The stress of running our family hotel coupled with poor lifestyle habits—from improper rest to a bad diet, killed my father at forty two. At work, industry seniors did double-shifts for weeks without a break and rarely ate a proper meal on time... because this 24x7 sector exalted such professionals as “dedicated”.
We feed our guests and look after their welfare but not our own. It takes a toll by way of burnout, depression and even death, on an individual, his or her family and work.
Inspiration came from my maternal grandparents, both good swimmers and long-distance cyclists in their early years, incidentally non-vegetarians, who lived healthily into their 90s while continuing to at least walk and stretch each day. On the other hand, I saw colleagues who rather than blame their long hours and tough schedules, committed time to their health, thus exuding better energy and way better productivity. This is what I wanted for myself and everyone around me.
Since an early age, I trained in the National Cadet Corps (NCC), yoga, martial arts and meditation. These helped me stay anchored through challenges at work and at home. I also learnt other fitness habits from many entrepreneurs, colleagues and coaches.
Today, we’re told that wellness, well-being, fitness, etc. are different things. But rather than getting into semantics or technical definitions about what represents good health the most holistically, I’ve used them interchangeably in this piece, for the sake of ease in understanding.
Here’s an approach I find useful in developing one’s personal fitness.
The body, mind and spirit are the three pillars of health through which we face the world. Damage to one or more of them diminishes our productivity, and can destroy our capacity to meet challenges. A malfunction here, and all our business intellect and capabilities become pointless, and so managing this “system” with our thoughts, words and actions, is of utmost importance.
> Work, however important as an occupation and income, is only a part of life, not all of it.
> Be aware of the stress on account of each aspect of life.
> Plan on-going weekly fitness routines and interim breaks to refresh yourself.
> Know that “making excuses” is going to cost you, and “finding time” IS in your control.
> Disciplined execution of your plan sows the seeds of good health over the long term.
> Good habits can’t prevent an illness / accident, but can improve your ability to face them.
Words: Listen to motivational words from others and engage in positive self-talk.
Pillar 1 - The Body: Exercise, Nourish and Rest
> Exercise: Regularly train your body for strength, balance, stamina, agility and flexibility.
> Nourish: Tailor-make your ideal diet situationally, listening to your body-feedback.
> Rest: Sleep well to rejuvenate.
Pillar 2 - The Mind: Engage
> Learn a new sport, art or language.
> Practice problem solving: Work on a big or small puzzles, even if you can’t actually solve them.
> Empty your mind’s “recycle bin” frequently.
> Revitalise yourself through entertainment, nothingness and silence.
> Overcome inertia and procrastination through action.
Pillar 3 - The Spirit: Purpose
> Boost yourself through good relationships and a smile.
> Travel to experience new cultures of people, their history, food, music, etc.
> Help someone less privileged, who cannot give you back anything.
> Periodically throw yourself outside your comfort zone.
> Relax in nature: Climb a mountain, feel a river, pet an animal.
You can choose from a limitless range of other activities and an array of experts who can help you.
I believe the secret to self-preservation and growth is ensuring that the moment you find a weakness in one of these three pillars, you must engage in activities that reinforce it as well as the other two. This resurrects the weak pillar and restores the balance among the three.
For instance, if you’re feeling low, you could exercise your body with a half-hour speed-walk to experience an upliftment in your spirit. More than one walk-dose may be required to sustain that upliftment. Though it will not resolve the core of the problem, it’ll certainly give you the opportunity to think through and work out the problem in a more focussed manner.
Similarly, if one’s body is damaged, we must leverage the other two pillars—our mind and spirit. Evidence of this lies in the legendary stories of people 'using their willpower' to overcome tremendous bodily constraints through illness / accidents.
I urge you all to find activities of your choice and commit time to explore them, changing those that don’t suit you. Half an hour for yourself, is just two percent of your day. Retirement age is irrelevant. It is your fitness age and that of each individual team member that matters.
“Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been, for who you can become” – Hal Elrod.
The writer is founder and CEO of Phoenix Consulting, a business consulting firm offering start-up, developmental and turnaround assistance to entrepreneurs in the food trade.
The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.
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