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:
- Exercise for at least 150 minutes a week to be 'sufficiently active.' Light or heavy, your choice, as long as it adds up to 150 minutes.
- Diet score in the top 40% of the Healthy Eating Index
- Body fat under 20 percent (for men) or 30 percent (for women)
- Not smoking
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:
- 85.8% of men and 66.5 % of women work more than 40 hours per week.
- Over 30% of Americas say they are 'too busy to eat healthy foods'.
- 55% of men and 54% of women 'eat on the run' according to that same study.
- 65% of Americans are stressed at - or because of - work.
- 1 in 5 Adults has a mental health condition in the US. That's over 40 million people!
- Women work on more tasks than men, but not all of them mean money.
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.
The Case for Healthy Living as Your Next Money Move
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:
What Being "Too Busy" Does to The Body and Your Career
When you’re too busy, stressed, not making time for healthy meals, and not getting any exercise you become:
#1 Forgetting Deadlines and Tasks:
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.
#2 Being A Poor Team Player:
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.
#4 Leaving you Emotionally and Mentally Impaired:
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.
#5 Feeling Less Creative:
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.
#6 Gaining - or Trouble Losing - Weight:
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.
How To Balance a Busy Schedule with Health
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:
#1 Create a Morning Ritual:
Think of five things you’re grateful for as soon as the alarm goes off. It should take you less than 3 to 5 minutes, it will change your brain and make you happier.
Start your day brain food: greens, vegetables, and/or protein. No time to make it? Here at Organifi, we have great Green Juice Powder and Green Juice To Go packs that have 2 portions of greens in one glass. You only need three more portions in your day to meet the Healthy Eating Index.
Try to meditate 10 minutes with an app (literally just sit down, breathe and relax) before you drive out or at work before you open your emails. A calm mind is a sharp one. If you don't have time to meditate, you especially need it!
- Add a 15-minute walk before 10 AM. If you take five walks a week for just 15 minutes in the morning, you’ll have 75 minutes of the 150 min/week goal down, stimulate your heart, and feel less sluggish midday.
#2 Make Healthy Eating a No-Brainer
I already mentioned the green juice packs, but there’s more you can do to make your life even easier:
Meal-prep clan and make it a party! Lindsay Nixon of Happy Herbivore has mastered batch cooking to the point of making 7 meals in one hour! You can do the same, taking time to plan meals ahead and making time to cook, perhaps while you play your favorite Netflix show.
Join a Healthy Meal Delivery Service: This is what I do, and it makes my life easier when I can’t cook. There are many options in the market today from Sun Basket to Blue Apron, to Purple Carrot.
- Place Healthy Snack Traps: buy or prepare healthy snacks that meet your dietary needs and stock them in your office drawers, purses, backpacks, cars, and even gym bag. You’ll be less likely to skip a complete meal or fall in a sugary/fatty trap.
#3 Maximize Cardio Strength
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:
- Cross-fit Training
- 30 to 40 mins on the elliptical
- Biking, jogging, and power-walking
- BBG by Kayla Itsines (no equipment 28-min workouts 3 times a week)
#4 Turn Lunch and Dinner into Mindful Moments
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.
#5 Stay Hydrated
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.
#6 Cultivate Night-Time Habits
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:
- Device Curfew: cut out the use all electronic devices at least one hour before sleep or 90 minutes if you’re an overachiever.
- Wash Your Face: an often overlooked skincare step that helps you relax and look better, this small moment to yourself will help you feel prioritized and cared for. It will also minimize breakouts and the need for makeup.
- Brain-Dump: journaling can be great for mental health, but not everyone is into it. To unload the mental burdens of the day and the next, keep a small notebook next to the bed and dump the thoughts there before sleep. It will help you sleep better.
- Last-Min-Meditation: find your way to Morpheus' lands with a four breath count in, hold it for two, and a four breath count out for 3 to 5 minutes before sleep to ensure better rest and brain health.
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.