Last week I had the opportunity to speak at one of Scotland’s premier law firms Burness Paull’s at their staff training weekend. I was asked to deliver a workshop on ways that busy professionals can implement some healthy habits into their life. I thought the content that we covered may be of interest to you.

First of we discussed why so many people find it difficult to implement and stick with a healthy lifestyle (only 15% of people who join health clubs achieve the goals they join for!).

Lack of time; with our ever increasing working hours; family commitments and social commitments finding time to exercise or implement healthy habits can be very challenging. It is therefore even more important that you exercise in the most time efficient manner available. You need to challenge the body with big dynamic, metabolic boosting exercises. A quick side note on this one however, this does not mean you must hammer yourself into an oblivion at each session, all you are aiming to do is slightly overload the body so as it has to adapt and change between each session

Lack of results can often lead to people giving up and returning back to their old habits. This generally occurs when not enough emphasis is placed on a good quality eating plan or the exercise program you are following is not effective to you. Anothetr one of my favourites I saw loads in the bigger gyms I used to manage was the the blindly hopeful members that keep going to the same classes or doing the same routine with little or no results, just wishing that one day a miracle will happen and you start to suddenly see results.

The last reason for not sticking with it is following a boring program. The thought of staring at a screen in the gym for 1 hour would turn most people off from the gym. Your workout has to be invigorating, challenging, constantly changing and something you look forward to doing each week!

We also discussed the importance of having a good sleeping pattern for optimal health and performance. It can become very easy to get in the cycle of work late meaning you end up getting to bed late.  Late beds will not only damage any hopes of you having enough energy to exercise the following day; it can also have a real detrimental effect on your mental health and physical wellbeing. I was asked for some advice from one of the lawyers at the end of the workshop as he could relate to some of the points I made around sleeping. His current routine often involved being in the office until late,  then going for a run around 9.30 ish and then by the time he showered and wound down for the day he would be sleeping for 12.30pm-1pm. He asked is this actually quite an unhealthy routine I am following. He thought he was doing well getting a run in. My answer was that his body will probably not like his current routine and over time it may lead to burn out. I advised that instead he should get home and do some light yoga/meditation in the evening and aim for lights out for 10.30am. This would allow him to get up earlier and go for a run following a good quality night’s sleep. He seemed very keen to try this new routine and I am confident he will respond well to these changes

We also discussed some tell-tale signs for when your stress levels may be getting to high. Some of which I have discussed below.

If you are struggling to get to sleep at night or you are regularly waking up between 1pm-3pm these are signs of both chronically high cortisol levels and the start of adrenal fatigue. Left unchecked this can have a catastrophic effect on your health and well being

A poorly functioning digestive system (loose stools, not going to the toilet daily, IBS; Crohns disease) can usually be a red flag for out of sync stress levels. When we are stressed our body shunts the blood away from the digestive system to enable us to fight or flight whatever the stressor is. Over time this is the premises for many digestive problems that occur

Holding fat particularly around the tummy has been linked to high stress due to the hormonally effect it has on the body. If you are exercising and eating  a healthy diet but can’t seem to shift the tummy fat it may be time to look at your stress levels as may be the missing part of the jigsaw.

Finally if you are regularly picking up colds, flus and viruses (more than 1-2 per year) it may indicate that you are overstressed.

We then discussed some tips to help implement a healthier life alongside their busy profession.

Accountability- Get a trainer or book sessions in the diary as if they were meetings you need to make it hard to skip your sessions.

Implement some stress lowering strategies- breathing techniques, meditation, yoga, light exercise and find time to prioritise things you enjoy doing

Be more active- Take the stairs and walk whenever possible.

Find quick and easy recipes and snacks and make sure you get your food shopping done regularly 1-2 per week. (try online ordering if you do not have time to go yourself).

Find your reason why- without prioritising your health you will always find numerous other things to put ahead of it. List as many reasons as you can think of detailing why you want to be fit and healthy.

I hope you also find these tips and suggestions helpful to implement a healthier lifestyle into your hectic schedule. Remember your health is your wealth, without nothing else really matters

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