Optimizing your health can help achieve professional aspirations
By Dr. Earl Eye
The dream of business success captures the imagination of aspiring and existing business owners everywhere. A vision of flowing profits, industry respect, thrilled customers, and a balanced life permeates your consciousness and keeps you motivated.
As an entrepreneur, time is your most valuable asset—yet it’s the only part of your existence you can’t leverage. You only have so much of it in your day and you can’t add more to those 24 hours, no matter what you do or what you pay.
You may think you’re doing your business a favor by sacrificing sleep, diet, and an exercise program, but the truth is you’re not. While it may seem counter intuitive, spending a little less time at the office and redirecting it toward optimizing your health may be just the ticket to achieving your professional aspirations.
Steps to optimal health
Three areas in which you can take some simple and time-conscious steps to optimize your health include:
•Sleep. When you’re tired, your ability to work productively and think clearly may suffer, which could lead to dangerous or costly mistakes and take a toll on your professional reputation.
Poor sleep can make it difficult to multi-task, make you slower to get your work done, and some people report it affects creative thinking and memory. Some ways to reduce insomnia include:
Taking melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate sleep, and as you age, your body produces less and less. It doesn’t cause dependence or addiction and as a side benefit, it naturally increases your body’s growth hormone production.
Sleeping no more than seven hours. Most people need no more than seven and a half hours, but if you cut back to seven, you’ll have sounder sleep with fewer awakenings.
Getting up at the same time every morning. Your body rhythms are tied to the time you awaken, so it’s important to keep it constant. That means not oversleeping on weekends.
Getting into bed only when you’re sleepy. Spending time awake in bed can make you anxious and can lead you to associate your bed with anxiety. If you can’t drop off to sleep after 15 minutes, try slow deep breaths. If you reach 200 breaths go to another room and do something relaxing such as reading a book until you are sleepy.
•Nutrition. Nutrition isn’t about a single “perfect” diet. For thousands of years, human diets were simple: We ate what grew from the ground, fell from the trees, ran across our path or swam the waters.
The diet most synergistic with our Paleolithic-era ancestors: high in nutrient-dense foods (fruits, vegetables, lean meats and essential fats) and low in refined, overly processed foods, fats and simple carbohydrates.
To improve upon your eating habits, try:
Choosing natural foods. If it grows from the ground, falls from the trees, runs, flies, swims, it is an optimal choice. Best of all, natural foods such as fruits and veggies are most nutritional in the raw, making them quick and easy to prepare. If you must eat packaged foods, choose those that are minimally processed.
Eating once every three to four hours. Your metabolism is like an engine—the more often you give it fuel, the better it works. When you deprive your body of food, it shuts down to preserve energy. Good examples of some snacks to eat in between meals are nuts, cottage cheese, or jerky.
Taking supplements. Supplements are a quick and easy way to ensure your body is getting all of the necessary nutrients it needs to be healthy. Research is constantly demonstrating that truly therapeutic doses of vitamins and minerals and anti-oxidants—the amounts needed to reduce the risk for various diseases—are substantially higher than the RDAs.
•Exercise. All you need is 30 minutes a day to optimize your health. If you don’t know the first thing about exercising, hire a trainer once or twice to teach you the basics.
Set aside time each day for an activity that you enjoy, such as practicing yoga or lifting some weights. Better yet, discover activities where you can get exercise and spend quality time with your partner, family or friends—such as tennis, hiking, or dancing.
Weight training is the best way to burn fat; it’s more effective for losing weight than aerobic activity because it burns calories while you’re exercising and at rest. Here’s the math: The body requires approximately 30-50 calories daily, per pound of muscle. When you add five pounds of lean muscle, you’ll burn an additional 150-250 calories every day, even on days you don’t exercise. This adds up to 15 to 26 pounds of fat loss every year.
Do some high intensity endurance exercises, which is at least 12-15 minutes of pushing your body to the limit of its capabilities. Interval training is the best way to get a rigorous workout quickly. Using a treadmill or elliptical, start at a low to moderate pace for one minute, then up your speed to an all-out sprint for 30 seconds, then back down to the moderate pace for one minute, and then back up to a sprint for another 30 seconds. Do this five times. An alternate would be using telephone poles. Sprint in between two, then walk between the next two, and repeat.
The most serious thing that could happen is the loss of your productivity—which ultimately not only affects you, but also your business, employees, family and loved ones.
It’s much better to work for seven hours a day at peak performance than for 10 hours a day at half-consciousness. Get on a good diet, a good workout plan, and get plenty of sleep. It’s fine to be off balance sometimes, but never forget the adage, “Sound body; sound mind.”
Dr. Earl Eye is an AMA certified age-management specialist at Cenegenics Jacksonville, a practice committed to helping patients maintain health and live well longer. He is an institute physician at Cenegenics’ corporate headquarters and is the CEO and CMO of Cenegenics Jacksonville. Dr. Eye is also board certified in critical care medicine, infectious diseases medicine, pulmonary medicine, and internal medicine. He can be reached at 904-674-0404, firstname.lastname@example.org, or through www.cenegenicsjax.com.