by Anne Laing and Tim Bean

In a nutshell

1. Good health/poor health

The body influences the mind. This manifests in how you carry yourself and how you think, act and feel. When you’re trying to influence someone, negotiate or make a presentation, a large part of your ‘zing’ comes from your physiology. Your words are only part of the influencing process.

Poor health leads to low motivation, low-grade chronic ill health, musculoskeletal problems, depression, alcoholism and stress.

To be a top performer, you need lots of energy, and that only happens when you have an optimally performing body. When you walk tall and energetically, it raises your self-esteem; inner dynamics then take care of themselves.


2. It’s never too late

There is a sophisticated machine that you’ll work with for life, and it’s your body! What will you allocate from your budget for training and nurturing this unique resource, knowing that any effort will always be an investment in yourself, your performance and your longevity?

  • If you really want good results, you must sacrifice some of the things that have made you soft and overweight, and embrace things that will toughen and define your physique in the way nature designed it to be.
  • It is not impossible to do this within the corporate lifestyle model. There are thousands of top CEOs and business people who are doing it already.


3. Some little known, but important, facts

We all tend to take our bodies for granted. Below are just a few facts you may not know.

  • To gain half a kilogram (one pound) of body fat you would have to eat around 3,500 calories more than you need.
  • You would need to do 250,000 sit-ups to burn one pound of fat.
  • Each half a kilogram (one pound) of fat contains around 1000,000,000 (one billion) fat cells and every new pound of fat you make requires nearly three miles of new blood vessels to support it.
  • Increase lean muscle by one kilogram (two pounds) and you will burn 100 extra calories a day, even if you did nothing else different.


4. Where are you now?

Time for a self test: look in the mirror and check out what’s really there.

  • Is your waist bigger than your hips?
  • You may be lean compared to many of the people around you, yet still be way over your recommended body fat level.
  • If you fail your self test, then now’s the time to change your ways.


5. Eating

Our sedentary lifestyle encourages us to sit and eat. If we just behave normally in our environment, we will put on weight and become tired and stressed—so we have to do something different.

  • Don’t just be an acceptor of food; become a selector of food by knowing what is or is not good for you.
  • It takes six weeks to start to form a habit. Be patient with yourself. Healthy eating will become second nature if you persist.
  • If, after all your planning and good intentions, you over-indulge, don’t go on a guilt trip. Guilt is a useless emotion that only weakens your resolve to successfully manage your weight. Get over it and move on.


6. Breakfast – not to be missed

Eat a decent breakfast every day. There is nothing more important than ensuring you have enough fuel on board to launch into the day.

  • Be choosy with breakfast cereals – most manufacturers take healthy whole grains and refine them. Pick unprocessed cereals, such as organic untoasted muesli or porridge.
  • Eggs are packed with a range of nutrients for peak performance.
  • Skip the fruit juice. Despite what the label says, it’s often full of sugar and rarely ‘100 per cent juice’.


7. Meals throughout the day

A body fit for business needs a steady blood-sugar balance. If you are constantly looking for snack foods, you are not eating enough meals.

  • Take your own meals and healthy snacks to work instead of relying on vending machines, cafeteria food or takeaways.
  • Processed and packaged foods are called ‘anti-nutrients’ for good reason. They literally attack your stores of nutrients and change your health for the worse.
  • Always design your meal from a coloured vegetable base then add lean protein. You can’t go wrong that way – the beauty of lots of coloured vegetables in the diet is that they are low in calories and high in fibre, which is not only great for weight-loss but good health also.


8. What to drink?

Drink plenty of spring or distilled water throughout the day. It’s common to assume we should eat whenever we feel fatigued, but we often mistake dehydration for hunger.

  • Green or herb teas contain antioxidants and will also lift your alertness.
  • If you have to have milk in your drinks, request it ‘skinny’. You have to eat and drink anyway, so choose healthy options.
  • Don’t let alcohol ruin your body. Drinking too much alcohol has a detrimental effect on both men and women. To stay sharp in the office, don’t drink during the week; to stay in shape at weekends, don’t have more than two drinks per night.


9. Workouts

Our bodies were designed to function on 14 hours of exercise a day. In order to compensate for the lack of physical activity our lifestyles now present us with, you should consider doing at least one hour of vigorous exercise every day of your life.

  • Lift weights at least three times a week.
  • Schedule a three-minute break every hour to get up, move about and stretch.
  • Lunchtimes are a great opportunity for a workout.
  • Walking one extra mile per day burns 100 extra calories.


10. Sleep

Healthy people deprived of a single night’s sleep have a 30 per cent drop in immune-system activity. After 36 hours of sleep deprivation, the emotional centres of the brain are 60 per cent more prone to depression and lethargy, which impairs powers of logic, reasoning and judgement.


11. Calorie-busting opportunities! (CBOs)

Constantly look for and seek out calorie-busting opportunities in your daily life – they are to be created and found nearly everywhere and are often the beginning of a great physique.

  • When parking your car for work, park a mile away and walk quickly to work.
  • Take the stairs instead of the escalator whenever possible.
  • If taking the escalator, walk the steps when travelling both up and down.
  • Always take stairs two at a time.
  • Keep an extra pair of training shoes at work so you will be more encouraged to walk home instead of taking the car or train.


12. Brain health

You can help safeguard against dementia, depression and other brain disorders. A healthy brain requires a diet high in regular, good-quality, low-fat protein; a large variety of vegetables; correct supplementation and an ongoing thirst for knowledge.

  • When plaque, caused by ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, builds up in blood vessels, it hinders circulation to the brain, depriving it of essential nutrients.
  • High homocysteine is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Get your levels checked regularly, and boost your diet with foods high in vitamins B2, B6, B12, zinc and vitamin B folate (its synthetic form is folic acid, which is found in supplements and fortified foods).
  • In studies on brain processes, including memorising words and mental arithmetic, the top performers are always those who consume the most vegetables and fruits, and the fewest processed foods.