By Courtney Stevenson
Lately it seems I’ve been “off”. The “basic 3,” sleep, nutrition, and exercise, have all been, well, “off.” At first, I thought it was due to the busyness of the holidays or the fact I’ve had a lot of company lately, but nope. The holidays are over, my company has gone, and my sleep, nutrition, and exercise are still suffering. Common denominator: me.
In the past, I have prided myself on being an excellent sleeper, eating healthy, and spending so much time at the gym I could have been considered an employee. But for the past month or so, slowly one by one these things have fallen off. Like most things in life, one affects the other, for better or worse. So it’s no surprise that when my eating habits became less nutritious, my exercise and sleep habits suffered as well, and I was left feeling unmotivated, lethargic, and quite frankly, out-of-sorts.
The funny thing is, I know better. As a therapist, I’m constantly telling people how important sleep, nutrition, and exercise are, not only to their physical health, but mental health as well. Last week, I decided enough was enough. I asked myself, what would I tell a client? Schedule. Make a schedule for yourself is precisely what I would recommend. Words none of us, including myself, like to hear… it kind of goes along with making a budget. Both things we know are extremely beneficial, but it causes us to be disciplined. But wait, isn’t that what I want back in my life, discipline? Why, yes it is. So, I did it. I took my own advice. And as I got out a pen and paper and began scheduling my day again, I suddenly felt a little lighter; I was taking action. I was no longer going to delude myself into thinking that magically I would wake up and have a renewed sense and motivation to run 5 miles and eat fruits and veggies all day; I was going to do something.
Making the schedule was step one; step two was putting into action. Since I knew one affected the other, I chose to start with sleep. I made myself go to bed a little earlier than I had been and wake up at a specific time (I set 5 alarms). Starting the day off right set the tone for everything else. I suddenly had time to make and eat a healthy breakfast instead of grabbing something on-the-go. As the day progressed, I was no longer rushing to keep up with it; I felt good and more in control of my day. Then it was time to workout… Yeah, I’ll be honest, as much as I like, no love, working out, I was out of the habit and found it difficult to get back in the habit. But I did. I put on my tennis shoes and went. No, I didn’t have a super long workout or do all the exercises I would have typically done in the past, but I went to the gym and I worked out. Baby steps. Afterwards, I, of course, felt great! Walking back home, I basked in the rush of endorphins and post-workout glow. I knew that even though my thought at that time was, “Yep, that’s it. I’m back in the swing of things,” the next day I would have to re-motivate myself. So once again, I took my own advice and wrote down how great I felt after my workout and all the benefits, so that the next day when I would attempt to come up with reasons and justifications for NOT going to the gym, I could pull out my list of benefits and remind myself how good it feels.
It’s been close to a week now, and while I’m not completely there, I’m getting there. Sure, there have been hiccups along the way, but you know what? I’m closer to “there” than I would have been if I hadn’t taken my own advice and done something. So whether it’s the “basic 3” that you need to get back on track or something else, I implore you to take action. Do something; take one step. One little change can truly make a difference. We all would love for it to just “happen,” but we often forget that for it to happen, we have to take a step. If you or someone you know could benefit from additional support as you take those first steps, contact me at Courtney@mytherapist.info or click here.