What A Racket!

Healthy Returns

By Charlotte Mulhern

As if you can fit anything else into your already cramped schedule . . .

Actually, you can--and you should, especially when it comes to exercise and healthy eating. "One of the biggest challenges for [people] who work in their homes is finding time for themselves," says Connie Diekman of the American Dietetic Association.

While too many of us dedicate all our time to the business--leaving nothing for our own well-being--the good news is that it's easy to get back on the right track. And the better news? You won't regret it once you give it a try. When you take care of your health, you feel better. And the better you feel, the more productive you'll be in your business. To get started, Diekman offers these tips:

  • Plan your schedule as if you still worked in the corporate world. When your schedule is determined by someone else, it's very clear when you're working and when you're not, says Diekman. When you're working at home, it's often hard to separate the two.

Make an extra effort to decide when you're going to work and when you're going to take breaks. In other words, plan your own schedule, and make sure it's the one that works best for you. Plan regular mealtimes--and take them. Schedule time to stretch and exercise--and do it. Write everything down in your daily planner as reminders.

  • Pretend you can't go back into the kitchen once you've gone to the office. This accomplishes two goals: saving time and controlling your temptation to snack. Start your day with a healthy breakfast, then put everything else you'll need for the day in your office: bottled water, a bagged lunch and healthy snacks such as bagels, rice cakes, popcorn, pretzels, low-fat crackers, fruit and veggies. That way, Diekman says, "When you want to eat, it won't take 10 minutes to figure out what to fix and another 10 to fix it."
  • Plan exercises that are quick, easy and don't require sophisticated equipment. Stretching is always a simple--and ideal--solution. When you're sitting at your desk, twist your ankles, do leg lifts under the desk, and do arm bends, reaches, and other movements that give you flexibility. "These might not have a lot of aerobic benefit, but they'll help you feel better and keep you from being stiff from sitting," says Diekman.

Try walking. If you take an hour for lunch, eat for half the time and walk around your neighborhood for the other half--the fresh air will improve your emotional well-being and rejuvenate your senses. If you don't have that much time, schedule quick 10-minute walks throughout the day.

  • Learn to appreciate the benefits of healthy living. Once you control your diet and exercise regularly, you'll achieve a comfortable balance between work and play and will feel more motivated, energetic and keep your weight under control. "But if you don't have a schedule," warns Diekman, "you'll find yourself working whenever, and then everything else goes out the window." Don't let that happen to you.
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