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Work up your passion

A work-health balance is crucial. Bloom into a fitter you while we get back to the grind the vegan way.

By Nisthula Nagarajan

Published: Fri 15 Jan 2021, 4:09 PM

Now that the New Year celebrations have died down, and we're all buckling down to work, it's getting harder to stick to our resolutions, one of which might be going vegan. Our will power tends to wane now that we have other things occupying our minds. Don't take the easy way out, commit to a healthier lifestyle. I know, it's tough to set aside time for yourself keeping in mind deadlines, meetings, family time, household chores and a thousand other things.

I have had to push through the tiredness at the end of my day to prep meals, exercise, and do the chores. But as the days wear on, you will feel more lethargic which lends itself to less productivity at work where we spend at least eight hours of our day. It's time we dedicate a portion of our day to our well-being. Exercise, a healthy diet, and organisation are your essentials to get on track to a happier, freer and healthier you.

Here's how I plan to take control of my health and strike a balance with work:

Get your heart rate up

Exercise is paramount to a healthy body. There are plenty of gyms around town but if that's not your cup of tea, I have really enjoyed alternative fitness classes like spinning, dance aerobics and swing yoga after work. If you're looking for high intensity with a trainer, enrol in a boot camp. If you can, invest in a smartwatch to keep track of your heart rate, fitness progress and steps for the day. I have a set goal of 10,000 steps per day so the watch keeps track of my activity around the clock and give you alerts if you've been sitting for too long. Try to get your workout in after you wake up. It's the perfect wake up call to get you ready for the day ahead. Have a snack like a banana or a bowl of oatmeal and get down to it.

Mindful nourishment

Most mornings we're just rushing to get into work on time and our food takes a back seat. It's definitely easier to order out than to plan and cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner every morning, but it isn't easy on your body or your wallet. Restaurant food is made in bulk and contains way more oil, salt, sugar, and preservatives than your body needs, and is completely uneconomical. Take a trip to your local grocery store and check out the organic, locally sourced items. Pack small items to snack on throughout the day instead of having three heavy meals, as this is a lesser load on your digestive system. I like to plan my meals in advance so meal prep really helps me out. I prepare a salad, box of nuts, granola bar, fresh fruit juice, and a cup of vegan yoghurt every night for the next day. If cooking really isn't your forte, look towards investing in a healthy meal plan, many of which have vegan options, that will deliver your meals for the day to your doorstep before you leave for work. Eat your meals at the appropriate hour and don't skip any!

Set an appointment for annual medical tests to find out if you have any imbalances or deficiencies. The most common among UAE residents is Vitamin D deficiency, owing to the fact that we're indoors most of the year due to the Middle East heat. Take a walk outside during your work breaks and soak in the afternoon sun. Over the weekend spend as much time as you can in direct sunlight. Consult a doctor if you want to look into supplements.

Remember to hydrate! In the UAE, we are constantly exposed to air conditioning, which draws out moisture from the air and our body. Hydrate your skin every day with a quality moisturiser and keep a large water bottle on your desk. If you're into flavoured water, infuse fruits and vegetables like lemon, cucumbers and strawberries overnight or keep a box of green tea at your desk. Set a hydration reminder every half an hour if you have trouble remembering to have a gulp of water. You don't want to faint at work from dehydration.

Manage workload

Sometimes work can get overwhelming with several deadlines on the same day, and your brain starts to fritz. I usually try to take a break and walk around the office to keep my legs working.

Sometimes the best ideas pop in my mind when I'm not staring at a screen. I've also experienced back discomfort if I spend too long in one position, so I practice a few desk and eye exercises every hour. Steps are great to get the blood pumping through your legs so take a couple of jogs up and down the office staircase.

Organisation is key to get through the day avoiding confusion. Jot down reminders, to-do lists, daily meetings, etc. and prioritise

by urgency.

There are days we take our job home. Try to finish the work that has to be done in the office premises due to confidentiality, first.

When you get home, take an hour away from all screens, including your phone. I find that my eyes get dry and tired after looking at a screen all day so it is best to give them a break, workout, meet a friend, go for a walk, or prepare dinner. Get back into work after your body and mind have had some time off so they don't go into overdrive.

Find your centre

Practice some mindfulness at home by meditating for 10 minutes every day. I find that the best time to do this, as a beginner, is right before I sleep.

Use an app like Calm or Headspace for a guided mediation that will eventually lead you into a deep sleep. If you're a morning person, sit out on your balcony and get lungsful of fresh air and prepare for your day. Those 10 minutes I take for myself have definitely become my haven and I look forward to it every night.

Support your vegan colleagues

If you aren't a vegan, you can still show some love to the plant lovers at work. Here is how:

  • Dedicate shelves, space in the refrigerator, utensils and food preparation sections especially for vegans.
  • Get their dietary requirements for events and specify these to the caterer
  • Uphold a respectful and welcoming atmosphere
  • Ensure prompt action on any complaints from vegans
  • At events outside work, like barbeques, make sure to get along vegan-friendly items like cut veggies, tofu, etc.
  • If you're curious, ask questions! They'll be happy to give you more info on adopting a vegan lifestyle.

"I am happy to share my motivations for adopting a cruelty-free lifestyle with my colleagues. Recommending plant-based alternatives or cool vegan restaurants is an exciting part of being vegan. One of my bosses even brought me some vegan cheesecake one afternoon - such a kind gesture!"

Anu Chowdhary,

Owner and Creative Director

Not Bad For A Vegan


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