If you have been here for a while, you would know I haven’t always been a fan of exercise. So much so, my belief on exercising the ‘right way’ just so happened to include rolling out of bed in the morning, struggling to pull on some pants and shuffling into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. This philosophy got me through my university years and the first few of being a Registered Nurse.
However, my thoughts towards exercise and being healthier have changed considerably and I’ve tried to find simple ways to be healthier daily. As it allows me to keep on top of my mental health and physical well being while making sure it can be easily applied to days of where I am either working or running around after my son. So, I thought I’d share these simple things with you in today’s post because I know there’s someone else who is struggling to maintain a balanced life!
Getting a good night’s sleep.
When I graduated from university and joined the real world of nursing, one thing I had to wrap my head around was the imbalance and the likelihood of surviving on less than 6 hours of sleep. While I dare not mention how this physical and mental adjustment has gotten easier over the years for me, I found establishing a “normal sleep pattern” (I use this term loosely) for days when I am not working or study, to be an essential step in my evening and bedtime routine.
For those few days in the week where I am not working or studying, I actively follow a ‘normalised’ routine and it often starts with either an evening shower or doing a complete skincare routine with a Spotify R’n’B playlist, playing in the background. Since university and my insomnia striking at random intervals, playing something with an upbeat tempo before hitting the sack allows me to release any additional energy I have and for my mind to realise it’s bed time.
After sliding into bed, I turn off my 4:45 and 5 am work alarms (I loove morning shifts..) and being a believer in sleep, I aim for 8 hours of solid sleep. Although I understand its difficult at times, particularly with a teething toddler and a husband who snores, I actively embrace having a half hour cat nap during the day as it helps with re-energising the mind and body.
Always have a supply of water
After a goodnight sleep, the first thing I often tend to gravitate towards to when getting out of bed is my water bottle on my bedside table. I find chugging a few mouthfuls of water in the morning helps with clearing the cloudiness in my brain a little bit easier and it gets rid of any dry mouth. For those times where I am out and about, I’ve found carrying water everywhere I go is not only one of the easiest things I can do when trying to up my health game and I am continuously reaching my water bottle.
Not sure if it stems from having breastfed and constantly feeling thirsty all the dang time, I’ve learnt from past mistakes that it’s really important to have water on you and to stay hydrated as it has a key part in everyday wellness. So much so, I often tend to have a water bottle in my car at all times, in my pram when out and about and several in the fridge for when I need icy cold water.
One thing I struggle with when trying to find time to sit down at work as I continuously on-the-go non-stop is eating healthier and eating in general. I have been known in the past to scoff down a pre-made and pre-packaged salad and with a mouthful, swallow it down without really chewing properly while preparing medications. Completely and utterly against protocol and the 8 rights of medication but when you walk a thousand miles in a nurses’ shoes, you’d do anything to eat (or have a toilet break).
While I’d like to claim something has changed in the past five years of being a nurse (cough cough), I lean towards meals that are either quick and easy to prepare (hence the homemade salad). Or, it can be literally thrown into a microwave and any nutrients is obliterated within seconds, so I can get back to documenting about what happened during my 8 hour shift.
When I’m not crawling on the floor at, I plan a majority of my healthy meals. Living an almost sugar free and now lactose free lifestyle and feeling the long-term benefits, I’ve limited my intake of processed, highly saturated and sugary foods and now, focus on gravitating towards meals that have plenty of carbs to satisfy my Italian soul and heaps of fresh fruit and veg. I also balance meals out with some form of protein (fish, red meat, chicken), a healthy ratio of good fats (peanut butter, olive oil nuts and avocado) and when those cravings hit, a teaspoon of honey or chocolate here and there. Being lactose intolerant, I tend to only have one or two servings of dairy-free substitutes a day and normally it includes coffee.
Speaking of which, for those days where I need a coffee fix and that’s pretty much most days ending in y, I keep to having a cup (or if I really need a pick me up, two cups) of coffee and after embracing a lactose free life, I prefer alternative based milks like oat or almond milk. Because who wants to live a life of horrible stomach cramps and well, you know?
Movement is key!
Did you know a mixture of eating a healthy and nutritious diet while exercising can help with regular bowel motions? True story, read it in a medical journal and its something I keep in the back of my mind as I am constantly telling my residents that actively exercise (if they can and are willing to do so) will be beneficial in the long run. When I’m about to dash out the door and I’m going to be racing around, I prefer my converse ballet flats as they’re comfortable or if I’m going for a lengthy walk or bicycle ride, I wear an old pair of Nike’s.
Work wise and the amount of physical exercise I do, I opt for comfort over style and have leaned towards something structured for an athlete. Because I’m under the assumption of being an emergency healthcare athlete and I don’t want to spend my shift being in absolute pain. So, I’m someone who heavily favours Nike as my feet aren’t screaming in pain, any Nike shoe has the right amount of padding needed for jogging and boy, are they lightweight. As I am someone who hates the feeling of wearing cement bricks for shoes, I view comfort as being a definite must-have and key when it comes to movement. Which brings me onto my final point.
Comfortable and stylish athleisure wear.
First and foremost, if I could wear pajamas all day, I would. Period. However when I’m required to be dressed and looking presentable, my clothing pieces all feature three key points and they are: comfort, need to be stylish to a degree and easily transitional. Cue athleisure wear. I’ve discovered there is something about the idea of throwing on a cashmere sweater or a nicely structured collared shirt with a sleeveless vest and looking professional for a zoom meeting. All the while, I’m secretly wearing leggings with sneakers (thank you, Zoom!).
In situations where I feel hemmed in and are experiencing cabin fever, I get dressed in my workout clothes and sneakers first thing in the morning. Not only does it act as a helpful reminder to get out of the house and spend some time breathing in the fresh air; but it’s also convenient if I happen to walk to the grocery store for dinner supplies and I don’t have to get changed into my workout gear.
I hope these tips have been helpful because I’ve really enjoyed writing this post and embracing a new kind of lifestyle. Particularly one that focuses on maintaining a healthier mental and physical well-being and who knew, it could take a few simple ways to be healthier every day.