Healthy Hairdresser guest blogger Liz Ellis
Healthy Hairdresser guest blogger Liz Ellis

In the cosmetology world, many of us spend our days attending to each client’s every want and desire. We often forget that, in our industry, our body is our #1 most important tool. Recent studies show that 71% of cosmetologists report pain in their body. By focusing on daily habits such as diet, sleep and exercise, as well as using posture, body positions and ergonomics to our advantage, we can help reduce these risks.

Let’s talk food! It what keeps us going day after day, year after year. Our eating patterns directly affect how we function every day. The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) lists guidelines for a daily diet of 2,000 calories:

  • 2.5 servings of vegetables
  • 2 servings of fruit
  • 3 servings of dairy
  • 6oz of whole or enriched grains
  • 5.5oz protein
  • Maximum 27 grams of oil
  • Maximum 300mg cholesterol

Sounds like a ton of food to fit into such a busy day! As if it weren’t hard enough to manage all this in 2.000 calories, you’re also advised to vary your choices within each food group and pay attention to details like plant-based milk: almond doesn’t count as dairy. The ODPHP also recommends consuming 8oz of seafood a week, and be sure to keep sugars and saturated fats under 10% of your total calories!

Why are these guidelines so important? Think about how food makes you feel. Have you ever eaten a Big Mac and then wanted to take a nap? That’s the nutritional value letting you down. Our body is our engine, and food is our gas. How well our engine runs depends on how we eat. Nutrition also has a role in determining diseases we might develop, our weight and our overall health.

Sleep is the next stop on our health journey. You’re probably thinking that you can’t afford to spend too much time sleeping, because “time is money.” But time doesn’t translate into much money when you’re tired, correct? Think of sleep as that nice part of the day when you don’t have to think about anything, the time we get to rest and “recharge” our batteries for the next day. Sleep also has the secret super powers of helping to improve memory, spur creativity for that next hair color and sharpen our attention. It’s the one thing people seems to never get enough of.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults 18 to 64 should sleep 7-9 hours a night. Six and 10 hours are coded as “may be appropriate” for adults 25-64, with 11 hours also in that category for young adults 18-24, whose bodies are still changing and, therefore, require more sleep. You can determine how much sleep you need by letting yourself wake up without an alarm clock. You should feel rested, energized and alert. If you don’t, chances are you’re setting your alarm to give you less sleep than you need although, conversely, not feeling energized also could mean you’re letting yourself sleep too long. The sooner you get on a schedule, the sooner you can find out how much sleep you need on a daily basis to perform your best.

Physical activity is the little bond between diet and sleep—like sulfur to a disulfide bond. If you’re getting proper nutrition and adequate sleep, how can you use up your energy and keep yourself healthy? You move! The National Institute of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) suggests that adults should work out 150 minutes a week—broken up however you want as long as your moderately aerobic exercise lasts for at least 10 minutes straight in order to reap the health benefits.

You don't have enough time to exercise? Cool. You can cut your time in half by replacing moderate exercise with vigorous exercise. And if you still don’t have time or don’t want to work out that much, adults can start seeing the benefits with as little as 60 minutes a week. Still, a general rule is the more physical activity, the better. Benefits including maintaining that fabulous weight and figure you’re rocking, strengthening your bones and muscles and improving your mood. These can all help in your career.

You don’t have to work on diet, sleep and exercise all at once. Try making little changes, and they may very well snowball into big changes.

Thank you to our guest blogger Liz Ellis, a cosmetology student at La’James International College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for her insight so early in her career! Liz has more Healthy Hairdresser advice—on body position and ergonomics—in Part 2 of her essay.

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