Updated: Nov 25, 2020
This article is not about the 2020 COVID pandemic. It is about the long-term health game.
Health is one of the main areas of life, an important but often not an urgent area.
As with all of the main areas of your life (career, family, wealth, etc) you can take steps to find fulfillment. Like Tim Ferriss occasionally states, I'm not a medical doctor nor do I play one on the Internet. The list below is for informational purposes only. I am sharing a list of health-related actions and information that have worked well for me and for those around me, and I hope it gives you some ideas. As busy leaders, we often do not take the health game as seriously as we should. It is easy to focus on work. There is an endless to-do list to chip away at. Our family needs (and deserves) our time and attention.
When we're exhausted, it's easy to grab the phone and snack on social media, perhaps doomscrolling, which can negatively affect our mental health. Taking care of your physical and mental health is important, even if not (yet) urgent. Here are some actionable tips for you.
"You can't out-train your face." - Jason Chamney
1. Get enough sleep. A general recommendation is 7.5hrs of sleep, 5 out of 7 days a week. Biology trumps psychology every time, as Rick Tiedemann of Copeman Health puts it. Track your sleep with Apple Health, Autosleep, or an Oura Ring. 2. Get 30 minutes of exercise daily. Energy breeds energy and physical energy is the source of mental energy (more in Schwartz & Loehr's excellent book The Power of Full Engagement). I have a Peloton bike, which I love. It makes deciding to workout frictionless.
If that's not your jam, pick something you enjoy and get 30 minutes of exercise daily. I also play hockey, run, and ride my mountain bike. What do you enjoy doing that doesn't feel like exercise? 3. Eat healthy meals. As my trainer, Jason Chamney says, "you can't out-train your face." 80% of your physical energy will result from sleep and a healthy diet, not from regular exercise.
Follow a health expert like Dr Peter Attia for excellent advice on fasting, time-restricted eating, and what to eat. Peter's short video on the 5 tactics in the longevity toolkit is excellent, as is his framework for nutrition and fasting, which shows alternatives to the SAD (Standard American Diet). 4. Find a great doctor. I just completed my annual prevention screen with Copeman Health. It costs more than most, but I also have never waited more than three minutes for an appointment at the doctor's office. That time and my health are valuable to me.
5. Use dates and other people to support you. Sign up for races or tournaments with a specific date to work toward. Do group workouts, HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) style. Have an accountability buddy or coach to keep you on track. If you don't change something on your own in 30 days, you're unlikely to change it without external support.
6. Take a break in the middle of the day to get outside. I heard from one CEO who had an 80+ day streak of getting out for a one-hour walk with his kids during the COVID pandemic. Another trusted advisor I work with takes a two-hour break in the middle of the day to be outside in his garden. 7. Pick up a hobby. This helps you find balance against the three productive modes. In the early days of the COVID pandemic, I picked up Tim Ferriss' Four-Hour Chef (all healthy low-carb recipes) and made the first four recipes with my wife. This was also a great "date night" during the crisis. 8. Get support from a peer group. The pandemic has brought to the forefront for all of us how important human connection is. Leadership can be lonely. Having a formal or informal peer group can provide you with support for the issues you are dealing with.
I chair two CEO peer groups with Mackay CEO Forums. Consider joining a formal peer group, or creating your own informal peer group. 9. Meditate. I've done Transcendental Meditation and used Headspace. 20 minutes twice a day works well for me. Calm is also popular. I find that meditating helps me be present, reduce anxiety, and remain calmer. 10. Get support from a professional. Therapy and other professional forms of support can be incredibly helpful. They are not reserved for people who feel broken or damaged. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
So, how are you going to win the health game this week?