Activation Energy

Google defines it as the minimum quantity of energy which the reacting species must possess in order to undergo a specified reaction.

When I think of activation energy, I reflect on the data we studied in my geology undergrad courses, looking at the graph of when solutions begin to form crystals under different temperatures and pressures. You can see an example of activation energy here in Ohio when you forget a water bottle in your car overnight during the cold winters and it is still liquid until you shake it and suddenly it ices over. Just that little shake is enough energy to take it from water to ice in seconds—and it has excited me for years to watch.

Every health journey someone embarks on requires some kind of activation energy if it is to be successful. In the past I’ve started health journeys with a simple statement of a goal… but there is more to goals if you really plan to achieve them. I know this—it’s the key to everything I do in my job everyday. Every project must have a clear goal with a well defined plan that has a clear start and a specific end state. Steps are planned out in a proper order with testing you can do to see if you’re on track with your plan. You develop a strategy to monitor your progress toward meeting your goals, and when required, making adjustments to the plan to keep things on track.

After the absolute chaos of 2020 I finally have the activation energy, a plan, metrics to watch, and the resources to get moving toward something healthier, because…

My health is utter shit right now. My blood pressure requires meds to control. My stress levels have been consistently high for over two years. I’ve gained so much weight I don’t even recognize myself in the mirrors. I don’t know when the last time was that I had a good night sleep. [Ironically, I felt like my sleep apnea test, which resulted in a moderate obstructive sleep apnea diagnosis, was the best night this year but based on 132 sleep apnea episodes, the pulmonologist thinks differently.]

I don’t live. I laugh, I love, I have friends, but I don’t live. I don’t take my life by the horns and direct where it should go. I monitor and control the hell out of my work projects but, the one thing that should matter more than anything, my life, I just don’t manage at all. I need to do what I reasonably can to be here for my kids and live a wonderful life with them and my husband.

Here is what has been happening to make this reality. I started by taking off two full weeks from work for the first time ever—for me. The entire purpose of this time has been to root cause my weight and health issues and come up with a plan to fix them.

The root cause—I don’t meal prep. I know so much information about weight loss, working out, all that. But when I’m working and it is the end of the day I am so exhausted and overcome by decision fatigue that I can’t (or don’t) make smart decisions about our dinners. Instead, I grab a glass of wine (or if it’s an especially bad day, a glass of whiskey) and pull up that DoorDash app for whatever is quick and sounds delicious. It’s obscene how much we have spent on DoorDash this year.

So without a plan, meals and ingredients all ready to go on the weekends, I start each week doomed to fail. But meal prepping isn’t all I need.

The plan must be clear on the method of operations as well. My choice is a keto-like plan coupled with intermittent fasting specifically recommended by my gastroenterologist for me. She has recommended no more than 70 net carbs per day with the majority of my food being as plant-based as I can. She didn’t direct a calorie count, just the carbs totals spread between 10 am and 8 pm. Holy cow did she throw me a challenge!

This time is different from when I tried this last year (and did lose weight rather quickly). I didn’t have a plan I could count on before starting work each week. I went into each day counting on energy I never had to make decisions I knew I’d be too tired to make about something so important like my health. I don’t even go into a staff meeting that unprepared.

As part of getting read for the change, today I made a long list of meals that are low carb that my husband and I both like. This time, he’s also on board with implementing changes to our life style and even watched an educational video with me today. Like friends, this is serious support from a key resource that just hasn’t happened before. He even initiated a discussion about what types of foods will be good for us that we enjoy.

The next steps are shopping and food prep so that come 1 Jan I have an executable plan ready to execute. I look forward to seeing what new solid foundation comes out of the activation energy I’m applying to this challenge. I’m looking to 2021 with a positive attitude… and I might even say “thanks 2020,” for giving me the final push I needed to believe in me.

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