The Perfect Day (of diet and exercise)
“BlingBrriiinnnnggBliinnggBiinnggBRRiiiinngggg…” A pleasent series of chimes begin to catch your attention and you soon realize that it’s time to get up. Your alarm is going off, but you wake with a smile because you put yourself to bed the night before at a reasonable hour. After a day of making good decisions that allowed you to get a restful night of sleep, it's time to do it again. Time to begin another successful day of Life that will hopefully leave you feeling healthy, happy and fulfilled. Instead of snoozing the alarm for a few more moments of comfort, you make the first “hard” but correct decision of the day and get up, making sure to make the bed to a decent degree after you rise because, well, good decisions and discipline lead to more good decisions and better discipline.
It’s breakfast time as we know it, but not for you. Your actual “break-fast” does not occur until about 11am, or about 5 hours after you wake up. Instead you look to fluids, movement and hopefully sunshine to start the day. For this you reach first to Water, the literal essence of Life. What better to start the day with? A tall glass sipped slowly while the coffee brews or the tea steeps ought to be enough for now. Without the need to prepare breakfast you begin to look ahead to your day and develop a rough mental outline of priorities; family, healthcare and work to be more specific. How will these elements fall into place to form your day? Likely work and family will dictate the time-frames for your schedule, so once that’s determined, you begin to form an idea of when to get in your exercise and what your meals will consist of and where they’ll come from. This little mental map should take you about 3 minutes to chart out, perhaps it helps to write it down, but you’ve been practicing this discipline so consistently that it’s second nature, and occurs without you really even recognizing that it’s taken place.
“Aaahhhh….” That first sip of unsweetened, low/zero calorie coffee, tea or other morning beverage excites your senses and another smile crosses your face. As you peacefully enjoy this, while letting your mind and body continue to wake up, perhaps you move around the house and begin to pick-up, organize and clean any disheveled areas that were not tidied up the night before. Making your home neat and tidy always puts your mind at ease, and allows you to then focus on more important tasks throughout the day. After the coffee is down and you’ve had a bit more water, it's time to get outside and move. You always allow time for this in the morning because it's another step in setting up your day, body and mind for ultimate success. A 10 minute walk in the sunshine is ideal, but if weather won’t allow, a stroll on the treadmill or some light yoga or any other kind of gentle, intentful movement will suffice. Depending on the day, and what the morning holds, you’d like to spend a little time reading or writing. Today however; duty calls, but that’s OK. Perhaps we’ll find some time later for these activities. It’s now been about 45 minutes to an hour since the alarm roused you from bed. You’re alert, energized and ready to “crush the day,” so to speak. A little sugar free gum goes far to help curb cravings during the morning hours.
A quick glance at your watch tells you that it’s 11:33AM. You’d been so focused at work that your typical “break-fast” time slipped by. All good! A sign that your day is going well. You relieve yourself from your work if possible for a stretch break, and to retrieve your first food for the day. This morning you assembled two hard-boiled eggs, ½ a cup of blueberries and ¼ cup of lightly salted almonds. A mighty robust snack if I do say so myself. The goal of this first meal is to have something on the lighter side, low in carbohydrate and high in protein, healthy fats, fiber and nutrients. Your provisions are spot on. Perhaps you include another dose of low-calorie caffeine from coffee or tea (not-red bull), or perhaps not. But you recognize that this is your last opportunity for caffeine for this day, so as to not disrupt tonight’s sleep. Included with this break-fast are your fish oil, multivitamin, extra vitamin D and any other applicable supplements that you feel promote a healthier body and mind. Your energy levels remain on high for the next several hours and you’re not bitten by hunger or low-blood-sugar fatigue. You’ve now had at-least 2 liters of water and you continue to lean on that sugar free gum for a little sweet satiation.
It’s mid-afternoon. You notice your coworkers' productivity begins to fade as they succumb to their second or third giant drop in blood sugar due to the high, fast-carbohydrate meals they’ve been eating since the early morning. Bagels with cream cheese and Red Bulls do not lead to a stable, sustainable energy supply. What a shame, if only they knew the power of healthy eating. For you it’s time to get up and stretch again. Perhaps you can squeeze in a 10 minute walk. Better yet, if your schedule permits, it’s time for a strength training session. 30-45 minutes of sound, repeatable strength training 2-5 times per week, that’s the sweet spot. You leave the gym feeling well-worked-out but still filled with energy and exuberance to conquer the rest of your day. After you hit the gym, or at least get your 10-30 minutes of walking, it’s time for meal #2. This is generally composed of lots of veggies and greens with a well-sourced protein, smothered in olive oil, avocado and other healthy fat sources. Today you’ve prepared a green salad with chopped veggies and salmon, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and 2 tbsp of an olive oil based salad dressing. A serving of dark chocolate sweetens your palette and rewards you for having done so well managing your healthy habits thus far today. Around 5pm, or as you leave work, another serving of fruit will tide you over before dinner.
Now at home for the evening it’s time to love, socialize, play and have fun with family and friends. You try to get everyone outside to play and run and burn off some energy before dinner. Maybe a family walk or just some rough housing or wiffle ball in the yard. afterwards of course, the big family meal; Dinner. You’ve planned out the menu ahead of time so you're not left scrambling for pizza or Chinese food. Dinner typically includes a healthy serving of carbohydrates from roasted potatoes or yams, brown rice, or something similarly simple and easy to prepare. Alongside this you’ll have another portion of protein and ideally even more veggies. Sometimes you'll indulge in a a glass of wine, beer or cocktail. But that doesn't really go with this evening preparations. Tonight is a special night. It's Wednesday, which of course means breakfast for dinner night! Whole grain pancakes, oatmeal or toast are the carbohydrate options and you’ll be having a cup of yogurt sweetened with honey and filled with pumpkin seeds as your protein source. You did so darn well today that the vegetables can wait until tomorrow, because they’re undoubtedly factored into your meal plan for that day.
After dinner you continue family time and begin to wind the evening down. A little TV never hurt anyone, but the kids are finishing their homework so you decide to pick up the book that you weren’t able to read this morning. Your phone is intentionally silenced and mostly ignored. Your meal was so satiating that there’s no need for snacking afterwards. Just to be sure that you abide by this no-snacks-after-dinner rule, you’ve implemented the habit of brushing your teeth well before bed time. This incentivises you not to eat anymore but it also signals your body and mind that the day is coming to a close, and begins the nighttime rituals that wind you down and set you up for another restful night of sleep. After the kids have gone to bed you resist the urge to watch TV, you're still ignoring your phone until tomorrow. Around 9:30PM your comfy bed is calling and you crawl in with your book, dim the lights and read yourself to sleep with peace of mind that you were a healthy, productive, kind and disciplined human being and you worked to improve yourself and your life through the decisions you made throughout the day. Tomorrow is another opportunity and you look forward to capitalizing, and continuing your happy, healthy lifestyle. Goodnight :)