June 12, 2017
I have participated in enough professional development sessions and mentoring conversations to know the importance of health and wellness in the life of the AVP. It can be easy to burn the candle at both ends, sometimes even in the middle. Regardless, any change for the positive starts with a choice. I made two health and wellness choices this year that have paid off greatly. I wanted to share my experience in hopes that it spurs my colleagues to challenge themselves as we start the summer.
I love coffee memes and messages. Some of my favorites are:
“How do I take my coffee? Seriously. Very Seriously.”
“Coffee. Because adulting is hard.”
“A day without coffee is like… Just kidding, I have no idea.”
Colleagues throughout my career would find it notable to not see me with a coffee cup throughout the day. I drank it all day and started to believe that I needed it to function. I went from an amateur coffee drinker to a professional when working on my dissertation. But, even when that journey was over, my relationship with coffee not only continued, it deepened.
Now, it wasn’t always a perfect love affair with coffee. Sometimes my stomach would hurt. But, that is why we have Tums. Sometimes I would have trouble calming down. But, that is why I have running shoes. Nevertheless, whether it was age or experience (probably age), the positive effects of coffee started to diminish and the deficits mounted. So, I drastically cut my coffee intake this year. I cut it by at least 75%, if not more. Was that hard? Sometimes. But I found one simple trick that helped. I would only have coffee at my desk, I would (try) not bring it with me to meetings. I found by doing that I did not sip on it mindlessly throughout the day. It was just a habit I needed to break and it substantially decreased my consumption.
After making this change for several months I was relieved to see that my productivity had not diminished. I was still able to achieve and manage my responsibilities without that caffeine boost. And, even more important, I was able to wind down throughout the day so that when I went home I was more relaxed. I feel less anxious. I sleep better. It is good all around.
I have bought my lunch every single workday for more years than I care to admit. Again, like coffee, it was habit with a twist of laziness. This year I went cold turkey and, consequently, have eaten a lot more cold turkey. There are times I miss the ritual of leaving my office and having someone else prepare my food. But, this change has come with a gain and loss that I can specifically measure. As to the gain; I have more money in my wallet. There are times now that I have money in my wallet so long that I cannot remember the last time I went to an ATM. As to the loss, and this was a shocker to me, this change netted a loss of at least 5 pounds. When you are getting your lunch on the go, the food has a higher calorie count and there is often more food than you actually need. Bringing my lunch was an easy way to shed some pounds. As an added bonus, now when I do need to buy my lunch at work, it is a treat. I enjoy the experience that much more because it is a novelty, not the norm.
Change can come in small ways and, while these examples may not speak to everyone, I hope they spur reflection. Summer is a great time to change your patterns and habits to be a healthier AVP next academic year.
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