Are you one of the many workers in the business world that gives 100% to your job, your family and your friends, but has very little left to give yourself in the form of taking care of your own health?
You could be a stay-at-home Mom/Dad with a small business, owner of a food-truck business or even a corporate executive of a Fortune 500 company. It matters not, there is great potential for commonality: self-sacrifice.
Last night, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of bankers about wellness and it got me to thinking…… EVERY business industry is hamstrung with some type of mandated regulations and rules that must be followed in order to stay in business. We absolutely cannot control that. Every business industry also has uncontrollable factors that affect the bottom line, like bankers in rural areas feeling the financial impact of bad weather for the farmer’s crops in the form of more risky loans. They also can’t control that. ONE aspect of our lives we can control is the food that we eat, the exercise we exert, our response to stress and how much we sleep. But as you know, for many, that is the first area of our lives that is sacrificed for the busy lives that we live.
I’m just asking you to re-think that same old sacrificial song with a call to action using some golden rules of business:
- The customer is always right– Unless you bend over backwards for the customer you are out of business! Whatever the customer wants, you MUST try your utmost to appease that customer. When it comes to health, treat yourself like the customer. I’ve had many clients over the years that really believe they don’t have time to fix those healthy home-cooked meals or exercise because the needs of their jobs or their dependants was more important. Then I question that logic by saying “What good are you to your job or family if you lose YOUR health?” That statement always gives them something to think about.
- Have a plan and keep improving- To start a business you must have a plan of operation or it has no direction. Once you get that business running, you need to constantly improve the plan to fit the circumstances and environment. You also need a plan for your own health and you have to keep “tweaking” what works for you to improve. I use the template of practical wellness as the guide to follow (See A Perfect Day in the Game of Life):
A. Nutrition– So use your H.E.A.D. for Healthy, Enjoyable, Achievable, Dining:
- Healthy-Follow an anti-inflammatory way of eating. Know that inflammation is central in many chronic diseases, like heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and arthritis. Revving up on vegetables (see Vegetables Are a Well Kept Secret) and fruit along with lean meats, healthy grains, legumes and healthy oils, like fish oil (see A Healthy Acronym “CYH with EPA/DHA”) and olive oil will serve you well.
- Enjoyable-Analyze what foods you eat now that would be in the unhealthy category. What type of tastes and textures do you enjoy?
Do you like the beefy, unctuous taste (that would be umami) of a burger with sweet ketchup slathered with cheese with a side of crispy fries (choice on the left)?
OR, How about a change of similar (healthy) pace with a grass-fed burger topped with reduced sweet port wine and melted blue cheese with a side of crispy parmesan kale and crunchy spicy garbanzo beans instead (choice on the right)?
This is what I’m talking about, slowly make those changes, pursuing those tastes and textures you love with healthy alternatives.
- Achievable-Prior planning is absolutely the key to home-cooked meals. Know what you’re going to have for dinner at least one day or at least the morning of your evening meal and make sure all ingredients and supplies are ready to go when you come home after a long day at work. However, there will also be those days when members of your family will want to splurge big time for an event. I’m all for it! You can slightly mitigate the possible caloric and fat damage by having foods supplies in your fridge and pantry ready to go.
Here is the scenario, the Cardinals were in the World Series and our whole family was watching it downstairs. Randy had just ordered 40 chicken wings for us to eat with the game. This Mom had to do some quick thinking! So I quickly sliced up a head of cauliflower and seasoned it with red peppers, parmesan, salt, pepper and olive oil, then I roasted it for 45 minutes. That process caramelized the vegetables and made them sweeter.
Guess what? Our family ate the whole pan of cauliflower and just 20 (not 40) chicken wings! That was a true win in the “achievable” dining category because I was ready for that “chicken wing” diversion!
B. Exercise-Aerobic, weight lifting and core strength are all important. Weight lifting increases your metabolism at rest, increasing your calorie burn. Core strength keeps you from tripping over the cat and hurting yourself. Just take a lesson from the centenarians in the “Blue Zones” (Dan Buettner, 2008). These are a few special communities in the world with the highest percentage of people living healthfully to over 100 years old. Not one of these centenarians is a member of a gym. They all just are constantly moving by walking, gardening and just constantly being on the go.
- Practical tip-If you just can’t fit any type of exercise into your busy schedule, I recommend just doing it at first in small bites. Set the timer for 15 minutes, turn your tv on or your favorite tunes and get moving, using weights to get your heart rate up. I promise you, once you start making it part of your everyday routine, you won’t be able to live without that “hit” of daily exercise, for your body AND mind!! See Strategies For Changing Health Into a Habit for other exercise tips.
C. Recovery– This includes stress relief and sleep.
- Stress- Dealing with the stress life throws your way in a healthful way is really key. Having techniques you can quickly call up is imperative, like the Relaxation Response espoused by Dr. Herbert Benson, founder of the Mind-Body Institute at Harvard. The relaxation response is a physiologic lowering of heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormones as a result of mindful meditation and deep belly breathing you can “call up” when that stressful situation arises. See Turn Unhealthy Stress Into Eustress for more stress relief techniques.
- Sleep-Think of sleep as having a garbage disposal function for your brain. Toxins are flushed out when you sleep, leaving your with that refreshed feeling in the morning when you get the right amount of zzzz’s for you. As a busy professional, this might be the first thing your skimp on. My advice? Long term lack of sleep will catch up with you and lead to lack of focus and ultimately lack of that vibrant health you need to do your best work. For more sleeping tips see Fixing Broken Sleep.
- Networking– Networking is key if you want to build a vital, thriving business. Getting your name out there to establish those future business contacts is key. I remember when I started my business, Body of Health in 1999. I brought my business cards ready to hand out everytime I set up a booth at numerous conventions or “networking” meetings. Now that I think about it, I emphasized marketing over relationships. Thinking about how you can actually help others with your business should be your primary motivation. Your business contacts and customers will definitely follow that “non-selfish” lead. I’m asking you to think of the health of your fellow workers in the same vein. When you see someone at work struggling with staying healthy, use every opportunity to compliment with any little step they make toward wellness. If you see your fellow worker starting to bring more veggies in their lunch, compliment them, if they are parking their car further away from work to get in a couple of extra steps, say something positive to them about that effort. That is true giving before receiving, connecting, and having the added benefit of building a stronger and healthier workplace!
Recap of “Call To Action” Practical Wellness:
- The customer is always right and YOU are the customer.
- Have a plan and keep improving with nutrition, movement and recovery.
- Give before receiving compliments of healthy “baby steps” to your fellow employees.
Here is another “Use Your H. E. A. D.” recipe, providing Healthy, Enjoyable, Achievable Dining for the busy professional. This expedient recipe fits all the criteria PLUS having the added benefit of tasting just like you picked this up at your favorite Chinese carryout! ENJOY!
STIR-FRIED PORK WITH SHERRY SAUTEED
VEGETABLE MEDLEY OVER FREEKAH
Equipment: stove, 2 small and 1 large bowl, 12 “ non-stick skillet, tongs, microplane, garlic press
1 cup chicken broth
¼ cup mirin (or dry sherry)
¼ cup soy sauce
3 T. cornstarch
1 lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and sliced thin crosswise
3 T. olive oil
1 pound of green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 red pepper, cut in ¼ inch slices
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. grated fresh ginger
¼ cup roasted cashews, chopped coarsely
2 cups of pre-cooked freekah (or whatever ancient grain you have on hand)
- Whisk broth, mirin (or sherry), soy sauce and 1 T. cornstarch together in bowl: set aside.
- Toss pork in 1 T. olive oil and remaining 2 T. cornstarch together in a large bowl.
- Heat 2 tsp. oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown half of the pork, 3 to 5 minutes; transfer to plate. Repeat with 2 tsp. oil and remaining pork.
- Add green beans and red pepper and remaining 2 tsp. oil to now-empty skillet and cook until bright green, about 1 minute.
- Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Whisk broth mixture to recombine and add to skillet. Cook until thickened about 2 minutes.
- Return pork and any accumulated juices to skillet and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.
- Heat up freekah in microwave until warm.
- Spoon ½ cup freekah on bottom and top with ¼ pork mixture.
- Sprinkle with cashews and serve.
*Recipe adapted from Cook’s Country 7/15