About energy and (wild) turkeys…

I had just completed an engagement in LA and arrived at LAX to fly back home to NYC. The airport was jam packed with travelers, many flying home to join their families for Thanksgiving. People were pretty stressed out. One man hollered at another traveler, who he thought had cut him off intentionally in the long security lane: “I have an artificial leg, you jerk!” Which resulted in that person breaking out in tears and sobbing their way through the gate…

Holidays, more so than any other time, make it clear how stressful modern life can be. Time is a precious resource and when we have to, in addition to every day responsibilities, juggle last minute work deadlines and family life, even the most effective time management specialist can run into a dead end and have an emotional melt down. After all, there are only 24 hours in the day.

As a coach I have seen clients reap huge payoffs when they shift their focus more towards managing their energy than their time. Different from time (which comes in a fixed ‘quantity’), we can deliberately expand our levels of energy, and in theory there is no set limit. Also, while time is largely controlled externally, we are able to exert a greater degree of control over how energized we are.  There are essentially four levels when it comes to managing our energy: emotional, mental, spiritual and physical.

As many holidays, including Thanksgiving, center around food – and as food is one of the main sources for physical energy – let’s think about this a bit more. After passing through security, I had a few minutes before my plane took off, so I bought the latest book by Michael Pollan: ‘Food Rules’. Maira Kalman’s beautiful illustrations in the book reflect its content: simple yet powerful. Rather than strain the reader with overwhelming detail, like many of the thousands of guides to a healthy diet out there, Pollan manages to boil down the essentials into an easily digestible (no pun intended!) format. He offers about 20 rules or so for each of the book’s three sections:

Part I: What should I eat? (Eat food)

Part II: What kind of food should I eat? (Mostly plants)

Part II: How should I eat? (Don’t eat too much)

These rules serve as general guidelines which can make decision making about what to eat much easier. Following these food rules will certainly fuel your energy and likely save your life. In addition to what he says on his video above, here are a handful of Pollan’s rules that I found particularly ‘sticky’:

  • Avoid foods you see advertised on television
  • Be the kind of person who takes supplements – then skip the supplements
  • Eat foods made from ingredients that you can picture in their raw state or growing in nature
  • The Banquet is in the first bite
  • Leave something on your plate

Pollan fleshes out most of his suggestions with helpful examples, some research and further explanations. Faced with the holiday feasts, Pollan’s final rule (#83) gets us off the hook: “Break the rules once in a while.”  What counts is not the special occasion, but our everyday practice.

I hope you will have a fun holiday with your family and friends, and based on Pollan’s final suggestion on breaking the rules, remember to feel good about eating everything that’s on the table – even if it’s not all good for you…as recharging our batteries and building our energy levels also comes from spending time with loved ones.

In this spirit, if you want to start these days with some chuckles, check this out:

Happy Thanksgiving!