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Here's to a Healthier and More Productive 2018!

You may not know this, but one of our recruiters, Tessa, is also a qualified personal trainer! We asked her to share her top tips for balancing work and health in the new year.

How does a healthy lifestyle help us at work?

I believe that a healthy body = a healthy mind. That being fit and eating wholesome nutritious food not only makes you feel energized and look healthier but it also gives you an inner strength to deal with the trials and tribulations that life throws at you - including a busy work schedule.

What does having a balanced diet and adequate exercise really mean? Why is it important? The combination of an active lifestyle along with a healthy diet are two of the most important factors that affect your overall health. We often hear about how obesity is on the rise along with other health issues such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease. By doing some form of exercise everyday and eating healthily you can prevent weight gain and illnesses associated with it.

Exercise and a balanced diet are also important for overall energy levels, enabling you to live life to the full and do all the things that you love. It keeps the mind active, relieves stress, improves moods, helps you to look and feel better and leads to improved performance in many aspects of life including your work productivity.

Exercise and a good diet that is full of nutrients also helps to keep bones strong and healthy. It prevents injuries and posture problems such as back pain which is one of the most common reasons why people need to take sick days.

Tell me more about eating healthily: What does it mean?

Most importantly, eating healthy is about eating a good balanced diet containing food from all of the food groups; protein, healthy wholegrains, lots of vegetables, fruits, pulses and good fats such as raw nuts, seeds and avocados.

It’s about variety, trying to eat as many different nutritious foods as possible as well as drinking lots of water, at least 2 litres per day. Cutting out processed and packaged foods and trying to stick to foods that are as natural and simple as possible.

I believe that you should aim to eat a low GI diet, which means foods that break down slowly, releasing glucose more gradually into the bloodstream. This means sustained energy levels throughout the day and less hunger spikes. Ever find yourself reaching for a chocolate bar when sat at your desk at 3pm?!

In short a healthy diet is about spoiling and nourishing the body, eating foods that are good for you and making you feel good!

How difficult is it to achieve? What are some of the conscious decisions that you have to make?

The conscious decision you have to make is that you want to change or improve your fitness levels and diet. It is a decision that only you can make. Once you have set your mind to do it, although there may be blips at times (and you may need to exercise some willpower!) it will actually be easier than you think!

Start really actively enjoying the food that you eat. Really taste it and notice what you are tasting. Take a bite, are you tasting lovely fresh flavours or just a lot of salt or sugar? Does everything taste the same?!

Start mindfully enjoying the activity and exercise that you do. Notice how you feel when you walk to work in the morning, what do you notice (the colours, plants, people, buildings?) How can you add some variety? Play around with your run or cycling route? Is there a better more interesting way that you can go? Do you want to try a new exercise class (Zumba, Dance, Kickboxing etc)?

Whatever the changes are that you decide to make ensure that they will work for you long term and fit into your hectic work schedule. Make promises to yourself that you know you can keep!

Once you have made the decision you want to improve your fitness levels and diet how do you go about it?

Once you have made the decision to change I would suggest drawing up some long term and short term SMART goals. What is my overall vision and how am I going to get there?

Picture it and write it down somewhere that you can see it. Other than achieving the goal, maybe offer yourself another reward when you get there.

Next think about your shorter term goals. What the changes are going to be in order to achieve the main goal. Start with small easier steps and then build up gradually.

Diet related goals

If its diet related I would recommend beginning by making changes to just one meal per day. For example the first change could be at breakfast (research shows this is the most important meal of the day). A good breakfast should contain some protein, healthy whole grain carbohydrates and some good fats. Therefore, you may decide to swap a fruit muffin for a boiled egg with a slice of wholemeal toast. Then in time you could build up to 2 meals and then all 3 meals.

Make a shopping list! Plan what you are going to eat ahead of time rather than relying on impulse buys. If you are working long hours do an online supermarket shop to stop temptation and try to take your own lunches into work if you can. That way you can use your lunchbreak to get outside for a stroll!

Really look forward to your meal times, especially dinner time at the end of a hectic day at work. Take the time to consciously enjoy the food and try to make it an occasion. That way you are more likely to think about what you are eating and less likely to over eat or grab the wrong thing.

Fitness/activity related goals If its activity and fitness related you could decide that you are going to start by walking home from work or the train station 3 evenings per week. Then could you build up to walk/run intervals from work or the train station 3 evenings and then finally running home from work 3 evenings per week.

Hoping these tips are useful. If any of you have any other tips please feel free to share and if you have any other questions please feel free to ask. Wishing you a very Happy Christmas and a wonderful active and productive 2018!