No, the first one is not doing upside-down push-ups on one’s desk every morning; although, I’m quite certain that would really help :-).
Those who know me know that I’m a health and fitness fanatic, and I’m frequently asked by fellow executives what advice I might have to improve their health and fitness without a significant investment of time. The following are four very easy habits that anyone can do to see results quite quickly. All of them are habits I personally live by myself and can attest to.
1. Introduce a “replacement” in your diet every 30 days
As they say, “you can do almost anything for 30 days” :-), and, strangely enough, after you’ve endured something for 30 days, it becomes the norm and you suddenly lose cravings and create new habits. But, in addition to this strategy, I prefer to think of ways to “replace” a bad habit with a good one as opposed to simply stopping the old habit; I find this is an easier way to psychologically digest the change. Here are three ideas for your first 30-day replacement.
- Replace all added sugar (and certainly the arguably much worse artificial sweeteners) with natural fruit as snacks.
- Replace all soda soft drinks with carbonated or flat water; carbonated water can give you part of that refreshing sensation one misses when foregoing sugary soft drinks.
- Replace coffee or tea creamer with low fat skim milk or, better yet, with an all-natural soy, almond, or coconut milk.
2. Use “active sitting” when at your desk
This one is so easy and takes no time at all: use a balance ball instead of your usual desk chair. At first, you may have to do it for short periods at a time but, after a while, you’ll be able to use it as your only chair for the entire day. Sitting on the balance ball will force you to use your core to support your back. This habit will both strengthen your core and, for many people, relieve lower-back pain.
3. Introduce extra time on your feet
There are so many opportunities to introduce extra time on one’s feet during the business day; here are a few suggestions:
- Park the car in the farthest parking stall you can find! Or, better yet, walk or ride a bicycle to the office!
- Avoid using the elevator when possible; if your floor is too high, try taking the elevator up but the stairs down!
- Instead of having meetings in your own office all of the time, set meetings up in various locations around the building.
4. Use “walk & talks” instead of one-on-one office meetings
This is my favorite, patent-pending technique: I replaced most of my one-on-one meetings with walk-&-talk meetings. Having done this for some time, I have a very specific loop around our business block that takes about 23 minutes — a perfect replacement for the typical 30-minute, office-based one-on-one update meeting. Aside from the walking, it’s refreshing to get a bit of fresh air and to take the discussion outside the bounds of the typical environment. I highly recommend these and they’ve been very popular with my direct reports.