How to stay healthy at work- do the right things the right way

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On Wednesday 22.5.2019 Joni Jaakkola came to Waffle Wednesday to talk about how we could learn to live with consistency. Joni is the CEO of Optimal Performance, weight training coach, lecturer and science author. Whenever we are talking about health, well being, nutrition, exercise or recovery there are very poor ways to take care of ourselves. The biggest problem is when people try to change their bad habits, they try to change them all at once and live like professional athletes, says Joni. No-one can do that systematically.

Can people sometimes live unhealthy?

Often people ask from Joni, is eating a hamburger or drinking a beer every now and then a bad or a good thing? Or is it okay that one sleeps only 5 hours a night? Joni’s answer almost every time is that it depends. 5 hours of sleep for one night probably isn’t a problem, but 60 nights with 5 hours of sleep will affect you differently. Everybody handles thing differently. If your basic lifestyle is healthy, you are usually already on the safe side. If you eat smart, check that you get enough steps throughout the day, exercise and sleep well, you can easily take a one weekend cruise to Tallinn to party with your friends.

Wellbeing is a lifestyle balance

Wellbeing at work includes smart living habits and other important things in life. Finding the balance between things is the hard part. Joni say’s that his work week is longer than recommended, but he balances this out in other parts of his life. If you want to do many things in life at the same time, it will burden you. It’s important to open your eyes and notice, if your health and wellbeing start to go downhill. It’s a thing that won’t change for better on its own.

Work considering health and wellbeing is difficult, because everyone’s ability to manage stress and need for relaxation is individual. Human wellbeing is like a rubber band, that will snap and break at some point, if one stretches it for too long.  The balance between stress and recovery is important, try to think in advance a little. As long as wellbeing in our lives is a choice, we make it. When the rubber band snaps, and you can’t get out of bed in the morning, the choice is gone. You have to take time to focus on your health and prioritize it. In these cases recovery is never easy or fast.

How to make wellbeing and health an easier part of your everyday life? Joni thinks it is important to built a ”better normal”. Most of our life revolves around things that feel normal and have felt normal to us since childhood. For example for some people eating breakfast is normal and for others, it’s clear that there is no time to eat breakfast. At the same time for some people it’s normal to exercise and for others it’s not. These normals, lifestyles, are totally different. When a person is used to exercise and doesn’t do it for a while, it will feel like something is missing.  For this reason normal doesn’t require spine or self-discipline from anyone. These are just things that happen on their own.

According to Joni it’s important to every one of us to build a pyramid about our performance and health from these elements:

1. Values

You take health and wellbeing seriously, but not too seriously. In today’s world people sit all the time and during the week you will get out of breath maybe for half an hour or not even that.  Health and wellbeing shouldn’t be a hobby, that you do, when you have time. There is a big risk, that these things slip away from your everyday life.

2. Timetable

Your weekly calendar should breath, not pant. Leave space for a lifestyle change and add 4 hours for exercise, 8000 steps per day and 8 hours of sleep to your calendar. Not so, that life spins around that, but enough.

3. Sleep

Sleep is a basic element, which is the base for eating and exercise. If you don’t have time to change everything in your life, focus on improving sleep. It’s easier to focus on eating and exercise after that.

4. Nutrition

Six-packs are made in the kitchen. If your eating doesn’t work, it can’t be balanced with exercise.

5. Weight training
6.Aerobic excercise
7. Recovery

Sleep makes up 95% of an adult human’s recovery. Don’t press on from 8 in the morning till 11 at night and expect to fall asleep for 8 hours of sleep in seconds. That’s why you need to take breaks at work and calm things down.

1. Prioritize sleep

7-9 hours a night is the time frame, when you are still okay. Try to start relaxing 1-2 hours before you go to sleep. An identical sleep rhythm helps a lot (falling asleep and waking up around the same time daily). Remember that sleep deprivation you accumulate during the week, can’t be fixed during the weekend. When you fix your eating and exercise habits for the better, it will increase the quality of your sleep. Eat filling a meal around 7-8 pm before going to sleep.

2. Make the quality of food better

Everything doesn’t have to be organic or unprocessed, because it is a fact that almost everything is modified somehow nowadays. Keep your smart pants on when eating and you’ll get all the necessary vitamins and dietary minerals from your food. Keep terrible hunger away, because usually the following meal isn’t very healthy. Eat so many meals, that a strong sense of hunger stays away. About 4-5 meals per day works for most of the people. Find a suitable energy balance, eat around the same amount as you spent. 90% of diets follow these quite simple rules.

3. Excercise during the week

2 hours of resistance training, 2 hours of endurance exercise & day to day activity. About 70 % of our activity comes from the so called day to day activity. If your day to day life is really passive, even 4 body-pumps can’t fix the situation properly. There should be a little of everything. For example, walk to the lunch restaurant a kilometer away instead of having lunch in the one right next to your office.

4. Take a better grip of your day to day life

If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will do it for you. If you don’t feel good, it’s not a benefit for anyone. If you feel good, everyone benefits from it. So be selfish when it comes to your health and wellbeing. Others will understand. ”No” is a full sentence. Remember planning. If the next week’s exercise would be marked in the calendar already, other things would be built around them, not the other way around.

5. Making life around you better

Making good choices should be made easy and making bad choices hard. For example if you want to eat well tonight, is there anything in your fridge that could turn into a healthy meal? Surely you will not go to the store 5 kilometers away just because of that. Or do you have running shoes if you want to go for a run? Do you know any tracks around your house? The step to starting a new life should be as small as possible. You should also take notice of the company you spend time in. Start making healthy foods with your partner for example. Or does your bedroom look like it would be comfortable to spend 8 hours there? Is there a good mattress, pillows, blankets and curtains? Consider these things, so you can live a healthy life!

Why are these things really important? Everyone likes doing nice and fun things. We feel sad, when something fun is happening but we can’t attend because one’s back is broken or one is sick. If your friends are going on a 60 kilometer hike or your child wants to take you sledding and you can’t go with them. You really would want to, but you know that you can’t climb up a hill more than once. Remember to take care of your health so you don’t have to worry about things like these!

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