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A Wakeup Call!

Posted By Ron Sidman, Tuesday, July 9, 2019

THERE IS ONE COMPONENT OF YOUR LIFE UPON WHICH ALL THE OTHERS, INCLUDING YOUR BUSINESS OR CAREER, DEPEND. IF IT'S NOT PROPERLY MAINTAINED, EVERYTHING IMPORTANT TO YOU IS IN JEOPARDY. YET MOST OF US PAY LITTLE IF ANY ATTENTION TO IT UNTIL SOMETHING GOES WRONG.

 

Of course, I'm talking about your physical and emotional health. In my mentoring of CEOs and young adults, I now emphasize that you have to look at your life holistically. You can't effectively make business or career decisions without also addressing your vision for family & friends, financial condition, where you’d like to live, and recreation. But most importantly you need to pay attention to your health.

 

The importance of a healthy lifestyle was underscored for me a couple of years ago when I got a call from my new doctor in Florida. “Hi Ron. We got the results back from your cardiac heart scan. As I told you, I do this test on all my new patients. Well, if there was no plaque in the arteries of your heart, your score would be zero. Yours was 500!” He went on to explain the frightening implications. “That means you have a very high risk of having a heart attack or stroke over the next 5 to 10 years.” 

 

It’s impossible to determine how much of that unhealthy arterial crud was due to heredity or a diet that for most of my life was dominated by generous portions of prime rib, Caesar salad, veal parmesan, Chinese food, and pepperoni pizza. That’s not exactly a regimen consistent with the healthy eating pyramid and it undoubtedly didn’t help my cause.

 

While I had always exercised fairly regularly, until I sold my company, I never really confronted the fact that my diet and other aspects of my lifestyle might come back to haunt me at some point. Nor did it help that my previous doctor didn’t realize that because of my family history of heart disease, putting me on a statin drug years ago might have been a good idea.

 

As each new medical study is published, it becomes more and more clear how what we ingest, what we breathe, how and how often we move our bodies, how we think, and the medical care we receive impacts the quality and length of our lives. Fortunately, for the most part, these are all things we can control! Yet it often takes a negative medical test or, even worse, a heart attack or serious illness to get us to do what we should know we should do. 

 

With my wakeup call as the impetus, for the past few years I’ve been making an annual pilgrimage to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota to participate in both their Executive Health and Healthy Living programs. The former is an extensive physical examination and the latter a fitness assessment and educational experience. Here are just a few of the things I’ve learned on my annual “medical vacations” that you might find helpful too:

 

It’s Never Too Late to Make Up for Past Sins

You can’t always undue damage to your body that has been done. But you can most likely prevent further damage and counter-balance potential negative impacts. For example, diet and exercise changes can have profound positive benefits even if initiated at an older age. Learning how to relax through meditation or other forms of mindfulness can help you prevent or turn around stress-induced illnesses.

You’ve Got to be Your Own Health Advocate

The harsh reality is that no one really cares as much about your health as you do. Even the Mayo Clinic where they truly believe “the patient comes first” is after all a business that is servicing thousands of patients and is motivated to some degree by finances. So is your family doctor. No medical professional will lose sleep if you don’t do everything you can to live a long and healthy life. Doctors today struggle to even have the time to give patients the basic attention they deserve. And not all doctors are competent or knowledgeable. It’s totally up to you to seek the best physicians, ask the right questions, insist on proper care, and distinguish between fact and fiction.

Really Know What You’re Putting in Your Stomach

We all know that what we eat is important for good health. But it’s the hidden ingredients in foods that can hurt you. My blood pressure is a bit too high. Too much salt increases blood pressure. A Mayo nutritionist pointed out to me that while I never apply salt to my food, I was consuming much too much salt because of all the prepared foods and sauces I was eating. Read the labels! You’ll be shocked.

It’s About All-Day Movement, Not Just “Exercise”

You should certainly schedule dedicated physical fitness sessions multiple times a week. But if you sit on your duff all day in-between, you’re still doing your body significant harm. There’s even a name for activity that should be occurring outside of formal exercise times—"Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis” or NEAT. It includes things like walking, gardening, walking up stairs, doing the dishes, even just standing up if you sit a lot. Turns out your NEAT is just as important as aerobics and resistance training.

Get to Know Your Pharmacist

If you’re taking any medications or supplements regularly, how and when you take what you take makes an enormous difference—time of day, full or empty stomach, chewable or non-chewable, interactions between them, etc. It’s quite likely your doctor is not as up to date on the latest studies as a pharmacist is. That’s why the Mayo program includes a consultation with a pharmacist. It’s a healthful thing to do.

Next Steps

If health issues can jeopardize every one of your hopes and dreams, it certainly pays to be just as proactive about your health as you would about your business:
 

1.      Conduct a Situation Analysis Annually--With the help of medical professionals, thoroughly assess the state of your health. I highly recommend the Mayo Clinic or another respected medical institution with similar proactive, holistic, preventive medical care programs.

2.      Create a Vision & Goals--Create a long-term (e.g. 10 year) Vision of where you’d like your physical and emotional condition to be. Then establish 3-year, 1-year, and next quarter goals that will enable adequate progress towards that Vision. Make sure every goal has measurable success criteria.

3.      Create an Action Plan—Document the steps you will take to achieve your next quarter goals. Undoubtedly it will include blocking out in your calendar enough time each week to do the health-related activities that are essential. 

4.      Implement Your Plan—Start today pursuing your goals and monitor and react as needed.

 

As always, if you’d like more information or assistance regarding achieving your business or life goals or you just want someone to brainstorm, vent, or commiserate with, consider taking advantage of JPMA’s Executive Mentor Program by scheduling a Skype or Face Time with me. I’d enjoy meeting you and helping you any way I can. Check the JPMA web site for more information or contact Reta Feldman at  rfeldman@jpma.org.

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