How to Stay Healthy with Unhealthy Work Hours

by Premier Medical Staffing Services on February 1, 2016 in Career Development



Having the right combination of eating healthy and exercising is important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but if you’re working crazy hours or have a demanding schedule, this can feel almost impossible.

Let’s face it! Unlike many other industries, working as a healthcare employee is challenging due to the schedules and time on your feet. Your life likely revolves around; night shifts, rotating schedules, double shifts, and overtime. You may even be a first time mom trying to learn how to balance a career and baby world. Or perhaps, you’ve found a 9-5 position that is providing career satisfaction. No matter where you are in your career, I am confident that you have what it takes to become a healthier person.

Getting Your Key Nutrients and Learning to Portion Control

Many people that work demanding schedules rely on the convenience of fast food, vending machines, and cafeteria food which is a major cause in living an unhealthy lifestyle. Following the 80/20 rule when it comes to eating healthy is extremely important. The 80/20 rule is about balance and moderation – 80% is eating clean while the other 20% you can indulge in cheat meals. Having the discipline to eat healthy 80% of the time when you work long hours or night shifts can be difficult.

Planning your meals ahead of time will definitely help you achieve the 80% goal. Putting aside one day a week to incorporate healthy choice planning is possible! Nurses usually get their schedule four weeks in advance, so why not choose the days that you’re not working to put aside time for meal prep? I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s much more painless if you make it a priority.

The key to eating healthy is making sure that you’re eating all of the colors of the rainbow like fresh fruit, veggies, and whole grains. You definitely want to avoid processed foods as much as possible.

Eating portioned amounts of these healthier selections is also extremely important! You should really know how much and of what food groups you should be eating daily. One of my favorite diet plans, which I love to use when creating my grocery list, is the 21 Day Fix. Not only do they provide you with the key nutrients you should be eating, but also with the portion control amounts. Check out the 21 day fix video here by Beach Body.

Incorporate Exercise in your Daily Routine

Once you have established a healthy eating routine, the next step is to incorporate exercise. If you’re constantly walking all day then you’re definitely getting your cardio. This is great! But, you still need to challenge yourself. Interval cardio exercises and strength training is extremely beneficial to your body. Respectfully, when working twelve hour shifts, this can also be very difficult to do. The goal is to get a minimum of 30 minutes a day.

When working these long hours, try incorporating easy exercising techniques into your daily routine. This will help with your demanding schedule. For the days that you’re working long hours there are exercises you can do right at work. For example; try to avoid shortcuts and take the long way, use the stairs instead of the elevator, flex your abs while standing, sit up straight, and use the larger bathroom stall to do wall sits or squats. There are so many exercises you can do at work, like the ones on this website. Even if you’re not a Nurse, these workouts can still be helpful.

For the days that you’re not working, really challenge yourself with a longer workout. If you’re working 12 hour shifts, you usually have four days off unless you decide to pick up extra shifts. Try to use the days off to your advantage by exercising and prepping your meals throughout the week.

No More Excuses

If you establish goals for yourself to achieve the 80/20 healthy eating habits as well as incorporating exercise in your daily routine, then you’re on the right track. Try to have control of your life and don’t let your demanding schedule overcome your healthy lifestyle. Putting yourself first and having no more excuses will help you achieve these goals.

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn

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