-exercising

It just places your body under more stress. Healthy living is not about doing everything perfectly, or exercising intensely every day, it’s about balance and moderation. Enjoy two rest days per week, or opt for a gentler exercise like yoga or a stretch class.

20. Inspire your colleagues

Work together and share healthy food and recipes.

Jessica Sepel smiling in front of vases of greenery

Jessica Sepel

Founder of JSHealth, author of two best-selling books and accredited nutritionist, Jessica Sepel is passionate about taking a balanced approach when it comes to food. Jess believes we need to give up diets to overhaul our relationship with food and advocates for moderation, mindfulness at meals and healthy body image.

Check out more articles by Jess, including the delicious and healthy recipes she’s created exclusively for nib.