Breaking Bad Habits: How I Prioritized Health Over Long Hours and Unhealthy Ways

After spending countless hours hunched over my laptop, procrastinating on unimplemented marketing strategies, I finally glanced up. Feeling overheated, sweaty, and stressed, I longed for a stiff drink.

In 2020 this routine unfolded daily.

I shifted from peak physical fitness to indulging in unhealthy foods, logging endless hours in front of my screen with no tangible outcomes, and sinking into misery. I justified it all by blaming the pandemic, convincing myself that once it passed, I would resume my healthy habits: regular workouts, decreased alcohol consumption, and fresh meals.

Fast forward to 2022, and my routines remained stagnant. I started my days later, made more excuses to drink, and consistently felt drained.

One of the most challenging aspects of adulthood is finding a healthy balance between work and personal life. At times, there seems to be no balance at all, and work takes precedence.

For a long time, I believed that success correlates directly with the time invested in work. The startup environment reinforced this ideology, emphasizing relentless expansion and continuous toil. It took a hit on my mental health life like many others.

Residing in Europe where this mindset is less prevalent, I still found myself browsing through Medium, enthused about the concept of "growth." Not personal growth, but solely company growth.

During a few business trips to the US, I was intrigued. Was I not hustling enough? Perhaps if I put in more hours, made more calls, and worked tirelessly, I could excel. I didn't have a goal other than to be part of this movement.

It was almost addictive—the never-ending pursuit towards an unseen finish line.

Nevertheless, as I aged, it became increasingly clear that this path was not sustainable, at least not for me.

My Quest for Health Beyond the Grind

In my mid-20's life was a perpetual hustle.

I toiled long hours in bustling hotel club lounges, serving a never-ending flow of patrons. The world moved around me and I sat there in my prawn-like state.

It was a grind, with scarce pauses in an environment that seemed immune to the clock's gentle pull.

I felt drained, and it began to show in my health. Visits to the doctor confirmed the toll my lifestyle took on me; my upper spine had started to succumb to the daily bend over a laptop, and I got a stern warning that if I didn't change my bad habits it'd affect me later in life.

Pandemic Wake-Up Call

The pandemic was a crystallizing moment for reevaluating my priorities.

The threats to health loomed everywhere, not only from a global scourge but from my own compromised immune system—the cumulative effect of past COVID encounters.

It caused some bad habits to form but after a second round of infection, it spurred me to change up and focus on my health.

I considered whether frequent long-haul flights yielded the same yield as they once did 🤔

It was a pivotal moment in which I decided that health would, at some point, need to take priority over the frenetic pursuit of what was often intangible growth.

Reshaping the Work-Life Routine

My post-pandemic remedy was a significant shift in my approach.

I decreased my work hours but upped the quality of my output, weaving daily yoga and TRX workouts into my routine.

These new habits in my work-life balance opened room for something I previously dismissed as a luxury—intentional time for rest and growth outside the cramped quarters of work.

Undergoing such a significant transformation was no simple task 😅

Initially, striving for fitness and productivity during the pandemic was riddled with obstacles.

I sought comfort in alcohol, mistakenly believing it could bring me happiness. My routine shifted to nights, sustained by convenient, salty foods that hindered my sleep quality.

Despite the setbacks, the journey to well-being gradually unfolded. What started as realizing alcohol wasn't aiding my health evolved into two years of sobriety.

Transitioning to a vegan diet boosted my energy levels (though unintentional—I aimed for meat but found tofu more appealing) and establishing a consistent waking routine led to more fruitful days.

Embracing TRX and Apple Fitness Plus workouts brought joy to my daily life; each session marked a step towards prioritizing my own health.

The benefits of this wellness-focused approach were tangible. If I had only felt better without concrete progress, I might have given up.

My alertness exceeded past levels.

Regular check-ups confirmed my decisions—my blood pressure consistently fell within a healthy range, and my blood test results showed improvement over time.

Injuries became less common, and the illnesses that used to plague me were significantly reduced.

Finding Equilibrium in Everyday Life

After years of tipping the scales towards work at the expense of my health, my transformation highlighted the undeniable impact of a well-rounded lifestyle.

Here are some of the lessons I learned and strategies implemented to maintain this newfound balance in everyday life.

Starting Small for Lasting Change

Learning the importance of gradual change has been a big lesson for me.

Instead of huge adjustments that can mess up good intentions, I've learned that taking small steps can set a strong base for lasting health improvements.

Like adding a quick walk or an extra hour of sleep to your daily routine—those little things can pave the way for long-term changes.

I recently checked out The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, where she goes on a happiness journey with monthly changes throughout the year. One key idea was making changes that stick as habits.

I used to dive right in.

My 30-minute intense yoga sessions fizzled out fast from fatigue. So, I realized the power of setting achievable limits that can turn into a daily habit. Switching to 10-minute slower sessions was a game-changer. Now, I'm upping the ante with 20-minute gentle yoga sessions in the a.m., feeling refreshed and doable 🧘

The Routine Resurgence

Establishing a routine is the compass to navigating a balanced life.

A consistent wake-up time and an established bedtime worked like gravitational anchors for my health. The reliability of this routine cultivated a harmony between my body's natural inclinations and my responsibilities.

New research suggests that having a consistent sleep schedule is more important than the duration (though I strive for both).

While I was tempted to leave the alarm off, it didn't matter in the end. I set the alarm at 10am but found that subconsciously I was waking up 10 minutes before it even went off.

Leaning on Alternative Pillars

During times when I feel a bit unfocused at work, I step away from the screen. A cup of tea or a quick walk helps me recharge and boosts my productivity by giving me a fresh perspective and extra inspiration.

Implementing time-blocking has been a game-changer for getting more done. It's all about dividing my day into chunks of time, each focused on a specific task.

At first, the idea of planning my day so strictly was intimidating. But I soon saw how it helped me at work and in my personal life. By scheduling hours for work, exercise, and fun, I stopped second-guessing what to do and when. This clear structure reduced my procrastination and let me fully engage in work and relaxation.

For example, when writing this blog post, I set aside an hour with tea breaks in between. Knowing there's caffeine waiting after I reach my goal keeps me going.

Looking back, my days used to be all over the place, mixing work and relaxation (or no relaxation at all 😳). Time-blocking not only boosted my productivity but also made me happier with how I spend my time.

Ongoing Process

In today's work scene, there's this idea of grinding hard for success, glamorized, right? But with time and life lessons, we see how personal stuff matters in the big picture.

My journey from workaholic to health-focused might resonate with you. I'm not here to spill deep truths; I'm just sharing what's helped me out.

If you're navigating your own struggles, come along to reevaluate what truly matters.

Let's take on this change journey together, step by step towards a healthier life. Small, specific changes pave the way for real transformation.

When we prioritize our well-being, our health gets a boost and we unlock a well of energy that touches every part of our lives.

It's time to craft a new tale blending work and life, not just about balance but brilliance in our existence.

Keeping up a healthier lifestyle is definitely an ongoing journey, with its ups and downs. Some days, squeezing in a workout feels impossible, yoga gets missed, or work spills over into what's meant to be chill evenings.

It's easy to feel guilty and frustrated during those times, almost like we're failing. But hey, the secret to fewer stressful days and staying healthy long-term isn't about being perfect. It's about being resilient and bouncing back.

Realizing that each day is a chance to get back on track with healthy habits—whether it's eating right, moving, or practicing mindfulness—has really helped reduce stress and guilt.

It's all about being kind to ourselves and knowing that the road to better health isn't about flawless performance but about consistent effort and growth.