I am really bad at being healthy. Exercise? Diet? Healthy lifestyle? My motivation is always low. One of the talks at TEDxJNJ was about looking at why it is so hard to be healthy. It’s not like we don’t know what’s good for us. Implementing a lifestyle that we know is healthier than our current one always falls to the wayside. Is it because we lack the energy, or the time, to be healthy? In the spirit of the new year, and new year’s resolutions, let’s talk about how to get over the procrastination hump and start living healthier, based on a talk from the TEDxJNJ Main Event on 12/12/12.
Money, Time, and Energy
My #1 excuse for not living healthier is that I don’t feel I have enough time to dedicate to the decision. Not only that, but the unhealthy choices are cheaper, either in cheaper food, or cheaper on time. But is money or time really a limiting factor on living healthy? Cooking once in bulk, you can make 6 portions of a meal that can last you all week, saving you money. Also, there are hundreds… literally hundreds of healthy workouts you can do in 30 minutes or less. So are money and time really that hard to come by? No time to exercise? No cheap good food?
Energy. Studies show that this resource, more than money or time, inhibits the most people from living healthier. And it makes total sense! When I get home after a long day’s work, the last thing I want to do is hit a gym. So I veg.
“VEG: intr.v.vegged, veg·ging, veg·es Informal.
To engage in relaxing or passive activities.
By 9:00 pm, I am exhausted. I won’t go to bed until 11:00, (see all that wasted time?), but I don’t have the energy to use that time positively for my health. Some of the data shown in this talk attempted to explain why. The premise was around tracking user-reported energy levels throughout the day, and trying to understand where the spikes in energy are, as well as the dips, and compare different work environments to determine which environments provided the most sustainable energy throughout the day.
The results were astounding. Regardless of company, the majority of the data followed a similar pattern. The beginning of the work day contained a spike of energy, which peaked around 12 noon. From this point, a sharp, downward trend begins with a few smaller peaks that continues to near zero before 9:00 pm.
There were experiments with introducing an activity into the early afternoon designed to be a short burst of rejuvenating energy. The speaker coined the term “microbursts” to describe them, requiring just 5-10 minutes. These could be walking down around the office, doing some non-work activity, or simply resting. People that incorporated microbursts into their early afternoon saw significant rises to their energy levels. More than that, they also saw higher, more stable energy levels long after the microburst was done. The spikes in energy were higher and more sustained than users that used coffee or other caffeine stimulants.
Why Microbursts Matter
The western work culture, rife with blurring lines between work and personal life, makes it extremely difficult to unplug. Most people accept that breaks from work to live your life outside of the office are valuable. Unfortunately, while in the office, the emphasis is to be good little corporate energizer bunnies. We keep going, and going and going… Our bodies weren’t built for that level of sustained attention. And yet many people will start working at 8:00 am and not stop to get up and move for 5+ hours. Your attention will be more acute, more focused, if you just force yourself to take breaks. It just so happens that studies are suggesting that on top of the benefits to your focus, you may also have more energy!
I am committed to working on incorporating microbursts into my work life. If you are feeling low on energy, try adding a microburst to your life. Here is a list with a few examples of good microburst activities!
Janet Nikolovski, the speaker on “Microbursts”, assists companies, employees and health plan members achieve their full potential by helping to renew their health, energy and performance. She is a biomedical engineer and her background spans across skincare, regenerative medicine, and devices. Janet has been working with Johnson & Johnson for 9 years, previously working in the Advanced Technologies group in skincare. Prior to J&J, she worked at regenerative medicine/biotechnology startup companies developing cell-based biomedical devices.
Some of Janet’s Work: