Control Your Controllables
Uriell (aka Uri) is a registered dietitian nutritionist and Juliana Bicycles ambassador living in Breckenridge, Colorado. She is the founder of Inner Wild Nutrition, an online-based nutrition practice focused on helping active humans fuel their best performances + ideal lifestyle (read: no diets). Follow along with Uri on Instagram @uri_carlson.
Original article here.
My town just went from over 40,000 people to 5,000 in 48hrs. Suddenly, instead of dodging j-waking spring breakers who still have their goggles on their heads at 8PM, I’m driving down mainstreet without even touching the brakes. It feels crazy to say it, but I’m feeling nostalgic about that now. I’ll try to remember that when things get back to normal.
In the meantime, since many of you have had every sense of normalcy completely obliterated in the past two weeks, I’m here to give you some tips that will help you look after your sanity and your health during this time. As a dietitian and an athlete who also happens to work from home, I’d like to think that my experience can give you some insight and a bit of inspiration to allow you to settle into whatever your new normal happens to be.
First and foremost, make a schedule and time block your day.
Making a schedule sets the expectations for your day ahead of time and it provides the structure that you otherwise lack when you’re not expected at the office every day at a certain time. I promise, the more you use it, the more productive you will feel at the end of the day.
As someone who works from home in real life, my favorite way to set a schedule is to sit down for 5 minutes the night before with a pen and paper and simply plan out my day. The first hour of your day should always be the same. This is called your “minimally essential first hour”, meaning you do this every day, no matter what the rest of the day looks like. If you start out with a win, it’s much more likely you’ll continue with more. You make your bed for this same reason, right? Yea, right...
For example, wake up, dog walk, make a cup of coffee and then journal or meditate for 10-15 minutes is my minimally essential first hour.
From here, time block your day. Time blocking means that you’re putting similar tasks in one chunk of time, rather than bouncing back and forth between whatever comes to mind.
Research shows that we’re much more productive when we minimize task switching.
(Set your day up around computer work, home chores, food prep, workouts, meals, and snacks, or whatever else you need to accomplish). You can also prioritize the tasks that will move the needle the most. To see an example of how I plan out my day, check out this post.
Tip #2 is another thing to add to your schedule: eat intentionally. There are two reasons for this. First, I don’t want you to forget to eat and then eat 2k calories for dinner because you’re starving (not good for your metabolism) and, second, eating intentionally prevents grazing all day. To avoid both of these traps, plan to eat 3 meals and 1-2 snacks every day.
When it comes to balanced meals, this means there’s a source of protein, healthy fat, fiber, some sort of plants and a carbohydrate.
For example, eggs (or tofu) scrambled with peppers and onions and a piece of whole-grain toast with grass-fed butter checks all the boxes.
A bed of mixed greens with grilled asparagus, baby bell peppers, green beans, and fingerling potatoes, plus a serving of protein (seared tuna, chicken, steak) all tossed with a french vinaigrette is another example.
Being at home makes it really easy to snack all day long and forget to eat a complete meal. If you find yourself grabbing a handful of granola or “just one more cracker” every time you walk through the kitchen, you need to be snacking more intentionally. Aim to have a protein and a plant with every snack. A super simple example is peanut butter with an apple.
Here are some more examples of snacks that will keep you happily fed until your next meal while also giving you a bit of energy to get through that time-blocked task you’re currently working on::
Yogurt with almond butter, berries, and cocoa nibs
Cottage cheese or hummus on whole-grain crackers with cucumber slices (top with EBTH or hot sauce to make it grammable)
Tuna or egg salad with celery and/or bell pepper dippers
Third, don’t forget to drink water!
Surprise, dehydration decreases productivity. But, how much water are you actually supposed to drink per day? A good place to start is by dividing your body weight in pounds by half. That number equals the minimum ounces of water that you should be aiming for every day.
If you’re training/riding/exercising and sweating a lot, your needs for fluid, in addition to essential electrolytes, increase from the baseline defined above. This is because, whenever you sweat, you lose fluids and you lose electrolytes, both of which need to be replenished. Some of those electrolytes can be replaced with the food you eat, but if you’re sweating a lot because you live in a hot climate, you’re training a lot and thus sweating for multiple hours per day, or if you find yourself with sweat stains on your shirt or helmet straps, you need additional electrolytes with your water (add Skratch Sport Hydration!).
Now, I’ve seen a lot of challenges going around telling people to drink 1 gallon of water per day. While 1 gallon of water a day isn’t a bad thing, it should come with a couple warnings...first, if you’re not used to drinking this much water, it’s not smart to jump up to 1 gallon right away. Ease into it. Second, if you’re sweating, don’t forget that you need electrolytes in addition to water, or you risk some dangerous consequences.
If you have a hard time drinking water, use a reusable cup and straw. This prevents you from having to pick up a glass or open a water bottle. If you’re at your computer, put your cup in between your arms, basically right in front of your face, and you’ll no doubt drink more water.
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