Many people who are named CEO achieve that milestone when they’re in the prime of life: old enough to have maturity, but young enough to be healthy and fit. There’s no question that being a three-letter executive requires energy and stamina, but over the years it’s all too easy for the busy executive to have less and less time to devote to physical well-being.
Moreover, frequent travel and the restaurant meals that go along with it make it more challenging to eat properly and get enough physical activity. Ultimately, the obesity rate in the CEO population rivals that of the general population, and many CEOs who aren’t technically obese may be overweight and out of shape. But reversing this and getting fit again are well worth the effort.
The ROI of Commitment to Fitness
Executives didn’t make it to the top by ignoring whether investments pay off, and it’s important for them to know that commitment to eating right and improving fitness has a positive ROI. Just a few of the benefits of a healthier, more fitness-oriented lifestyle include:
• Easier management of stress
• Natural creation of endorphins and stimulation of the body and brain
• Better sleep
• Higher energy levels
• A great example of self-discipline to employees
And the argument of not having enough time just doesn’t hold up most of the time. The typical executive didn’t get there by being unable to manage time well, and face it: most executives have the influence and resources to find time for anything they genuinely want or need to do. Sure, being out of shape may not stop you from doing your job, but it certainly doesn’t help.
How to Incorporate More Physical Activity into Your Busy Day
You don’t have to overhaul your entire schedule and lifestyle overnight. In fact, the more seamlessly new activities fit in with your existing schedule, the more likely you are to stick with them. For example, simply committing to spending less time sitting can make a difference, and you can accomplish this by taking short breaks throughout the day, walking during phone calls, getting a treadmill for your office, or investing in a standing desk.
Likewise, the more incrementally you adjust your diet, the more likely you are to stick with those positive changes. You can start small, by cutting out (or at least cutting down on) sugary sodas and coffee drinks that are more dessert than coffee. Packing your own lunch a certain number of days per week is another healthy change that’s easy to maintain, as is keeping healthy snacks in the office, like dried fruit, nuts, fresh vegetables, and mineral water.
Consistency Is Incredibly Important
Feeling the results of improved health and fitness may take time, but if you’re a CEO, you know how to put in effort knowing the payoff may not be immediate. You can apply this thinking to changes in your diet and physical activity as well. You’re far better off making smaller positive changes you can stick with than trying to overhaul every aspect of your diet and exercise only to give up in frustration. It can take anywhere from three weeks to more than two months to establish new habits, so give yourself time.
Don’t Deny Your Competitive Nature
The typical executive has a competitive streak, and this can be used to your and others’ advantage. Pedometers cost next to nothing, and a little friendly competition among fellow executives or team members to exceed daily or weekly step (or distance) goals can keep everyone moving more. You could even up the ante with small prizes for those who “win” for the week. As an alternative, you could team up with another executive who wants to get in better shape and leverage a slightly competitive “buddy system” to motivate yourselves and each other.
As an executive coach, I understand that much of the work of the typical CEO is mental, but the brain and body aren’t compartmentalized. The health of one affects the health of the other, and the fitter you are, the easier you’ll find it to resist getting sick, to handle everyday stress, and to enjoy raised energy levels that you just can’t get from coffee or energy drinks. If you are interested in leadership coaching services, I cordially invite you to get in touch with me so we can talk about it.