Five Healthy Lifestyle Tips For On-The-Go CEOs
To say that your plate is full is an understatement. As CEO, your schedule is tightly packed with high-stress meetings, travel, and demands. A healthy lifestyle and balanced diet are luxuries at the bottom of your list. But focusing on food and fitness is exactly what you need to do in order to remain highly productive.
When it comes to health and wellness, we all have good intentions, but we often fall short of our own goals due to busy lifestyles. Grabbing a bagel, a donut, or even leftover pizza while rushing out the door isn’t uncommon. But when you think about a day when you were especially productive at work, how did you fuel your body? It was probably a day when you actually took the time to make a healthy breakfast — and didn’t skimp on lunch — to power you through the day.
Eat Real Meals
Chances are that you’re prioritizing healthy eating at dinnertime when you’re home from work and eating with your family. But according to a recent study, making time for breakfast makes a huge difference for your health, performance (mental and physical), and fat loss. Eating breakfast increases memory, attention, creativity, reasoning, and much more. High-protein, low-carb, moderate-fat breakfasts can help control blood sugar spikes and raise the levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and acetylcholine — which are both responsible for drive and mental clarity.
What are neurotransmitters, and why should you care? They’re chemicals in your brain that have strong influence over your mood and thoughts. Nutrients in the foods you eat, mainly amino acids, help your body manufacture them, so focus on protein-heavy breakfasts like steak and eggs, chicken breast and walnuts, or salmon and avocado.
As lunch rolls around and the rumbling in your stomach intensifies, you reach for a quick, convenient snack. Chances are that rather than taking a break and choosing a nutritional lunch, you opt to stay at your desk, hoping to remain productive and leave work at a reasonable time. In fact, one in four workers are too buried to take a break for lunch, and as many as one in three eat at their desks.
In reality, eating lunch at your desk hardly ever results in getting out of work earlier. If you absolutely can’t pry yourself away from your computer, consider planning ahead with meal prepping or using a healthy meal delivery service to help you stay on track with your health goals.
Control Your Diet and Balance Stress
Stress isn’t just a common word for CEOs; it’s also a common feeling. Constant demands leave you feeling mentally and physically drained each week. Finding the right balance of nutrition, exercise, and sleep is imperative to continue performing admirably. These three simple things are the foundation of your day-to-day success but are often the most threatened by travel and job-related stress.
Using anonymous medical record data, researchers at Columbia University found that people on the road for at least two weeks per month had higher body mass indexes and worse self-rated health than those with lighter travel obligations. Poor diet decisions compounded with stress have direct implications on weight and cognitive performance.
When you’re looking for more energy and mental clarity, aim for a stable glucose level. Macronutrients (protein, fats, and carbohydrates) all affect glucose differently. For instance, a carb-heavy meal is likely to send your glucose levels on a rollercoaster ride, leaving you craving more carbs later in the day to raise your glucose levels. To achieve more stable blood sugar and keep your energy up, a diet of proteins, healthy fats, and a moderate amount of fibrous carbohydrates is ideal.
Your health is not only important to you, but it’s also important to the company. Obese workers or those suffering from heart disease or other chronic illnesses collectively miss 450 million more days of work than their healthy co-workers. And unhealthy workers’ absenteeism costs their companies a collective $153 billion a year.
As a key decision maker, a sick day for you could mean sacrificing important project deadlines — something you simply can’t afford. What you can do is make efforts to control your diet and get plenty of exercise both inside the office and on the road.
Tips to Stay on Track
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. All the same, it takes dedication. You make time for important meetings, so approach your health with the same dedication. Consider these five tips to stay on track:
1. Prepare your meals ahead of time.
Make breakfast and lunch in advance. You can do this on a Sunday before the workweek begins or the night before you start each day. By simply making sure healthy meals are ready and available to you, you’ve already drastically improved the likelihood that you will eat better throughout the entire day.
2. Stick to your workout appointment.
Treat your workouts like an important appointment or meeting. When mapping out your plan of attack for the workweek, schedule time to get in a few great workouts. Allot recurring times and days if at all possible. For instance, block out Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6 a.m. and stick to it. Period.
3. Get blood work done every six months.
This is a great opportunity to discuss your health goals with your doctor and discuss whether any adjustments should be made to your lifestyle. It’s a good benchmark to see improvement year by year, and your doctor may be able to provide diet or exercise recommendations.
4. Plan ahead before traveling.
Research restaurants close to your hotel, scour the menu for healthy options, and book a hotel with gym access. If a gym is unavailable, look on YouTube for a bodyweight workout you can do in the comfort of the hotel room. Knowing where to eat and exercise before you land in a new city significantly improves the likelihood that you won’t fall off the wagon. Winging it will set you up for failure.
5. Find health-focused friends or groups.
You’re the average of the five people that you spend the most time with — or so the saying goes. Surround yourself with likeminded people who have healthy habits, and join an online group for support to keep you on track and accountable.
Without your health, you have nothing. As a leader, you know productivity and dedication are contagious. You’re leading by example. When you’re working, reach for a healthy option. Who knows? By making healthier choices, you may motivate other employees to take better care of themselves, too! Regardless of the public recognition, your body will thank you.
Author: Jason Barbour is a highly sought after strength and nutritional consultant for busy executives and has worked with professional athletes from the NFL, NHL, and UFC, including three world champions and an Olympic medalist.