How to Keep a Long Commute from Wrecking Your Healthy Habits

By , Jillian Leo,
"I don’t have enough time to get in a good work out." "I’m too tired when I get home to cook dinner." I am guilty of these statements. I have a full-time job, a long commute, a personal blog, a house that needs cleaning, and a boyfriend who needs attention. Most importantly, I have a healthy lifestyle. That’s right – I have found a way to balance it all even with a demanding job and a 75-minute commute to and from work. I’ve adapted to the long commute and workday, and will reveal some helpful tips to keep your diet and workouts on track.
Once I landed my first job and was thrown into the real world, I realized that people were not kidding when they said, "There are not enough hours in the day". Sometimes, you can’t control the amount of hours you put in at work each day. Traffic and train delays will slow you down, too. Not everything is in your control, but leading a healthy lifestyle definitely is.
I recommend working out in the morning. Not only do you feel energized for the long day ahead, but also you are guaranteed to fit it into your day. If you end up having to stay late at work, you’ve already completed your workout for the day.
Even though sometimes I feel like crying when my alarm goes off at 4:45 AM, I always feel so much better after a workout. Exercising in the morning will give you the energy you need to get through the day. Thinking about the long commute and workday ahead can be stressful. Exercise will help relieve that feeling before it even starts! Below are some tips that can help you stay motivated.
  • Don’t get discouraged if you hit the snooze a few extra times. If you don’t get the full workout in that you had planned, it doesn’t matter. Every little bit counts! 30 minutes of activity per day is better than none at all.
  • Do some exercises in at home while watching your favorite TV shows. Multi-tasking is a great skill to have!
  • Get enough sleep. Set a time for you to be in bed. If you know you need your 8 hours, make it a point to lie down at least half an hour before that time.
  • If you don’t want to work out in the morning on a regular basis, try breaking it up. Do early morning workouts at the gym when you wake up feeling energized. If you know you’ll be out of work earlier one day, plan to do your workout afterwards.
  • Working out all five work week days can be exhausting. Give yourself a day off when you need to. Don’t forget about the weekends. You can make it up then.
  • Save your longer workouts for the weekends when you know you’ll have more time.
  • Have a backup plan in case you snooze too long on some mornings. Some days I just need the extra sleep. I will do a modified version of the workout that I had planned.
  • Once you get into a routine, it will come a lot easier. It took me months to finally get used to waking up early. It only takes 21 days to form a habit, so get moving! 
The main things that are important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle with little time are being organized and keeping a schedule. If you are not a to-do list or calendar type of person, you might need to make a few changes. For all of you list makers out there, this will be an easy transition.
  • Plan your workouts ahead of time. Know what you want to tackle each day so that you don’t waste any time.
  • Write down your plan. You are much more likely to follow through if you have them written down and can refer to them.
  • Schedule classes at the gym if they are offered at times that work for you. This way, it’s like an appointment where you wouldn’t want to be late or miss it.
  • Plan your at work meals and snacks. Knowing your options ahead of time prevents grabbing fast food or other unhealthy options.
  • Make grocery lists based on meals and snacks that you’ve planned for the week. When you know what you need, you will be in and out of the store quickly.
Prepping things ahead of time is a big time saver. I prep everything from my meals to my workout gear.
  • Take advantage of the weekends or your days off. Use one of these days to prepare for the work week ahead. Cook a large batch of whatever healthy recipe you’ve been eyeing up. You can portion it into plastic containers to take for lunch, and any leftovers can be frozen.
  • Prep any produce that you need for the week. Chop vegetables to be used as snacks at work or to sauté with dinner.
  • Get your errands done on the weekends. The last thing anyone wants to do after a day at the office and a long commute home is to stop at the grocery store.
  • Pack your lunch the night before. I put my non-refrigerated items in an insulated lunch bag and leave it on the counter. I put all cold items in the fridge together so that I can grab them quickly and add them to my bag in the morning.
  • Prep your workout necessities the night before. I put my gym clothes on my dresser so I can change quickly in the morning. I fill my water bottle and put it in the fridge so I can grab it and go. Lastly, I put a towel, keys, and my iPod right by the door, so they’re ready for me. These simple steps will save crucial morning time.
Planning your meals is key to keeping a consistent diet with a hectic schedule. There are quick, easy, and healthy options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks throughout the day.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. As much as you may think there is no time in the morning, you should always make sure to fit it in, especially if your workout happens bright and early. I recommend protein smoothies. I know we would all love to sit and enjoy breakfast at the table, but sometimes that just can’t happen. I purchased a to-go tumbler so that I can whip up a quick smoothie in the blender and take it with me to enjoy on my commute to work. Check out my blog for some great smoothie recipes.
Another breakfast option is overnight oats. You may not have time to prepare hot oats in the morning so these are a great alternative. It is basically cold oatmeal, soaked overnight so it is ready to eat in the morning. It gives you the option to incorporate your favorite ingredients. You can even mix in protein powder, which is great after a strength training workout. You can add in flax meal or chia seeds for a nutrition boost. Check out recipes for overnight oats on my blog.
Planning your meals and snacks for work are important in keeping a consistent diet on a hectic time schedule. I pack my snacks with my lunch the night before.
  • Pack that lunch that you prepped on Sunday! It’s easy to grab fast food for lunch, but wouldn’t you feel so much better eating a healthy meal prepared from home?
  • Snack bars are a great mid morning snack. I look for those with either a high protein content, or a high fiber content. Be aware of the sugar content, as it can be high in certain snack bars.
  • Fruits, nuts, and yogurt are quick grab and go options. I pack an apple, a handful of almonds, and a fat free Greek yogurt almost every day. Veggies and hummus with whole wheat crackers or pita chips is another healthy snack option.
  • Keep an emergency snack in your desk. If you are stuck at work late and know that you have an hour commute before dinner, it’s good to have a healthy snack on hand. If I haven’t eaten for a while, I am likely to just eat the first thing I see or stop for fast food rather than of opting for a healthy dinner.
Dinner can be planned just as easy as lunch and snacks.
  • This is something you can prepare ahead of time as well. Make a big batch on the weekend so that you can just heat it up when you get home from work.
  • This is where those list-making skills come in. Plan the groceries you need to buy and plan the dinners you will make for the week so you can get cooking the minute you are home.
  • Dinner doesn’t have to be chicken, brown rice, and veggies. Of course, it’s a healthy option, but sometimes I eat a lighter dinner. Who says you can’t have a smoothie for dinner? Mine include protein in the form of whey powder, good fats from peanut butter, and one of my necessary servings of fruit for the day. Sometimes, I even put spinach in my smoothie for a serving of greens!
Finally, if you truly want to make it work, you will make the time. A few small changes will help streamline your daily routine.
Jillian works full time in the fashion industry in New York City while maintaining her personal blog, Sprinkle Massacre. She has a strong passion for health and fitness and is currently studying to become a certified personal trainer.
How long is your commute? Does it affect your healthy habits?