Fitter, Happier and More Productive in 5 Simple Steps

By Matthew Douglass

August 21, 2015   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Many people complain that they lack the energy to meet all the demands of their day. Human beings are not equipped by nature for the modern pace of living, so you must adapt, managing your input and output of energy carefully. Once you have this down pat, you’re well on the way to thriving as a happier, more innovative and more resilient person. This is how I do it.


1. Eat well

There’s an old saying passed on to me by my grandmother: “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper”. Eating sensibly is the starting point of success.

Breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day; you need enough calories to keep you going from morning to afternoon. You might think it’s wise to start the day with a bowl of cereal, and wonder why your stomach’s growling by noon. I say you’d be better off with ham and eggs on toast. You don’t need to obsess over calories when they’re likely to be consumed by the day’s activity (but that said, go easy on the bacon). Lunch is up to you: just avoid junk food. Dinner should be the lightest meal of the day: a salad or pasta with vegetables is gentle on your stomach and will not interfere with sleep.

People who lack the discipline, motivation or self-respect to eat properly will always find an excuse. “It’s impossible to work full time and cook!”, they’ll say, as if bachelors haven’t done just that since time immemorial. The question is whether your health is important enough for you to sacrifice a bit of time in front of the TV. You’ve all heard it said more times than you can count, but some of you probably haven’t internalized it yet: fast food is bad. Don’t eat those food-like artifacts (except on the odd occasion).

2. Exercise

To start with: walk. Don’t drive or catch a bus if you think you can fit a walk into your day. If you have a favorite park or some such spot within walking distance of your house, make a point of walking there every weekend.

Time at the gym can be very rewarding, especially for men. If you want to be a bodybuilder, there are some great guides online (and some shoddy ones, but you can avoid those with a bit of common sense). Make a habit of going to the gym twice a week, whether or not you feel like it, and there will be a payoff: not just in musculature, but in energy levels and self-esteem. If you’re averse to weight-training, aerobics is still a fine way to spend an evening.

3. Schedule relaxation

This applies mainly to self-employed individuals. If you don’t have a supervisor hanging over you, you can apportion your time (and therefore your energy) for greater efficiency. I follow a simple “50/10” rule: 50 minutes of work followed by 10 minutes of relaxation. It’s up to you what relaxation is, but I recommend a walk (and a maybe a cup of tea). Even if you do have to punch the clock, you can (hopefully) at least treat evenings as a time of relaxation.

4. Eliminate drama

This is one point where I expect to be a bit contentious. I caution people against maintaining relationships with people who tend to start conflict. Whether “friend”, sibling or boyfriend/girlfriend, someone who makes a habit of quarreling over trivial things and putting you down should be cut out of your life. Only allow them back in when they can demonstrate that they’ve changed.

If you think this sounds overly delicate, I suggest that you research the effects of stress on the human body. Emotional energy is one of the inputs in your economic output, so people who make a habit of treating you badly are effectively stealing money from you. Don’t let them.

5. Go your own way

Do you want to start a business? Do it! If you work Monday to Friday, you should be able to take at least one day out of your weekend to pursue your own venture.

Now, I also advise you to look before you leap. Given the costs inherent to starting a brick-and-mortar business, and the challenges they face in the information age, I do recommend a home-based/online business. Even if you don’t quit your “day job” in the end, knowing that you’re more than a cog in a machine will boost your self-esteem and enable you to perform better in all areas of life.

I hope that everyone finds at least one piece of advice here to make use of immediately. Feel free to contact me with questions.

Matthew Douglass

Matthew Douglass is a sole trader who offers affordable and reliable proofreading and editing services. He is also an avid traveller and gourmet.

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