The Productive Woman 009 – Getting Healthy and More Productive [podcast]

_podcastTemplateTons of studies show that healthier people are more productive, but modern life makes staying healthy and fit a challenge for all of us. How does health impact our productivity, what are the basics that contribute to good health, and how can we get healthier without spending all our time thinking about it?

Tip of the Week: Use empty Altoids tins to organize small items in your desk drawer or kitchen junk drawer. Check out this photo to see how Altoids tins can help you organize.

Tool of the Week: The Fitbit helps you monitor your health and can help motivate you to move more.

Topic of the Week: Getting Healthy to Get More Productive

How does health impact our productivity?

  • Many studies show that healthy people simply get more done.
  • When our health is poor, we have less energy, less mental focus, less resistance to things that are bad for us, and less ability to cope with stress and bounce back from crises.

What are the basics that contribute to good health?

  • Diet/nutrition – quality fuel in appropriate amounts
  • Adequate exercise – movement is good for our bodies and good for our attitude
  • Adequate, quality sleep
  • Sufficient water

Some simple tips for getting healthier:

  • Set small goals.
  • Don't wait for the perfect situation — a little bit of something is better than a whole lot of nothing.
  • Do something every day.
  • Get a physical exam.
  • Change your habits in small ways.
  • Combine exercise and socializing / relationship-building.
  • Write down what you eat.
  • Eat a little bit better each day.
  • At a buffet (or any meal), fill half your plate with a salad, a quarter with other vegetables, and only the remaining quarter with lean proteins and starches, and eat the salad first.
  • Improve your posture.
  • Get more/better sleep.
  • Educate yourself.
  • Don't give up – if you mess up one day, start over the next.


The Most Important Body Language Signal for Success,” by Carol Kinsey Goman,

5 Health Hacks for Higher Productivity,” Todoist blog.

Your Ultimate Guide to Health, Wellness, and Productivity,” by Erica Murphy, Levo League, July 16, 2014 — tons of links to helpful articles on various health and fitness topics.

How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?”, National Sleep Foundation.

Sleep Through the Decades,” by Gina Shaw, WebMD.

The Consequences of a Lack of Water,” by Louise Tremblay,, November 27, 2013.

Why Your Brain Needs Water,” by Joshua Gowin, Ph.D., on Psychology Today online.

What about you? Which area of your health do you struggle with most? Is there a suggestion from this week's episode that you'll try tomorrow to move toward a healthier lifestyle? Or can you suggest a tip that works for you and might help others get healthier and more fit? Please share your thoughts or suggestions in the comments.

Subscribe to The Productive Woman in iTunes or subscribe in Stitcher, and join the conversation at The Productive Woman on Facebook.

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

Four Daily Habits–From Jeff Galloway’s blog

Farm, 1-2011 snow, swing2

It's that time of year, when we start thinking about what we want to accomplish in the new year that's just about to begin. As I'm thinking about those things, I just re-read Jeff Galloway's blog post from earlier this year and thought it was worth sharing. Sometimes we just make life way too complicated. I plan to pay attention to these, starting right away. I'm just listing his four habits, but I encourage you to click over to Jeff's post and read the brief explanations.

1.     Set aside half an hour every day for yourself.
2.     Don't sit–walk!
3.     Eat more frequently.
4.     Help someone exercise.

[From Four Daily Habits That Can Change Your Life]

I also highly recommend the recent Lifehack article I've linked to below.

If you were to start doing Jeff's first suggested habit above, how would you spend that half-hour?

Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

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Back in the Saddle: Recovering from a Distractedly Busy Season

August has been a crazy month–busy at work, lots to do at home, and dealing with the emotions of getting my youngest child off to college. So a lot of my routines have gone by the wayside, including regular workouts and writing.

Sam's off to school, though, and my husband–who had been out of town all summer for work–is finally back home. It's still a busy season at the office, but it's time to get back into my regular routine, doing the things that are important to me. That includes writing and it includes working out. Both are important for my physical and my mental health.

Responding to a blog comment today had me re-reading something I posted earlier this year about why I run. I thought I'd remind you of it as well. You can read Why I Hate Running, and Why I Do It Anyway by clicking on the title there. Or by clicking here. 🙂

What routines or activities are most important to you? How do you feel when busy seasons in life interfere with the things that you do for yourself?

Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . . 
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

Take Care of You

Later this morning I'll be on a plane to Florida for some client meetings. It's a tough time to be out of the office and to be out of town. I'm very busy at work, and this is an important month in our house.

Sam in 3rd grade
  • My baby (Sam) is about to turn 18, and at the end of this month he'll graduate from high school. The month is full of ceremonies and end-of-high-school celebration events that we're all excited to attend.
  • My husband, Mike, is preparing for an important exam and then will be leaving on Sunday to spend the summer in Washington working as an engineering intern.
  • I have two business trips this month — this week and a couple of weeks from now.

In order to accommodate the travel and family schedules, I've been working pretty long hours at the office to get everything done. I realized this morning that I'm doing something again that I have a habit of doing — when the schedule gets packed, the first things to drop out are the things I do for my health (physical and mental).

Yesterday I felt like I had to get to the office early to get a jump start on the day, so I skipped my workout. And then I skipped lunch — just stayed at my desk and kept working.

The day was full and long, so writing . . . didn't happen.

If it was just the one day, probably not a big deal. But it's a pattern — this entire week has been like that, and other weeks in the recent past.

Why is it that when something has to go, we drop the things that matter only to us? I run for my physical health — to take care of my body so that it will sustain me for the rest of my life. I write for my mental and emotional health — to pursue a lifelong dream and passion. It doesn't matter to anybody else whether I do these things. I do them for me. So it's easy to tell myself that if I can't do everything, I should let these go.

This morning I woke and realized I need to pack for my trip, get some materials together for the client meetings, and take care of some things around the house before I leave for the 90-minute drive to the airport. And I almost just jumped into that mad scramble instead of taking the time for a workout or writing.

But then I stopped. And thought about it.

And put on my running shoes and went outside for a quick run in the glorious north Texas spring morning.

And while I was running, I thought . . . maybe we all need a reminder that our health and our dreams shouldn't be the first thing we sacrifice when other demands press in.

Women have a tendency to do that, though, don't we? We take care of everybody else first, and if — if — there's a little time left, then maybe we think about our own dreams. But taking that approach can mean that days, weeks, years go by and we never take any action toward the things we've dreamed about.

I certainly wouldn't suggest that we stop taking care of our responsibilities or the people we love. Those things are important. Vital. And they bring us joy too.

But it's also vital to take care of ourselves — body, mind, and soul.

So today, I ran. And today, I will write.

But right now . . . I'm going to get ready to catch a plane.

What do you give up first when you feel like you're running out of time? Do you put yourself at the bottom of the list always?

What little step can you take — today — to change that?

Greenville, Texas 
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Twitter: @LauraMcMom

One Approach to Getting Thinner & Fitter (Part 2)

Last summer, I published a couple of posts about my weight-loss journey. I gave a little bit of my background, and a list of the eight simple steps I followed, here. Then I elaborated a bit on the first four steps here, promising at the time that I would elaborate on the final four “soon.”

Well, it's not soon, but here are my brief explanations of the other four steps I followed. Before reading this post, you might want to click on the links above to read the first two posts in this series.

5. Keep healthy snacks handy.

Everybody I know is busy. Most of us have multiple demands on our time – more things to do than we have time to get them done. When you're frazzled and running crazy, it can be easy to just grab whatever's handy to satisfy those hunger pangs. Unfortunately, too often what's handy is some nonfood junk item that might not even really be what we're hungry for. It's just there, so we shovel it down while we drive on an errand or work at our desk.

The way to combat this is to plan ahead. Keep healthy snacks handy — things that you like but that will contribute to health. I love fruits and vegetables, so I try to make sure I always have a couple of apples or bananas in my office, or some grapes or cherry tomatoes or a bowl of fresh blueberries. Whole wheat crackers and a bit of peanut butter or a slice of cheese can be satisfying. For “emergencies,” I usually have a couple of protein bars in my desk — not the perfect choice, but better than a Snickers bar. A handful of raw almonds or walnuts can stave off starvation until mealtime.
A little advance planning helps ensure that you've got something healthy at hand when life keeps you from a decent meal.

6. Start small, and increase gradually.
When I first made the decision to lose my excess weight, I had been a couch potato for years. I sat at a desk most days, and by the time I got home at the end of long stressful work days, all I wanted to do was drop on the couch and watch TV while I ate my dinner. So it would have been insanity for me to head out the door for a five-mile run first thing. I would have keeled over before I reached the end of my driveway. So I started with just ten minutes on the stationary bike. It wasn't much, but I made a commitment to myself to spend that ten minutes every day. After a week or so, I started adding a minute or two every few days. Without realizing it, I was getting stronger, and before long I was up to thirty minutes a day.

It didn't take me long to get bored with sitting on the bike every day, so I tried our treadmill. This was new for me, so I cut back to fifteen minutes of brisk walking. Over time I added a few minutes each day until I was up to thirty minutes a day of walking. Then, rather than add more time (because I had little time to devote to exercise), I amped up the speed, alternating a minute of jogging with five minutes of walking, and I increased the incline a little bit. Eventually I increased the jogging time and reduced the walking time, until I could jog thirty minutes at a stretch.

To add some variety, I decided to get adventuresome and take my “run” outside when the weather permitted. Of course, running outside on uneven ground is different from treadmill work, so I again readjusted my time and pace. I reverted to brisk walking, going only as far as I was sure that I could make it back home. At first I could only make it a half mile or so, but I again pushed myself a little each time, going a little farther, and then a little faster, until I had worked my way up to being able to jog as much as four miles at a time.

Too often in our determination to make a change, we push too hard, too fast. Baby steps might seem less effective, but you can sustain it over the long haul if you start slowly and increase gradually
7. Get help when you need it.
After a year of working on my own, walking/jogging almost daily and watching what I ate, I had lost about thirty pounds but then hit a plateau. No matter what, I simply couldn't get those last fifteen pounds or so to budge. I'd done enough reading to know that I needed to add another component to my program — strength training. Not only does building muscle help boost your metabolism so you burn more calories throughout the day, but strength training can help strengthen your bones (battling the onset of osteoporosis) and helps create the muscle definition that makes you look more toned and fit.

The problem was, I had no idea how to do any of that. After talking with a friend, I decided to seek professional help. I joined a gym and signed up for sessions with a personal trainer. My intent was to learn how to use the various machines and free weights so that I could do strength training on my own. It didn't take me long, though, to realize that I simply was too much of a weenie to make myself do that hard work by myself. So several years later, I still have regular sessions with my trainer at the gym. Besides helping me learn proper form and use of the equipment, Pasquale motivates me to try harder. I have accomplished more with his help and encouragement than I ever thought I was capable of.

Not everyone can afford the expense of a gym or a trainer, especially not on a long-term basis. But the principle still applies. If you need the encouragement of group accountability to stick to your healthy eating plan, then seek out a Weight Watchers group or other support system. Try just a few sessions with a trainer, either private or small group sessions. Talk to a nutritionist if you're not sure what you should be eating. Take a fit friend to lunch and ask her to share her secrets with you.

Don't be afraid to ask for help.

8. Take one day at a time.
Losing weight and getting healthy is a long-term, lifelong endeavor. It's not about going on a diet until you lose that ten pounds, or exercising for awhile so you'll look good for your class reunion. Long-term health requires long-term commitment.
That can make it seem overwhelming, though. If I thought that I could never eat another bowl of chocolate ice cream, I might just go crawl under my bed and cry. But although I always keep in the back of my mind that this is a lifetime choice, I focus on one day at a time. Today I'm going to go outside for a run. (Not, “I have to run every day for the rest of my life.”) Today I'm going to choose healthy foods. Today I'm going to remember to drink plenty of water.

Some days go better than others. Some days I'm hormonal or overstressed or tired. Some days I “slip” and overindulge in the treats I love. But rather than deciding it's hopeless, I simply give myself some grace for that day, and start over again on the next day.

So there you have it: the last of the eight key “rules” I've tried to live by on my journey toward getting to a healthy weight. What works for you? Leave a comment with your suggestions — or your questions.