Growing up in New Orleans, I never gave a thought to the food I was ingesting. In Louisiana, if it fits in a skillet – with or without a fight – we fry it and eat it. I also thought nothing of emptying three bowls of my grandma’s spaghetti or spicy seafood gumbo.
As I grew older those eating habits left me fatigued, and my bathroom scale showed a weight gain (which Tom says was slight and almost unnoticeable. LOL). The habits that worked fine when I was young no longer worked for me. I had to change my habits to maintain my weight and reclaim my physical energy. Thank God for vanity. It really does have an upside.
Physical energy is essential, not only for a healthy life but also to power endurance for your legal nurse consulting goals. Physical energy requires exercise, nutrition, sleep and a health maintenance plan. My travel schedule means exposure to lots of different types of meals, over which the quality is often out of my control (sort of). No matter how hard I try, I can’t always control the amounts of sodium and trans-fats or even get real extra-virgin olive oil for a salad. I have my own vices and do occasionally wrap myself around movie popcorn, fried chicken or a good bowl of spaghetti and meatballs.
To compensate for a precarious road diet plus my personal vices, we eat organic and real (not processed) foods at home. We consume lots of veggies (what Tom lovingly refers to as “weeds”). We try to avoid pastas (heartbreaking cold-turkey withdrawal for an Italian girl) and empty calories. Red wine stays. Tom’s come up with all sorts of medical reasons – improves eyesight, decreases heart disease, relaxes muscles and I wholeheartedly agree with all of them.
The more empty calories we eat, the more we crave and the less healthy our bodies become. The fewer empty calories we eat, the less we crave and the easier it is for us to stay healthy.
I’ve always been a hearty eater. One of my friends calls me “the eating machine.” Self-deprivation diets are demoralizing. I’d much rather exercise so that I don’t gain weight every time I look at a bag of movie popcorn. I exercise six times a week, first thing in the morning. My workday starts early and it ends when it ends, whenever that may be. If I don’t work out at the beginning of the day, chances are I won’t get to it at the end of the day.
I once naively scheduled Pilates lessons at the end of the day. Paying for more no-show classes than classes I attended persuaded me to face the facts: I’m more energized for exercise in the mornings and if I don’t jump in and get it done early, my legal nurse consulting business gets in the way. I learned to put exercise at the beginning, not the end of my day.
- Gas up! Without being fanatical, give your body the fuel it needs. Boost your energy with fruits, vegetables and protein. Refined carbs and sugars deplete energy. Maintain your weight at the optimal level. Think of the excess weight as a bag of groceries you have to carry all day long, depleting energy. A big mistake is skipping breakfast or lunch. If you only eat two meals a day you’re messing with your metabolism. Your body will compensate and you’ll lose steam later in the day. Another big mistake is avoiding fat altogether. Healthy fats such as omega 3s are essential for physical energy, beautiful skin, a clear mind and a strong immune system. A flavorful extra virgin olive oil is not only healthy, it also makes you want to eat more vegetables. You’ll feel more satiated if you include fat and protein with every meal. More and more research shows that sugar is the root cause of today’s diabetes and obesity epidemics and is probably related to heart disease, hypertension, cancer and Alzheimer’s. So dump the sugar and soak up some fat while you can remember to do so (fat’s much tastier anyway).
- Move it. Find a type of exercise (any exercise except possibly pole dancing) that sparks your fire. You need to enjoy what you’re doing in order to keep doing it. Create a plan that includes variety. Start with aerobics, such as walking, jogging or biking; add weight training three times a week to increase lean body mass and boost metabolism. Build core strength and flexibility. I dread doing planks but they really do work to strengthen the core. If you’re not self-motivated, try working out with a trainer or participate in a group class. It’s mental of course, but I always hold that plank longer when my trainer is watching. Consider a standing desk and alternate sitting and standing. The more you move, the more energetic you’ll feel.
- Turn it off and sleep it off. Eight hours every night is a restorative elixir. When you’re sleep deprived, you’ll notice a big difference in your physical condition, mental attitude and ability to cope with stress. Sleep research has shown that with less than eight hours sleep you are working at increasing levels of cognitive deficits. Less than six hours of sleep and you’re considered DUI—driving under the influence. Skip that late-night TV show and regulate your sleep schedule, which will help you avoid energy imbalances. Keep all electronic devices with a screen out of your bedroom. I know many of you wind down by watching TV or hanging out on Facebook® in the bedroom, but instead, do them in your living space and quit an hour before bedtime. Buy an alarm clock and ditch the smart phone. The bedroom is for two things only. 🙂
- Clean up. When you’re as addicted to coffee as I was, good strong New Orleans coffee, you don’t quit cold turkey. I reduced my coffee intake one cup at a time and started drinking green and white teas. Now my energy doesn’t sag in the afternoon. I still have one cup of coffee in the morning, but enjoy tea all day long without all of the highs and lows.
- Rub it out. Get a massage weekly. If that’s not realistic for you, start with once a month. My favorite is deep tissue massage. Manage cost by getting discounts at a massage school or by trading massages with a friend. For me massage is maintenance, not a luxury.
- Indulge. Treat your body like the temple it is. Carve out a time when you can pamper yourself with a facial, pedicure or soak in the tub. Even if it means skipping a TV show, you’ll find the extra time spent on yourself well worth the investment.
- Breathe. Breathe consciously at least once an hour. Expand your lungs. Practice diaphragmatic breathing, consciously taking that diaphragmatic breath all the way into your lower back. Oxygen is energy.
- Shed your skin. Your largest organ – your skin – is responsible for much of your body’s elimination and detoxification. Give yourself a dry brush massage before showering. In minutes you’ll feel wonderful. Start at your toes and work upward, brushing in small circles.
- Just say no. Avoid depending on drugs for a quick cure or fix for what ails you. Drugs (and herbal remedies) have side effects and often divert you from making changes towards healthy living habits. Before getting on the drug bandwagon, seek healthier, safer alternatives. Better yet, be your own doctor and prescribe for yourself a no-drug lifestyle.
- Aim for attainable fitness. Having a healthy, energetic, trim body at 50 is a perfectly realistic goal. Looking like a hot 20-year-old in those low-riders won’t happen, and aiming for that latter goal will rob you of the enjoyment of your healthy body.
If you’re already lagging behind on your 2017 legal nurse consulting goals, try boosting your physical energy. Physical energy powers endurance for career goals.
Start small and do one thing at a time. Enjoy five minutes of quiet, then ten. Add one vegetable a day, then eat two. Turn off the television for one hour, then two. Eliminate one fast-food or Starbucks® trip a week, then eliminate two. Stick with your new healthy choices and recognize that it takes 60 days to turn a lifestyle change into a habit.
Banish all excuses. I know a woman who works 70 hours a week, and her excuse for not getting away for a weekend is that she’s too spent when the weekend comes. Yet a relaxing weekend away is probably the perfect prescription.
Accept wherever you are in your life now and start from there. Know that you can always start fresh. Wherever you are in life, there was “before” and there is “now.” Maybe you haven’t exercised in three years or thirty. Start now and forget before to achieve your 2017 legal nurse consulting goals.
Success Is Yours!
P.S. Comment and share the strategies you’ll use to boost physical energy for achieving your 2017 legal nurse consulting goals.