Are You a Healthy Leader?

I’ve noticed as I creep more into my forties that life feels a lot different than in was in my twenties.  For some aspects, I’m wildly cheering.  I’m so grateful for each year of learning and experiences.  Other aspects of aging aren’t quite as fun.  Recovery (from anything) takes longer, metabolism becomes slower, young children constantly challenge work-life balance, and the stress of increased responsibility can be debilitating sometimes.

Here’s the challenge: our leadership continues to improve as we experience more career and life, and we typically have the opportunity to impact more people as we grow to higher ranks or become more well-known … but, with age, our health and energy-level often decline if we’re not taking care of ourselves.  It’s a real problem.

More people, more responsibility and more stress require more of our energy, and we can’t give our best if we simply don’t have it to give.

Leaders need to have endurance, fortitude and creativity.  They need to get results.  Great results.  They need to inspire people and engage with them – often and with some depth.  They need to rally people toward a purpose, and they need to communicate clearly, consistently and darn-near constantly.  It takes work, heart, emotion, strength, courage, persistence and energy.  Lots of energy, if you want to do all these things well.  (Whew, I’m tired just writing about all of that!!)

You must be healthy to be of sound mind and body.  You must be healthy to be the best leader you can be.

The state of most Americans doesn’t look healthy, though.  I heard somewhere recently, that we’re the most “overfed and undernourished” country in the world.  Ick.  That’s not a flag I want to carry.  Not only are we making bad food choices, but our portion sizes are out of control as well.

I recently read some alarming statistics from the World Health Organization:

  • Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, and deaths are projected to increase by 45% from 2007 – 2030.
  • The #1 killer in the U.S. in heart disease, but up to 80% of premature heart attacks and strokes are preventable with diet and lifestyle changes.
  • More than 180 million people worldwide have Type 2 diabetes.  Deaths from diabetes are expected to increase by more than 50% in the next decade, if we continue our same patterns.
  • Approximately 1.6 billion people are overweight; 400 million are obese.

I should mention that I’m not a fitness or nutrition expert.  My business is focused on leadership.  I do, however, love to research and find good information.  More than that, I love to feel good.  I love to feel my best, in fact ... because I like to give 110% to everything I do.  Don’t you?

So, because I’m not a health expert, aside from trying to improve my own way of living, I’ve simply devised a list of questions you can challenge yourself with.  Really read them and answer honestly.  Perhaps take your responses to your physician, trainer or nutritionist, so they can expertly steer you.

Healthy Leader Challenge

  • Do you exercise regularly?  Research suggests that at least 20 minutes of daily cardio is optimal.  Weight work is also suggested several times weekly to maintain bone density.
  • How much fast food do you eat?  When polled, most nutritionists suggest that “never” would be the right amount for your health.
  • How is your daily intake of “greens?”  Fresh vegetables and fruits help your body to heal and revitalize.  You should ingest more of these than any other kind of food daily.
  • When was your last physical?  You should have one annually.  Additionally, proactive screening should be done for prostate, breast and colon cancer on a regular basis into your 40s and 50s.
  • Do you drink enough water?  Our bodies are approximately 70% water, and we need to replenish this resource in order to function properly.  The average-sized person should drink approximately eight 8-ounce glasses per day.  It’s also best to drink it ice-cold and with lemon.
  • How’s your stress level?  Most importantly, are you doing what you need to appropriately deal with and counteract any stress you have?
  • Are you heart healthy?  Have you ever had a “baseline” test for your heart?  Do you know the warning signs of heart attack or stroke (and did you know they are different for men and women?)
  • Are you getting the rest you need?  Research suggests that your body would love 6-8 hours daily.
  • Are you balancing your needs?  Consider every aspect – mental, spiritual, physical, emotional.  Your well-being depends on all of these being in working order.

Again, this is just a simple list with basic questions, but it’s a good starting point.  Most of us aren’t doing all of these things, so pick just one good habit to incorporate this month.  Keep it, and add another next month.  And keep going…

Take the best care of yourself, because the world needs your leadership.

Comment below if you know of other great tips for each of us to maximize our health and lead with our best! 

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