Your health matters, full stop. However, there is a HUGE misconception amongst entrepreneurs that goes, ‘because we work so hard, we can’t take care of ourselves’. For a group of people that I regard as pretty damn smart, this is incredibly short sighted.
Hustle and health are NOT mutually exclusive
So, let’s stop making excuses like one more feature or an hour more of email and start investing in our long-term ability to improve the world (yes, that requires you to be alive!).
For Part 2 of this series, let’s try a new framework.
(if you missed the first part of this series and want to start from the beginning, read Life Hacks, Part 1: Morning Routines first)
What will you STOP , START, and KEEP doing in 2017
- Drinking Monday through Thursday, period!
Many of you probably don’t drink during the week, but in Hong Kong, there is a heavy drinking culture. I fended it off the first couple of years, but the last six months, I gave in. The results were predictable. I gained a lot of fat, extra weight and I missed a lot of gym sessions. Compared to most people, I rebound from bad health fast and am good at going binary when it comes to health, so I will turn this around in 8–10 weeks. However, for many of you, turning around your health isn’t so easy. Drinking is one of the WORST habits to leave unchecked for long durations, so I’m starting there (if you’re a smoker, and you know who you are, that is the #1 thing YOU need to STOP… drink all you want, but STOP SMOKING!).
TIP: Do yourself a favor and go dry for 1 week… this week! Then see how you feel. Try it again… and then settle into a nice middle ground, like my new commitment of drinking only on Friday and Saturday, and in moderation.
- Drinking Beer
Ugh, I love beer! But it’s well known that there are FEW if ANY real health benefits associated with this deliciously hoppy beverage. So, I’m switching to red wine. While I have no intention to drink this in excess as the hangovers are brutal and I have a real sulfite allergy, in moderation, red wine has proven to have many health benefits. Calorie to calorie, red wine is a no brainer from a health point of view when compared to beer…unfortunately.
If you want to learn more about some of the things you should START doing to benefit your health, check out this great group that focuses on studying the areas of the world with measurably longer life spans, called Blue Zones.
- Juice Cleanse, starting with a two day cleanse
A lot of you know that I used to work with a great company called Juice Shop in San Francisco. Oh, how I miss having access to the highest quality juices on Earth each and every day. Alas, I’ve found a decent alternative in Hong Kong, but juicing has fallen out of my routine and it’s time to get back into it!
Juice Cleanses continue to get a bad rap without reason. If you haven’t tried it, just do one day (read some quick tips on your first cleanse here). You’ll still feel full from your meals the day before, so you won’t even notice any real change, except maybe extra time in your day, resulting from not looking for or preparing meals! Then go for the second day, if you’re feeling fine. I usually go for 2–3 days minimum and extend as long as I’m feeling well.
- ONE coffee a day + green tea
I LOVE coffee. The ritual, the smell, the taste, BUT, everything in moderation right? I usually drink two espresso-based drinks a day and three on long or hard days. I’m trying to get down to one a day and then switch to more green tea throughout the afternoons. I tried this last week and it wasn’t as bad as I thought, but the first two days required serious impulse control. I think it’s mostly due to the large differences in both how much caffeine is in espresso vs green tea, but also how you consume the beverages (fast vs slow).
I’ve always admitted that I like myself on caffeine. So, while I’m not quitting, I’m committed to changing the dosage and seeing how I feel and perform. I’ll keep you posted!
- Controlled & clean eating Monday?—?Friday
I’m not sure how many of you cook vs order out/in, but I’m one of those people that loves cooking, but rather have more time in my day for work or the gym. So, I have fresh-made food delivered daily. Here’s the deal: 3 meals a day, low-carb, small size.
The main benefit I see is that I get the benefit of an outsourced nutritionist and chef for the same price, or cheaper, than I would by getting takeaway food or, if you’re a meat eater like me, shopping and cooking on your own.
- Monthly health calendar in the kitchen
This is a simple hack, but SUPER effective. Just google image search ‘monthly blank calendar’ and print out the next three months. Then in each block, fill out what you did that day for working out, eating and any other small snippet of information you want to track. I’m also adding in my weight every few days to watch the trend in analog format vs finding my Withings app and looking for the trend line (sometimes offline is better than online :).
- Daily weigh ins
Your weight isn’t the most important metric or even a robust proof point of health, however, it is a nice baseline and can be correlated to macro trends in your life. Think about when you’ve gained weight in the past 12 months. You can probably pinpoint a couple of contributing factors easily, but can you prove it? Are you sure that the new client you signed and extra hours you pulled at the office were the cause? Or was it the overall lowering of your activity which you can see from your step tracker? Maybe you moved and your diet changed? Use this easy baseline to start using data vs intuition to figure out what does and doesn’t work for your health. I use the Withings Body Cardio and although some of their measurements are way off (like bone weight), it’s a good looking scale, your total weight is accurate and the battery lasts a year without being charged. Good enough for me!
- Stretching and roller for at least five minutes per day
We all sit FAR TOO MUCH! And I know that I could always do better. One way I ensure I maintain flexibility and reduce the stress I put on my body is by rolling and doing some basic stretching routines that are designed for people who sit or travel a lot. This could be the only thing you do, but do something to get connected to your body daily. It’s critical. I LOVE my roller (if you don’t know about rolling, fix that now and watch this video).
If you’re keen to learn more, let me know and I’ll make a post of my routine and if you want to know more about the effects of sitting, read my medium article: Siting Is The New Smoking
- Social health motivation groups
I spoke about my daily video commitment on Snapchat and Instagram in my last post of this series, but I also started a social group on WeChat (our version of WhatsApp or messenger in China) where a small group of us log all of our workouts. It has one simple goal: motivate each of the members to be as consistent as possible in doing some sort of physical activity.
This group has seen MAJOR life improvements in all of its members and it was so easy to start. We also do fun cheat meals from time to time to celebrate our commitment.
TIP: Create a small group of people you know want and / or need to commit to being more active and start logging your workouts / activities daily.
- Quarterly health plans
It’s impossible to stick to year-long New Years resolutions. And what’s the point of making a goal that you know you won’t stick to? I treat my health like I treat my businesses, one quarter at a time. This gives you both the benefit of not worrying about weekly results, which are hard to see when it comes to physical health, and gives you a reset as you’re never more than 11 weeks away from the next quarterly plan!
TIP: Make a couple of commitments for this quarter that you think are a reasonably challenging, but not too hard, AND are quantifiable. For example: workout 3Xs a week or stretch daily vs I’m going to loose 10 lbs. The former is something you can 100% control. The latter is not something you can’t!
- Slow build up vs. over committing
The key to all of these life hacks is building positive momentum over time vs over committing and then falling flat. Setting good goals is almost more important than the actions you take to get there. If you set unrealistic goals and then fall off track early, it starts a downward spiral that can easily bleed into your other goals. So don’t make this all too common mistake.
TIP: Look at 2017 and think about what you want to accomplish by the end of the year. Break that goal down into four quarters and then commit 20% of it to Q1, 30% to Q2 and then review halfway through the year. Maybe you can end up beating your goal and getting to 110% or more!
- Lots of water every day
I’ve never really had a problem with drinking water. I like the taste, I like the ritual of getting up from my desk, and I feel much better when I’m hydrated. Some of you may not feel the same way about water. To get into the habit, do yourself a BIG favor. Buy a water bottle! If you don’t like the first one, don’t store it somewhere and fall back into your old habit of not drinking enough water. Figure out what you didn’t like and buy another one. For me, I like plastic as I break glass water bottles, it has to have an easy open and close action (sorry Nalgene… your screw tops don’t work for me), and it has to have a whole or loop so I can carry it on one finger or attach it to something. I’ve also heard that people flavor their water to help entice them to drink it. I don’t do that, but ultimately, whatever you can do in order to get more H2O in your body, you should do it!
There are more, believe it or not, but these Health Hacks cover the major areas that I’ve learned have a noticeable positive impact on my life. No rocket science or dramatic changes here. Just simple, small steps that add up to real change in 8–10 weeks.
I know you can do this and that the world will benefit from you getting your body and mind back on a positive, long-term health trajectory. We are unfortunately short sighted when it comes to health and make far too many excuses. Help me, and those around you, by looking at the long game and believing that your health allows you to add more value to the world and those around you.
Let me know your tips and tricks for health and talk to me here or my other social channels (below).
Istill make mistakes and break these rules from time to time, but am recommitting in 2017 to ensure that I am leading myself first. This is the second part of my behavioral changes for the new year. Follow me to ensure you get the next three Life Hacks delivered to you soon!