Are you healthy? Really healthy? Are you sure? The overwhelming majority of salespeople I have encountered are not healthy. The life of the business person does not lend itself to healthiness. You may well be physically fit and not overweight, but this is not the same thing as being healthy.
Why is this important? Simply because you cannot perform at your best when you are unhealthy. You experience peaks and troughs of energy and fluctuating moods. It is difficult to get up in the morning. Your thinking is dramatically affected. When unhealthy, you think more slowly and less accurately. Memory is impaired and reactions are poor. Many people put this down to the first signs of ageing but they are wrong! The human body is quite capable of sustaining an active life to well over one hundred years old and to living to over one hundred and fifty years.
What is “healthy”? The most important factor is diet followed closely by exercise and rest. Looking at these three factors:
1. Diet. Poor diet is the reason for the dramatic increase in “lifestyle” diseases such as Cancer, Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis and Arthritis. Are you shocked? You should be! What you eat largely determines how healthy you are and how long you will live. (More on this later.)
2. Exercise. Most people would agree that moderate exercise is good for you. Their reasons however would vary. The best reason for exercise that I have found is that by exercising, you are raising your pulse rate and stimulating the muscles in your body to stretch. Your heart is one of those muscles that you are stretching and this helps to keep it working properly.
What I am not advocating is spending hours in a gym every day or running miles. I am suggesting a gradual raising of physical activity such as:
• Walking up and down stairs rather than taking the lift
• Walking up and down escalators
• Go for a short walk at lunchtime
• If you drive to work, park a little way away from your office and walk the last few hundred yards. If you take the train, walk to the station.
• Get into the habit of walking rather than driving for short journeys
You will not have to take any more time out of your schedule to accommodate any of these actions and small as they may seem, they will make a dramatic difference to your health.
Please consult your Doctor before you change your diet or undertake any form of physical exercise.
3. Rest. The balance of research points to us needing about 8 hours to be fully rested and refreshed. But not all sleep is equal! The first four hours of sleep are used by the body for body repairs or rejuvenation of the tissues worn down during the day. The first hour is the deepest sleep with the first hurried elimination of the major aspects of purely physical fatigue with the next three hours being progressively lighter sleep while the more intricate physical repairs are accomplished – such things as reflexes and various physically derived judgements such as distance, form and colour are thus returned to normal through cell repair and reproduction.
The next four hours gives you the mental sorting and cataloguing that keeps you mind in good shape. If you are depriving yourself of sleep, you are probably suffering mentally rather than physically as it is very unusual for anyone to receive less than four hours of sleep regularly.
The message is simple. To be at you sharpest mentally and physically, you need about eight hours sleep regularly.
By my definition a healthy person eats a balanced diet, is physically fit and is well rested and alert. This describes the ideal situation and I know from my years in sales that sticking to it the whole time is close to impossible.
If you want to change your health you must change what you are eating, the exercise you are getting and how long you sleep. This need not take up much more time if you are sensible – and remember that you will be improving your ability to do your job and live longer into the bargain!
My suggestions on exercise above should not tie you up for more than a few minutes a day – you just need to remember to act on them. With regard to sleep, work out honestly how much sleep you get on average and then try to increase that gradually to as close to eight hours as you possibly can.
I found that the best way to improve my diet was to follow the advice of a qualified nutritionist. He checked my vitamin and mineral levels as well as testing me for food intolerances (approximately 50% of adults have an intolerance to wheat, yeast or sugar). He was then able to recommend a diet that I could follow as well as vitamin and mineral supplements. None of us eat a perfect diet and the supplements make it possible to have the correct levels of vitamins and minerals without eating a ton of cabbage and spinach weekly!
The best nutritionists are those associated with health food and complementary medicine centres. In my experience GP’s are unable to offer effective advice on diet and nutrition.