There are heaps of health and energy tips out there, but most of them seem like they were written by Captain Obvious: “drink plenty of water”, “get plenty of rest”, “eat right” and “exercise”. Gee, thanks.
As business owners it’s important to think like a professional athlete: we need keep our bodies in peak form so we have the energy to keep pushing ahead and the brain power to make quick decisions and keep our creativity flowing.
When it comes to keeping our bodies healthy, it’s not really the information that we’re lacking, it’s the implementation. Amidst the stress of running your business, endless to-do lists, crazy travel schedules, and your old stubborn habits, HOW do you make sure you’re drinking plenty of water? HOW do you make sure you eat right? HOW do you stay focused all day long?
Move over, Captain. Here are five systems that you can set up for yourself so that you’re taking care of your body on autopilot.
1) The Evil “Bite-Sized” Trick for Staying Hydrated and Well-Rested
You know it’s important to stay hydrated. Water helps keep you energized, helps you think clearly, speeds up your metabolism, and fights cravings.
So you start your day, maybe even have a glass in the morning, then you get swept up in sea of emails, client calls, meetings, and writing your next blog post. Next thing you know, it’s the end of the day and you feel foggy, tired, and think “Oh crap! I haven’t had any water all day.” Then you chug a whole bunch to make up for it.
You know what happens next? Your precious sleep is disrupted because you have to get up and go to the bathroom every 30 minutes from all that water you chugged. Quality sleep is just as important for your energy and focus, so let’s find a way to help you “front-load” your water intake at the beginning of the day.
Here’s what you do: fill a large pitcher with water and place it on your desk first thing in the morning. Next to it, place a small glass. The smaller, the better.
Why does this work? Because a large jug, glass, or bottle of water is overwhelming. Each time you drink out of a small glass, however, you feel like you’re halfway there, so you might as well just finish it.
We tend to have an easier time consuming things that are bite-sized: bite-sized content, bite-sized appetizers, fun-size candy, etc. When I was in college, my aunt used to send me back with to school a batch of giant brownies made from scratch. Being the health-conscious young lady that I was, I didn’t want to eat more than one or two, but I felt guilty tossing them in the trash. Hello they were made from scratch!
So instead, I made this sneaky, evil move: I cut them into super-small bite-sized pieces. Sure enough, my roommate polished them off in less than three days (sucker) and I could happily relay to my aunt that her brownies were irresistible.
So why not use this sneaky move for good rather than evil? A small glass of water is easier to finish. Before you know it, the whole pitcher will be gone and you will be one hydrated hustler.
2) Create “Triggers” to Send You into Mini-Meditations
No doubt stress is one of the biggest energy drains for everybody. There’s no faster way to fight stress than meditating, or conscious breathing. When you take deep breaths through your nose, you train your body to relax and you bring more oxygen into your blood – giving you an instant energy boost.
If it’s not part of your routine, it can feel impossible to do 20 minutes of meditating first thing in the morning or find a natural break in your day to hop into lotus pose on top of your desk for 20 minutes of “Om’s”. What’s more realistic is to break for several mini-meditations, or deep-breathing sessions throughout your day.
Only problem is, how do you remember to do it? Create a “trigger”. Find some kind of alert that sounds sporadically throughout your day. Depending on where you live, it could be your neighbor’s dog barking, the sound of a car horn, or even hearing a plane overhead. When you hear it, that’s your signal to stop and take five deep, slow breaths in and out through your nose. Extra bonus if you close your eyes.
I live near a train station, so I recently designated the train as my trigger. Each time I hear its horn (usually once or twice an hour), I instantly stop what I’m doing and take a deep breath without even thinking about it. It’s a great way to take something that could be disruptive and turn it into an invitation to relax and reboot.
3) The Checklist that Puts Healthy Habits on Autopilot
How do you want to feel every day in your business? Energized? At the top of your game? Like the great ideas just keep on flowing?
Then ask yourself, what helps you feel this way? What makes you feel energized? What helps you feel creative? Maybe it’s a walk outdoors, a shot of wheatgrass, a super-sweaty yoga class, reading an inspirational blog, or watching a hilarious video on Hulu. Whatever does it for you, make a list. Turn that list into a checklist, put it somewhere visible (over your desk, on your bathroom mirror, on your dashboard) and make sure you check off at least one of those energizing activities every day.
Checklists are a great way to build habits – you don’t have to rely on your memory or willpower to get it done. It’s right smack in front of you and checking it off becomes rewarding in and of itself. By putting these healthy activities into a checklist, you will begin to perform them on autopilot.
4) Make Your Environment Work for You
I’ll always remember this nugget of wisdom that Ms. Roeder herself shared when she was on stage at RHH Live last year: picture yourself as a pinball. Your environment is the pinball machine (or something like that) and everything you set up in your life are your “bumpers” – the things that you will continuously come up against.
So if your goal is to have superhuman energy and mental clarity, make sure your environment is set up with “healthy bumpers”. They could be your checklist, your pitcher of water on your desk, and of course your food. Plenty of fresh vegetables, high quality protein, whole grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats = good energy. Processed, greasy, and sugar-laden foods = mood swings, low energy, and foggy thinking.
Set Aside Time to Plan and Prep
Take the time to place energizing fuel right at your fingertips. Designate a couple of hours each week to shop for food and chop up veggies so they are ready to go. If you have a hankering for a snack, you’re more likely to skip the chips and go for bell peppers, carrots, or celery if their sliced up all nice and pretty for you.
It’s also a good idea to make yourself a homemade sauce or dressing to have on hand (the store-bought ones are usually full of crap). It’s an easy way to make even the most boring, basic “healthy food” taste good. Each week I make something like a honey mustard vinaigrette, the carrot-ginger miso dressing from Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet, or a pesto for dipping vegetables, drizzling on salads, or mixing with sauteed vegetables and whole grains. It saves you from trying to get creative each time you’re ready to eat.
Keep the Bad Stuff Out of Sight
If I lived in a fort made out of stacked Nutella jars, I would be SCREWED. Studies have shown that the closer and more visible a food is, the more likely you are to eat it. Self-control is draining, so do yourself a favor and keep the unhealthy stuff that you can’t resist out of the house. You need to save your energy for your business, not for resisting the jar of cheesy-poofs every time you pass them.
Stock Up on “Just in Case” Items
Stock your desk drawer, laptop bag, car, etc. with “just in case” items: small, high-energy snacks that will save you when hunger strikes. Good options are small packets of roasted nuts, or trail mixes with nuts and dried fruit, Lara bars, or fresh fruit. If you have these available you’ll be less likely to binge on the first thing you run into – usually a greasy or sugary snack.
So go ahead: stop right now and schedule exactly WHEN you’re going to shop, prep, and stock up on your fuel. If it’s not predetermined, you probably won’t do it.
5) Don’t Fight Nature
Have you noticed that there are certain times of the day when you are more focused, others when you are more creative, and others when you are more energized?
A few months ago a client of mine was frustrated by his lack of energy and lack of productivity. When I asked him when was the last time he felt focused, he said it was before he started having a series of mid-morning and lunch meetings.
He admitted that he has always done his best thinking and best work in the morning. So having to leave the office in the morning for these meetings was interfering with his creative mojo – by the time he got back, he was exhausted and had no focus to do anything useful. I suggested that he block out at least two days per week were he would not accept any morning meeting invitations. After setting that boundary, he got back into creative mode and felt great about what he accomplished for the day before leaving for any meetings.
Do you have a certain time of day that you get your best ideas? How about when you have the most power for a killer workout? Block it off. Schedule it. It’s your time and it’s imperative for your energy AND the growth of your business. Save your “foggy” time for errands, putzing around on Facebook, and necessary but not super-important tasks.
Set up these 5 systems and you’ll boost your energy and mental clarity without even thinking about it. They’ll help you make better decisions, be more productive, come up with more creative ideas, and achieve faster results. To your health and success! and success!