How Working Hard Can KILL Us | Stop with the Stress Already!
Working Hard Can Kill Us or it can heal us.
Tyson was one my most dedicated trainees for years.
When we first met, I knew nothing of his rebellious spirit. Checkered button-ups and semi-conspicuous name-tags on lanyards hide such things away from others.
All I knew then was Tyson worked at Amazon – maybe all too hard – and that he wanted to get ripped.
Before our two years were through however, I would learn from Tyson how working hard can kill us if we let it, or redeem us if we try.
If it seems like hyperbole, know Tyson willed and worked himself to the bone to prove how normal it is to work hard for real autonomy.
Inside the weight room, he set high goals and detailed them with precision.
We knew his strength-ratio and what percentages we wanted to hit for each training day. We attacked these benchmarks every time out. Sometimes though rarely, Tyson was battling sleep deprivation and its ugly second cousin, cigarette addiction.
At work, the project manager juggled handfuls of different personalities and projects at the notoriously demanding tech Goliath.
He maintained constant “on-call” status too.
The details of his actual work were never brought up by Tyson but I always knew when a new Amazon project would take shape in the Bay Area consciousness. My guess is he never divulged any clandestine industry-spoilers with me. But, being on call set him up with a healthy salary with which he supported a growing family.
What was never arcane was his work ethic. The guy worked tirelessly in the weight room.
A few weeks before he would leave California for good, Tyson attempted the largest lift of his life. We and prepped this moment for months, probably for years.
He approached a grounded barbell and with years of dedication and technique imbibed within. He gripped the cold iron and ripped three hundred plus pounds of rubber and iron from Earth. There it levitated. As he pressed his knees to straighten, the barbell rattled a million tiny but violent muscular impulses dedicated to a singular task.
He locked his back straight into a good lift.
Then, he planted the iron fast and all the room’s drywall shuddered as the barbell rocked the floor. He let loose a “Fuck yeah!”
I guess I expected more decorum and less effort from one of Amazon’s lieutenants.
But I loved it. Every earth-shuddering second. He hit is final goal, just in time for him to leave his old stomping grounds.
Every one of my trainees have unique characteristics but few share a self-imposed resentment against “the grind.”
It comes to no surprise that Jeffery Pheffer of Stanford in a 2018 interview in The Economist states,
“Second, employers affect the stress-inducing conditions of work: work-family conflict, long work hours, absence of control over one’s work environment, and economic insecurity. Stress makes people sick both directly and by inducing unhealthy individual behaviours such as smoking, drinking, and overeating.”
Coaches are aware of how working hard can kill us because we get those who care about the balance in their lives. Personally, I believe the greatest way to actively help someone is to teach them to get in shape, workout with them or introduce them to fitness. Tyson, was more trainer than trainee.
He always had a sense of balance and how much he longed for more. He wanted more time with his family, friends and; less time punching holes in his keyboard while becoming more aware of how sneaky clickbait actually shapes our psychology.
One day, the sleep deprived Tyson finished a listless workout with me.
Perturbed, he talked about bettering his nutrition.
Tyson was beat – helping his wife with the newborn as he was returning to work from paternity leave was killing him. Tyson, who rarely canceled sessions, aggressively searched for answers. He asked:
How to maintain high energy levels when he had no time for meals.
What to snack on.
He told me how his department handled “snacking.”
Tyson mentioned that there were bowls of treats, trail mix and candies everywhere. That, if you were hungry, you need only extend your malnourished arm omnidirectionally and end up with a hundred calories of saccharin satiety.
When meeting-times approached, some designated harbinger of glycemic overdose would call out for the local chain restaurant caterer to fill empty bellies in a hurry. I confirmed his thoughts and explained he would have to manage his environment, plan ahead and let his stomach growl a bit – essentially only eat when he was actually hungry; right before his body was about to go catabolic.
Fed-up, the perspicacious Tyson agreed.
“Fat and complacent,” according to the triggered Tyson is how these companies want their employees to be, “…they want everyone fat and complacent.”
A woke statement…
His idiom stole from my very tongue.
Because he was probably right. But, he worked at a huge company. He was on the inside. This makes his observation more Meta, more factual because we both can agree on its premise only he knows it to be true, standard operational format.
Fattening complacency was just something you charged to the game.
Such nutrition habits are the cornerstones of exhaustion, fatigue, sleep deprivation and ultimately, bad habits.
“When people are suffering, they use drugs. Prescription drug use of various psychotropics such as antidepressants, sleeping pills, and ADHD medications to improve concentration can highlight workplaces, including work units and supervisors, that are adversely affecting people’s health.”
Some people drink a lot, and some smoke a lot. Many of my trainees do not. They overeat.
This is human.
But we can do something about it. But first, we should identify how working hard can kill us if we get too complacent.
Typically I notice a few steps. We often:
- lose sleep because of a deadline, too many meetings or too much traveling
- skip meals because our deprived state makes our appetite stunted
- lose energy
- get more dehydrated
- So, all of this builds stress, physical and emotional, which becomes a cycle.
According to Harvard Business Review in 2015, America has the least amount of vacation days per year among the industrialized world. And, I do understand that you must work!
Remember, the biggest red flag to look for is sleep deprivation.
Begin deprived of sleep raises leptin levels and makes us more oblivious to hunger sensations. Over time, this get also assist in out raising of fat storage.
When we lose sleep, we crave sugar from my personal and anecdotal experience from training hundreds of people over 15 years. Snacking is a positive move for boosting our metabolism when trying to lose weight but snacking in concert with extreme lethargy yields a break in a natural hunger pattern.
We stop responding to what we eat and only concern ourselves with what is nearby and easy to consume.
Staying hydrated is important simple because regulating your blood volume and thirst allows form proper metabolism throughout your body. Snacking unconsciously might not destroy your fitness goals and assist in weight loss unless you are snacking uncontrollably while succumbing to a newly suppressed metabolism.
Drink your water, do so daily, at the same times of day.
Relive stress by going out of your way.
Do things that give you joy. One of the key results of the ABC for change models have everything to do with that C – the consequence. Making yourself feel good should be the goal. Smoking many a cigarette or swiping through your phone is so temporary a good feel it’s ridiculous.
Instead set your intention to simply want to “feel better when I am doing (this)”
Become aware and change your habits with action.