Failure is good

Is your job DESTROYING your body (Part 2)? - Sugar, Alcohol and Vitamins

In Part 1, I discussed the importance of aligning your job to your life’s mission and how the demands of a busy job can send your sleep cycles and caffeine intake spiralling out of control. I also suggested micro actions, 'Do One Thing' actions to take to address these issues.

In part two we move onto addressing sugar intake, alcohol consumption and nutritional deficiencies while holding down a busy job.

Fuelling yourself on sugar

Doughnuts and the vending machine are a constant temptation in the modern corporate office

Just as it's now common knowledge that weightlifting (even if you're a girl) is amazingly good for you, it's also received wisdom that refined sugar is bad, very bad.

With that being said, everyone’s human. We all bend the rules now and again and give in to the box of doughnuts that conveniently appear in the office. Fighting against this and trying to eliminate sugar and carbs in all forms just makes you, well, a little boring and for most people, it's unachievable.

Unless you are on a strict ketogenic or paleo diet for a specific nutritional or health reason, my general recommendation is to plan to have a moderate amount of carbs and naturally occurring sugars, especially if you are in a demanding job.

If you're too idealistic and do not accept that you WILL FAIL and ahead of a busy day, you'll need to refuel properly with at least some carbs, you're much more prone to cheating in a big way at the vending machine which is not good at all.

None of these will come as a surprise to you but my favourite ‘good’ carb sources are:

  • sweet potato
  • gluten free oats
  • brown rice
  • quiona

What works for some may not for others but the benefit of the above list of ‘good’ carb options is that they avoid triggering a state of inflammation in the body and causing problems with food allergies in the vast majority of people. Try to avoid pasta, bread and other carb sources containing gluten - they tend to cause problems for a number of my clients, especially if their jobs demand long periods of intense focus.

You should take your carbs in the evening with your evening meal, contrary to popular belief, there is no fat loss downside to eating carbs late in the day. You'll feel strong and alive the next day if you eat properly the night before and it gives you the option to have a relatively light breakfast such as a meal replacement shake (I am currently using this one which I highly recommend and gives me everything I need to start the day) which I find works well for many of my clients. A stodgy breakfast has the potential to slow you down all day as you digest it.

Protein in the morning, through a meal replacement shake or high protein foods such as organic eggs, really suppresses the appetite and dampens sugar cravings for the rest of the day.

Do One Thing Action item:

Aside from the other tips in this section, a good strategy if you regularly find yourself at the vending machine for a hit of sugar is to invest in some mini bars of high cacao dark chocolate and take a stock of these to work with you at the start of each week like these ones. Go for at least 70% cocoa solids. You'll get a sweet tasting hit and it will increase your alertness. If you try to eliminate all sugar as a busy person in a busy job you're setting yourself up for failure!

Alcohol

Switch to spirits instead of wine or beer to help your performance and sugar intake

Alcohol is bad for your body and performance in every single respect. But alcohol, like sugar, tends to be very difficult to avoid if you're in the corporate world, especially with obligatory work functions where bottomless champagne and beer are a feature.

Again, I acknowledge that a certain amount of alcohol consumption is inevitable. Punishing yourself with a spartan teetotal existence if you really enjoy a glass of wine a few times a week is actually likely to do more harm than good. It's controversial, but even the occasional binge boozing session can keep you sane and on the straight and narrow during office hours.

I recommend at a minimum you focus on completing a dry January every year, the peer pressure at this time to go out will be vastly reduced and you'll feel like this is quite achievable. Your body will thank you. If you're more committed to this, taking the first three months of the year ‘off’ the sauce when drinks invites in the corporate world are much more limited will set you up amazingly well for the year ahead.

Do One Thing Action Item

In terms of a quick action to take regarding your alcohol intake, if you currently drink wine or beer, switch to spirits like gin or tequila with a zero cal mixer and fresh lime if you fancy a drink of an evening. If you love the taste of wine, opt for a dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc.

Nutritional Deficiencies

When it comes to supplements - don't follow the written advice of health and fitness professionals - get tested by a doctor!

A lot of the items on this list are 'difficult to fix' but this one is much simpler to address. There are key nutrients our bodies need to have energy and to stay in shape. If you're feeling run down by your job and tired all the time there might be a wider cause than just 'too much work’ or ‘tiredness’'.

There are a few vitamins to monitor here (don't self medicate, get tested!):

Vitamin D3

D3, the vitamin you can only get naturally from the sun, is in short supply in your fluorescently-lit corporate building where there is no natural sunlight (especially if you live in the UK with its three days of sunlight a year!). D3 impacts on the expression of hundreds of genes in your body. If you're low, your doctor will recommend supplementation. In general it's a good idea to get out in the sun for as much time as you are able to.

Zinc and magnesium

In men, Zinc and Magnesium is critical for testosterone production and whilst women need a lower dose, is also important to regulate their sleep cycles and muscle recovery. Again, you should get tested to establish if you do have a deficiency and if you do, supplementation should be considered. It is a very common deficiency so don't be surprised if you're affected.

The B vitamins

B vitamins are key for energy production and a whole load of other health markers. If you feel tired, get tested. Sometimes, if you have a digestive complaint or your diet is not up to scratch, you can suffer from a depletion of vitamin B which can throw you off balance. Go to your doctor and get tested if you feel more than just a little tired after a day of work, if you've got a problem your doctor will prescribe either injections or tablet supplementation to get you feeling right again.

I have a bit of a problem with health and fitness professionals “prescribing” these type of supplements to clients without the medical data to back this up. As I have discussed, a large number of you reading this MAY be deficient in the above nutrients, but please get tested by your GP to make certain.

Conclusion

The truth is, keeping fit and most importantly healthy, whilst tackling the demands of work, life and family is a tough ask. Poor nutrition and sleep deprivation lead to a reliance on caffeine and sugar to pick us up and alcohol and prescription medication to bring us down. Our working environments deprive us of essential nutrients and place additional stress upon our bodies that promote illness not wellness.

The contents of this post and Part 1 describe a world in which we are effectively surviving, but not thriving. An idyllic world without the daily stresses of work and family, where a private chef can accommodate your every nutritional requirement and a live in trainer can sculpt the perfect body are not achievable for most!

However the simple actions outlined above performed consistently can take you away from a survival state and towards a life where you can thrive in all areas!

If you like what you’ve read so far then stay tuned as I’ll introduce you more to my concept of Do One Thing each day to achieve the health and fitness you’ve always dreamed of.

Cheers,

David


Is your job DESTROYING your body? And small changes to make to improve

 

Introduction; Do One Thing; Your Mission; Caffeine Intake and Sleep Deprivation

Juggling a demanding career and taking proper care of your health can be a real challenge. I have been in situations in my life where starting and running a fledgling business and staying fit and healthy has felt like an uphill battle. Often, this was down to a combination of reasons and not just a single thing I needed to fix.

In my new book, I talk about the early years when I had just started my new business. I am lucky enough to have some great support around me now but in those early days, I was doing everything: I was the personal trainer and the owner; I was also the accountant and the tea boy!!

It wasn't easy and I felt my health suffer with each 'all nighter' I pulled trying to keep all the plates spinning.

The good news is there *are* ways to fix this overwhelming situation. How? Set out below are a number of common problems people have when their job is getting the better of them and their bodies (some of which they may not already be aware of).

The secret to making progress? Do one thing.

At the end of each heading below is a micro action-item that can be completed in under an hour that will improve your health while holding down a busy job or running a business.

I appreciate more than most people that these problems are not easy fixes and can take a very long time; the key is to start small with concrete actions that move you along the curve towards progress. Do one thing in each area and things will improve.

Your Mission

Define your personal mission

This sounds like a grand topic but I've met hundreds of lawyers, bankers, accountants and other professionals who can no longer, hand on heart, say they enjoy what they are doing. They've lost the passion for their careers that they once had. They drag themselves into the office each day and just seem to have lost their purpose.

The emotional impact of this is not to be underestimated. If you're doing something you're not suited to, or is at odds with your personality, you'll feel like everyday is an uphill struggle. The result? Stress and frustration.

My strong recommendation is to write a list of everything you love doing (in career terms!) and everything you dislike doing. If you're stuck in a job you don't like and have the flexibility to move, find something that will involve more of the things you love.

If for whatever reason you are bound to your current employer, there are usually ways you can tweak your job to do more of what you love and delegate more of what you don't. It's all about pinpointing the source of your stress and frustration (see the action item below) by writing things down.

Do One Thing Action Item

Write a list of things you love doing in your career and a list of things you loathe - writing things down helps enormously and will help you delegate or distance yourself from the things you really dislike doing - a major source of stress. If you're considering a career move, take a side of paper and in one column write down all the benefits of staying in that role and all the benefits of leaving the role - this will really help in making an informed decision.

Caffeine

Legend has it that London was built on cups of tea. The performance enhancing effects of caffeine are no secret. I personally love a cup of coffee to start the day and I'm sure you've read plenty of press articles promoting coffee as a cancer fighting miracle.

Coffee is a great performance enhancing drug but don't overdo it

However, a number of people that I have met in demanding roles have far too much caffeine which sends their cortisol/stress levels spiralling out of control. The corporate world is on a constant drip feed of caffeine and, if you abuse it, caffeine can lead to some very undesirable side effects for your body.

Cortisol is the body's stress hormone. Your body produces a certain amount of this naturally, according to its natural rhythm but caffeine gives you an extra spike and provides energy and alertness. If you have too much, though, you'll crash. In the long term this will lead to burnout, throwing your hormones off balance and making you store unwanted body fat. Not good.

Do One Thing Action Item

Impose a total ban on caffeine in all its forms  past 2p.m. each day to help you sleep. Ideally limit yourself to two shots of espresso at 10am (your body naturally spikes cortisol first thing in the morning, so it makes more sense to have your cup of coffee after those levels have settled down in the morning).

Sleep and Sleep Deprivation

Sleep is vital to your all round health and ability to perform at work

Sleep is critical. It is well known that If you don't sleep, your body doesn't have time to repair and recover - this will make you fat, among many other health problems. If you work in the corporate world it can be incredibly difficult to get enough sleep. One of the the first places to look if you are feeling run down is sleep deprivation.

Did you know that this is the primary time when your body produces key hormones that keep you in shape? If you're a man that skips proper sleep, your testosterone production will be diminished (responsible for creating muscle mass and giving you a lean physique). If you're a woman, sleep deprivation can play havoc with your monthly cycle and disturb your hormonal balance. Add chronic stress to that equation and you'll never be able to lose that body fat.

Do One Thing Action Item

this is a tricky one (particularly if you have kids where sleep is a previous commodity). A key mindset to have if you can't sleep is not to try and 'force yourself to sleep' - just accept your situation and let you mind wander. Worrying about not sleeping is a stressor is itself!

If you have cut down on your caffeine intake, and followed the other steps in this article, your insomnia should improve. There are a host of other reasons for insomnia such as nutritional deficiencies (such as low magnesium and zinc) which need to be diagnosed by a doctor with a blood panel.

Once you've taken the bitesized item actions above in week one, you can move on to my Do One Thing advice to limiting your sugar intake, moderating alcohol, addressing nutritional deficiencies and improving gut health. That's all to come in Part 2.

Often, the above issues are interconnected and take time to get right. It's important to move yourself further along the curve towards success rather than attempt to solve everything at once. Some problems may be unsolvable (for example if you're the breadwinner in your family). That is why I recommend bite sized actions for you to take. A little incremental progress will go a long way.

If you have any questions please leave them below and I will answer them.

Check out Part 2 of this article here.

Don't work too hard.  :)

Cheers,

David