Need a Pick-Me-Up? Try Energizing Your Environment

Wow, I haven’t worked out in a week. And it hasn’t been on purpose either, i.e. I didn’t have a scheduled break in my routine. I’ve just found myself being uninspired and quite blatantly lazy.

Do you ever find yourself stuck in that mode? The weather outside is depressing, it’s pitch black when you wake up in the morning, and you’re so busy that when your day is over all you want to do is crash on the couch and veg out in front of your favorite TV show?

That’s me right now, and I hate that I’ve gotten that way. Something happened, and all of a sudden, my motivation switch just turned off.

So I was on the couch watching an episode of Sex and the City – although an entertaining show, quite useless to tell you the truth – I took a step outside myself and looked at what I was doing. Yuck. I didn’t like what I was looking at. Because I knew I’m much, much more than that.

So I asked myself, why and how did I get this way? Then I took a look around my home. It was a mess. My laptop and papers were strewn about on the dining room table, mixed with random junk like CDs, a camera, and a mess of wires from random electronic chargers. Dishes were piled up in the sink. Shoes were littering the entry way, and a pile of wrinkled laundry taunted me from atop my unmade bed.

Double-yuck. I hope none of your abodes looked like mine did.

I realized my surroundings were draining me. My husband noticed it too. We’ve both been so busy, we’d let our home drift down our priority list. We’d eat dinner, pile the dishes in the sink and say, “I’ll get to that later,” only to find that “later” was two days later.

My mother would be so proud.

Think about this: You get up in the morning, and it’s dark outside. Your room is pitch black and freezing cold. You get out of bed and step into your living, and one of the first things you see is a disarray of mail you said you’d sort through yesterday. You go into the bathroom to brush your teeth, and your toiletries are scattered all over your counter. Or you get home from work, tired after a long day, and you walk into a house that is in shambles.

Doesn’t sound very energizing, does it?

What’s my point? Sometimes you have to look not only at yourself, but your surroundings to figure out why you’re feeling a certain way. Your environment has quite a significant impact on your levels of energy. Do you have an uninspiring picture hanging in your bedroom? Believe it or not, opening your eyes and looking at an inspiring picture or an uninspiring picture first thing in the morning can effect how you approach the beginning of your day.

When I see something that doesn’t move me or inspire me to get moving, I’m much less likely to move.

Make your environment an enabler for you to live the life you want to live – and that applies to the physical, mental, relational, spiritual, and financial areas of life. Your level of energy directly affects how much attention and effort you are able to apply to those areas and what you want to do with your life – working out included.

So, whether that means cleaning up the mess in your house, hanging an inspiring painting in your bedroom, buying a plant to bring life to your office, getting one of those natural light lamps to wake up to in the morning, or waking up to upbeat music rather than an annoying buzzer, do what you need to do to energize your environment.

All of the above are in my plan. Take a look around you. Do you need a plan too?

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Did I mention that I stopped working out?

I went to Vegas a few weeks ago.  If you’ve read my past blog about eating healthy, you know that while I’m on vacation, all health and fitness rules pretty much go out the window.  Mind you, I try to compensate by being extremely disciplined with my nutrition and workouts during the weeks leading up to it.  I also accept the consequences and detox when I get back.

So with my Vegas trip, that was the intent.  I didn’t follow through.  Here’s what really happened:

I followed through on my pre-vacation commitment.  I stuck to my prescribed 4-times a week heavy workout with cardio intervals.  I stuck to the nutrition plan.

I followed through on my vacation commitment.  I ate burgers and fries, eight kinds of meat at a Brazilian churrasco restaurant, indulged on chocolate lava cakes, and drank way too many vodka tonics and long island ice teas.  I didn’t even bother bringing any workout clothes because I knew it wasn’t going to happen.

I got home on a Monday afternoon with every intention to clean up my act the minute the plane landed.  But we got invited for sushi that evening.  And with my sushi, I naturally ate 3 different desserts.  Who can turn down tiramisu, chocolate cheesecake and eclairs?  (mini versions, of course)  What’s one more “cheat meal”, right?

Okay, so Tuesday.  Really, Tuesday my plan was to get back on the wagon.  Shake for breakfast, pack my mid-morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack, and bring my gym clothes and recovery drink for my workout after work.  But I woke up late that morning and rushed off to work without any of it.  Felt dehydrated all day which led to a headache, came home, and crashed on the couch.

Wednesday.  Wednesday would be much better…But I plain forgot my gym bag at home, ended up working late, got home around 8 and crashed on the couch again.

So Thursday…I think you get the picture.

What happened?  What happened to my good intentions?  As James Ray says, “Good intentions, poor follow-through.”

And so it went for 2 weeks.  Every day, at the end of the day I had two choices: either 1) beat myself up for being a flake and freak out about the weight I’d gain from my non-compliance or 2) put the day behind me and start the next day over again.

What would you do?  I chose #2.  I am a firm believer that everyone does the very best they can given the person they are at that moment.  I could have beat myself up about it and freaked out about gaining weight, but decided that doing so would just put me in a worse mood than I already was, which would lead to emotional eating, high stress, and it would in turn become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Instead, I decided to note how I felt (usually lethargic and dehydrated), consciously decide that I didn’t want to feel that way the next day, and realized that tomorrow is a new day.

So it took me a couple weeks to get back on the wagon.  Looking back on it, I’m kind of glad it did.  Firstly, because sometimes if you’ve been on a rigorous fitness plan for a few weeks, it’s good to take a break.  Let your body recover.  And if you have been on a rigorous fitness plan for a while, you’ll find that you can afford to be bad for a while.  Your body can handle all those calories much better than it could before.

Secondly, I learned to be patient with myself.  I did notice the difference in my energy levels and did understand that if I kept going down this road, I would end up reverting back to my pre-working-out condition.  With that realization, I had every faith in myself that I would pick myself back up, and in turn I did.

You can’t always be perfect.  Don’t force yourself to be.  Learn from it, move on, and realize that tomorrow is a new day.