We often talk about what to DO in order to be healthy, but today we are going to look at a few things that you should NOT do! These small things that may be a part of your everyday life can have severe short and long term health effects that just aren’t worth it. Ditch these 5 unhealthy habits TODAY, and you’ll notice a difference in how you feel almost immediately!
1. Sitting all day long: They say sitting is the new smoking… Sitting at your desk for 8+ hours a day wreaks havoc on your body! It negatively affects your posture and circulation, is linked with anxiety and depression, and can increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers.
What to do instead: Most companies will provide you with a standing desk if asked (just talk to your manager or HR representative). Otherwise you can DIY with a large, stable box. (It may not be pretty, but it’s functional!) You should also set a calendar reminder to walk around every hour, for 2-5 minutes. If you can go for a walk outside, even better!
2. Drinking sugar. Sugar is in nearly everything we eat and drink - even found in unexpected places such as peanut butter, ketchup, yogurt, milk, and salad dressings, just to name a few. Too much sugar can lead to weight gain, acne, diabetes, tooth decay, liver damage, and more.
The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 37.5 grams of sugar for men and 25 grams for women a day. As a reference, a can of soda contains around 39 grams of sugar! One easy way to reduce your sugar intake is to stop drinking sugar - that means cutting out sodas, sweetened coffee/tea beverages, and even most fruit juices.
What to do instead: Try replacing sodas with unsweetened sparkling water instead. If you must have something sweet, try a stevia-sweetened soda (such as Zevia) or kombucha (but look for one without added sugar such as GT’s).
For all you coffee lovers, instead of going for a sugar-laden frappuccino or that super sweet pumpkin spice latte, choose a simple coffee that's served either black or maybe with almond or coconut milk. Try to gradually cut back on sweetener in your coffee altogether. It can be done, but you probably have to do it in stages - decreasing slowly to get used to it - in the meantime, use stevia or even a tiny bit of agave syrup or honey instead, until you can ween yourself off sweeteners altogether.
3. Not prioritizing sleep. Sleep is SO crucial to your health! Too little sleep negatively affects your brain function and causes a decrease in productivity, energy, focus, alertness, and emotional wellbeing. Further, it can lead to other devastating health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart and kidney disease, diabetes, and stroke.
What to do instead: Protect your sleep time and prioritize your ZZZ’s! That means not overcommitting yourself and your time, especially during the week. Embrace JOMO (the joy of missing out)! Happy hours, networking events, extra work projects, and other social commitments are not as important as getting a good night of sleep. Check out our blog post on more ways to get a restful night of sleep.
4. Skipping meals. Your body NEEDS to be fueled so that it has energy to get you through your day! When you miss a meal, it kicks your body into starvation mode and stores fat, plus your brain doesn’t have the energy it needs to function properly so it doesn’t operate on full potential. Not eating enough/regularly can also damage your metabolism, and lead to higher cholesterol, diabetes, and even heart disease. (Not to mention - make you super #hangry).
What to do instead: Make the time to eat! It’s also always a good idea to keep some sort of healthy snack on hand (protein bar or shake, jerky, tuna salad, an apple, etc) so if you get busy and can’t get away for lunch, you at least have something to eat in a pinch.
5. Working too much. Sometimes this is unavoidable during busy seasons at work, but it’s so important to prioritize work/life balance and giving your brain time to “turn off” and reset. When you work too much, you’re likely to let go of healthy habits such as exercising, eating right, etc. and even give up time with your loved ones (which is terrible for your mental and emotional health!). Further, you’re not as productive and creative under stress, so you’re likely to get less (and lower quality) work done. Lastly, chronic stress has been linked to many health issues such as cardiovascular disease, reproductive issues, skin and hair problems, and digestive issues.
What to do instead: Ask for help! Talk to your boss and be honest that you need more support in order to be able to give your A-game to the most important projects. Maybe there are activities that your boss can help you de-prioritize or share the work with others. Try to delegate projects/tasks to team members. By all means, your health and relationships are more important than work - so make sure you treat them that way.
Ideally, you'll ditch all 5 of these immediately... but we get - change is hard, especially with a busy life! So, we challenge you to try to drop TWO of them today, and then once you have the hang of those, try gradually dropping the others. You got this!