Two months ago my girlfriend and I pulled into the driveway of our new home. It was around 10pm, and we had just driven for about 13 hours straight from Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. That was just the final leg of the 4 day trip from the big city. Anxious to get out of the Penske truck and settled into our new home for the night, I opened the front door, walked around the kitchen briefly to make sure everything was intact, then I hugged Rachel and started crying.
I wasn’t sad or upset that we had made the wrong housing decision. I was ecstatic to be there, a little anxious in new territory, but most of all RELIEVED to be there safe and sound. I had spent the last few days driving with a death grip on the steering wheel just hoping we got there in one piece. Saying I had been STRESSED is severely an understatement.
As it usually happens, Rachel and I both highly underestimated just how stressful moving can be. We thought the last two weeks in Brooklyn we’re going to be a booze-filled love fest with the city we had lived in for so long and all of our loved ones.
Instead, I probably made at least 4 trips to Home Depot, dropped an ungodly amount of money on cardboard boxes, and sacrificed many hangs with friends to pack up our 430 square foot apartment (yes, you read that right).
We were going so fast getting prepped for the move that looking back I barely remember it. I didn’t have time to process what was happening, it was just go, go, go. I can’t even fully get into the details of the 4-day drive to Austin that followed our last day in Brooklyn. But I can tell you it consisted of the following:
Non-stop rain. The kind where you can’t see 3 feet in front of you.
A Penske truck with two pets (a dog and a cat) stacked on top of one another in the cab
A drive through a mild-ish? Tornado in Indiana
So much boredom through certain states that I don’t know if I can ever go back (Sorry Ohio and Oklahoma).
Somehow only one trip to Taco bell?
Now that I’m a couple of months removed from this experience, and have had time to settle into our new lives here in Austin, I’ve finally been able to come down off of the insane stress ball that was my life for so long. I’m not just talking about the moving process, that’s stressful for anyone. I’m referring to my lifestyle in NYC and blind spots within my normal routine that I didn’t know I had.
When I lived in Brooklyn, I thought I was so good at taking care of myself. I prioritized fitness (over most things), I ate healthily and followed solid nutrition plans, I created a reasonable work/life balance for myself, and I got comfortable saying “no” to social plans if I felt I needed to rest or prioritize alone time. Sounds pretty good, right?
Since moving to Austin, and making some significant lifestyle changes, I’ve realized I was severely neglecting a few key things in my life. Basic human needs that if not taken care of, allow stress levels to build up and cause havoc on your body. I've listed them here:
#1: Not getting enough sleep!
On average I was getting about 6-7 hours of sleep a night. I had the morning shift at the gym I was working at in NYC. My weekday wake-up call was 5am. I’m not saying that to get credit for being a “morning warrior” or whatever. Plenty of folks across the world wake up this early for work, kids, and other responsibilities every single day. I gave it my all, and honestly sometimes enjoyed being awake before most of the city.
My issue was getting to bed early enough to get a solid, full night of quality sleep. After 10 months of not prioritizing sleep and finding a proper sleep schedule that fit my needs, it translated into stress on my body that came out in all kinds of ways:
My face constantly broke out
Constant cravings for crappy junk foods (bagels and donuts baby)
Difficulty focusing on certain tasks
Reduced performance in the gym
Unable to lose body fat
Sleep is important and without it, your fitness goals will come to a screeching halt. I can guarantee you.
#2: Not having an outlet for relaxation or connection to nature
While I was stumbling around the city in a sleep-deprived state, I rarely had the energy to go explore outdoor spaces. It was usually me, my girlfriend, and Netflix during any free time we had. It’s hard to find peace and quiet in a city with millions of people. What I was lacking was an outlet, a place to catch my breath, gain some perspective, and fully relax. Another impact of not getting enough sleep is a loss of interest in things that used to be enjoyable! It was easier for me to opt into a Netflix binge than make time to get outdoors because I was so tired all of the time.
#3: Mindfulness, breathing, and body awareness
It wasn’t until a couple of weeks had passed in Austin that I realized how much lighter I felt. I realized when I lived in NYC I was constantly walking around in a tense state and carrying all of my stress in my neck and shoulders. Constantly rushing from one task to the next in such a fast-paced city will do that to you! I never took the time to take deep breaths, be in the moment, and pay attention to my body and what it needed.
The point of this article is not to pit Austin and NYC against each other for the greatest place to live (though I could make a solid argument ;). My biggest takeaway and what I wanted to share with y’all, is the importance of making space for yourself. Making space for proper sleep habits. Making space for yourself and the things that bring you joy and relaxation. Making space to take a minute in the middle of your hectic AF day to check-in with your body and listen to what it needs.
I think these things are just easier for me to do now because I’m living at a slower pace, and making that space isn’t as difficult. It’s all possible, regardless of where you live or what you need, to do what needs to be done to take care of yourself.
I had accepted my old lifestyle as “normal”. Don’t accept a hectic stress-filled life as “normal”. Create your new normal by taking 5-10 minutes a day to prioritize what you need.
I polled my social media yesterday and asked how many people feel like they’re regularly stressed out. 93% OF YOU SAID YES. This is crazy y’all. We have to do better. This is why I want to help. As a coach, I help people reach their goals. I can write the perfect program, direct you to the perfect diet, and watch you like a hawk to make sure you follow along. But if you’re not sleeping properly, drinking water, and taking care of your body and stress levels, you need to adjust your focus.
Stress can and will sabotage your results and it’s one of the most overlooked factors when it comes to getting results with your fitness and wellness program. This is why I’m excited to announce that I have a brand new eBook called “Unplug” that outlines 24 tips and techniques – including powerful breathing exercises – to help your body learn how to shed stress.
And guess what? You can download it for FREE right now.