Finding time to stay in shape and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be difficult and time-consuming. Is this just an excuse we as business owners and associates tend to fall back on? The meals we eat, our fitness routine and how we organize our thoughts and work schedules have tremendous impact on our productivity, financial security, health and happiness. As healthcare professionals, it is important to realize that our overall wellness not only impacts our lives but also our patients’ lives.
We have all heard of the phrase “You are what you eat.” In essence it means exactly that—to be fit and healthy you must eat nutritious foods. At times our busy lifestyles force us to do what’s convenient and not always what is right for our bodies. Prioritize your own personal well-being and health each day by:
1. Eat a full and balanced breakfast every morning. A healthy breakfast should be high in fiber, contain a whole grain, lean dairy and fruit. Eating a proper meal will give you energy and the concentration you need to make the best medical decisions for your patients.
2. Don’t make excuses! Time constraints give us plenty of reason to make bad choices about our diets. Limited time to prepare meals leads us to choose fast food as an alternative. Meal prepping not only saves us money but also allows us to be knowledgeable about what ingredients we are actually putting into our bodies. Begin by reading food labels and learning about portion control. Also, if you do have to eat out, make sure to choose foods that are high in protein and filled with nutritional value.
3. Stay active. Physical activity and exercise benefits us in many ways. It boosts energy and delivers oxygen and nutrients to our bodies which helps with overall mental and physical function. I recommend exercising first thing in the morning. It will help you feel energized, motivated and accomplished. I exercise every weekday at 5:30 AM which increases my metabolism and helps me burn more calories throughout the day. Early morning workouts also help you get your daily exercise out of the way so you don’t have to worry about it at the end of the day after you’re exhausted from seeing patients. My favorite type of workout is group High Intensity Interval Training. It burns calories and fat in a shorter time period than most other workouts. This is especially important for us doctors with hectic work schedules and other daily social commitments. Ideally one should exercise at least 4 times per week for 30-60 minutes each session. Create a habit by blocking out time and make no excuses.
4. Give yourself enough recovery time. Sleep also plays a role in your physical health. On average you should be sleeping 7-8 hours/day. And don’t get accustomed to hitting the snooze button. On-and-off again sleep causes shifts in the brainwave patterns which in turn impairs mental functioning during the day. Being sleepy affects proper decision making which can lead to poor diagnostic skills and treatment plans.
Some important things to keep in mind about sleep are to make sure you don’t drink or eat caffeine 4-6 hours prior to bedtime. Avoid heavy meals before sleep. Eating large meals before bedtime causes your metabolism to increase, making it difficult for your body to relax and rest. Getting regular exercise will also help improve sleep. In addition, we should try to go to bed and wake up around the same time. Our bodies respond well to patterns. When you sleep well, you feel better and you will perform better at work.
As busy optometrists, it is easy to forget to take care of yourself. But just like your career, your body needs care and attention too. Although time may be a limiting factor, it is crucial to stay consistent so when life gets in the way we don’t fall off track. Cooking and exercising doesn’t have to be a chore. Be a boss of your own body and take charge of the future you.