Friday, August 14, 2015

Wellness and Leadership go Hand in Hand

Most people who know me also know I operate between two universes that don't often collide.  I was always destined to be in business, I studied Business, I had my first serious job at 11 and always strived to be in the corporate world.  Driven and focus beyond words.
I've worked in many places around the world, jetting around like a road warrior for a large part of my career, travelling between NZ and Australia weekly for a number of years.

My other world, outside of my work has always been a constant for me.  My health and fitness.  Surprisingly, I was a terrible athlete at school.  Never picked first for any team.  Useless at athletics, tennis, hockey and netball, only excelling in one sport- table-tennis.  To be fair, I did represent North Harbour and Auckland in my teens and completed at national level for a few years alongside my brother.  I'm pretty sure thinking back that was to keep my mother happy as she used to also play!  Which is why some people may find it surprising that I am now a qualified personal trainer and group fitness instructor.

I've also had my fair share of health issues.  Over-dosing on Alcohol at the age of 15.  The overdose was so bad my heart stopped twice in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.  Then later in my early 30's I was stopped short in my tracks when I blew my back-out and had to have spinal surgery- a laminectomy and discectomy to be precise.

One thing I've always known is how important my health and fitness is to my career. 
As a CEO of a successful IT company and a previous corporate worker in various management roles, I've always known that to perform at the level I need to be at, I need to be alert, have energy and know how to control stress.  I do this be staying fit and eating well and getting the required amount of sleep and hydration.  I'm not perfect, no one is and I don't expect that from the people I train. 

I work on an 80/20 rule- as long as 80 percent of the time you are doing what you are supposed to with your nutrition, fitness, sleep and hydration then you are doing well.

Sounds like a dream right? Its not.
So how do I do it?  Here are my 10 key tips

It sounds boring, but one way I know I have the correct nutrition is I always have the same breakfast every day (except for Christmas day), which is porridge, skim milk and a banana.

Treat Fitness like your corporate job- make appointments- keep them- don't be late
Possibly sad but true.  Its too easy to make excuses if you don't actually comit to the appointments.  For me, I instruct fitness classes so I also stay fit - its pretty hard to get out of this form of exercise!  Also, I make dates with my fitness friends to go for a walk...and I stick to them as if its an important business meeting.  It works nearly every time (unless they cancel !).

Do it with friends or find some buddies who will
Its always easier to stay motivated when there are more than one of you doing something- you each keep each other accountable.  Currently I'm training for a walking half marathon- 3 of us go together.  When one sends me a text message saying its going to rain on our training day, I tell her to put her raincoat on and stop making excuses.

Understand your food and eat for fuel
I still have treats, lets be fair.  Today I had a chocolate bar- the first in probably a month.  BUT I'm also going to walk 22km tomorrow so I don't have to feel guilty about it.  I will also be ensuring that I eat good carbs tonight for fuel for tomorrow walk- veges and some protein and possibly some rice or pasta to keep me going.  Its the 80/20 rule again.  You can be bad, but just a small portion of the time.

Water Bottle- Always have one
I never had a blanket I dragged around as a kid, but my water bottle goes everywhere with me.  One thing I learnt in sports nutrition is that if you wee yellow, then you have not drunk enough.  If this happens, then I come back and drink a large amount from my bottle.  I would usually drink 1.5-2 litres of water per day.  I have one coffee in the morning and don't drink any other liquid other than water and a Friday diet ginger beer.  Liquids can hold a large amount of hidden calories.  Lets face it- I prefer the chocolate bar!

Fruit Box at work
I think we have probably done this for at least 10 years, possibly longer.  Every week in our IT company, we order fruit boxes which arrives on a Monday.  This means during the week when people are hungry, there are healthy snacks supplied by the company.  Who turns down free food?  At the end of the week, I take the left overs home if there are any and juice them for a weekend detox and fruit burst which I have after my marathon walking.

Incidental Exercise
A lot of people don't know about this one.  I always use this.  Incidental exercise is the additional exercise you can get in during the day without planning to exercise.  For example if you have a lift, never use it- take the stairs- you can burn energy and strengthen your legs in the process.  Go out for a walk at lunch time.  Park you car far away from the shops rather than right near the front door.  Mow the lawns (I love that one!)

Use Scales
Some people may disagree with me on this one but after being in Sales roles over the years, I know numbers drive people.  They also drive me. This morning I jumped on the scales and realised my weeks exercise efforts had dropped me 1.3 kg's.  Which is possibly too much in a week (hence the chocolate bar). But this also gives me an indication of where I am at and what my body is doing.  Marathon training speeds up your metabolic rate.  For a period after training you will be so hungry you may want to eat everything in site- this is your body adjusting to the extreme conditions.  It will be realising you are doing more and it thinks it needs more.  Then body then adjusts and dumps fat.  This needs to be carefully monitored along with fluid intake.  Sales tell you a lot, not just your weight, especially if you have body composition scales which I use with my training clients to show them BMI, Bone Density, Body Fat and Hydration.

Measure Progress with clothes
I keep telling my training clients this.  Sales are only one part of the equation.  If you want weight loss or weight gain.  Think about how you fee in your clothes.  Marathon training for example will tend to tone the legs and butt and your clothes get looser in these areas.  Upper body training will make your t-shirts feel tighter if you are trying to build muscle.

Get help when you need it- don't be proud
Over the past 2-3 years I've experienced terrible facial swelling in the mornings.  I put up with this for a long time before going to the doctor as it would often subside.  I did go to the doctor and have allergy tests and CT scans and no one could tell me what it was.  I finally went back to a different doctor and he discovered the cause- it was nasal polyps.  He gave me a prednisone based nasal spray to take twice a day and guess what.  Its more or less fixed the problem.  What a difference in how you feel.  Looking after our health and wellness is critical- even the little things can make a major difference on how you feel and perform at work or at play.

In summary, my health and wellness does impact my leadership.  When I'm not feeling great myself, it can reflect on the team.  If I have low energy, they can mirror my energy.  The way you personally feel will radiate through everything- your posture, mood and performance. 

Positive Wellness = Positive Leadership.
Go well and lead well!