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The Healthy Executive - part 2 - Diet

We have all heard about the “freshman 15” … a theory that suggests new college students will quickly gain 15lbs once they move away from home and start to enjoy a diet of pizza and beer! Kevin’s theory of “progressive weight gain” starts after these people enter the workforce. I call it “the weight Creep” … where each year people will put on an extra 2lb over the previous year. It is insidious because 2lb is really nothing in the scheme of things … except that after 5 years you weigh 10lbs heavier! So the healthy new grad at 21 now weighs 20lbs more around their 30th birthday! That is definitely “something” … maybe it is two pants sizes, or a couple of sizes in shirt collar or dress size! But guess what … it doesn’t stop there, and 2lb becomes 3lb very easily. It is no wonder that when we look around we see so many overweight people, so many 40 year olds that are easily 40lbs too heavy! Oh … and this is also the age where they are in management/executive positions!

So what is the big deal, and what does it have to do with a business blog?

I contend that the pressures on anyone in a management role demand that you be at or near your best most of the time. Being overweight affects your health, affects your energy levels and in the long term causes damage that will reduce your effectiveness and ability to live life as fully as you might like. Poor health and reduced energy will affect your ability to enjoy life outside of work … which will also affect your work!

What can you do?

1. Recognize the issue and develop a plan to address it.
2. Commit to maintaining a good level of fitness so that you can ENJOY life.
3. Act on the small things, and do not wait until you have a lot of weight to lose.
4. Control your eating … take charge!

5. Eat less calories than you expend … doesn’t sound so hard, but this is ALL you need to do to control your weight.
6. Write down everything that you eat and drink. Understand where your problems are and work at them.
7. Find substitutes for the “bad stuff” … avoid the “empty calories”!
8. Don’t go nuts … it takes time to adjust to a new way of eating, but it is worth it!
9. Treat yourself … small stuff, in a controlled way but you need to reward yourself.
10. Diets don’t work … you can take advice from all of them. You can even use some of their products but generally diets don’t work!

I have been tracking my own weight for about 15 years now and I try to keep within 5lbs of my goal. When things are going really well I try to get 5lbs below my goal (a great buffer) but if I get to be 5lbs above my goal then I act.

My immediate reaction is to cut out all of the little treats that creep back into my diet … desserts, wine, scotch, beer, French fries etc. I also try to “up” my activity a little. I always work out in the mornings about 5 times a week … but I will add evening walks, lunch time walks, evening and weekend biking. The additional activity is not high intensity, just a few more calories being burned.

This is a subject I have been studying and working at for 20 years to keep myself in shape, so a short blog does not do it justice. The important thing is to recognize when you have that “growing problem” and address it … in order to keep your energy levels high, to be fitter and to suffer less health problems.