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The Balanced Life

B-URN’s Nora Sabry speaks to ELLE on fitting fitness into your work routine

The Balanced Life - Nora Sabry

We are often lost when it comes to finding the balance between life and work. There is always another email to reply to, another meeting to attend, another event to be at. And as 21st-century women trying to make it in the mill of life, it’s often easy to overwork oneself and completely disregard the fitness aspect of our lives. Success, though, is more than career goals and promotions. Being a successful woman also means being well-rounded and taking care of your mental and physical health, that is the core of maintaining a balanced life.

ELLE speaks to Nora Sabry, operations head at B-URN Egypt, certified NASM personal trainer & nutrition coach on finding the balance between our professional and personal lives and fitting fitness into our work-life routines.

WHAT DOES THE BALANCED LIFE MEAN?

Finding the sweet spot between your professional life and your personal life can be tough, especially in the fast-paced environment we live in. Perhaps if we begin by defining what balance means to us, it could make drawing the lines a bit easier. Sabry tells us, “A life with a little bit of everything. Having that piece of chocolate, but also loading up on greens. Going out to that party, but also making room for early bedtime days.” 

“The key is to know when to draw the line, right? Overdoing anything (even the good) is not sustainable or healthy! It took me a while to find my sweet spot. I’ve always tried to do it all – excelling at my career, working out, socializing, eating well – but eventually, I burnt out. I’d run around like crazy all day; my heart rate was always so high because I was literally trying to fill in every single minute of my day.” 

“When COVID happened, it was a huge positive for me – it’s when I truly found balance.” Sabry shares, “I was forced to stay home but also be productive – I woke up much earlier, meditated first thing in the morning, walked the dog, started work at 8:30 am, exercised during lunch break, cooked dinner and spent time with the family at the end of the workday. It was a good wake-up call for me and now I’m constantly reminded that I need to slow down.”

SMALL CHANGES

Often change begins with the little steps, put together, that build up toward a more significant shift. Sabry believes that the trick is to take things one step at a time, “People tend to ‘fail’ at adding a new routine into their day because they try to go from the first step to the tenth. If they don’t exercise at all, and suddenly set up a New Year’s resolution to work out for an hour every day, that’s just setting themselves up for failure.” 

Something as simple as waking up 30 minutes earlier than you usually do can make all the difference. “It’s a game-changer. It always feels like there isn’t enough time in the day, right? Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier than you usually do. It’s tough to ask someone who usually wakes up at 8 am to wake up at 5 am. But if you set your alarm for 7:30 am instead of 8 am, it won’t be that big of a shock, and you get to squeeze in a morning movement session! Eventually, with time, your body will adjust, and you can slowly build up to waking an hour earlier, and so on.”

Remember that all you need is some type of movement to enhance your physical well-being – even if it’s walking your dog. You’ll immediately feel the effects physically & mentally – and you will want it to be part of your daily routine!

GET YOUR BLOOD FLOWING

“For the longest time, I’ve been guilty of drinking black coffee first thing in the morning. I’ve recently started transitioning away from that; I’m now having celery & parsley tea first thing in the morning – delaying my coffee for later.” Sabry tells us, “It feels cleansing, and less stressful on my stomach and I also feel more energetic and ready for my morning classes. I noticed a change in my skin as well!” 

MENTAL WELL-BEING & PHYSICAL HEALTH

One of the tips we hear most from healthcare professionals is that exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy. “My colleague and friend Amina Naguib has always said – no one regrets a workout. It’s true!” 

“The hardest part is starting the workout (which lasts 1-5mins). From there, you’re in it, your body is in it, and you just fly. I highly recommend working out when you’re sad, angry, or need to release any negative emotions. It works.”

A SMALL WORK-OUT GOES A LONG WAY

A lot of people tend to have an all-or-nothing mentality when it comes to keeping up a healthy lifestyle. If they can’t do it all, they do none of it. This thought process is quite discouraging and counterproductive. “If you can squeeze in your morning workout (it really doesn’t need to be an hour long) you will perform better at work. Guaranteed. Need scientific proof? Exercise increases your brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which enhances cognitive function,” Sabry suggests.

“If it’s not doable in the morning, try integrating movement during your lunch break. Go for a walk – or you can gather a group of colleagues to do some yoga/ pilates with you in the office. At my old job – I had a group of work friends who would come to my B-URN classes at 7 am before work. I’m not going to lie, we hated it while we were getting ready at 6 am in mid-January, but the rest of our day & work meetings were so much more efficient and creative.” 

The key, Sabry believes, is to find something that is easily integrated into your day, and something you’d enjoy, especially if you’re going to wake up early for it.

THE GOLDEN RULE

Do what makes you FEEL good. What’s good for you will nurture you and give you more energy. Follow that as much as you can, and you will have a healthy body! Again, moderation is key. We can’t be perfect every single day, but if you have the intention to be nutritious and active at least 80% of the time, a little goes a long way. 

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