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The grind. The 9-5.
As average Americans, we work at our jobs 40 hours per week … 50 weeks per year … for 40 years of our lives – and that’s if we work hard and have a cool supervisor!
I’m one of these average Americans.
I work 2,000 hours per year to provide for my family and save for retirement. Yes, it’s a perk that I enjoy the work that I do, but honestly, if I didn’t have to work, I wouldn’t.
Alas, money is required to live the lives we want.
But if I’m going to be stuck in the four walls of my office for a large portion of my life, I want to make sure that I’m taking care of myself so I will be able to enjoy retirement. I can’t think of a more depressing story than working your whole life and dying just as you start to experience true retirement.
Here are 4 simple ways I’ve altered my work day to ensure my retirement years will be filled with healthy and happy memories.
1. Drink More Water
It sounds very simple, right?
Our busy days tend to create an environment where we all become massively dehydrated. This can take a huge toll on our health. Headaches, exhaustion and stomach problems are just a few side effects of not drinking the proper amount of water each day.
I like to live by the rule of drinking 1 quart (32 ounces) of water for every 50 pounds of weight. Based on my weight of 160 lbs. this means I need to drink around 102 ounces per day.
This sounds like a lot of freaking 8-ounce glasses of water, but I hack this by keeping a 1-liter water bottle at my desk. That equates to around 3 bottles per day. I use this CamelBak. It sits on my desk and stares at me and says “Fill me up again bro!”
Since I began this water challenge, I’ve had more energy and better productivity in the office. A win-win for me and my employer.
Depending on your diet, you may not need as much water because a lot of water comes from our food. On the flip side, if you’re exercising a lot, you may need more. The “1 quart per 50 pounds” is just a quick rule of thumb that I like.
If you take this water challenge, you’ll be filling up your bottle often. This will get you out of your chair more! Another bonus!
2. Get a Standing Desk
Speaking of getting out of your chair … I’ve read many articles recently about the adverse health effects of us sitting on our butts all day long at work (about 6 hours per day evidently).
- Colon and breast cancer have been linked to this type of sedentary lifestyle
- Obesity and high blood pressure are also a byproduct of too much sitting
After reading a few of these articles about “sedentary disease” a couple of years ago, I decided to give a standing desk a try. I’ve been a fan ever since.
Standing at work helps me burn more calories – up to 200 calories per day – and it keeps my energy level up.
If I feel like sitting, I sit. It’s not a mandatory 8-hour standing shift. The variety of sitting, standing and walking to the water fountain helps me keep active during the work day.
I was going to get this awesome VARIDESK that shifts up and down for sitting and standing, but it was a bit pricey for me at the time. I found this Ikea Standing Desk Hack that helped me get my first standing desk for $22! It’s not as classy as the VARIDESK, but it definitely does the trick.
If you’re considering the standing work lifestyle, look into a fatigue mat as well to reduce pain in your heels and knees. I chose this Imprint Anti-Fatigue Mat. It’s comfortable and fits perfectly in my office.
3. Go for a Walk
Some of my colleagues take a 15-minute smoking break during the day. I like taking breaks too, but I’m not into smoking. This fall, I started to go on walking breaks.
Usually during my lunch hour or shortly after, I put on my walking shoes and take a stroll outside. I take this time to listen to a podcast or an audiobook and get some fresh air.
Fresh air is crucial to a healthy lifestyle. Exposure to nature and oxygen outdoors increases your energy level and reduces stress.
Exercise through walking will help you with digestion and it just gives you a nice second wind as you head into your afternoon.
15-20 minutes is all you need. The smokers get a smoke break … why can’t you have a break for a walk?
4. Pack a Healthy Lunch
Eating out every day can be convenient and tasty, but can be rough on your health and your wallet.
Pack a healthy lunch that provides you with a good source of protein to get you through the day. Lunch is sometimes the biggest meal of the day for people. If you fill up on fast food midday, your performance at work and your energy level will suffer. Put the right fuel in the tank if you want the best performance.
Consider packing the night before work so you don’t forget. I know the morning rush is always my main excuse if I forgot to pack my lunch.
The average American spends $1,043 eating out for lunch annually or $20 per week. By packing your lunch instead of eating out, you’re staying healthy and saving money. As a personal finance junky, this smart health and money combo is right up my alley.
Here is a list of healthy work lunch options that taste great!