Eating & Exercising

Two of the very first things we cross off our plates when we’re stressed, overwhelmed, and working a lot is eating healthily and exercising.  If this sounds like you, that’s okay, you’re not alone!  I’ve done it too!  I spent plenty of weeks working 70 to 90 hours as an FBI Agent during which I chose to put exercising and eating healthily on the backburner.  And yes, it is a choice.  We choose what priorities we dedicate time to in our lives.  If we aren’t spending time on something it’s because we have deemed it not to be a priority at the moment or other priorities take precedence.  Either way, the choice is up to us, and there is a way to choose other priorities AND our healthy eating and exercise!  Why this is important is because eating healthily and exercising are two ways which naturally reduce burnout from the physiological and psychological impact they have on us.  Three (3) easy ways I learned to ensure I ate healthily and exercised which will help reduce burnout are listed below.

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  1. Plan Ahead – This is nothing new and something we all know; however, it is something we tend not to do during times like these.  We get so entrenched in what we have to do that we do not believe we can take the time to plan ahead.  Yet, the benefits which come with planning ahead are staggering!  Earlier in this series, we talked about “Peace is in the Plan.”  In and of itself, having a plan will reduce our burnout; nonetheless, that’s not all it can do – it can boost our health too!  In regards to eating healthily, knowing what our plan is for the week (or longer) WILL help us reduce burnout by accounting for the obstacles and challenges which typically get in our way of eating healthily.  For example, if we know we’ll be in meetings most of the day and have limited time to grab a bite to eat, we can pack a small cooler with healthier snacks and foods instead of grabbing whatever is quickest and most available to us at work (or in this case, our fridge at home).  We can even ensure we shop to our plan at the grocery store and then divvy up our snacks into smaller portions we can easily access when we have the time to.  The same goes for exercise, knowing what parts of our body and what type of workout we plan to do each day WILL reduce burnout by knowing what we are to do, when we are to do it, and how much time we need to do it in (it is better to cut a workout short if needed than not do it all).

    What foods and exercises are following off your plate during these times which you want to add back in?  Pro tip: Try writing out a one-week plan of what you want to eat and the exercise you want to do.  If that seems too daunting, start with just one day, then add one more day, then another, and another, until before you know it the plan has grown to a week and beyond.
  1. The Night Before – The way we start our days greatly influences how our days will go.  If we wake up and are already flustered, anxious, or overwhelmed with everything we have to do, then that is how our day will go.  On the other hand, if we wake up and we are able to calmly gather our thoughts and get ready for work peacefully, our day will be less stressful and more uplifting (as we won’t be spending the majority of our time in a state which literally drains our energy, e.g., running around flustered, anxious, and overwhelmed).  One way to set ourselves up for success is using the night before.  As an FBI Agent, I always found it helpful to layout my work clothes and tools of the job, pack my gym bag, and prepare my lunch and snacks the night before.  There was a noticeable difference between the mornings after I would do this and the mornings I would not, which on occasion would result in not packing something, such as, socks or a belt.  Not a great feeling as you’re getting ready for work in the locker room, realizing there’s something missing!  As you can imagine, days like those made my already anxious and overwhelmed mindset worse, now compounded with either having to go back home or deal without whatever I had left behind for the day.  Taking the time the night before to prepare for the following day WILL reduce our burnout by making our mornings easier, less stressful, and set our mindsets up to be less draining for the day.  In addition, it makes it easier to ensure we eat healthily and exercise by preparing our meals the night before and having the clothes and equipment we need to exercise with us when we leave our homes.

    What do you need for tomorrow?  How can you easily add in preparing for tomorrow tonight, i.e., make lunch as you’re cleaning up dinner, or laying out clothes for tomorrow as you’re getting ready for bed.  Pro tip: Leaving our gym bags in a spot we will see them on the way to our car, as well as, leaving our lunch bag/cooler in our line of site as we get ready or grab our coffee will help us remember to take them with us for the day.
  1. Exercise During a Time You Control – One of the first things I learned very early on as an FBI Agent was anything could happen on any given day!  My best intentions of working out could go by the wayside and sure enough, it would be very late in the evening and all I had the energy for was eating and going to bed, missing my workout for the day.  While I was an Agent, I realized the best time for me to workout was in the morning.  That was a time in the day I could control.  I could get up a bit earlier and get my workout in, energizing me for the day, and having the peace of mind that it was done and I would not miss it.  Now that I own my own company and have additional doggie daddy responsibilities, I find it easier to get my exercise in between clients I have scheduled.  Notably, it is still during time I am able to control.  Some days that is in the morning, some days it is midday, some days it is in the afternoon, and some days it is a combination.  Nonetheless, my exercise always comes at a time I can control.  While that may look different for each of us, we all do have time throughout the day we CAN control.  Slating our exercise for a part of the day we are in control of WILL help us ensure we exercise and consequentially reduce our burnout.

    What time(s) of the day do you control that are reasonably free of interruptions or distractions?  Pro tip: Taking note of time, such as 5am to 6am, or 12pm to 1pm, or 6pm to 7pm during which you consistently do things you want to do is a great place to start.  A second step to take is to ask how can I create more time?  Can I go to bed 15 or 20 minutes earlier, giving me that time in the morning to exercise?  There ARE, if we are open to them, ways to create time in our lives for things we want to do.

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