Many of us at Life Time are really in to our routines. They anchor us and help us stay focused on the things that are important to us — including our work, families, communities, and of course, our health. We also know that, when it comes to living a healthy life, there’s no single “right” routine, and there’s no such thing as perfect.
In Part Two of this three-part series, we talked to six healthy-living experts here at Life Time to get a sense of what their midday routines look like. Take inspiration from folks who aim to “walk the talk” and see if any of these ideas might work for you. (Find Part One, on morning routines, and Part Three, on evening routines, here.)
Julie Brown, 38, general manager at Life Time
Julie is the general manager at Life Time in Chanhassen, Minn. She has been married for 15 years and has two daughters, a three-year-old and a six-year-old.
I crank through my day by consistently staying on top of my calendar and referencing my planner for tasks I need to complete. I’m guilty of working while I eat lunch most of the time. It’s not always a best practice, but it works for me and my productivity.
I bring my lunch to work and try to keep it pretty simple. Lately, I’ve been having chicken skewers from Costco added to a bag of steam-in-the-microwave veggies with some grass-fed butter and sea salt. It’s yummy and provides the right balance of protein, fat, fiber, and some carbs to fuel me through my afternoon. I also love keeping easy snacks handy throughout the day; some of my favorites include one-third cup of nuts and seeds, beef jerky and a cheese stick, or a banana and nut-butter packet.
I monitor my daily steps and activity throughout the day and am conscious of moving around. My watch tells me to stand every hour if I’ve been too stationary, and I’m fortunate to have a sit-stand desk, so I usually stand 50 to 75 percent of my day.
If I’m feeling overly stressed, I’ll take a break and go for a walk (outside if possible) or walk to the LifeCafe to get a coffee or chai latte. It usually helps to step away for a few minutes and give my mind a break.
My biggest focus is getting through as many items on my to-do list as possible, and I try to gauge my progress throughout the day. I aim to get the most time-sensitive items crossed off first, so if there’s anything lingering at the end of the day it can wait until the next morning. At the end of my day I always pause to reflect on the impact I had and to ensure I’ve taken the appropriate action on the priorities for my week, which helps me begin to frame my next day’s to-do list.
Short-notice meeting changes can be a bit annoying, but I try not to let them throw me off my game. When meetings get rescheduled or canceled, I use that time to work on projects or my to-do list (there is always plenty to do!), or to catch up with a colleague over coffee.
Have a lunch plan. That could mean bringing it from home or just knowing what you’re going to eat, but set a strategy and stick to it so you’re not struggling to decide at lunchtime or forced to make a less-than-optimal decision.
Jen Elmquist, 52, MA, LMFT, Mental Health Consultant and Author
Jen is the designer of and provides oversight for Life Time Mind, Life Time’s internal performance coaching program. She’s worked in the mental health and wellness field for more than two decades. Jen and her husband have adult children and split their time between Montana and Southern California.
Every day is different for me. Some days I’m coaching clients, others I’m working on business development, building content, attending meetings, speaking, or training.
I love the variety in my job, but in order to keep myself high-energy and engaged, I like to keep some basic habits consistent day-to-day. I start every day with a review of my schedule, top priorities, and important tasks. Typically, I do weekly planning on Sunday evenings, so each day I’m reviewing, modifying, and following through with my plan.
As I go through the day, I drink water and tea, and snack lightly (usually on nuts or a protein bar) if needed to help keep my blood sugar stable and brain functioning well. I always make time for a break for lunch, which usually consists of protein and veggies. This break is important in helping my mind to refuel and reset, and I often use it to do a short meditation or check social media.
Most of my day is spent sitting, so standing or moving has to be intentional. I like to use the prompts on my watch to remind me to stand, breathe, and move.
Throughout the day, I’ll take transition breaks where I use breath or movement to help my body and mind shift from one task or meeting to the next. Often that’s as simple as standing up, stretching, and taking three deep breaths. If possible, I’ll take a short walk. I also periodically feel my pulse, take a couple of deep breaths, and ask myself, “How do I feel? What do I need?” and try to take action on it.
It’s really easy to let the day run me rather than me running the day, and these are ways I’ve found to help me stay in the driver’s seat.
Some days are just whirlwinds — there’s no way around it. On those days I try to keep breathing and listening to myself. And if I need a break, I’ll take it.
Find ways to take care of yourself during the day. Self-care is a lifestyle, not an appointment.
Lindsay Ogden, 35, personal trainer and nutrition coach
Lindsay is a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach who’s passionate about helping Life Time members pursue their health and fitness goals. She resides in Minneapolis, Minn., with her boyfriend, Brenton, and dogs, Louie and Winston.
My routine during the day varies quite a bit, as it revolves around meetings, calls, and sessions with clients. Every Sunday, I’ll look ahead to my schedule for the week; things often change day-to-day, but I do my best to stick to a schedule and be present in everything I do.
I also meal-prep on Sundays so I can bring my lunch every day. This saves time, money, and thought — I don’t have to think about where to go or what to eat daily. My lunches includes a vegetable (such as green beans, asparagus, or mixed greens), a protein (such as turkey, chicken, or bison), and complex carbs (such as quinoa, rice, or sweet potatoes). I mostly stick to water to drink, as I aim to get in 80 ounces a day.
I am pretty active throughout my day, but if I have longer breaks, I make an effort to go for a quick walk (ideally outside) or stretch.
Having to run from one thing to the next is challenging for me; I really try to make the most of my transitions between activities. For example, at the end of a coaching session, I make note of my main takeaways and any action items needed to follow up on.
Take a break to get outside when weather permits or just get moving. It doesn’t have to be anything vigorous — shoot for five to 10 minutes to get your blood moving or simply step outside and take 10 deep breaths.
Michael Dregni, 61, deputy editor at Experience Life magazine
Michael is a year-round bike-commuter, husband, and dad to two grown sons and a puppy named Rosie.
I sit at my computer at work but I make sure to get up every 30 minutes or so. And I stand as much as I can to read the magazine layouts and proofs.
For lunch, I usually bring dinner leftovers, and I keep sandwich fixings at work. I often eat at my desk while I answer personal emails, then I go to the club (there’s a Life Time in my building) for strength training.
I try to drink 10 glasses of water a day, plus a cup of black tea in the early afternoon. I’m usually ready for a snack around 3 or 4 p.m., and I’ll have some nuts or make myself a PB&J.
Because I eat breakfast early, I’m hungry for lunch early, so usually eat at 11:30 a.m. By the time late afternoon comes around, I’m definitely ready for a snack!
Make sure to move during the day, but especially around midday.
Jamie Martin, 40, editor in chief of Experience Life magazine, vice president of content strategy for Life Time, and cohost of the Life Time Talks podcast
Jamie is a wife and the mom of two pre-teen girls whose activity and social calendars keep the whole family on the go.
I’m usually at the office by 9 or 9:30 a.m. I have a sit-stand desk, and I move between sitting and standing throughout the workday, when I’m not in meetings — and I’m in meetings a lot of the time. I keep a bottle of water with me at all times, though I admittedly don’t drink as much water as I’d like.
To keep myself focused and grounded, I keep a bottle of lavender essential oil spritz in my office that I’ll spray throughout the day, especially when I’m up against deadlines. It’s an opportunity to pause, breathe, and refocus for a few moments.
On the days when most of the team is the office (we enjoy a hybrid work model), I take time to move around the office and talk with my team members about what they’re working on and what’s going on in their lives. Being social and connecting with those around me offers perspective on the projects in front of me. I also utilize some desktop-browser tools to block distracting websites, which helps me stay on task and brings my workday to a close at a reasonable time.
I’m about 50-50 on packing versus buying lunch. When I pack my lunch, it’s either leftovers from the previous night’s dinner or a salad with quinoa, grilled chicken or salmon, nuts, and extra veggies. If I buy lunch, it’s either a veggie-packed salad from a local restaurant or a to-go meal or smoothie from Life Time’s LifeCafe (the Vegan PB&B is my favorite). I hate to admit this, but I often eat while I work; I use this time to prep for my next meeting, catch up on email, etc.
If my energy wanes during the day, I’ll grab a snack from our team’s stash: a handful of walnuts or almonds, or a protein bar. When I bring my own snacks, it’s usually an apple, banana, or pear with sunflower seed butter, or Greek yogurt with almonds and blueberries. I’ll sometimes have a second cup of coffee in the late morning or early afternoon (though no later than 2 p.m.).
A jam-packed schedule — meetings on top of meetings and constant deadlines.
Get up and move over lunch or whenever you have a window — even if it’s just for 15 minutes.
Bob Holper, 60, certified personal trainer and nutrition program coordinator
Bob is an early riser, bodybuilding competitor, and strength-training enthusiast. He’s married and a dad to three adult kids.
I have clients from 5 a.m. until 1 p.m. with no breaks, so I eat and drink between clients.
I leave work between 1 and 2 p.m., depending on if we have a team meeting. Then, I head straight over to another nearby Life Time to do my own workout. It’s important to do my workout at a different club than the one where I work. I’m pretty fierce with my strength training — I’ve been in more than 50 bodybuilding shows — so it’s good to go where people won’t think I’m still in personal-trainer mode.
A super-tight schedule and a public profile at the club where I work. But being organized with my nutrition and workout plan helps me stay focused and on track.
To refuel after a full day of training plus my own workout, I keep two measured scoops of whey isolate protein and 25 grams of dextrose (which is a quick-digesting carbohydrate) in my workout bag, and I drink that with water right after my workout. That gets me through until I get home.