Less than 3% of Americans live a healthy lifestyle.
Let that sink in.
A 2016 study published by the Mayo Clinic found that only 2.7% of US adults led a healthy lifestyle, defining it as successfully meeting four 'health characteristics' including cardiovascular health, positive dietary habits, not smoking, and having the recommended body fat percentage.
Do you know if you’re in the 3%? Should be easy to qualify as 'healthy' right?
To qualify as 'healthy,' you have to tick-off all of these markers:
Admittedly, these markers are not the be-all and end-all of healthy living (they don’t take into account mental health for example) but they set the bar low enough that we should be worried if over 90% of our nation’s population doesn’t meet those standards.
The truth is we’re too busy to be healthy.
Or at least that’s what we think. I would love to say that things have drastically changed in the past three years, but alas, I cannot.
Research shows some sobering statistics:
I could go on, but there’s no need:
Our nation is in desperate need of work-life balance that focuses on health.
So how do we do it? What can we do to achieve that elusive 'balance'?
Simple: we change the why.
Our modern ways, always connected to every device and work email ever, can leave us feeling like we’re always playing catch-up.
In general, we think that’s OK: we’re here to make money, build empires, blast ceilings, and succeed in ways that feel right for us.
It’s not that we’re not motivated to get healthy, it’s just not that rewarding! In the priority scale, eating five portions of fruits and vegetables a day doesn’t seem to have the same ROI as 'putting in the time' or crushing that next project or presentation.
After all, nobody got a bonus for eating healthy or making time for a workout.
But what if you could? What if the key to getting that promotion, blowing up sales in your next launch, or making it home with enough mental energy to look at your kid’s school assignments was locked in your healthy habits?
I bet you’d make time for them.
To move health up the priority ladder, we need to shift our motivation for it. Just look at how inefficient and unproductive being over-stressed and unbalanced makes you:
When you’re too busy, stressed, not making time for healthy meals, and not getting any exercise you become:
Being busy makes the cortisol hormone spike and lead to a chronic state of stress. Since it contributes to sleep deprivation and impacts the circadian rhythm, you become more tired during the day, restless at night, and ultimately mentally slow and less productive.
Those high cortisol levels also disrupt brain synapses making you less sociable and less likely to appropriately process 'problems.' To put it simply, it makes you a bit of a prick.
If you want to make top dollars, you’ll likely need your brain. In addition to progressively losing brain cells, being a busy-body may make you lose brain volume which leads to both emotional and cognitive impairment.
Creativity is not just about art and crafts, it’s also the way you can see an issue from a different angle, choose a quicker route to work, figure out the week’s game-plan, and find solutions for your clients.
When you’re tired, stressed and malnourished your body is simply not working at 100%, and neither are you.
Studies show there is a connection between stress and abdominal fat distribution. This is especially true for women and may have a negative impact on health beyond aesthetics. One of the markers for overall health is a low body fat percentage, and stress is not helping you get there.
Additionally, stress can lead to breakouts that you spend extra time trying to cover up in a vicious morning cycle that may also make you late for work.
In short: your body and career suffer as you can’t possibly give the best of you when your body and brain don’t have the right fuel, rest, and attention.
Creating healthy habits when you have a busy schedule is not as hard as you think, all you have to do is choose to make it easy for you:
I already mentioned the green juice packs, but there’s more you can do to make your life even easier:
Find something that feels good for you, get up every hour or two and take a lap around the room or block, join a gym class, or take salsa lessons - move in a way that feels good. Some great cardio strengths workouts:
Eating in your car on the way to or back from work is efficient but not effective, your body needs time for digestion, and when the brain is otherwise occupied, it does a poorer job. Make time to properly sit down for at least two of your three meals a day, put your phone on airplane mode, and eat (mindfully).
Bonus: leave an 8 to 12-hour fasting window between dinner and breakfast to better process nutrients, get better rest, and feel more energized in the morning.
It’s easy to forget to drink water, either carry a reusable water bottle that must be emptied two times a day minimum or try an app that reminds you to drink water.
Bookending your day with morning and night habits have the potential to chance everything - seriously! There are four small things you can do to improve your overall health at night, and they take virtually no time:
Prioritizing time for yourself and your health is an important business and career decision: you'll be sharper, clear-headed, have high energy, be less forgetful, and have a better attitude overall; not to mention, your skin will glow and not require as much makeup in the morning (and that’s always a plus!)
The more you take care of your most precious tool - your body - the more you can achieve in life, and most importantly: enjoy the fruits of your labor.
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