It’s one o’clock in the afternoon. Besides the breakfast sandwich you scarfed down on the way to work this morning, you haven’t had a thing to eat. In between court appearances and meetings you manage to grab some kind of hoagie or muffin. But an hour later you’re hungry again. Unfortunately you can’t get home until seven, when you have some left over spaghetti for dinner. Rinse. Repeat.
Staying healthy as a busy lawyer isn’t easy. We don’t have time to necessarily prepare every meal in advance. Nor do we always get in three squares a day. Couple that with long hours and little sleep and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. But there are things you can do to stay healthy while maintaining your busy schedule.
Schedule Your Skipped Meals
Despite what you may have heard, breakfast may not be the most important meal of the day. There are folks way more qualified than me who can tell you all about the benefits of fasting. But let me attempt to explain how it can help us stay healthy. I used to wake up and eat breakfast first thing. If I was in a training season, and it was a post-run breakfast, I could easily eat several eggs, several pieces of toast, etc. It was quite an ordeal. I believed that if I skipped breakfast, my metabolism would come to a screeching halt. My body would go into panic mode and start holding on to every bite I consumed, strapping it onto my waist with glee.
Apparently, that may not be the case. There is a growing trend away from the must-eat-breakfast belief. Folks who follow some kind of intermittent fasting have found that their bodies do not get fat just from skipping breakfast.
I haven’t eaten breakfast (with the exception of some weekend brunch dates) in months. All I have before lunch is coffee and water. But what’s the benefit? After the first 3-5 days, you will adjust to your new eating schedule. Your body will be able to go longer without eating and without crashing. This will help you avoid eating something extremely unhealthy just because you’re “starving” after not eating all morning.
Exercise. You’ve Got To
The benefits of exercise are almost too many to list. Increased energy, a better immune system, and the list goes on and on. But as the work hours increase, exercise can be the first thing to go down the drain. It’s six o’clock and you’re still at the office. Why would you make time to go to the gym on your way home?
Luckily, it’s incredibly easy to get a bit of exercise in right in your office. Spend thirty minutes a day, three times a week, doing some body weight work. Even that small amount can help you, especially if you’re otherwise sedentary at the moment. But just because you’re only spending thirty minutes working out doesn’t mean you get to mess around. Make the workout tough. If you can do a lot of push-ups, try doing them with claps in between. Close your door and get creative. Try handstand pushups. Can’t do pull-ups? Start with chin-ups.
If you don’t have thirty minutes to dedicate in your day, try breaking it up throughout the day. How about a few chin-ups every hour, mixed with fifty jumping jacks? It won’t turn you into Vin Diesel, but it’s a place to start.
If you’re not pushing yourself, it’s not worth your time. But you don’t have to spend a ton of time exercising in order to push yourself.
Cook Your Meals for a Few Days
A lot of websites that advocate healthy eating will tell you to cook for the week. I can’t do this. Maybe I eat too much, or don’t have enough tupperware. But it never seems to work out. Almost inevitable, I eat all the food I make on Sunday before Wednesday is done. If you can do it, great. Bake up some chicken and steam some vegetables Sunday night, and pack them up for the week.
But if you’re like me, just take a smaller approach. Making lunch twice a week is still better than five times a week, right? Make it easy. Bake some chicken. Or get a crockpot recipe for chili. Just make sure it’s something you like, otherwise what’s the point?
Stash Your Snacks
I’m practically a squirrel. I’ve got things to eat stashed in my car, my office drawer, my briefcase, and my house. That way, if I get in a jam and don’t have time for a full meal until two or three in the afternoon, I can still get a quick bite in. I’m partial to protein bars and raw cashews. But get something that you enjoy. Just remember this isn’t an excuse to keep a box of Hershey’s candy bars in your desk.