In a recent posting, we explored ways to identify areas for improvement in our lives. One of the areas that clients talk to me about during life coaching sessions is physical health.
Taking the time to take care of your physical needs—though vital for your best performance—might end up too frequently at the bottom of your to-do list. The reason? While you absolutely must get that report in by 5pm because your boss says so, there is not necessarily anyone in your life enforcing the urgency of eating right or doing a workout. This is where a support system—such as friends, family, and a life coach—can help.
When coaching clients who face challenges in this area, I give the following reminder: just because taking care of your physical health may not feel urgent, that doesn’t mean it’s not important. In fact, neglected for too long, our physical health can become urgent by leading to illness or conditions that we could have avoided.
To keep this from happening, you must provide regular preventive maintenance on your body, just the way you would on your home or car. Most of us wouldn’t let our home fall into disrepair by failing to clean and care for it, or neglect to keep our car fueled and oiled. So why would we treat our own bodies with any less respect?
While your support system can encourage your positive choices, you are the one who must do the work. The following strategies can help keep you off the couch and away from the potato chip bag:
Make exercise like brushing your teeth. To form a healthy habit, you must reach a point where you wouldn’t dream of skipping it. As a life coach, I find that exercise is not an automatic part of the day for many people. Many squeeze in a workout occasionally, building no consistency around it—and thus few results. The goal is to treat exercise more like brushing your teeth—like part of your daily hygiene. You’re committed to making time for brushing your teeth each day, no matter how many other things are on your plate. Work toward the same level of commitment about your exercise regimen.
Make working out fun. Some people hate the gym—there’s no getting around it. Others hate to run, or can’t swim. But regardless of how many activities you don’t like, there’s always something you can do for exercise that you’ll actually enjoy. Have you tried rollerblading, or climbing the rock wall at the gym? Even a night out dancing will do, especially if you do it consistently. If you don’t limit yourself to what you think a workout should be, you can find a way to stay fit that’s fun.
Don’t skip meals. With client deadlines that won’t wait for lunch, you may find yourself ignoring your body’s hunger signals. This is always a poor choice, because your body needs a steady stream of nutrients to keep your energy level up. Missed meals can lead to headaches, lightheadedness, and poor performance at work. Eat three balanced meals each day, and your body will thank you!
Get enough sleep. Proper sleep is as important as proper nutrition to your body’s healthy functioning. Not only will you feel run-down and irritable if sleep-deprived, but your judgment and concentration will suffer as well. Most adults need about eight hours of sleep to look and feel our best. Get the amount of sleep you need, combined with regular exercise and a healthy diet, and you’ll be on your way to living your best life.