May 17 2017

Health in Times of Transition

You know those times when everything seems to be changing? Those moments that bring unexpected adjustments to large areas of our lives? Hello, transition. Whether for the better or for the worse, it’s oftentimes impossible to predict and even more difficult to plan for.

As the newest member of TRS Wellness, I am ecstatic to be part of a dynamic and well-rounded team seeking to improve health through injury prevention and wellness promotion. As you probably know well, beginning a new job brings many life changes and, you guessed it, transition. In the past year alone I have lived in three states and have held three jobs. I have cultivated new relationships and had to leave some behind. Whether you are currently in a time of transition or have waded through transition in the past, you know how difficult it is to manage day-to-day events, let alone your physical and mental health.

It is easy to throw all diet and physical activity routines to the side in the name of preserving our sanity, but I am here to witness that this will ultimately fail! We mustn’t sacrifice our physical health to make transition easier to handle. We must recognize the need for our health behaviors to morph (aka, transition) along with our changing lives. Bear with me; we are just getting to the point!

Below are four suggestions for maintaining (enhancing?!) your health while surviving transition:

1.  Seize what is available to you. Perhaps the most vague suggestion; perhaps the most important suggestion.

Many times in the past year I found myself stuck inside due to rain, staying in a hotel in an unfamiliar city, driving all day, etc. These unpredictable situations can leave us at a loss for how to be physically active or how to relax. To this we say: Carpe Diem (aka, seize the day)!
If you’re stuck in a car and meditative music + stretching during a gas break is all you can do that day, do it. If you’re staying a hotel and there is one treadmill in a tiny workout room, put on your comfy clothes and walk for 30 minutes. If you’ve been on the road for two weeks straight and are tired of takeout meals, head to the nearest grocery store and whip up these no-cook tacos. If you’ve had a long, hard day without a moment to yourself, take five minutes to sit in silence and breathe deeply. The catch is to not judge what is available to us. It might not be ideal; it might not be what we’re used to. Instead of giving up, we must seize the opportunity, whether great or small, to positively impact our physical and mental health.

Let’s talk about health insurance for a moment. (Womp womp, I know.) I have switched health insurance four times since September 2016, which ultimately means I went without coverage for weeks at a time. While illness and disease are often influenced by our circumstances and genetics, some can be prevented by our lifestyles and health choices. Long story short, transition is not the time to relax on our diet and physical activity. Who wants to have to go to the doctor for a preventable illness when health insurance coverage is up in the air? I’m going to go out on a limb and say neither of us!

2. Strike balance between activities that provide a mental retreat and what is physically beneficial.

It is no secret that exercising is a double-edged sword. I have always loved a physical challenge, but I also experience the mental chore of bringing myself to exercise most days of the week. It is hard, friends, and it gets harder in times of transition.

When my life was free of major change, I was running for at least 30 minutes five times each week. Enter transition phase and that seemed nearly impossible to keep up. At first I fought it. I will not relent! And then I gave up. I refuse to run... ever! And then I found the balance. I will move my body five times a week for at least 30 minutes every day... but I will walk when I want to. We can overcome the mental hurdle of exercise (or any positive health behavior) by morphing our routines to fit our current transitional situation.

3.  Enlist the help of friends (and acquaintances).

Did you know that dads make great workout partners? I’m serious! When I moved away from most of my friends, I also moved away from my top source of motivation to be active and social. It is my experience, though, that many people are interested in having a friend to join them on the journey of health.

While my Dad and I have differing health goals, we were able to keep each other accountable and encourage each other to work toward our fitness goals. We worked out together for about 8 weeks, and I’ll forever be grateful for that time. Identify a potential workout buddy, and make your move!

4. Resolve to make healthy choices while eating out.

Times of transition can intensify our #treatyoself mentality. However, we should remind ourselves that maintaining our diet provides stability in times of transition. Our plates when eating out should look similar to the plates we fix at home: roughly ½ vegetables, ¼ lean protein, and ¼ healthy Carbohydrate.

Restaurants are a luxury turned necessity when we don’t have access to a kitchen or when we are on the move. Most restaurants are willing to tweak their usual preparation to enhance the “healthiness” of meals. Don’t be afraid to ask! The significance of learning to use restaurants as tools to enhance our health during times of transition cannot be overstated. (Read: Would you mind to substitute the fries for a side of steamed broccoli? Can this coffee be made with skim milk instead of whole? Thanks a latte.)

It is my hope that somewhere in this list is a tool or two that will help you maintain sanity and health during times of transition. Transition is a test of our self-discipline and commitment to our health – a test worthy of our time and effort. What tips do you have for surviving transition? Let us know!
Jasmin Sumrall

Wellness Coach

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