7 Tips to Stay Healthy Even When You’re Busy

It’s no secret around here that I’ve had a hard time staying healthy while getting adjusted to my new job. I’m not a morning person, and my days have changed dramatically from my last job. I typically work from about 9-7 now, but end up staying until close to 8 many nights. (And yes, I know I could never be a lawyer. I’m okay with that.) I’m also trying to juggle: taking care of my sweet little dog, Junior League, staying in shape and, oh, the just basic taking care of myself stuff—cooking, running errands.

It would be so easy for me to fall back into my old bad habits and blame it on being busy, but here’s how I am staying sane and healthy while adjusting to a new, busier schedule. It’s no rocket science, and most of these are familiar tips, but this is how I stay sane.

  1. You can’t do it all. I can do anything I want, but not everything I want. There’s no way I can do every single thing I do to perfection. Shocking, I know. I have finally accepted there’s only so much I can do. I’ve learned to prioritize and that those priorities can change over time. Over the summer, with no job, marathon training got to take priority, and that was awesome and helped me from totally losing it while being unemployed. Right now? I had to take a step back from my strength challenge, which sucks.
    No time for ice baths…which is really okay. 
  2. Redefine what a workout means to you. During marathon training, most of my runs were a minimum of 5-6 miles. Given that most of my workouts now don’t even start until at least 7:30pm, there’s no way I want to spend another hour at the gym. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am, please. The other night, I did 20 minutes of intervals on the StairMaster. Sweaty, got my heart rate up, boom.


  3. Back to basics. I know the healthy foods that I love that I can either make or buy without having to think too hard—Starbucks spinach feta wraps, Dunkin’ Donuts veggie flatbreads, bunless turkey burgers with veggies, sushi, oatmeal, banana sandwiches—and when I’m super-busy, I don’t try to recreate the wheel. Even if that wheel is made of cheese.
  4.  Losing/maintaining weight is 80 percent diet. Even if I can’t make it to the gym all the time, I still try to eat as damn well as possible. Usually, I’m content to just eat “pretty well,” since I exercise a decent amount. This means I skip treats—no dessert or drinks at home—if I’m not making it to the gym. (I’m honestly not a HUGE sweets person, so this isn’t too hard.) I also try really hard to cut back on the mindless snacking and keep in my desk basically only what I will eat that day so I’m not tempted to graze.


  5. Sleep. I am not one of those people who sacrifices sleep when I’m busy. I wish I could be all pious and say I do it because it’s a healthy habit, but, really, I am just a raging bitch who can’t function if I don’t get at least 7 hours, preferably 8. However, it does definitely help me with willpower—my willpower to eat well completely disappears when I’m tired, creating a vicious cycle where I reach for crap that only makes me feel worse.
  6. Be happy with what you can do. I freakin’ celebrate every workout and every bit of exercise I get now. On days when the only exercise I get is walking one mile each way to work, I remind myself that’s so much better than nothing. I also remind myself that I’ve made the choice not to workout when I skip a workout and then I try to move on and not beat myself up over skipping a workout.
  7.  Sneak it in. When I’ve been busy and haven’t made it to the gym, I try to walk all over the damn city. It’s no sweaty, heart-pumping workout, but it’s something. I’ll also do calf raises while waiting for the subway or bust out a few planks in the morning.

29 comments on “7 Tips to Stay Healthy Even When You’re Busy

  1. Colleen

    Thanks for this post! I often struggle with not being able to do everything I want, but it’s important to appreciate that which I can do.

  2. Katie @ Livehalffull

    I really needed this post this week! This entire year so far has been insane at work, plus I am planning a wedding and adjusting to a new (way longer) commute. It’s been hard not to be too hard on myself, but I am glad that I read this! I can only control so much-and I need to proud of myself when I make my health a priority, even if it’s something small!

  3. Bonnie

    Great post, Theodora! I really like the idea of redefining what a workout is…that’s important! Life changes and our workouts have to adapt too. Great thoughts – pinning this puppy for others to see!

  4. Dana

    This is such a great reminder! Its so easy to get down on ourselves when we miss a workout or make a poor food choice, but really, its not the end of the world! Starting a new job is completely overwhelming. I started a new job last July and really struggled find a balance. My new routine involves waking at 5:15am to workout, yes, it sucks, but it’s the only way to fit it in. Some days I just can’t do it, and it’s important to remind myself that it’s ok.

  5. car

    i really like this post, it’s sort of a reminder to me that it’s not possible to do it all, but that’s ok. i’m actually about to graduate law school and be one of those lawyers, and i’m a bit terrified of the long hours and how they’ll mess w/ my workout routine. you serve as inspiration to adapt, and adapt well. thanks!

  6. Meghan@travelwinedine

    Great post! Squats while brushing teeth can work wonders. 🙂 And generations of European women can vouch for looking fab just by fitting in lots of walking around the city. It definitely is never all-or-nothing as we sometimes make it out to be.

  7. Laura

    This is a great post! It’s so hard to accept that we can’t do it all every single day, but it’s true. I’m the exact same as you when it comes to sleep. It’s also important for me to stay social with dinner dates and plans. My friends contribute greatly to my happiness when I’m feeling overworked.

  8. RS

    I’m the same way with sleep. I work out in the morning because it’s the only way I can fit it in, and I legit go to bed at like 9:30. Even on weekends. I AM BORING but it makes me so much more pleasant to be around. I am a BEAST when I don’t get eight hours, especially if it’s for multiple nights in a row. I am so effed when I have children.

  9. Kristina

    Great post! People always talk about balance, but one of my favorite things someone at a conference once said was “Stop talking about balance and start talking about choices”. I thought it was brilliant because I could work out XX hours a week, but it would be a choice to sacrifice sleep, work (to some degree) and/or social connections. Right now, I’m not about to make that choice!

  10. Blake

    Love this post! I started a new job this fall, working for a startup, and it just wears me out! I’m trying to change my outlook towards working out – treat it like a luxury and a treat rather than something I make myself feel bad about skipping… I’m constantly trying to find balance – I feel like I’m succeeding at dieting and working out, or totally succeeding at working in the office, but never both at the same time… I really appreciated this post and knowing I’m not the only person who sighs and knows maybe she SHOULD work out, but what I really NEED is to get some face time with my puppy and go to bed early! And congrats on the new job!

  11. Jess

    This post is freaking awesome. And I could not help but laugh 🙂 I try and exercise each day but also make sure I’m eating superfoods. Well, when my kid aren’t stealing them out of my hand. lol

  12. Nicole

    I have a very similar work schedule to you right now (long hours and a very long 3hour round-trip commute everyday) and this post is very timely for me.

    All very good points that would be handy for me to revist very often.

  13. Pingback: Weekend Update: Running Around the Office is Different Than Running a Race Edition « Racy Stacie: A training journey.

  14. Caitlin

    I’m the same way with sleep. No matter what, I will NOT sacrifice it. I need my 8 hours or I feel like junk and am more likely to skip a workout or eat like junk too.


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