Why Food, Sleep and Exercise Are Critical to Success Undermining your health actually is not a career advantage.
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How we care for our bodies affects our performance at work. Skipping your twice weekly workout because you believe you are strapped for time leads to negative habits that impact your overall happiness and productivity. Similarly, ordering fast food instead of cooking to save the hassle of buying groceries and preparing your own meals hurts more than it helps.
Here are three arguments that will convince you to pay more mind to the way you eat, sleep and exercise.
1. Good food nourishes the body and powers a strong mind.
Did you know that certain foods make you smarter? For entrepreneurs, the best brain-healthy foods include beets, fish, berries, lean protein and walnuts. Eat these to improve your concentration, focus, memory and sharpness. Also, to sleep well, try things like MCT oil, krill oil or raw honey before bed.
Timing is critical too. Avoid letting your hunger dictate when you eat. Research suggests the best time to have breakfast is between 7 and 7:30 a.m., lunch between 12:30 and 1 p.m., and dinner between 6 and 6:30 p.m. Though sticking to a strict meals routine is unrealistic due to congested commutes and sporadic meetings, having rough guidelines for when meals happen provides structure for your diet and provides you enough fuel to conquer your day.
2. Working sleepless yields diminishing returns.
One of the most unhealthy habits professionals have today is bragging about how little sleep they get. While it is admirable a person is willing to put their body and mind through a 48-hour work marathon, it is outright foolish.
Successful entrepreneurs like Arianna Huffington and Marc Andreessen make it a priority to get a full night's rest. Workers who consistently burn the midnight oil burnout. Furthermore, overworked professionals tend to be less productive than their peers.
According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, the consequences of sleep deprivation are arguably disastrous to your health and work performance. "In the short term, a lack of adequate sleep can affect judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality."
Often, workers running on fumes find themselves staring at a blank screen struggling to complete assignments, lashing out and acting irritably, or forgetting to do important tasks. The risks of sleeping less in order to sneak in another hour or two of work far outweigh the rewards, for which, there are few.
3. Exercise refreshes the mind as you exercise the body.
In a brief interview, business magnate Richard Branson suggested, "[exercise] keeps the brain functioning well and I definitely can achieve twice as much in a day by keeping fit."
Daily workouts are a necessary ingredient to long-term success. In fact, President Barack Obama, Bill Gates and Mark Cuban all make a conscious effort to stay in shape.
For busy entrepreneurs, there are a number of ways to slowly transition into a consistent workout routine. First, remember that small changes can make a huge difference. Start by taking the stairs in lieu of escalators and elevators. Adopt a standing desk. Walk to work. You will quickly realize that these minor adjustments aid in reducing stress, building confidence and boosting your energy. Soon enough, you won't dread going to the gym. At that point, you may even enjoy it!