The Boss report: 2006 | 2005
Feeling stressed? A little tuckered out? An exec's life is hectic enough without worrying about your health. But missed meals, exercise and sleep are a recipe for disaster. We turned to Natasha Turner, vice-president of natural medicine, and Michael Carrera, vice-president of exercise planning and development, at Truestar Health, a health and fitness website based in Toronto, to put you on the good foot.
Commit to change
Nothing comes easy, so you have to make a commitment to change your ways, but it doesn't take too much effort to make a difference. At the very least, have quick snacks such as an organic apple or 20-30 almonds at the ready, and take a high-quality multivitamin and fish oil capsules daily. Stress depletes a body's vitamin C, so it's important to refuel, says Turner. Better still, add calcium, essential fatty acids, vitamin E and anti-oxidant supplements. Wash it down with four bottles — or one two-litre bottle — of water. One or two cups of coffee a day is fine, but green tea is better.
Plan to eat
Start the day off with a protein shake: six to eight ounces of soy milk, a cup of frozen blueberries, a tablespoon of flaxseed oil and a scoop or two of whey protein powder. Turner says these homemade smoothies balance your blood sugars for the day and reduce cravings. For lunch, stay away from fast foods laden with trans fatty acids (such as deep-fried onion rings or oily muffins), and eat only a fist-sized portion of whole-grain pasta and lots of greens. Want to indulge a little for dinner? Order a whole-grain pizza with extra sauce and all the veggies you want.
Go to sleep
Take time to unwind. Your body needs 7.5 hours of sleep a night — and you can't get them if you work an 18-hour day. One of the keys to a restful sleep is to refrain from eating at least two hours before you go to bed. Late-night snacking, says Turner, upsets your hormonal balance when you're sleeping and doesn't give your body a chance to rest. If you have to eat late, stay away from grains (pasta, white rice and breads) and stick with lean proteins (chicken, turkey, fish, beans or eggs), plenty of veggies and some healthy fats, such as a few slices of avocado or four olives.
Get on the ball
Bring a stability or exercise ball into the office and a resistance band to do three five-minutes workouts a day. Turn the radio on; do 20 abdominal crunches on the ball. Then attach the band to a door handle and row while sitting on the ball. Next time do overhead stretches (reach for the stars and rotate to one side and then the other) and then pretend to drop a pen on one side and pick it up with the opposite hand. For the third session, put the ball against a wall and lean against it with the upper back and do mini-squats; then do chest presses using the tubing.
Walk the walk
Put a pedometer on your belt with the cellphone or BlackBerry as a reminder to get up and move every hour or so. Your goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day, which is about five kilometres. That sounds like a lot, but it's accomplished by going out for a coffee, putting your lunch in the car and taking a tour of the office. Carerra says this kind of walking is known as a non-exercise workout because you really don't know you're doing it and you don't have to get changed. But buy a nice pair of black running shoes that match your suits. Want more exercise? Start a lunch walking club.
Reach up, stretch
Nothing feels better than sitting down after a brisk walk, but that puts pressure on your lower back, says Carerra. Get a mat if you don't have a carpeted floor, lie on your back, pull your knees up to your chest and hold for 20 seconds. Then do a crossover stretch. Bend the left knee at 90 degrees and pull it over your right leg toward the floor with your right hand while keeping your left arm flat on the floor. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat using your right knee and left hand. A final tip: sit on the ball to increase blood flow and circulation. That wasn't so hard was it?