Words + Photography by Hakeem Getz You Gainz
The work-life balance is something that has long been associated with women in the workforce that have children, just trying to balance it all. The truth is, living a healthy, well-balanced life has never been about selective based on gender. As we lean into the new year, where being woke and healthy is intrinsically part of the answer, this couldn’t be more the case. We spoke to Hakeem White certified personal trainer and a fellow health enthusiast to walk us through how to find the balance when trying to reach the career bar and stay on life’s healthy track.
START THE DAY OFF RIGHT
Mornings are the first step to ensure you have a successful day. Here are some key tips to get you both mentally and physically able to swiftly tackle the day.
Tune up. Music is the easiest way to set your mood without much effort. Play something upbeat to hype up your day.
Consider a five minute self assessment stretch. Sometimes during sleep we may end up in precarious positions from tossing and turning, causing those random pains when we wake up. It’s best to be aware of any trouble areas before starting your day. Stand tall and carefully start assessing all of your joints from head to toe. Try a few neck rolls, shoulders circles, back twists, etc. If you come across a sticking point, focus on that area a bit to help loosen it up. Five minutes is all it takes. Here’s a tip! Listen to your fav soundtrack while you loosen up old joints as soon as you wake up.
Get cozy with H2O. As soon as you wake up in the morning, be sure to hydrate with water. Your body uses a lot a water for metabolic functions while you sleep, and most times you’ll wake up dehydrated. One sixteen ounce glass should be enough, or a safe eight ounce to ease into the day. The key is to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Your body will also be in need of nutrients as you’ve gone many hours without much nourishment. A quick and nutritious breakfast to get you going is greek yogurt topped with cashews, along with a fruit of choice on the side. Greek yogurt provides your body with a high source of protein, the cashews serve as a source of healthy fats, while the fruit will have the right mix of simple and complex carbs to keep your energy levels up.
SKIP THE AFTERNOON SLUMP
Take activity breaks. If your job doesn’t require much movement and you’re one of the many stuck at the desk for multiple hours – be sure to incorporate active breaks. Take a 15 minute break for every hour of work to keep your mind fresh and blood circulating. Go for a mini walk, stretch those limbs; just make sure you get up and move!
Snacking has really gotten a bad rap. The reason for those inevitable crashes after eating are mostly related to our blood sugar levels. After eating a big meal, the blood sugar levels in the body will inevitably spike, giving us that instant energized boost. Soon after, your body releases insulin to bring those levels back down. Don’t worry, this is actually a good thing! But when those levels get too low, we can suddenly feel tired. An easy way to combat this is to snack on healthy foods throughout the day. Things with fiber, whole grains, and healthy fats can help maintain your blood sugar levels. (need examples? Snack on fruits, granola bar, nuts).
HOW TO AVOID THE MID-DAY CRASH
Try to skip the dinner sized lunch portions. The amount and the kind of lunch you eat can easily dictate whether you end up crashing after a meal. Keep the portions on your plate medium sized, and be sure to include whole grains, vegetables, healthy fats, and protein. A simple meal could mean a sandwich on whole wheat bread, spinach (instead of lettuce for more nutrients), avocado slices, and a chicken breast.
Power naps are for grownups who grind. As much as we may try, we all get tired. A quick rec is to take a 15 minute power nap to recharge both mind and body. Short naps can help improve cognitive and motor functions allowing for a more efficient day.
Get a good work out in. Use those calories you’ve been consuming throughout the day to help energize your workout. Your body relies on carbohydrates and fat depending on the type of exercise being performed. Now that you’ve been charging up all day on meals and snacks, your body has enough to fuel an efficient workout. You’ll end up using a large majority of those calories, inevitably preventing your body from storing it. The result? More fat we’re sure you’d rather not carry around.
Take advantage of your hormones. Working out will get your blood pumping and in full swing to release endorphins. Even after a long day, endorphins will give you that feel good feelin and have you energized. This can help you finish up that work you’ve been meaning to get too, without feeling too tired
If you’re feeling sluggish, the right balanced dinner could be the cure. Just as with the rest of your meals, at dinner it’s crucial to keep in mind a few things to prepare yourself for the many hours of sleep you’ll be enduring. Be sure to include a good protein source to help recover your muscles at night, healthy fats to keep you full, and lots of vegetables to offer a wide array of nutrients that’ll help repair your body. A simple option would be salmon with spinach and broccoli. The salmon is a two for one combo, offering a great protein source as well as healthy polyunsaturated fats.