“Life in the Fast Lane”; “Not enough hours in the day”; “Stressed to the Max!”; these are all metaphors that explain our day to day lives and how we are stretching ourselves too thin! Amidst all the issues that face our lives in today’s society, we as Americans are compounding stressful situations by not implementing and planning our healthy lifestyles to contribute to decreasing the amount of normal stress in our lives.
As a newly minted father I can understand how children can affect the time we have to take care of odds and ends that seem trivial but are essential at keeping us in line with our health and fitness goals. There is also an extreme amount of pressure being placed on us as employees to perform better and accomplish more in limited amounts of time on the job! So how do we continue along our path to improved health and fitness? The first steps we can take are to make sure that we PLAN & PREPARE for the stressful times in our lives.
I know that some of you may be wondering how you can prepare for stressful situations as most are somewhat fluid and occur based on the actions and decisions we make throughout the day. I agree that it just isn’t possible to prepare for every stressful situation but we can do some small things to help fight the stress that can rock our world. The first step I always try to take to help keep me on track nutritionally is to plan my meals for the week ahead. Most dieticians or nutritionists will recommend planning meals for weight loss which I espouse’ as well, however, I also believe that it’s very beneficial at mitigating emotional eating when we are stressed out and want to reach for that Snickers bar or container of Ben & Jerry’s! When we plan our snacks and meals for the entire week we have our food ready for that instance where you’re starving and time is limited to sit down and eat. Therefore, dedicated planning will make sure that the apple and Greek yogurt you packed for 10:00 AM snack is there for you to grab on the go instead of the Butterfinger in your employee vending machine!
Do you schedule your exercise? If you don’t, I would estimate that this may be one of the reasons that stress is getting in the way of your exercise program! Four days a week I know that I am going to the gym at 5:00 AM to work out with Tom, and planning for this ahead of time keeps me on schedule no matter how stressful the week has been or how defeated I may feel after a day of craziness at the office! When I schedule my exercise for the week I know that I get ME TIME at the gym to turn off my brain and concentrate on improving ME! The 12-14 hours I spend at the gym every week is time invested in myself and during my gym time I get to dream, think, contemplate, evaluate, determine, and most importantly de-stress from all the things that contribute to an unhealthy mind, body, and spirit. In my opinion we do not spend enough time investing in ourselves on a daily basis whether it’s taking 10 minutes to perform some diaphragmatic breathing or enjoying the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with our significant others! As busy as our schedules are from day to day we must love ourselves enough to plan healthy meals and snacks for the week, along with scheduling time for fitness and exercise.
Taking these easy steps to alleviate some of the stresses in life can help us deal with the unexpected issues that cause anguish day to day. It’s not realistic to believe that stress can be completely eliminated from our lives but it is truly beneficial to plan for it and take the needed steps to deal with those stresses when they arrive and relieve them with healthy nutrition and exercise. Invest in your health and wellness today by scheduling your ME time and devoting a couple extra minutes to making those healthy snacks and lunches for the week ahead, it’s going to get stressful so BE PREPARED!
“There are thousands of causes for stress, and one antidote to stress is self-expression. That’s what happens to me everyday. My thoughts get off my chest, down my sleeves, and onto my pad“–Garson Kanin