Keeping Steady in an Unsteady World

When the going gets rough, how do you keep going? Even though we’re all struggling to adjust to this new normal – we keep showing up. Hitting deadlines. Getting that laundry done. I’ll be exploring how you can control how steady you feel physically and mentally/emotionally with food – and an easy two-day challenge.

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How do you keep going when things get hard? 

We’re about a month into quarantine and I have a mess in the kitchen because I don’t have the oomph within me to clean it up. I’ve spent more time lying on my deck in the sun than I care to admit. I ate pretzels for dinner last night. Then took a bath and cried.

This is life right now.

Yet, on some level, we keep showing up. Don’t we? We keep hitting deadlines. Getting that laundry done. We keep making it happen for ourselves, our families and clients. And that’s pretty awesome. 

When life is scattered, here are two important ways to keep going:

#1: Lean into routine

For example, having a meal plan makes it easier to get dinners on the table. If you make your bed every morning, it’s a no-brainer habit that keeps things tidy.

In business, if I have a regular weekly meeting with my team, I’m always going to be there. Last summer when I was getting divorced and living out of a suitcase in my aunt’s basement, I still recorded podcast episodes. Same time, every week.

In this way, a plan or schedule can be downright comforting. And effective.

 

#2: Fall back on what you know best.

Recently I’ve been making a lot of very easy meals. I love to cook, don’t get me wrong. But I’m finding a flow in making dishes that don’t require a recipe. Simple things I can make blindfolded. It makes life easier.

The same goes for people. You know those folks that you can show up for without getting dressed up? Like the last time I saw my friend (on Facetime, of course, hello, quarantine) he was wearing pajama pants and hadn’t had a haircut in waaaaaay too many weeks. It’s nice to know someone well enough to show up, just as you are.

When I was thinking about what to write about today, after weeks of quarantine…

I thought, you know what? I’m going to show up, just as I am, and talk about what I know best.

This is one of my all-time favorite nutrition lessons. It’s something I teach all of my clients. 

Even though it’s simple, it makes a major difference. There’s even an easy exercise for you to test what you learn and see how it feels both physically and mentally/emotionally.

Introducing: Macronutrients

This is just basic, basic stuff that no one is taught in health class. The 3 macronutrients are:

Protein, fat and carbohydrates. 

These are the 3 ways your body gets energy from food. It’s either calories from protein, calories from fat or calories from carbs.

Imagine a fire

Ok we’re going to get a little nerdy here…

Protein and fat are big logs on the fire. They burn low and slow over a long period of time.

Carbohydrates are more like kindling. They burn up very quickly and disappear.

If you are getting most of your energy from carbohydrates — breads, pasta, rice, potatoes, even beans which are relatively high in carbs — it would be normal to feel hungry again 2-3 hours later. Your blood sugar is going to go up fast, just like kindling would burn…and then it’s going to drop fast. 

This is when we may get that hangry feeling. Some people will get shaky. 

The more processed the carbohydrate is, the more quickly it will burn. For example, white sugar or a Snickers bar is going to be worse than a bowl of whole grains. But either way, carbs burn up fast.

On the other hand, if you get most of your energy from protein and fat — meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, avocado — you will likely notice that you don’t feel hungry as often. One meal may hold you for 4-6 hours. That’s because you’ve got a slow burn on those logs. 

I have to say, it’s quite convenient to NOT have to stop and eat all day long.

You can control how you feel

Regardless of how you balance these three macronutrients — by the way, I do not recommend counting grams or anything — it’s going to dictate how you feel. Your energy levels, moods, ability to concentrate. 

If your blood sugar is swinging up and down all day, you’ll feel very different than if it’s on an even keel.

And, yes, you can really control this.

In fact, I have a little exercise you can try, as a test.

Day 1:

Eat a breakfast that’s high in carbohydrates, low in protein and fat. An example would be oatmeal cooked with water, topped with raisins and chopped banana. Something like that. By many standards that’s a very healthy breakfast. I’m not telling you to eat a bowl of Cap’n Crunch. 

Then, take note of how many hours pass before you feel hungry. Note the quality of that hunger. Is it intense? Mild? Does it come on fast or slow? Do you get shaky? Etc.

Day 2:

For breakfast I want you to eat a meal that’s heavy on protein and fat, with little or NO carbohydrates. I suggest 2 hard boiled eggs and half an avocado. You could drizzle some olive oil on that avocado and sprinkle with salt. Or if you have any of that Everything But the Bagel seasoning from Trader Joe’s, that’s great on avocado too.

Then, same thing. Keep track of how long it takes before you start feeling hungry and notice the quality of that hunger.

I’d love to hear what you notice about your body’s response to those two breakfasts. Post a photo on Instagram and tag @shesgotpower so I can repost you and hear more about your experience!

 


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