I don’t know about you but when the lazy long days and late nights or Summer are over and the Back-To-School days are in full effect, life gets busy. I’m not talking about the “badge of honor” type of busy but instead when you have so many personal and professional obligations that your calendar looks like a rainbow.
I’m not complaining nor am I trying to glorify having many things to do. However, when you’re an anxious, tightly wound person who thrives on being helpful, it isn’t easy to balance good health and good work. I’m watching old patterns take shape when health becomes less of a priority and work gets my attention and focus.
If you’re like me and obligation creep makes you forget your health as a priority, maybe this could be a “check yourself before you wreck yourself” moment to prevent the domino effect of the 3 biggest health pitfalls of a busy lifestyle:
1. Poor Sleep
It’s the first to get the shaft in the health hierarchy. There are only 24 hours in a day and when you spend many of those hours GSD, there needs to be some down time. Many people work and then hit the pillow and sleep. Not me. I’m an insomniac and no matter how tired I am, I need wind down time and most often it’s with my iPad watching something.
Proper sleep hygiene says that one should go to sleep at the same time, utilize a bed for sleep and sex only and not use electronics in or an hour before bed. For some reason, I can’t seem to heed this advice. Even an eye mask, lavender spray and occasional sleep aid doesn’t work well when one crawls into bed after 2am.
Solution: It’s time to take out the calendar and literally begin planning each week, day by day and hour by hour building in a shut-down time and enough time to sleep. Sleep really is the lynch pin in the pitfall cascade.
2. Inconsistent Exercise
Because when you don’t sleep, you have no energy to exercise. Consistent exercise provides more than just strength and cardiovascular benefits, it provides stress relief. Without exercise many people wouldn’t have the capacity to do their jobs. Personally, I like myself and the world much better when I exercise. However, if one doesn’t sleep well or enough it has an effect on muscle repair, brain function, weight management and stamina (in both exercise and being a functional human being).
Having 1-2 days a week with less than 5 hours of sleep interferes with a desire to exercise regularly. Whether it’s for health maintenance, weight management or training for an event, without sleep, no success in being consistent with exercise will ever be achieved.
Solution: Schedule exercise in the calendar. If poor sleep occurs, have a back up (PiYo instead of running for example) but commit to the one of the rules often said by one of my fitness idols, Chris Freytag about never going more than 2 days without exercise.
3. Mindless Eating
Inadequate sleep and lack of exercise often leads people to not give a crap about what they put in their mouths. For some, it’s super easy to go for the starchy carbs because of the quick energy it provides (I’m in this camp). When you’re tired, cranky, there’s very little rational thought about fueling your body with purpose. Eating for comfort over nourishment is often a goal in a sleep deprived state and fruits, vegetables and whole grains don’t fit the bill.
Advanced food preparation would make healthy choices readily available but in my opinion, sleep, getting work done and just about everything else trumps food prep every time. Often it’s not the food choice or amount of food consumed that plays such a negative role in this pitfall, it’s the guilt or the quick transition to the “Oh, screw it” attitude. Once guilt comes into the equation, it’s often followed by deliberate avoidance of all mindful thinking. It’s hard to think when you’re tired and stressed out.
Solution: Shop for a variety of healthy snacks that fit the sweet, savory or starchy carb bill. I’ve found a few that have definitely helped out in times of sleep deprived crisis but there needs to be more added to the arsenal. Weekly shopping needs to have healthy comfort foods and lots of them.
What trips you up from living more healthfully? What advice has helped?