Is overworking really worth it?

A signpost directing work life balance

  I found an article online that quoted some health tips from me. While reading, I learned a new word: karoshi. (And there should be an accent above the "o" in that word, but Wordpress didn't have the right symbol)

According to Wikipedia, it can be translated to mean, "death by overwork" and the Japanese use it when referring to "sudden occupational death. The major medical causes of karōshi deaths are heart attack and stroke due to stress and a starvation diet."


Stress and diet.

These are two things you can definitely manage.


I don't know about you, but I can think of a few people who are on my watch-list, people I know who work a lot, to the point that I'd call it overworking. How do I know what I'm looking for?

Because it used to be me.

For most of my working life, I was overtired, chronically sick, underslept and overwhelmed. I missed appointments and deadlines and had colds that became sinus infections and led to countless trips to the doctor or days working sick on my feet. I shudder to remember. I just stopped and counted--I've been sick less than 10 days in the past four years.

I know that OVERWORK CULTURE is real.

Before I became a self-employed integrative health coach, I ran on fumes. I began my professional career as a teacher at the age of 22 and, within a month of accepting my first job, came down with mono that grounded me for two months. Unbelievable. Anyone who knows or is married or partnered to a teacher knows the hours are well beyond 40+/week.  Summers are rarely free since many teachers spend those months earning supplemental income.

I was almost burned-out by the time I quit teaching at the age of 25 when I moved into working for local businesses and then multiple non-profits. The years I spent in those environments taught me very little about healthy boundaries and I perpetuated unhealthy habits around nutrition, time management and work/life balance like many of my colleagues.

For the past five years, I've coached clients from all job sectors: from startups to local companies to corporations to ministers to doulas.

I've learned that overwork is a potential threat in any environment and what makes a difference is how people approach the tasks before them and the tools they use to practice work/life balance.

When we feel especially passionate about our job or our role in our workplace, it's tempting to think that investing significant amounts of time into the work will pay off. We will get ahead. Just one more email or phone call or whatever and we will knock it all out and be able to relax "when things calm down." But this is a dangerous dangling carrot, particularly if your job or workplace is successful. Chances are things will not get to a place of stability--there are always multiple balls in the air, things to solve, cats to herd, etc.

And that's how we get to a place of overwork and unmanageable stress that reveals itself in symptoms like fatigue, chronic pain, headaches, recurrent illness and possibly worse at some point. It's something so common, Japan has a word for it. Is it really less common here or have we just not named it, yet?

It begs the question: is overworking really worth it?

Consider that your health is your best asset: for your personal AND professional life.

When you're out sick, your company suffers. When you're sick, your life suffers.

No matter how much there is to be done, you always have a choice how much you'll do.

If you're thinking this is unrealistic or impractical, all I can say is I've done this for myself and have coached hundreds of people in achieving and experiencing the same results. I can only provide the tools and cross my fingers that they practice them to the point of experiencing real change in their lives. And then, when they see that they can feel happy, healthy AND get tons of work accomplished, they really get that overworking never really necessary or worth it.


Can you relate to this? What could you do today to scale back on your workload?

What are you getting from overworking? Is it worth it?


image courtesy of this site.

Morning Person Meditation




Here's the essential info:

These meditation/mindfulness sessions will be led by me at the Tree of Life Tai Chi Center* at 11 Bow Street, Somerville, MA. I'm a certified health coach and a morning person and I've been practicing meditation since 2004. I will begin the sessions with some background, instruction and guidance to get started and then we will sit for about 20-25 minutes.

After our sitting period, we will have a brief discussion about mindfulness related to nutrition and lifestyle habits.

I welcome you to come try it out once but trust me, it gets better with practice! That's why I reduced the price for committed sitters. :)

Don't know much about meditation? Read up about this article that Harvard just published:


Join us at any level:

Cruiser-- I'll stop by from time to time

Habit-Former-- I'm working on doing this more often

Committed Sitter-- I'll be there every week


If you're ready to sign up, you can do that below.

Have a question?  email me now: dillandigi [at] gmail [dot] com

* Please do not email Tree of Life Tai Chi with any questions. They will not respond.

3 Natural Ways to Stink Less

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Heeeeeyyy guys! Guess what time of year it is? That's right. It's late spring/early summer. Sprummer. #patentedword

As a health coach, this means a few important things for me:

1) it's easier to get lots of locally grown fruits and veggies

2) I find exercising to be easier to plan for and execute

3) I'm more conscious of my body odor


I pay attention to this year-round, actually, because I've learned it's actually a good indicator of my internal health.

The first time I discovered this was back in 2005 and I was living in New Jersey, where I was born and raised. I smelled really, really bad. I can't even describe it.

Ok, I'll try.

I pretty much smelled like two skunks had taken up residence under both arms and lived there, spraying each time I raised my arms. This lasted about a month or more. I don't remember what made it go away.

When that familiar smell returned a few times in the past few years, I paid attention closely. I was a health coach now and felt like a detective on a really important case. What was I eating? How much water was I drinking? Was it coffee? Too much sugar? Not enough greens?

I tried everything to get rid of it.

Everything except using regular deodorants. Despite being raised on things like Teen Spirit (the song and the body care product) I just had to spend about three minutes thinking of other companies or brands. It's been that long since I used those things...I began using natural deodorants in 2000 and haven't gone back.

I know. I know. You want to tell me, practically shout at the screen maybe, how those things don't work. It's true. I've worked in natural food stores for 15 years and I've used every product on the market. Some actually make the problem worse.

I have a few pals who have ventured into Make Yer Ownville and produced some great products. I've found a few things I use from natural food stores.

photo (1)
photo (1)

But I'm going to let you in a little secret: I forget to wear deodorant more often than I remember it.

Yeah. It's weird. But sorta cool, too. I have become so familiar with my body, I know exactly what's happening with it. Most times when I stink, it's because I'm doing something that isn't serving me. There was one exception when I came home from surgery in 2012 and could barely handle how badly I smelled, but I am pretty sure it was because of some really extreme and extenuating circumstances. I do not use over-the-counter pain relievers except on rare occasions and this was the first time in my life I was on an actual prescribed pain killer. I have never used or been prescribed any medications to use on a daily basis except for when I was trying to clear up my acne twice in my life and I gave up after a few weeks. That shit doesn't work, or didn't for me, anyway. Just because I don't use them, I am not making a judgment statement about scrips because I know different folks have different needs but consider if there's anything you might do to reduce your current regimen if you are on Rx.

I will tell you that I was on some pretty intense anesthesia, obviously, and then took anywhere from 1-3 prescription painkillers a day for another two weeks. And as those chemicals exited my body, it was not awesome. Well, I take that back. It was actually pretty awesome to experience how powerful the drugs were and how my body processed exactly what went in it. 

I was really glad when all that stuff moved through my body.

Now, when my body creates something close to that stink, I know a few things are happening. Have some fun and experiment with these variables and see what results you get. Give them each a week or ten days and see what you see. It means not using the deodorant you've been using, which might be one of the coolest things you do for your body in a while. Spend a few minutes researching the ingredients, and you may reconsider whether or not you want to keep applying that to your skin, the body's largest organ, every day. Remember that your cells absorb everything you take in, and that includes what you apply to your skin.

Here are three natural ways to stink less.

1) Eat more greens.

Body odor, in my experience, is connected to my body's ph levels. You remember that stuff from chemistry and biology, right? Yeah. Alkaline and acid. What color is it on that little strip of paper? Ok, your body works the same way and what you eat will affects your body's ph levels.

I will make this so easy for you:

More simple carbs, protein and sugar = more acidic

More veggies and GREENS = more alkaline


If you stink, consider your body needs more chlorophyll from dark, leafy greens. Chlorophyll is nature's deodorant because it helps cleanse your cells and blood.

2) Drink more water.

Dehydration is a big bummer on so many levels and in so many ways. One major way reason you want to stay hydrated is to help flush your body of all kinds of crap. Water helps cleanse everything, from your skin to your colon and all your other organs. When stuff doesn't get flushed out, it backs up. And that can generate some powerful stink. #justsayin

3) Reduce your stress.

What, me, stressed? It's sprummer! Yeah, I know. But stress is still there, even when you don't feel  stressed. It can be subconscious. When we are stressed, our body releases hormones like cortisol. Those hormones can contribute to the output of your body's musk. You know pheromones--those chemicals that attract us and make us want to move in closer to someone? Yeah. That's some powerful stuff. This works the same way. When your body is detoxing from tough times, it may generate more odor. I am pretty sure it contributed to the experience I had after surgery, too. I mean---yeah. Having a life-changing surgery will conjure up some intense feelings and stress hormones.


Listen, I'm not a doctor. I'm a rockin' health coach. I share a combination of what I've learned from my training and what I experience just living my life. This is some wisdom I've gathered over the past six years and I hope it is helpful for you in some way.

What is your experience with natural deodorants?

What, if anything, have you noticed about what you eat, your stress levels and your BO?

Teen Spirit photo courtesy of Sabrina.

Natural deodorant photo courtesy me.