In my personal and professional journey with wellbeing, I’ve come to realise that one of the biggest hindrances to both joy and productivity is trying to adhere to strict rules.
Trying to stick to the same way of eating and moving on a day to day basis just doesn’t work, unless you have off-the-charts self control and discipline. We all have different amounts of time, energy, hunger and motivation day to day*, so why fight our natural cues for the sake of ‘sticking to the plan’? This is especially true right now when we’re all living groundhog day and might be feeling pressured to have a very strict schedule in order to have control over something.
I would argue that being inflexible in our eating, exercise and general self-care habits is extremely draining to our ability to be productive:
Firstly, it’s demotivating. If we’re fighting against what we truly want to do, we’ll likely exhaust our willpower very quickly, thus making it much more difficult to work and think effectively.
We all have different amounts of time, energy, hunger and motivation day to day*, so why fight our natural cues for the sake of ‘sticking to the plan’?
Secondly, it’s distracting. If we’re craving a specific type or amount of food which we haven’t allowed ourselves, we’re not going to be able to focus on much else until we fulfill that desire (the body really can’t be outwitted here). Likewise, if we’ve decided we absolutely must run/go to the gym/do an online HIIT class when we get home from work, but we know we just won’t enjoy it or have the energy for it that day, we’re likely going to be dreading it much of the day and thus will have less mental space for our actual work.
It’s exhausting, really, if we constantly fight against what our bodies want.
And yet we do it, because we fear that if we relinquish tight control, our bodies will betray us and we’ll eat nothing but peanut butter cups all day and never flex a muscle again.
But have a little faith, our bodies naturally always move back towards homeostasis. So relax a little, listen to what your mind and body want as fuel, listen to how your body wants to be made stronger that day or if it wants to be rested. You’ll find that this freedom in your body and with your food free up so much mental and emotional energy for the things that really matter.
Not sure how to go about this? My company offers optional 1:1 health coaching as part of our productivity and wellbeing trainings so that individuals can have the best chance of feeling and thinking well longterm. Learn more about these trainings here.
*This is especially true for women as they move through the four phases of their menstrual cycle.