There is no need to reach for chocolate and pastries washed down with an energy drink at 3pm, or worse, 11am! I see a lot of people in the gym who are desperately struggling to get a decent night’s sleep or feed themselves in a way that will provide lasting energy throughout the day, never mind hit the gym on the way home after an exhausting day.

Sarah Moloney, Personal Trainer with the Irish branch of the Strength Institute, shares her tips for working healthy habits into our daily rhythm. 

1.Create a morning ritual and stick to it

Getting up even 10-15 minutes earlier leaves you time to create a morning ritual that will set you up for the day and get you started on a less stressful note. Everyone is individual – find out what works for you – but here are some suggestions to get you started.

  • 10-15 belly breaths before you even get out of bed will activate the parasympathetic nervous system and lower your heart rate.
  • The Headspace app has short 2-3 minute guided meditations which are very easy to follow
  • Try some gentle stretching or light yoga to get the blood flowing and ease the joints into the day
  • A cup of your favourite herbal tea in a quiet spot in the house with no electronic devices available to distract you from enjoying your tea. You may have to get up before the kids to do this one!

The typical toast/cereal/porridge breakfasts will set you up for a day of brain fog and sugar cravings and it certainly won’t help your waistline

2. Be aware of your stress levels, and learn how to manage them.

We have all heard of the hormone cortisol. It is also called the stress hormone and gets a lot of bad press. It is essential and we need it to rise in the morning to wake up. In our very stressful day to day life we unfortunately can have a chronic elevation of this hormone. We can help out our over worked adrenal glands by doing the following:

  • We naturally have higher cortisol in the morning. Caffeine can elevate our levels further than we need so hold off on that first cup of coffee or caffeinated tea for at least an hour and a half after waking. Feel free to have another coffee after lunch but cut the caffeine at 2pm.
  • Increasing your vitamin C intake can really give your adrenal glands a helping hand.
  • Increase your intake of filtered water.

3. Start your day with a decent breakfast.

You use food to send messages to your cells about what fuel you want them to use all day so tell them straight away you want them to burn fat by having a fat and protein based breakfast such as eggs & avocado or a smoked salmon omelette with a side of greens. This breakfast will also help stabilise your blood sugar and prevent sugar cravings later in the day.

The typical toast/cereal/porridge/honey/orange juice/fruit breakfasts will set you up for a day of brain fog, sugar cravings and it certainly won’t help your waistline. Make this change and watch your mental clarity and focus improve in ways you didn’t think possible.

Get up from the desk and go up the stairs to the next floor to have a glass of water every 40 -60 minutes.

4. Use water breaks for movement.

It is essential to get more water in during the day. You should be drinking out of a glass bottle, not plastic, and avoid re-using plastic bottles to prevent leaching of any plastics into your water. You can use your water breaks to get some more movement into your workday too. Get up from the desk and go up the stairs to the next floor to have a glass of water every 40 -60 minutes.

5. Get moving at lunch time.

Split your lunch break into 2 x 20 or 30 minute blocks depending on how long you have. Spend block A having a healthy, nutritious lunch with a palm sized portion of protein, a tbsp of healthy fats and a couple of handfuls of carbohydrate in the form of leafy greens and mixed vegetables.

Spend block B going for a brisk walk, preferably outside weather permitting, or around your building if it is too bad out. Incorporate some stretches while at your desk to relieve neck tension and speak to your boss about perhaps getting a standing desk.

Beat that 3pm slump with a cup of bone broth instead of coffee; bone broth has numerous healing effects due to its glycine content. It helps heal a distressed gut and keeps you calm throughout the day.

Make sure you don’t eat too close to bed time as the digestive process will interfere with your sleep

6. Regulate your sleeping patterns.

As important as a morning ritual is, you should also have a night-time ritual to ensure a good night’s sleep. A 20 minute walk after dinner can reduce inflammation and if it is Twilight or dark outside it can help the body produce our sleep hormone, melatonin.

Reduce screen time 2 hours before bed and turn your phone on airplane mode at least 1.5 hours before bed. Get to bed at the same time every night, early enough to get 8 hours of sleep. Ensure your bedroom is as dark as possible, cool and well aired. Soaking your feet in magnesium salts can help get you ready for sleep.

Make sure you don’t eat too close to bed time as the digestive process will interfere with your sleep. There should be no television in the bedroom; read or listen to soothing music if you need it to fall asleep.