I was a corporate litigator for 23 years and a certified workaholic. I know first-hand that practicing law is one of the most stressful careers on the planet. Who hasn’t awakened in the middle of the night obsessing about missing a filing deadline? We work very long hours, often at the expense of our health. Who has time to cook or even shop for healthy food? Given the demands of a legal career, and the juggling act of trying to balance family life, it’s easy to back-burner your health.
Don’t wait until you get devastating news at your annual physical or end up in the ER. Making just a few changes to your lifestyle can reap big health rewards. Many studies demonstrate that losing as little as 5-10% of your body weight yields significant benefits, including: reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes; lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels; reducing the risk of colon and breast cancer; and decreasing the risk of depression.
Here are some minor life hacks that will make it easier for you to keep your weight under control and live healthfully. I’ve grouped them into categories that correspond to common scenarios:
- Do your homework: Go online, look at the menu, and make a healthy choice before you go to the restaurant.
- Prepare: Don’t go to the restaurant hungry. Have a snack or drink a glass of water so you won’t be starving when you get there.
- Take charge: When eating with a group, be the one to suggest a restaurant that you know has healthy options.
- Have it your way: Request changes to the method of preparation, order sauces on the side, and substitute the starch for extra vegetables.
- Stay busy: Instead of diving into the breadbasket, socialize with your dining companions, drink water or order a non-creamy soup to tide you over until the entrees arrive.
- Out of sight, out of mind: Consider sharing an entrée, or ordering a half-sized portion or several appetizers. Another alternative is to ask for a to-go box with the entrée and stash away half of the serving immediately.
Out-of-the-Office All Day
- Tote a soft-sided cooler: Bring you own food and you won’t have to resort to the drive-through or grab-and-go.
- Bring healthy snacks: Some suggestions: almonds, apple slices, string cheese, hummus and crackers, grapes, turkey jerky, Kind Bars, cut up melons, and baby carrots.
- Bring your lunch: Prepare your lunch the evening before. Try a Mason jar salad, pack a prepared lunch from Trader Joe’s, or bring the leftovers from dinner.
- Make use of break times: Take an exer-snack. Walk around the block every opportunity you get and wear a fitness tracker to keep you motivated.
- Do your research: Select a hotel room with a refrigerator and a nearby grocery store so you won’t have to order room service.
- Plan to stay healthy: Book a hotel with a good workout room or nearby running route and set out your exercise clothes before you go to bed.
- Pack healthy snacks: You’ll need them for the plane or car ride and you’ll be less tempted to partake in the mini-bar offerings.
- Cocktail parties: Snack beforehand so you can resist the fatty appetizers and limit yourself to one glass of wine.
- Limitless Buffet: Survey the offerings, then load up your plate with vegetables and greens, add some healthy protein, and skip the bread and dessert.
- Air travel: Bring your own meal or pick up something healthy in the terminal.
- Hang with the healthy crowd: Identify the healthy eaters and mimic their eating habits.
Too Tired to Cook
- Be realistic: Figure out the best way to eat healthy dinners and be realistic about what works with your schedule and energy level.
- Cook your meals the weekend before: Set aside time on Saturday or Sunday to shop, dice, cook, and portion your meals for the week.
- Assemble your meals: Buy healthy ingredients that are easy to make a quick meal of, like a roasted chicken, salad greens, canned beans, and pre-cut vegetables.
- Buy it prepared: Pick up healthy take-out, like Whole Foods, Veggie Grill, or Baja Fresh.
- Have it delivered: If you don’t want to cook or assemble, order pre-cooked, home delivered meals.