Life can often feel like a race, or a triathlon, and yet other times like a gymnastics routine.
Parents have real challenges. There is no play by play parent handbook that prepares us for the numerous multitasking that’s involved daily.
Our activities can be compared to an athletic training schedule.
For instance my schedule starts at 6 a.m. After doing a somersault and a perfect landing out of bed and getting myself ready for the day, I’m now battling to roll the kids out of bed. My wife is already in the kitchen preparing the kids’ lunches, making sure that their school uniforms are ready, and now armed with the answers that are flying at her.
I now join her in the kitchen and make us a cup of tea. I divide my time between making breakfast for each individual order (teenagers' taste buds keep me finely tuned to new and trending foods), trying to make a nutritional shake for myself while trying to maintain a positive and happy demeanour to be an encouraging parent and husband (warning: a good morning said with the wrong tone can set off a teenager into a moody wild thing).
We finally make it into the car after several loud assertive statements of who was ready first, we’re all going to be late, I couldn’t find my sweater, and just got news that it’s going to be a bad day because the school day starts with the worst class EVER, we are now finally driving as I’m processing all of this information.
Everyone wants to stream their phone to the cars audio to listen to what I call mind numbing music (I never get my way to listen to podcasts because according to my kids they are boring and mind numbing). I feel the stress from my kids as they can’t believe we have to live so far from school, and all this traffic is going to make them late for their 8:20 a.m. start. I’m trying to keep my cool and replay my motivational podcasts in my head to stay positive.
I keep telling them we’ll be early and that we’ve never actually ever been late. We finally make it at the usual time of 8:05 a.m. I wish them a good day, and I’m off to do my work. I call my wife who’s busy with her day already, a combination of errands and client meetings. I discuss my ride with her and our usual conversation of how we can better deal with the family dynamics, but trying to keep it fresh as to not lose the spontaneity of our relationship.
All this physical and mental activity depletes your energy, and it’s all before 9 a.m. You still have another 12 to 14 hours of being active and that kind of activity requires consistent refuelling.
For a lot of people, skipping breakfast and just grabbing something on the run and relying on coffee to keep them going is also a reality. Without the right foods to give your brain the fuel it needs, you can’t possibly expect to keep your mental energy in high gear.
If you simply felt like it’s not that important to have a consistent nutrition daily program because quite frankly you’re too busy to think about your health, here are few quick eye openers to the importance of mindful eating as noted by Susan Bowerman, Director of World Wide Nutrition Training at Herbalife:
• What you eat affects your mental energy – your overall mood, motivation, attention, focus, clarity. Nothing too important (insert eye rolling here).
• Eating to keep your mental energy up all day long – Carbs fuel your brain. Glucose is the only fuel that normally feeds your brain cells (Rather important I think). Since your brain is active 24/7 it has high energy demands. Since it doesn’t store glucose, your brain needs continuous supply.
• Your brain wants fuel at regular intervals – it’s important to eat at regular intervals throughout the day to keep your mental energy from taking a nosedive. Aim for small meals and snack every 3 to 4 hours.
• Eat proteins for your brain – even though your brain doesn’t use proteins directly for fuel, it does use amino acids derived from proteins that you eat to manufacture brain chemicals.
• Beverages for your brain – When your body is dehydrated, it can affect your mood and your energy level. Mild dehydration reduces alertness and your ability to concentrate, and by the time you feel thirsty, your mental energy has already taken a hit.
Susan Bowerman, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., F.A.N.D. – Director, Worldwide Nutrition Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.
The same foods that athletes require for their needs are the same foods that we need to keep our families running, performing our best at work, being available for our friends, and just feeling fantastic every day.
So are we all athletes? You bet!