Have you taken a vacation lately? Or even just a few days off to stay home? If not, you should! Research has shown that taking time off from work increases productivity, job satisfaction, and it actually helps the economy. In addition, vacations significantly help decrease burnout and make you and your employees more likely to put in longer hours during critical times – think tax season, a weekend sports tournament, or many back to back catering engagements.
As I sit here analyzing all of the research about why time off is so important, I am feeling a bit challenged. You see, I am leaving for my honeymoon in 3 days and I feel anything but chilled out and ready to leave. I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to pack, clean the house, and get ahead at work. The more I read the research and think about this vacation, the more I realize what an idiot I am for “trying to get ahead”. The work is always going to be there, no matter how far I get today or in the 3 days before we leave. And now I am finding that taking a vacation will more than likely make me more productive on the days leading up to our departure, as well as after we return!
I talk to so many people that say “I am so busy at work, this just isn’t a good time to take days off”. I remind them, is it ever really a good time? Normally, your work schedule does not magically open up, so that you can take a vacay. Which is why you need to schedule breaks ahead of time and stick to them, for your health, sanity, and future productivity.
Just like athletes need recovery days so that their bodies can adapt to stress, replenish energy stores, and repair damaged tissues, normal working people need time off for the same reasons! Vacations are a great way to de-stress, replenish energy that is lost from lack of sleep and 70 hour work weeks, and repair damaged mindsets and/or work relationships. Studies have shown that it is imperative to your professional well being to do more on vacation than just sit on the beach with umbrella cocktails. It is in your best interest to have as much fun and relaxation as you possibly can; however, you should also implement a few strategies to improve your work relationship when you return. These are the 3 things I am going to implement and work on (besides a tan) during my upcoming trip:
1) Reflect on the past several months and think about how to shake things up – I read in one research review that if you do not return from vacation with some ideas on how to shake things up at work, then it may be time to make some changes. My goal is to reflect on what has and has not been providing results, and to really take time to think about some strategies that will change things up to help me and my clients be more successful.
2) Let go of grudges or past negative interactions – as a dietitian, like most, I can be very perfectionist and sensitive; however, it is very hard to please every single client and person that we work with. Taking the time to reflect and let go of past negative situations will help in being able to learn from them, forgive, and move on. This will lead to a more positive work environment and attitude on return to work.
3) Learn something new – my husband and I have been learning Spanish, because we are traveling to South America. It has been so fun to learn a new language and I am excited to practice on vacation! We will also be taking surfing lessons and will need to learn very quickly how to live and sleep on a fishing boat for 3 days. Being able to learn something new and take something away from your vacation will give you new interests and keep you uplifted for months after!
If it has been a while since your last vacation, I highly encourage you to sit down and plan something out. Especially, if you are feeling burned out and exhausted, it is time to take some much needed rest and recovery days. Even if you participate in a stay-cation, turn your work phone and e-mail off, enjoy some free reading time, and lunch at some of your favorite restaurants. I understand how important your work and professional life is; but, you are only as good as your next meltdown :)
March is National Nutrition Month – this is an annual food and nutrition education campaign that aims to teach Americans healthy habits around food and physical activity. As a dietitian, I should be excited…. But I’m not thrilled about the theme this year – “Put Your Best Fork Forward”.
As an anti-diet dietitian and intuitive eating cheerleader, I feel this slogan is too “diety”. Of course, it can be interpreted in many different ways, but when I investigated this year’s theme the first messages that popped up include “each bite counts “and “making small changes to your food choices adds up over time”. I liken this to the slogan “a second on the lips, forever on the hips”, which is absolute crap. These are not the “health” messages we should be focusing on and sending to our clients.
What do you think about when you hear the word health? What or who are you imagining in your mind?
Are you envisioning a thin person, working out at a gym, with six pack abs; who constantly weighs themselves, worries about every bite of food, and obsesses about their body? Or do you see someone that maybe doesn’t have time to hit the gym every day and isn’t constantly body shaming, but they have great relationships, a job they enjoy, a happy family and home life, and a sound connection to their personal spirituality?
The problem, is that most people would look at the thin person and automatically assume they are the epitome of health, because of the shape of their body and their diet “discipline”. This is unacceptable and disappointing.
So many people spend their entire lives fighting their body and food. This type of relationship with your body and with food is exhausting, extremely harmful, and can ultimately lead to major health problems down the road. My goal when working with clients is to help them change these dangerous behaviors and attitudes. We work together on eating more intuitively, or in-tune with what their body wants and needs, and I teach that every body size is acceptable and healthy. The health at every size approach includes four key principals. When individuals start to apply and believe in these principles they can truly feel set free from their struggles with their body and food.
1) Accept your body size and shape – instead of constantly fighting your body, realize how amazing human bodies are and appreciate all that your body does to keep you alive. Move in ways that make your body feel good and more vibrant.
2) Trust yourself with food and physical activity – learn to trust your internal signals. When you are craving a cheeseburger or you feel too tired or sore for the gym, this is your body telling you something. Enjoy that cheeseburger and practice self-care during your recovery day! Truly listen to your body and honor its signals of hunger, fullness, fatigue, and energy.
3) Adopt healthy lifestyle habits – adopting body kindness and rejecting the diet mentality is so empowering and can help you embrace healthy habits in other areas of your life – make plans with friends, volunteer at your place of worship, move in ways that make you feel good, and eat foods that are delicious to you!
4) Embrace size and shape diversity – human bodies come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Accept every one’s uniqueness and be open to learning from their beauty and individuality.
Adopting this health at every size mentality, embracing body kindness, and choosing healthy lifestyle practices are all crucial to making a difference in your own health. Refusing to spread messages that focus on dieting and removing enjoyable foods will help others in their body shaming recovery as well. I encourage you to listen to your body and put your fork in whatever feels and tastes right to you!
If you are interested in learning more about intuitive eating and body kindness I would love to help! Reach out at Allison@altnutrition.net
Allison Tropf, MS, RD, CSSD
Allison is a Sports Dietitian in Michigan. She enjoys helping others reach their nutrition and fitness goals through reliable and trustworthy recommendations.
ALT Performance Nutrition