Healthy Returns

intern-queenHealthy Returns: The Importance of Taking Care of the Business…Of You

We dedicate so much of our lives to work, school, community service projects, and new ventures that we often forget we need some attention, too. All too often we neglect what could perhaps be the most critical component — our health. Relying on the “work hard, play hard” mentality to get by can act like a charm for a while, but eventually it takes a toll.

A few months ago, I found myself sinking into a bit of a depression. I’d just finished a huge project that had consumed my life for the past year, had come off the high of a successful final event and crashed. I think I slept for something like 15 hours on my first day off, but had a lot of trouble bouncing back to my normal self. A few days of dragging turned into weeks of diminished capacity.

I’d certainly pushed my physical, mental and emotional limits on the project, but even when it was over, any of the bad habits lingered and kept me in what I’d soon discover was a rather self-destructive zone. I figured I’d just snap out of it at some point, but instead had the good fortune of having dinner with some friends who changed my perspective on my weakened state of health and performance. In fact, over the next few months, they’d actually change my life.

Ashleigh Bravo and Shawn Leege own a private training and nutrition company in Los Angeles called New Life Private Training. Every time Bravo asked me when I was going to start working out with them, I’d blow off the idea, citing how busy I was. But seeing her and Leege at dinner, looking and feeling fabulous in the midst of dealing with their won entrepreneurial growing pains, suddenly inspired me. The next morning I was in the gym with Leege, who put me on a weight-training, cardio and nutrition program that represented the polar opposite of the terrible habits I had defaulted to time and time again. That meant no more sugar, caffeine or processed foods, but tons of water, fresh fruit, vegetables, protein, and lots of exercise and sleep.

Despite the initial shock of quitting cold turkey all that I had grown  to depend on, I quickly became addicted to this new way of living. It was a little brutal at first, but somehow the challenge became a wonderfully exciting one I was suddenly determined to conquer. Every morning I’d meet Leege to work out, and with in two weeks I started to see a noticeable difference in how I looked, felt and even worked. I soon was jumping out of bed earlier than ever, glowing with excitement and energy, and even turning a few heads.

It’s been a few months now and, admittedly, my travel and work schedule (and, yes, the reckless abandon of a vacation, too) haven’t allowed me to be as diligent, but I have maintained some outstanding new habits. My favorite is starting each day with a good sweaty spin on the elliptical machine. With music blasting through my iPod, CNN on the TV, and newspapers and trade journals draped over the bars, my body springs to life, the adrenaline starts pumping, and my head fills with creative ideas and solutions. In these 30 or so minutes, my day starts with a bang. (sure beats dragging myself out of bed each morning and pumping myself with caffeine to wake up!) Perhaps the most valuable takeaway, though, is the epiphany that my overall performance is directly connected to how well I treat my body. Just think of what you could do with all that extra energy, stamina and confidence. Enhance your own health and happiness, not to mention your image as a leader, and become an even greater role model and inspiration to all those you work with.