• Amy Gorman

Eating well is based on way more than food - part 2

Surprising?


I wouldn’t have said so. Maybe that’s because of what I do, so I’m meant to understand that.


Within health and fitness, we talk a lot about physical health. We encourage routines and habits. We talk about how to achieve goals in a structured way. But sometimes there are other things going on that prevent us from sticking to that - work stress, relationship breakdowns/starting, family dynamics, moving house, illness.

There has been a welcome rise in the awareness of mental health and encouragement for people to talk. As coaches and individuals we look more often at the whole person, not just the physical things we can, or cannot do - lift a certain weight, do a pull-up, hold a complex yoga pose, run fast.


Now, we are moving further beyond mental and physical health and exploring “deep health”. This is the full composition of physical, mental, emotional, relational, existential and environmental health and wellbeing. The whole person. The bits that make you, you, and me, me.


Why does this have anything to do with how you eat or exercise? Does it matter at all for your ability to complete regular habits? Surely not.


I notice for myself and clients, when there are things bothering me in life, everything else is thrown slightly out of kilter. Even if I don’t consciously notice that something is bubbling.


On a simple level, we could call this stress, although often we think of stress as being work-related, or things that cause an obvious overwhelming reaction. When we look at deep health, we evaluate our emotions; our feeling of belonging amongst friends, peers or partners; our sense of security at home or work; our sense of purpose in the world.


If any of them is thrown off, it can have a huge impact on our ability to focus and achieve our goals or communicate clearly with colleagues, partners, friends and coaches. They can also be harder to identify as the issue because we don’t always think of them as something that impacts whether we can shift weight in the gym or eat carrots with lunch.

 

I wrote two weeks ago about the impact of different stressors and their impact on your sense of security. In the end I asked you to write down your non-negotiables for an ideal week where you want to progress in many areas but also scale it back so you have your base when ultimately it feels like shit hit the fan. If you’ve not done it, go back and have a read, then write down your non-negotiables.


Then, let’s talk about the impacts of areas that surround deep health and might be hampering your progress.

 

I’m going to address a big one that can cross over many areas: Work stress


We all get it, some people more than others. Some have a magical ability to brush things off and look like they couldn’t care less - sadly, I’m not one of those people.


When we’re overwhelmed with work stress it can feel like those eight hours last a week, or those eight hour workdays can quite simply turn into 15 if you don’t manage your time well. Often, hard as we try, our time is taken completely out of our control.


If you’re not busting your butt for something you love, the resulting stress is going to feel so much worse. Also the amount you have to fight to regain control and keep the things you love may seem disproportionately high, but it’s worth it. (Side note, podcast at the bottom about control and motivation).


Consequences to work stress:

  • It feels like your values go completely out the window - there’s no time for friends or family, nevermind yourself

  • Junk food and alcohol creep in as a way to cope - 100% going to make you feel worse rather than better

  • Communication with your partner/housemate/colleague/family feels more like you are talking sense and they are not, it descends to silence or an unnecessary argument

  • Brain fog comes in huge waves, or blind panic, or a general inability to see, hear or understand simple things

  • The gym, daily steps, any semblance of fitness gets thrown totally out the window


If this is just for one day, it’s not the end of the world, but I doubt for most people this is a one day in a lifetime occurrence. If it’s something that’s impacting your ability to reach your goals, the cause or effects are happening way more often.


What can you do?

  • Set hard boundaries on your time

  • Block out time for the gym in the morning (even if you’re not a morning person, your best bet is probably going to be getting it done before excuses set in later)

  • Block out time to eat lunch away from your desk (even 10 minutes, trust me, you’ll work more effectively after)

  • Block out time in the day to get work or emails done without distractions of meetings

  • Get the important stuff done before you open up your emails

  • As soon as you open them, you’re in a reactive mode instead of proactive

  • Get your office environment ready the night before - documents you need open on your laptop before you close down (or print), time blocked out to address it

  • Don’t start on anything else until you’ve reached a satisfactory state with priority tasks

  • Delegate where possible

  • This doesn’t necessarily need to be you saying you won’t do it and handing it off to someone else - although it would be great if you can

  • This can be you saying I can’t do it today, but I’ll put time in tomorrow/next week to do it then

  • Remember where you sit in the mix of things

  • Yes, having a job is obviously incredibly important (essential for rent)

  • But, if the financial satisfaction comes at the cost of your health and happiness - something needs to be reviewed

  • This may not require you to leave the job, although it is a drastic solution.

  • Spend five minutes plotting out what an ideal week or day looks like,

  • Where do you see yourself in 12-36 months time,

  • What are your values,

  • Piece it all together to see if the path you are on is going the right way.

  • If you’re going to be working late anyway, why not stop and actually take lunch, a nap, a walk so you can be happy and look after yourself despite the long hours?


Let me know what you think of these suggestions and others that have worked for you!






Podcast/Audiobook to download:

I’ve been listening to High Performance by Jake Humphrey and Damian Hughes on Audible - buy/download it! There has been a lot of discussion from high performers about their key to motivation. The way they stay motivated is by controlling the controllable and not letting the other bits and noise bother them. So when your motivation dips, what do you need to do to feel back in control? Has your planning dropped off, your sleep, your training? Make a new plan, pick them back up and stick to it as long as you can. They also talk about the reason they stick to habits and follow certain behaviours, this is because they follow the behaviours that take them to being the person they want to be. Simple really. Difficult to execute if you don’t really want to. Try it this week - stick to the habits that make you the person you want to be. More on this next week, before I get carried away.


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