One of the most valuable principles of self-leadership is physical self-care. In the past, I under-appreciated the impact my choices in food consumption, drinking water, and exercise had on how I showed up day-to-day. Now it is one of my daily disciplines.
Here are the three most valuable benefits of regular exercise and good nutrition:
- Energy replacement - When I workout I actually gain more energy
- Stress reduction - It has become the #1 stress management tool in my arsenal
- Immune system builder - A healthy lifestyle has allowed me to stay strong in the face of a rigorous schedule
Last Fall, my coaching clients and I embarked on a 21 Day Challenge inspired by the Daniel Plan, written by Rick Warren, and I'd like to share some of the science behind the challenge with you.
There are four key hormones the drive brain chemistry and control our appetite and metabolism. If you get these hormones under control, all the rest often resets automatically:
1. Insulin – is produced in large quantities by the pancreas in response to sugar or starch that triggers fat storage in the belly and interferes with appetite control centers in the brain, making you hungry and craving more sugar and carbs.
2. Ghrelin - is the hunger hormone produced in the stomach. Most of the ways we eat and live cause the hunger hormone to spike.
3. PPY (peptide YY) - is produced in the intestine and puts the brakes on your appetite.
4. Cortisol - Is the stress hormones produced by the adrenal gland and during chronic stress causes hunger, storage of belly fat, and loss of muscle.
Becoming aware of how these chemical factors influence our bodies and influence our minds help us choose to change our habits, our energy, and thus consequently our leadership. Here are some elements of the 21 day challenge that you may want to incorporate into your routine:
- Reduce significantly or cut out sugar and white flour
- Cut out all artificial sweeteners
- Increase fiber
- Eat protein for breakfast
- Eat a handful of nuts 15 minutes before a meal to cut your appetite
- Stop nighttime eating and bingeing
- Focus on portion size. Learn appropriate portion sizes for lean proteins and whole grains
- Wait 20 minutes before eating a second portion. It takes that long for food to hit the lower part of your small intestine and trigger PPY, the hormone that is a powerful break on your appetite
- Strength and conditioning four days per week
- Play, which is a form of fitness, is something we do without thinking when we were are young. It is a wonderful way to lower cortisol
The beauty of adding food to your diet that heals, nourishes, and satisfies you deeply is that it will almost effortlessly shift your body and mind to a different state. By adding simple habits – sleeping a bit more, moving your body, calming your mind, breathing, playing, serving – you will gradually, day by day, shift into a profound capacity for self-care and healing. The filament, living with purpose, and well-being are the natural result. - Pastor Rick Warren, The Daniel Plan
Here's to increasing your energy and embracing a mindset of The Corporate Athlete!
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The purpose of Leadership Quest is to help professionals develop their personal leadership, vision and emotional intelligence. Everyday I strive to help leaders and teams achieve their desired goals in sales productivity, leadership, time maximization, and life-balance.