You know this point, we have all been here.
Everything in life is going great, your health and energy is the best it’s been in a long while, your exercise routine is flawless, your work life balance is… well actually balancing
However, just when you begin to think that you have it together something throws a spanner in the works of your ‘dare you say easy life’ your happy, healthy, fit and vibrant self comes to a BIG halt.
Things like pulling an all-nighter, working third shift on call, or an evening that becomes way later than planned can seemingly wreak havoc on our sleep schedules, our stress levels, our exercise routine and our unfortunately then our waistline. It’s not inflexibility or poor planning on your part, but more that we get used to doing things a certain way, a way that we know works, and then suddenly BAMM something gets in the way.
So what do we do? How do we live the life of an active, healthy, vibrant woman 24/7?
I wish I had a tried and true answer that worked for everyone with a particular schedule, but sadly I do not. Adjusting to a new schedule or adapting to an unforeseen circumstance takes practice. Below are some tips that can help to readjust your formula for late nights and/or very long days.
- If you are going to be awake much later than normal keep eating every 3 hours. Depending on the mental clarity and activity level required these meals may consist of just protein, protein and fat, or protein and carbs. For non-active activities like studying protein and fat are best while protein and carbs are best for things like running around a busy hospital.
- Just like always, practice makes better. As you adjust to the new schedule check in with your energy, cravings and hunger. If you are having intense cravings or feel extremely lethargic then your body likely needs more fuel. Review your day and see if skipped or unbalanced meals were the likely cause. Awareness of your daily schedule , can highlight some major nutritional flaws that can be corrected easily.
- If your schedule is unpredictable, keep healthy snacks close by. Single servings of nuts, protein bars, beef jerkey and fresh fruit can be life savers. Leave a few in your car, backpack, purse, and/or desk drawer so that you are always prepared.
- Stay hydrated. Maybe even more important than food, your body needs water when it is tired, drained, and over worked. If you are not in the position that you can sip all day or night then drink whenever you have a free moment. Consume as much water as possible.
- Cut yourself some slack. Even the most prepared, organized and committed woman will have moments and days and sometimes weeks that will catch us off guard. Remember something is better than nothing, even if you have to make the best choice available in a greasy late night mobile service station. Do the best you can with what you have available then learn and move on to the next day. If you are having a particularly difficult week schedule wise then maintenance is a reasonable goal.
- If you work late or do casual long shifts on a regular basis try to keep your meal schedule as regular as possible. You may have your “breakfast” at noon and dinner at midnight or later but following the same balance of macronutrients during YOUR regular day will help keep you on track. During longer days you may end up eating 7 small meals rather than 5 or 6 in order to support the extra energy demands of the body.
- Prioritize Sleep. Even one night without a good night’s rest can throw us off. Hormone levels can quickly become unbalanced triggering all sorts of negative effects from compromised immunity to intense cravings. Unfortunately we cannot really “catch up” on sleep over the weekend so make sure to go to bed an hour early for a few nights following a late night to counteract these effects. If you find yourself working nights regularly try to maintain the same sleep ritual in preparation for your sleep hours.
Unfortunately, many of us face days, weeks, or even months of schedule turmoil that threaten our results and our happy place. Our fast paced 24/7 culture makes it that much more difficult. Often times we have no choice but to suck it up and keep moving late into the night. Accept that this will sometimes happen and try to allow yourself some flexibility .
Remember, like most things in life, your body, health and well being is based on long term commitment, accepting and embracing each step of the journey, and sticking to the basics.