How about that for a positive affirmation? I hear from so many people everyday who want to feel better and to have enough energy to get through their day. Why are we so tired and stressed all the time? What can we do to change things?
I can remember what it felt like to be sleep deprived looking after babies and toddlers and dreaming of the day when they would be teenagers sleeping endlessly. I thought that at that point I would be able to get an uninterrupted sleep as well as have the time and energy to do all the things that I want to do. I am not alone in feeling that it hasn’t quite turned out like that. As they get older the demands change and it is less physical and far more mental and emotional energy that is used. The logistics of who needs to be where and when gets more complicated and evenings and weekends pass in a haze of everyone else’s priorities. All of these are transient issues, they change day on day and we come to realise that whatever phase we are in will pass too.
Increasingly though our lifestyles are making it all much harder for us to cope. We are constantly on the go and trying to fit so much in. Working hours are longer and we are constantly available by email or phone making it much harder to switch off and walk away. Evenings are filled with watching television, scrolling through Facebook and glued to the ipad. Much has been written about the negative effect that the stimulation and blue light have on our ability to sleep. Many people complain of poor sleep quality and getting out of bed feeling just as tired as they did when they got into bed. Time pressures and a chaotic diary often mean that meal preparation is one chore too many leading to a reliance on convenience foods, take away and eating out. We are drinking more and relying on sweet snacks and processed foods to boost our energy whenever we are flagging.
It is a vicious circle and is often only broken by ill health or a dramatic crisis of some kind. We look for something that we can take to help us to cope and the numbers of people taking anti depressants, sleeping tablets or relying on alcohol or drugs is frightening.
My daughter said something the other day that made me think long and hard. She said that ‘I think that exercise is the answer to everything.’ The more I have thought about it, the more I think that it is true. ‘Exercise’ is maybe a contentious word to use as it conjures up images of lycra clad fitness freaks. I think that ‘movement’ is a better choice. Take my client who came to me suffering persistent high blood pressure, borderline diabetic with high cholesterol as well as multiple aches and pains particularly in his lower back and legs. I started working with him just over a year ago and he was desperate to take control and regain his health. His doctor has given him various medications and it has taken months to get his blood pressure under control. We have worked hard to build his fitness and to get his weight down. The big breakthrough came over the last few months when he finally realised that he had to make huge changes to his lifestyle. He has cut out alcohol, reduced the sugar in his tea, trains twice a week with me and goes to the gym at the weekend. The biggest transformation is that he walks more and if he hasn’t hit his step target each day he gets on the treadmill at home until he has.
He turned to me as he was leaving last week and asked why the Doctor had not told him to exercise and to move more. He said that the pain in his back has gone, his legs don’t ache anymore and he has so much more energy. He questioned what good it does to just hand out pills when it is movement that has made the biggest difference to him. Now I am not suggesting for a minute that there is not a place for medication and that it is not an essential part of effective treatment for many people. But when the reality is that many of our ailments are created by lifestyle then surely that is where we need to focus our attention. The obsession with convenience and ease has created a world where everything is available at the touch of a button from your sofa.
We don’t move as we are meant to and our bodies are suffering. We are carrying extra weight and it is largely deposited around our middles with fat around our organs and putting pressure on our joints. We eat sugary, processed foods which are addictive and create a succession of highs and lows in our energy levels and our moods. We squeeze more and more into our busy lives and worry whether we are doing as much or as well as can. The images on social media and the press fuel it further adding to the pressure to live in this way.
So what can we do?
I think it is simple.
I used to live at a hundred miles an hour, partied hard and kept myself going with sugar and adrenaline. I really don’t miss any of it. I know some of my clients think that I am crazy and need to exercise less, have more treats and take more time away from work. I genuinely feel so much better than I ever have. I exercise, I eat healthily and I take care of myself. I sleep so much better than I ever have and am calmer as a result. I am not so anxious or stressed and feel genuinely happy in my own skin. It has taken time and some tough decisions but this is where I should be. I want to set a good example for my girls and for them to know how to look after themselves too. I want to be here for many years to come and not be a burden to anyone else.
In reality I think it is all about focusing on what is important to you and making yourself a priority. I hear so many people say that they couldn’t change because they enjoy going out and socialising, eating and drinking whatever they like. The same people also talk about being unhappy with themselves and can be really emotional about needing to take action to lose weight and tone up. Whilst there is a balance , I am not sure that you can beat feeling good about yourself and knowing that you have the energy and ability to do whatever you want to do. Treats are great but not every day and if they affect your ability to keep up with and enjoy your life.
So I think that yes I would make the choice every time to ‘be healthy and full of energy.’
What about you? I would love you to add your comments and share your thoughts.
Joining the fit4evermore community
fit4evermore is exactly what it says – it is about creating a healthy lifestyle that will help you to be ‘fit4evermore.’ There are 3 steps that you can take to be part of the supportive fit4evermore community.
- Follow this link to sign up for my free Challenge series that will help you to get moving whatever your fitness level
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I would love to hear your thoughts and any tips and advice you have to share that would help others too. Please share with friends and family and make sure that you look at all the existing blog posts on the fit4evermore website.