Indulging a little more over the Christmas period is to be expected – with so many mince pies and other tasty treats around, it would be difficult not to.
And it’s not just the food that leads to a slightly sluggish feeling after the festive season. It’s also the booze, the parties and all the lounging around.
For many, January marks a time to cut back on this unhealthy lifestyle – it’s a time for losing weight and becoming healthier.
But the fast pace of the City and the intensity of the work mean energy levels must be kept up, so minimising food intake is not an option.
Here is the City worker’s guide to becoming fit again in the new year.
STICK TO A ROUTINE
Whether it’s what you eat, when you exercise or when you go to bed, sticking to a routine is essential for optimum health and alertness.
If you’re used to drinking a coffee each morning, for example, you should stick to this and try to do it at the same time each day – don’t drink more and don’t drink less. Disrupting the body’s rhythm can lead to migraines, sleep problems and in extreme cases even depression.
If you find yourself feeling particularly tired in the morning, this could also be because your body clock is out of sync – too much variation in the time you go to bed can confuse it and make you feel groggy when you’re supposed to be wide awake.
Try setting your alarm clock at the same time each day, and you’ll naturally end up feeling tired enough to go to bed at the same time each day, too.
DON'T SKIP MEALS - MINIMISE SNACKING INSTEAD
Skipping meals might seem like an easy way to cut calories and get your weight down fast, but it can lead to more damage than good – to begin with, it disrupts the regularity of your digestive system (which prepares to deal with food at certain times of the day).
It also drains you of energy, so if you have something important to do, you won’t be able to do it properly – this can negatively affect your work performance. And if you end up feeling too hungry after skipping a meal, you might end up eating more than you would have if you had just had a small meal to begin with.
A better way to tackle eating is by minimising snacking, since it is through this that most excess calories are consumed.
USE YOUR LUNCH BREAK TO GO FOR A JOG
When you’re working hard, it can become impossible to fit exercise in before or after work. Instead, you could try to going for a jog on the streets around your work during lunch – half an hour will do the trick, and your lunch at the other end will become so much more enjoyable.
As well as helping to keep weight down, running can provide a wide range of health benefits. To begin with, it has been proven many times that running releases endorphins and encourages long term happiness. This has obvious knock-on effects for both your personal and work life.
Other studies have shown that running can help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some cancers, and a number of other unpleasant conditions.
Perhaps one of the lesser known benefits is that running wards off age-related mental decline. An experiment in 2012 looked at the effect of regular exercise on mental ability and revealed a clear trend: that physically fit adults scored better in mental tests than their unfit peers.
REPLACE OTHER FOODS WITH VEGETABLES
If you have a big appetite, try replacing the foods you would normally eat with lots of vegetables.
Compared to most foods, they have a lot of fibre and micronutrients, as well as having less fat and sugar.
Try adding a large bowl of salad or steamed vegetables to every meal, and your stomach will not have as much room left over for the highly calorific foods.
When we stop, we think about food. It’s not when we are working hard to meet a deadline, or when we are in the middle of an important meeting that a hunger craving hits us – it’s during those quieter moments where the pressure is off.
Try to minimise free time at home when you have access to lots of calorific foods – stay busy, out and about in London. Work hard and make plans in the evening, whether to see friends, go to the gym or do some other hobby.