Business Eye: Healthy body, healthy mind

Alex Pratt
Alex Pratt

As we head into the season of indulgence, perhaps now would be a good time to reconsider how to nurture the engine that drives your life…..your body?

Before preaching the Gospel according to Oprah, I should make clear that I drive myself too hard, eat the wrong foods and take my body for granted.

Proof enough is I’m writing this at 4am suffering acid reflux after a late night curry. Sound familiar?

Fortunately, last week I got to spend a day at leadership boot camp as part of my MD2MD programme, where a group of 12 business directors spend a day out of the office every month sharing what we know and being challenged by outside experts.

As someone else battling the opportunities and threats of the modern world, you might appreciate a recap of the key take-aways.

Rocket science it is not, and you will have heard it before, but has it found space in your daily routine?

The first lesson is that almost everyone runs dehydrated because we don’t sip water throughout the day, which is silly because a 2% drop of in our hydration typically leads to a 20% fall in performance.

What is worse, the brain finds it difficult to differentiate between thirst and hunger, so a dehydrated body is a hungry body.

The second point is that muscle burns calories at about 50 times the rate of non-muscle tissue, so the less physical activity you do, whether this be gardening, washing the car or resistance training at the gym, the slower the rate at which you will burn off the calories consumed in the food you eat.

Finally, if you are overweight like me, just accept that you are not eating because your body needs more food, but because your mind convinces you to eat something extra.

So, what and when you eat is not so much a function of hunger as it is the stress under which you place your mind. Relax more. Breathe deeply. Sleep more.

To put this into perspective, if you simply start the day with a glass of water and keep drinking all day, feel less hungry as a result and cut down the equivalent of just a bar of chocolate or glass of wine every day for a year, this change alone will mean 15-20lbs in weight loss and a higher performing you.

Healthy performance depends on healthy habits.