How Nutrition and Training Changed My Life
My personal journey with fitness began at the age of 19. I remember clearly making the choice to make training a priority in my life. Initially I had to force myself to go to the gym. As time progressed training became an integral part of my mental and physical wellbeing. Sweating allowed me to manage my anxiety and fill my body with ‘happy hormones’. As time passed it became clear to me that regular exercise and proper nutrition would play a key role on my journey to personal and professional success. By being kind to my body it rewarded me with focus and discipline thus enabling me to continue reaching new goals.
By choosing to make training and smart eating part of my lifestyle, I began to notice major changes in how I felt throughout the day. My body was responding to the fuel I provided and by making poor choices my energy was inconsistent throughout the day impeding my productivity. “It's been clearly demonstrated that high achievers in sport also maintain high achieving professional positions. If ‘success’ in this case is being connected to professional performance, it stands to reason that there would be great returns on the investment of active lifestyle,” shares Sam Gibbs, Osteopath and Director of Clinical Operations at P3 Health in Toronto and Head Therapist for the Men’s National Basketball Program. People who choose to create a schedule in their lives - in which they prioritize their wellbeing - are better armed to have adequate energy and focus to take on their day.
When striving to advance our careers, we need to get back the basis of wellbeing. Health is not in a pill or a quick-fix diet. Health is in the lifestyle we choose for ourselves. Gibbs recommends to “Move. Find something you like to do and do it. The biggest contributor to attrition in the arena of exercise is that the person didn't have a passion for exercise or activity.” When we love a sport or type of training, we are more likely to participate. All bodies are different and for some who have social jobs, solo sports such as running, swimming or cycling may be a better fit as they will also provide a mental break. For others who work more independently, team sports can be a great way to socialize and get moving.
I encourage organizations to support wellness amongst their staff by providing opportunities for their employees to have access to reasonable gym memberships and proper nutrition. This small investment will pay off in terms of productivity. When we are feeling good, we are more creative and focused in our work space. “A 2004 study showed that employees who work out are more productive, are less stressed by their workload and are better able to manage deadlines. Exercise also enhances learning, recall, and ability to focus. It also increases alertness and energy levels, all of which are going to improve decision making. Creativity also improves. At a cellular level, exercise allows one to cope better with stress and to ultimately be more resilient. There’s also the positive impact on confidence that comes from a positive self-image, sense of mastery and pride from feeling strong and fit, which will impact other people’s perceptions and first impressions,” adds Gibbs. When employees are stressed and not releasing anxiety it will result in more errors in the work place and lower ROI overall for the company.
With wellness becoming a hot topic there is an apparent shift taking place within several businesses. Many now value the importance of having staff that are in good health which enables them to remain energized throughout their work day and problem solve as required. “It is imperative that you respect your body as it is the engine that will enable you to perform in your career. It is your temple in which all your success resides. Treat it well and it will perform well,” said Rino Dambrosio, Executive VP at Astley Gilbert. Leaders within firms are equally encouraged to manage stress levels by training and eating well as employees are often inspired by members of their senior management team in their work environment.
When we make choices to improve our health we can also help prevent and treat mental health, which has become far too prevalent in our society. With our high levels of stress and external pressures, depression and anxiety are impacting more Canadians than ever before. When we lack activity, “The downward spiral could begin with blood sugar dysregulation and sleep disturbance. This might translate into low productivity, low satisfaction and even depression,” warns Gibbs. Good mental health is achieved by achieving equilibrium with mind, nutrition and body. A daily struggle – no doubt- but one that is not as overwhelming when we make lifestyle choices that enable better choices to be readily accessible to us. Niki Fitzgerald, psychologist at CAMH shares: “Exercise has been shown to be as effective as talk therapy or medication for mild to moderate depressive symptoms. It increases the feel-good hormones, like endorphins, and decreases those associated with stress like cortisol and adrenaline.” I am not suggesting exercise will cure all mental illness cases however it can definitely play a role in improving symptoms and healing mid- to moderate- cases to push through without needing medication.
In a world where digital devices and social media often take over our lives, let us remember to stay active and nourish ourselves properly. In doing so we are respecting and loving our bodies that serve us day after day. These choices will enable us to be more successful in our workplace and in our personal lives. I resonate with Fitzgerald’s words when she says, “Psychologically, I find that exercising can be like hitting my own personal ‘reset’ button.” Fitness and nutrition are an integral part of a healthy lifestyle which can be integrated into your life at very little cost. Go for a walk. Grab a fruit. Drink more water. Small changes can make all the difference and play an integral role in your professional and personal success.