This is a question you may be pondering.
In your early days as CEO you may have had infinite energy, loved the fast pace and thrived under pressure.
Now, maybe not so much.
Fatigue sets in…
We put it down to our relentless workload when really, it boils down to our lack of focus on health, fitness, and self care.
Does a CEOs fitness level matter?
What do you think? Do your actions match what you think?.
Ask an online fitness coach who makes 7-figures a year and they’ll say: “Yes, it matters…”
Ask a fortune 500 CEO leading an 8 figure company whose BMI is higher than average, struggles to find time to exercise and sleeps 4 hours a night and they might say: “not really, I’ve been successful regardless…”
Obviously, I’m not casting a net over how CEOs of similar companies have similar opinions based on health and fitness and that one opinion is fundamentally wrong or right.
Today, we’re simply going to look at the facts around health & fitness.
So let’s cast opinions aside and look at the data.
It speaks the undeniable truth.
Jim Loehr is co-founder of the Human Performance Institute which is a company helping executives stay healthy.
Loehr estimates that approximately 40% of CEOs are overweight. That’s significant for a portion of the population who is supposed to be the boss of their lives.
Compare that data to Mississippi, the US state with the highest BMI, where only 32.5% of its population is overweight and you can see CEOs are seriously overweight.
Here’s some other data points:
- According to Mayo Clinic data, 73% of CEOs live a sedentary lifestyle.
- The same study found CEOs average 6.7 hours sleep a night. 24% less than the average employee.
- Cooper Clinic President and CEO Dr. Camron Nelson says the stress of being a CEO can heighten disease risk.
Here’s the truth…
We’re all in this for the long game of enjoying every second of life and if we put a focus on our health, life is that much better..
20 years ago this wasn’t being talked about. 10 years ago people started giving it lip service and it’s only in the last 5 years that we, as a society have chosen to focus more on our health, however the data still shows it may not be enough.
I hope this newsletter gives you an ‘aha’ moment of how you can become a better leader, spouse, parent and person if you make your physical health a priority and integrate it into your construct of success..
Today I’m going to be covering:
- Why CEOs might neglect their health.
- The impacts of poor sleep.
- Elevating Sleep hygiene.
- The impact of regular exercise.
- What the biggest CEOs in the world have to say.
- Feelings & Beliefs around physical health.
- Action steps to a healthier you.
- What’s possible…
Why CEOs Might Neglect Their Health
As I’m sure you’re well aware, there are a few key reasons why CEOs may find prioritizing their health a little challenging.
Most CEOs are travelling a lot, surviving on a diet of airline food, terminal buffets and fast food.
If they’re not travelling then they’re entertaining which usually revolves around a lot of food and there usually isn’t a lot of healthy alternatives.
Combine that with a weary and tired CEO and making healthy choices can be doubly hard.
As a CEO, you’re the decision maker. A position that can come with a lot of pressure and loneliness.
There are very few people you can confide in and this stress can manifest itself in emotional eating, low sleep quality and poor mental health.
Or a lack of it.
As we’ve covered in previous newsletters, project management, time creation, effective hiring and leadership are all key areas CEOs need to be aware of.
Introducing project management systems, understanding how to create time, hiring aligned team members and leading your organization effectively can help address the challenges brought by a jam-packed schedule.
The truth is, most CEOs' lifestyles conspire against a healthy existence.
Exercise gets bumped down the priority list replaced by meetings and travel.
Corporate time demands also detract from family time putting strain on relationships adding additional stress.
Business meals often consist of sumptuous high-fat, high-sodium entrees and generous amounts of alcohol.
The diet can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
The Impacts Of Poor Sleep Quality
1. Good sleepers tend to eat less food.
Studies show that sleep-deprived individuals have a bigger appetite and tend to eat more calories.
Sleep deprivation disrupts the daily fluctuations in appetite hormones and is believed to cause poor appetite regulation. This includes higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite, and reduced levels of leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite
2. Sleep is important for various aspects of brain function. This includes cognition, concentration, productivity, and performance.
All of these are negatively affected by sleep deprivation. A study on medical interns provides a good example.
Interns on a traditional schedule with extended work hours of more than 24 hours made 36% more serious medical errors than interns on a schedule that allowed more sleep.
On the other hand, good sleep has been shown to improve problem-solving skills and enhance memory performance of both children and adults
3. Sleep has been shown to enhance athletic performance.
In a study on basketball players, longer sleep was shown to significantly improve speed, accuracy, reaction times, and mental well-being.
Less sleep duration has also been associated with poor exercise performance and functional limitation in older women.
A study in over 2,800 women found that poor sleep was linked to slower walking, lower grip strength, and greater difficulty performing independent activitie.
4. Sleep quality and duration can have a major effect on many health risk factors.
These are the factors believed to drive chronic diseases, including heart disease. A review of 15 studies found that people who don’t get enough sleep are at far greater risk of heart disease or stroke than those who sleep 7–8 hours per night
5. Experimental sleep restriction affects blood sugar and reduces insulin sensitivity.
In a study in healthy young men, restricting sleep to 4 hours per night for 6 nights in a row caused symptoms of prediabetes. These symptoms resolved after one week of increased sleep duration.
Poor sleep habits are also strongly linked to adverse effects on blood sugar in the general population. Those sleeping less than 6 hours per night have repeatedly been shown to be at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes
6. Mental health issues, such as depression, are strongly linked to poor sleep quality and sleeping disorders.
It’s been estimated that 90% of people with depression complain about sleep quality. Poor sleep is even associated with an increased risk of death by suicide.
Those with sleeping disorders like insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea also report significantly higher rates of depression than those without.
7. Even a small loss of sleep has been shown to impair immune function.
One large 2-week study monitored the development of the common cold after giving people nasal drops with the cold virus. They found that those who slept less than 7 hours were almost 3 times more likely to develop a cold than those who slept 8 hours or more.
If you often get colds, ensuring that you get at least 8 hours of sleep per night could be very helpful.
8. Sleep can have a major effect on inflammation in your body.
In fact, sleep loss is known to activate undesirable markers of inflammation and cell damage.
Poor sleep has been strongly linked to long-term inflammation of the digestive tract, in disorders known as inflammatory bowel disease
One study observed that sleep-deprived people with Crohn’s disease were twice as likely to relapse as patients who slept well
Researchers are even recommending sleep evaluation to help predict outcomes in individuals with long-term inflammatory issues
Elevating Sleep Hygiene
To maximise your rest and ensure you sleep as well as possible, there are a number of things you can do to improve this:
o Sleep schedule
Ideally similar/fixed wake/sleep times – your body works on circadian rhythm – this is best when it is in a rhythm!
Hot/Cold – whatever works for you, cool usually works best but make it consistent
Comfortable and breathable
Minimal/No TV ideally
No phone in bed – reduce blue light, which keeps you awake and stimulates the brain
o Get up if you can’t sleep!
o 15-30 mins before bed
o Signal to the body that you’re ready to sleep
o Ideas for this include:
Journaling (Gratitude, what went well, what you’re thankful for)
Listening to music
No blue light in 60 minutes before bed (phone/laptop/ipad etc)
The Impact Of Regular Exercise
The busier you are, the more important it is to be active.
Make time for exercise because you are busy. Exercise will make the rest of your day more productive, and it will make your brain stronger over the long-term.
When you approach exercise the right way, you do not need as much time as you might think anyway.
One experiment by scientists at McMaster University in Ontario demonstrated that five minutes of interval training can yield the same physiological benefits as forty-five minutes of steady, less intense exercise.
- Reduce your risk of a heart attack
- Manage your weight better
- Have a lower blood cholesterol level
- Lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers
- Have lower blood pressure
- Have stronger bones, muscles and joints and lower risk of developing osteoporosis
- Lower your risk of falls
- Recover better from periods of hospitalisation or bed rest
- Feel better – with more energy, a better mood, feel more relaxed and sleep better.
What The Biggest CEOs In The World Have To Say About CEO Health
“I seriously doubt that I would have been as successful in my career (and happy in my personal life) if I hadn’t always placed importance on my health and fitness,”
“Staying in shape is very important, doing anything well requires energy, and you just have a lot more energy when you’re fit.
“I make sure I work out at least three times a week — usually first thing when I wake up.”
“I try to do something every day that allows me to feel active. For me that means yoga and 10,000 steps a day”
Jack Dorsey CEO of Twitter
“Up at 5:00, meditate for 30, seven-minute workout times three, make coffee, check in …”
“Same thing every day,” says Dorsey. ”[It] allows a steady state that enables me to be more effective.”
This shows us that no matter how small the effort, we have to do something each day to improve our physical health if we want to enjoy life as much as possible.
Feelings & Beliefs
- Low confidence
- I’m too overworked to exercise
- I’m responsible for the wellbeing of my entire organization and letting them down
- Not being able to get more sleep is frustrating
- I’m constantly tired and lacking energy
- I don’t feel very confident because I’m not looking after myself
Close your eyes. Take a deep breath and let go of any of these feelings and beliefs you no longer want to hold on to.
Let’s go through the feelings and beliefs you can adopt to start improving your health and fitness.
- My life is balanced
- I lead by example and support my team in improving their health
- My spouse loves that I am focused on improving my health
- I wake up every day full of energy
- My level of self love and care elevates my confidence
Aligned and Bold Actions
Now we have gone through the limiting beliefs and feelings you may want to let go of and the empowering ones you can embrace, let’s look at the action steps you can take to elevate your leadership.
ACTION STEP 1] Subtle Lifestyle Changes
As I mentioned, leading a healthier lifestyle doesn’t mean drastic and extreme changes.
Some simple and subtle shifts in your routine and lifestyle can provide massive benefits when done consistently.
Check out this list of 14 simple lifestyle changes you can make to improve your health.
ACTION STEP 2] Elevate Your Time Creation
The #1 obstacle CEOs face when it comes to prioritizing their health is a lack of time.
If they can learn to optimize their calendar there’s no reason why regular exercise and more sleep can’t become a regular part of their lives.
Read our article on Time Creation and start enjoying the moments you’re living.
ACTION STEP 3] Make Nutrition A Priority
It’s no secret that your diet plays a pivotal role in improving and maintaining good health.
By making some simple tweaks to the way you approach food you can find weight loss relatively simple.
Check out our in depth article on CEOs & Food and feel free to reach out if you have any questions on nutrition.
One of our CEO clients Bobby Brannigan had this to say about his time working with Lifestyle Perfected:
“I feel amazing in my life and leadership of my company. I’ve elevated my health and lost over 15lbs in just 1 month. The Alignment Methodology has literally changed my brain patterns for the better.”
If you’d like a complimentary consultation on your health or another area of life & business to elevate the alignment within your company, reply to this email or alternatively, you can see our programs for CEOs and for teams here.
We’re also excited to invite you to apply to CEO Circle. A group for CEOs to elevate emotional intelligence, increase impact and legacy wealth. If you are CEO and/or a founder with $1 million or more in revenue or assets apply here.
Sending you love,
& the Lifestyle Perfected team