The Healthy Executive

Executive Health – Corporate Case Study

Increase Corporate Performance By

Increasing Executive Energy

Some executives power through fatigue. Others fall ill. Is the reason solely due to pressure? Hardly. Sustained high achievement demands energy and strength, as well as a sharp intellect. To bring mind and body to peak energy and performance, executives need to learn what ultra-endurance athletes already know: increasing energy is an important antidote to stress, fatigue, and illness.

health and productivity

by Jeff Popoff

Copyright © 2016 The Healthy Executive. All Rights Reserved.
I f there is one quality that CEOs seek for themselves and their executives, it is sustained high performance in the face of ever-increasing pressure and rapid change. But the source of such performance can be elusive and seem more fiction than fact. Performance experts have long sought to identify what makes some people stay strong under pressure and others fold. I maintain they have come up with only partial answers: results-based incentives, work-life balance programs, mindfulness-based stress reduction.

The problem with most approaches, I believe, us that they deal with people at the cognitive level, connecting high performance with access to more data or better information. In recent years there has been a growing focus on the relationship between stress, mindfulness, and high performance. Almost no one has paid attention to the role played by physical stamina and fatigue. A successful approach to high performance energy, I have found, must focus on transformation instead of information and take into account the real-word specifics of executive life both at work and home.

My approach has its roots in the decades I spent training as an ultra-endurance athlete and as a senior executive. Several years ago, executives began to ask me to help them improve their stamina, strength, and energy levels. In effect, they saw the connection between high performance at work and high performance in ultra-distance competition. They realized that to perform under pressure for the long haul, they would have to train in the systematic multi-level way that world-class athletes do. I have now tested this transformative energy model on dozens of executives. Their dramatically improved performance and their enhanced energy and stamina confirm my hypothesis of a transformative and concierge model of health and fitness. In the pages that follow, I describe my approach and results in detail.

“Being fit and energetic gives me at least four extra hours of productive time every day” — Richard Branson, CEO Virgin Group

High Performance State

Energy is the capacity to do productive work. Building, growing, and operating a business requires tremendous amounts of executive energy. It is also subjects the mind and body to tremendous amounts of stress and fatigue. Put simply, the best long-term performers sustain their strength and energy, and reduce fatigue by cultivating a condition I call the High Performance State (HPS).

So how does the average executive stack-up against an ultra-endurance athlete?

Ultra-Distance AthleteBusiness Executive
Spends most of their time trainingDevotes relatively little time to training
Spends only a fraction of their time competingMust perform on demand ten, 12, 14 hours a day
Enjoy an off-season of several monthsFortunate to get 3 or 4 weeks of vacation a year
Have an average career span of seven yearsHave careers of 40 to 50 years in length

Clearly ultra-athletes spend most of their training and building their energy and the least amount of their time expending it. In contrast, executives spend most of their time expending energy and the least amount of time cultivating it.

The higher up you are in your organization, the more demands there are on your time and energy. A relevant finding from military performance studies is the higher the echelon of command and control, the greater the pressure and fatigue. The ability to do useful mental work and situational awareness declines as energy declines and fatigue increases.

Insufficient energy results in cumulative fatigue which reduces executive performance and can result in poor decision making and personal illness. Despite clear warnings of controllable malfunctions, human error due to fatigue was determined to be a root cause of the Chernobyl, Exxon Valdez, and Challenger catastrophes.

fatigue-disaster

Jeff Popoff, an executive health coach, has worked with dozens of executives to increase their performance and energy. He is also founder of The Healthy Executive, a concierge online coaching service for men. He can be reached at jeff@thehealthyexec.com + 1 (408) 893-9570 [text or voice].

Performance and HPS

  • Productivity: Health-related productivity losses account for 77% of all employee productivity losses according to this study.
  • Cost Reduction: A comprehensive analysis of 42 published studies of corporate health promotion programs showed that companies that implemented an effective health and fitness programs realized significant financial returns, including:
    • An average of 28 percent reduction in sick days
    • An average of 26 percent reduction in health costs
    • An average of 30 percent reduction in workers’ compensation and disability management claims
    • An average $5.93 to $1 savings-to-cost ratio
  • Retention: Compared to workers who are not offered wellness programs, employees who are offered wellness programs and participate in them are more likely to have a higher level of job satisfaction, feel happier with their employer, and be more satisfied.
  • Investors: Several giants of global industry, including Novo Nordisk, Johnson & Johnson, and PepsiCo, have joined forces with nonprofit health advocacy groups to call for businesses large and small to publish information about the health of their employees.
How then do we cultivate a High Performance State (HPS) while under pressure and with limited time? The majority of business pressure is outside of direct executive control, imposed by external agents such as competitors, customers, shareholders, and directors. But the ability to meet this pressure with strength IS under executive control, namely by increasing their foundation of energy, health, and fitness.

In coaching executives, I never focus on their primary skills such as leadership, negotiating, or operations. My efforts aim instead to help executives build their foundational capacities, among them energy, endurance, strength, and robustness. Building a solid foundation of health and fitness allows executives to use their primary skills more effectively and to sustain high performance over time. Obviously, executives can perform successfully even if they smoke, drink, weigh too much, or lack strength or stamina. But they cannot perform to their full potential or without a cost over time — to themselves, to their families, and to the corporations for which they work.

“The world will belong to passionate, driven leaders — people who not only have enormous amounts of energy, but who can energize those whom they lead”. — Jack Welch, former General Electric CEO
“If the other guy is getting better, you’d better be getter better faster than the other guy is getting better…or you’re getting worse.” -Tom Peters
Information Is Not Transformation

T he health and fitness industry is $47B in the U.S. and $78.17B globally. For all that money being invested every year, you’d expect lots of results to show for it. You’d be wrong. The failure rate of diet and exercise is 80% after 1 year, 95% after 2 years, and almost 100% after 3 years (Pubmed study and ACJN study).

There are overwhelming amounts of advice and tactics on the internet about health and fitness. On Amazon.com alone there are 738,712 fitness related and 246,242 diet items for sale. It’s human nature to think that what we need to succeed is more or new information. If all we needed was information, everyone with an Internet connection would live in a mansion, have abs of steel, and be blissfully happy.

“”The plain fact is that Information does not automatically lead to transformation.”

The problem with most approaches is that they deal with people at the cognitive level, connecting high performance with access to more data or better information. A successful approach to high performance, I have found, must focus on transformation instead of information and take into account the realities of executive life at work and at home.

If information is necessary but not sufficient, then what’s missing? How does information turn into transformation? The key missing ingredient is human reciprocity:

  • We are hardwired socially, psychologically, and genetically (mirroring neurons citation) to respond to other people.
  • We achieve higher performance in groups than individually.
  • Individual health psychology is shaped by family and social environments.
  • Human reciprocity is something apps and wearables haven’t been able to duplicate [8,9].

Reciprocity in the form of coaching provides crucial human interaction and motivation that information products, smartphone apps and wearables cannot:

Transformation Key Success Factors

Firsthand InformationResearch Support
Personalized AttentionSounding Board
EmpathyBehavior Change
AccountabilityChallenge
Positive Psychology Lifestyle Design
Coach Health Online

Transformation versus Information

Executive Personalization

A major limitation of health and fitness information is that it is “one size fits all”. Most health or fitness programs require that you follow their program or schedule. Go to the gym when the trainer is available. Go to yoga when the class is scheduled. Give up an hour of sleep before work. Give up study time after school. Forfeit weekend leisure time. In addition to fixed programs or schedules, most health or fitness programs rarely account for even basic factors like age, gender, dietary requirements, or sports preferences.

The reality is everyone is unique.

People differ physiologically as well as in motivation, habits, attitudes towards health, illness or disease, work and home environment, and their family and social and cultural circles. People also have different passions, activities, and sports interests. And if developing healthy habits is hard in the home environment, it’s virtually impossible when traveling. All these factors make everyone’s life circumstances unique. Logically it follows that one’s health plan must be highly personalized.

Being a successful leader in the workplace means more responsibilities and more travel. Success also means more expectations from your boss, employees, and family (not to mention customers). The result? It’s a constant struggle to find enough time to get everything done. Especially staying healthy.

The Success Paradox: More Success = More Responsibilities = More Expectations = Less Time = Worse Health

Executives in particular encounter these specific factors in nature of their roles and the context of the corporate workplace:

  • Fast Pace
  • Leadership Energy
  • High Stress
  • Long Hours
  • High Travel
  • Client Dinners
  • High Ambiguity
  • Packed Schedules
  • Cognitive Overload
  • International Competition
  • Distributed or Remote Teams
  • Customers in Multiple Time Zones
  • Poor Posture (Too Much Sitting, Too Many Screens)
  • Too Busy To Go To The Gym

Executives face unrelenting demands on their time and energy and are often provided little individualized training or guidance. Ironically, ultra-endurance athletes get far more individualized coaching and training while face far less demand on their energy. I believe that generic health and fitness information is poor match to executive requirements. Like ultra-endurance athletes, executives too can benefit from personalized guidance in building their foundation of health and fitness.

Ultra-Distance AthleteBusiness Executive
Spends most of their time trainingDevotes relatively little time to training
Spends only a fraction of their time competingMust perform on demand ten, 12, 14 hours a day
Enjoy an off-season of several monthsFortunate to get 3 or 4 weeks of vacation a year
Have an average career span of seven yearsHave careers of 40 to 50 years in length
Case Study Background

Today’s economy is globally interconnected and “always-on” resulting in rapid change and heightened competition. This puts ever-increasing pressure on executives to continuously deliver results with high performance. This increases “Key Man” risk where the incapacitation of an executive critical to the viability and growth of an organization may cripple it. Systems and training can mitigate but never replace an individual executives knowledge, creativity, inspiration, reputation, and skills.

Even for technology companies, the biggest challenge is managing people issues in a constantly changing business environment. This requires continuous learning and tremendous amounts of leadership and team energy. Workforce research in the last decade has conclusively show that longer hours decrease productivity and that capacity and energy to do high performance work is built on a foundation of health and fitness.

Productivity falls sharply after a 50-hour work-week, and falls off a cliff after 55 hours—so much so that someone who puts in 70 hours produces nothing more with those extra 15 hours.– Citation: https://hbr.org/2015/08/the-research-is-clear-long-hours-backfire-for-people-and-for-companies
Increased health measurably allows athletes and executives to sustain higher levels of performance.
— Citation: The Corporate Athlete, Harvard Business Review R0101H

To confirm this hypothesis, a year-long trial was undertaken with an executive team in a company having these characteristics:

  • Global
    • Customers, competitors, and executives distributed around the world.
  • Rapid Change
    • Innovation and speed-to-market critical to business success.
  • Key Man Risk
    • Incapacitation of an executive would jeopardize the organization.

The Company
ran-logo smallFounded in 1999, Redknee is a high-tech company used by more than 250 telecom, retail, transportation, and energy businesses around the globe. With 1600 employees in over 50 countries, Redknee real-time monetization software processes 2.4 trillion transactions per month that benefit more than one third of the world’s population on a daily basis.

rkn-customers

The Leader
lucas-skoczkowskiAs Redknee’s founder and first employee, Lucas Skoczkowski has been directing the execution of Redknee’s business activities and corporate operations since 1999. In 2014, Lucas was featured in the Global Telecoms Business list of top 100 most influential executives in the telecoms business.

A father of two boys, Lucas is a committed life-long learner (reading 20-30 books a year) and practitioner of self-mastery (runner and weight-lifter).

lucas-kudos

“I am a type ‘A’ personality, highly ambitious, highly aggressive. I want to be successful and I want others to be successful…I have to lead by example. I have to change the organization by changing myself. Very simple, intuitive and straightforward but very hard to achieve.” — Stonewood Group interview
“Competition is fierce and the pace is unrelenting.” – LAS quote
“If you’re building a business you need high energy. High energy is very important.” – LAS, Stonewood Group interview
“Under stress people reach their highest levels of ineffectiveness.” – LAS, Stonewood Group interview
“My #1 worry about my ELT team is a major illness due to poor health.” – LAS quote
“The biggest cost of growth is the people cost.” – LAS, Stonewood Group interview

The Team
The Executive Leadership Team (ELT) is based in Toronto Canada (5), London UK (2), Munich Germany (1) with a median age of X.

The team conducts business with customers globally on a 7×24 basis and travels extensively.

Executive Leadership Team

Alternatives

T

he health and fitness market is large and competitive. As a result there are many alternatives to choose from. Most executives try several alternatives in their pursuit of performance and energy. The diagram on the following page describes 16 main alternatives, associated costs, and degree of effectiveness (see Appendix X for more detail).

Several of these alternatives can be problematic from the executives point of view. Because these alternatives are “one size fits all”, they are not a good fit with these executive realities:

  • Time Overhead
    • Alternatives such as fitness classes or team sports operate on a fixed weekly schedule. Many executives can’t participate regularly due to business travel.
  • Location Overhead
    • Alternatives such as personal trainers or health retreats operate from locations away from the office. Many executives simply can’t fit an offsite commute into their already packed schedules.
  • Cognitive Overhead
    • Alternatives such as information products are too generic, others like recipes are too intricate. These impose a cognitive cost on already overloaded executives.
  • Technology Prosthetics
    • Alternatives such as health apps or fitness wearables sound good in principle. But the emerging body of evidence is that they don’t work as well as advertised and in some cases are even counter-productive (cite JAMA study).
“It was almost liberating to know exactly what to eat and how much.” – Lucas, Redknee CEO

Two alternatives bear special mention for an executive in a corporate environment:

  • Corporate Wellness Programs
    • Corporate wellness studies have shown these programs can be effective at decreasing employee productivity losses and reducing medical costs.
    • Customer-facing executives or those who “manage by exception” may not be a good fit for the structure and schedule of these programs.
    • Privacy may also be a concern as employers can have legal access to your DNA and personal Health Risk Assessment (HRA) information.
  • Executive Health Programs (EHPs)
    • EHP’s do thorough one-day check-ups including blood work, cardio stress-test, hearing & vision, etc. Their primary focus is on disease detection, not improving individual performance or energy.
    • EHP services do not extend to the other 364 days of the year. For repeat clients, they provide year-on-year health tracking.
    • Many of my clients have seen measurable improvements year-on-year using EHP data as their baseline.
“Normally I dread the ‘lecture’ at my annual EHP visit. This year I couldn’t wait to go and test my improvements.” – David C, Redknee CFO
Tips & Tricks

  • Productivity: Get a 300% ROI
    • Productivity falls sharply after working more than 55 hours a week due to stress and fatigue.
    • Instead, invest in increasing your energy to do productive work.
    • 1 hour a week invested in health and fitness can increase your work capacity by 4 hours.
  • Nutrition: 42 minutes per week
    • Double your protein and vegetables and cut your white carbohydrates in half .
    • 21 meals per week X [1 minute making better food selection +1 minute nutrition logging]
  • Lean Muscle: 10 minutes once a week
    • Lean muscle mass and strength are leading predictors of longevity.
    • 5 compound bodyweight exercises x 2 minutes each
  • High Intensity: 9 minutes once a week
    • Poor cardiorespiratory efficiency is the greater risk factor for cardiovascular mortality.
    • 3 sets of 6 sprints x 30 seconds each

Online Coaching Checklist

  1. The number one factor to consider in online coaching is your level of technology savvy.
    • Are you comfortable doing video conferencing or instant messaging by yourself or do you require IT support?
  2. Does online coaching fit your personality type?
    • Studies show that introverts tend to perform well in electronic conversations, and even prefer a healthy distance over face-to-face conversations.
    • Note: If your goal is to develop your interpersonal skills, this medium is not congruent with that goal.
  3. Can you build bonds and express yourself easily in writing?
    • Aside from audio and video, much of your communication with your coach will be in asynchronous text.
  4. Can your coach keep up with you?
    • Can they follow your train of thought as you shift between phone, text, Skype, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter DM, and a myriad of other apps
    • Response times and availability are key factors when coaching across multiple time zones and geographies.

Your Health and Fitness Alternatives

Proposed Solution

The proposed solution chosen for this case study was chosen to test the hypothesis that energy and capacity to do high performance work is built on a foundation of health and fitness. The solution took into account the following outcomes and criteria:

  • Increase the executive High Performance State (HPS)
  • Produce Transformation, not merely supply Information
  • Provide a high degree of Personalization
  • Overcome deficiencies in Alternative Solutions

The solution chosen was a 1-year field trial of concierge online coaching designed specifically for executives.

Executive Energy and Personal Performance

Traditionally, personal health coaching is done face-to-face and is usually confined to a fixed setting. Now that technologies like smartphones and wireless internet can replicate the functions of an in-person session, face-to-face coaching is evolving to virtual coaching. Geographical locations and fixed schedules are no longer barriers because virtual coaching can be done via phone, video conference, email, SMS, iMessage, WhatsApp, FaceBook and a myriad of other apps.

Online coaching for executives solves several problems latent in alternative solutions. Specifically it address these issues:

  • Lack of Time: Online coaching only takes one 30-minute coaching session per week and two 15-minute fitness sessions.
  • Location: Sessions are done by phone from anywhere – office, while commuting, taxi, airport, at client site, etc.
  • Personalization: Executive coaching is concierge — tailored to individual requirements and circumstances.
  • Transformation: Executives understand the function of coaching is to produce sustainable internal resources
  • Social Reinforcement: Concierge coaching constructively uses social media, health apps, and wearables to provide real-time reinforcement.
  • Cognitive Overload: Online coaching works to makes health and fitness simpler and easier for the executive.

Evidence-based best-practices were used to coach executives in weekly 30-minute online sessions to improve their foundation of health and fitness. Assessments and baseline measurements were taken at the start and end of the field trial (see Results and Appendix X). The following modules were personalized per executive with a core emphasis on transformation and sustainable improvements in energy and strength:

  • Personal Health Psychology: Everyone has one of nine health psychology patterns that heavily influence their health and fitness choices.
  • Mastery Goals: Health is the result of self-mastery and automatic habits. Outcome or time-based goals are rarely, if ever, sustainable.
  • Conscious Alignment: We often hold multiple career/family/personal values or subconscious paradigms that are not aligned or even in conflict with each other.
  • Personal Motivation: I coach execs to harness their intrinsic locus of motivation and how to overcome extrinsic demotivaters.
  • Time: Execs claim they are too busy or don’t have time to focus on health. I provide multiple tactics to overcome this self-defeating script.
  • Weight Loss: Most execs typically need to lose 15 lbs or more, and I coach them on how to do it without dieting.
  • Sleep: Poor sleep can be directly linked to poor organizational performance. I show how it’s possible to sleep more and be more effective.
  • Stress: Many execs live in a sustained state of chronic stress which adversely affects their endocrine system and thus their productivity and health.
  • Body: Executives understand their perceived leadership image is influenced by how they look and carry themselves.
  • Energy: It’s hard to be innovative and creative when tired. Increased energy is directly correlated with increased productivity.
  • Travel: Managing nutrition and exercise on the road is tough. Travel also affects our sleep, stress, and energy. I teach simple rules to make leveraged improvements.
  • Meta Habits: Overcoming bad habits is good. Developing good habits is better. But meta-habits are the ‘secret’ to sustained health improvements.
  • Fitness: Highly functional fitness can be achieved in as little as 2.5 hours a week. I show executives how to do this, even when they are traveling.
  • Nutrition: Nutrition has profound effects on our health. Simple changes in what we eat can produce significant improvements.
  • Back & Neck Pain: Mobile devices and constant travel can result in poor posture which in turn can lead to pain and poor sleep.
  • Longevity: All executives are concerned about providing for their families and setting a good example for their kids. I coach them how to be an effective health influence on their loved ones.
“Sustained high achievement demands energy and strength.”

Results

Final ELT measurements are in the process of being collated for this section. The following tables show the types of data being used in this case study.

Measuring High Performance State (HPS) Results

Subjective and objective measures were used to determine whether personalized online health coaching for executives produced significant changes in their energy, strength, or stamina (High Performance State)

A Likert scale was used measure ELT respondents’ attitudes by asking the extent to which they agree or disagree with three statements. A 5-point ordered scale was used to choose one option that best aligns with their subjective view.

 

Responses lower than ‘3’ would disconfirm the effectiveness of personalized online health coaching; responses greater than ‘3’ would affirm it. The responses are for the entire executive team are summarized in the following table (n=8).

Do you agree or disagree with this statement:
(5-point Likert scale)
Aggregate
Score
(n=8)
Thesis
Affirmed?
(>= 3)
I prefer personalized health coaching over generalized health & fitness information (news, books, DVD's, etc).
4.3
Yes
Compared to in-person meetings, I found the online method of health coaching to be convenient and effective.
3.9
Yes
My energy, strength, or stamina has improved as a result of online health coaching.
4.1
Yes

RKN ELT versus Industry Comparison

A recent E-Coach Associates survey of 300 U.S and European users of online coaching found that 97.9% respondents felt the format was effective, 85.3% found they learned something they didn’t know before, and 76.2% felt it applied to their work situation.

under_construction

The following objective measures were taken to assess changes in executive energy, strength, or stamina. [Editors Note: This section is under draft].

ELT Survey Results & Raw Data

ELT Final Survey Raw Data

RKN ELT PATH Types

For health psychology scoring explanations and values for Patterns Adapting To Health (PATH) please see Appendix X.

heat-map-keyelt-surveys

For motivation scoring explanations and values for Readiness, Food Environment, and Social Support please see Appendix X.

rkn-elt-dispositions

For health disposition scoring explanations and values please see Appendix X.

rkn-league-table

For ELT League Table scoring explanations and values for Habits and Outcomes please see Appendix X.

rkn-elt-pre-post-fitness

For scoring explanations and values for Sitting-Rising Test (SRT) and Handgrip Strength please see Appendix X.

Mid-Point Assessment

Halfway through the trial, the eight Redknee executives were surveyed for program efficacy (see Appendix X for full details). Verbatim session feedback and objective measurements showed that:

  • Their fastest gains occurred in their energy and strength levels and lean muscle mass.
  • Their slowest changes were observed in their body recomposition, typically fat loss.
  • Their number one challenge in maintaining program adherence was business travel.

The executives were most satisfied with their:

  • Individualized goals and personalized health programs
  • Coaching support and motivation
  • Customized nutrition and fitness routines

The most challenging items for them to implement were:

  • Nutrition logging
  • Stress eating
  • Interval (cardio) training

 

Lucas’s Story

As Redknee’s founder and first employee, Lucas has been directing the execution of Redknee’s business activities and corporate operations since 1999. In 2014, Lucas was featured in the Global Telecoms Business list of top 100 most influential executives in the telecoms business.

Coaching Observations:

Lucas approached me with dual health and fitness objectives:

  • for his executive leadership team (ELT),
  • and for himself as CEO.

Both Lucas and his executive team shared several characteristics in common:

  • Strong motivation to proactively get results
  • Stressful job roles involving constant international travel
  • An ethos of continuous improvement in a highly competitive industry

Lucas made the following observations about the business and his team:

“My #1 worry about my ELT team is a major illness due to poor health.”
“Executive impairment (key man risk) is frustrating, because while I can mitigate and maintain the situation, my business must advance to stay competitive.”
“Stress creates a negative mindset. Being healthy creates a positive halo effect in my executives.”
“I have seen that if my executive team is low energy or not feeling well, its leads to employee uncertainty and lower performance.”
“At first my executives were very skeptical about health coaching. But over time it became a team value we shared consciously.”
“Each executive has taken away some personal health improvement from this coaching program.”
“My entire executive team found that just a few minutes of exercise a week is all that’s need to make a big difference in their energy levels.”
“What it means to the business is, for example, my CFO had very high business stress the last 6 months, but his health and his fitness at have been the best he’s had in his life.”
“The business is in better shape despite expecting negative impacts due to stress. Despite all the stressors on the business, my executives feel more optimistic than expected.”
Lucas’ Goals
Lucas completed several personalized assessments with me in order to develop a customized nutrition and fitness plan that fit his unique business and family circumstances. The assessments included strength levels, a nutritional baseline, food literacy, individualized health psychology, stress levels, readiness for change, and social support.
 
On the plus side, I found Lucas to be strongly commitment and highly proactive in the areas of health, fitness, and nutrition. On the minus side, Lucas faced a number of stressors including a highly demanding CEO role, seasonal allergies, getting married, and having a new baby. A father of three kids, Lucas is a committed life-long learner (reading 20-30 books a year) and practitioner of self-mastery (runner and weight-lifter). 
  
Lucas set himself the following nutrition and fitness goals:
  1. Get to his ideal body composition (2010 levels)
  2. Improve his intensity effort levels (as measured by V02 Max)
  3. Improve his robustness against illness
Achieving his goals required a systematic nutrition (ketogenic) and intensity training as well as coaching in specific areas such as stress eating triggers and specific countermeasures, endocrine analysis (specifically cortisol and testosterone), working through a small number of routine injuries, and coordinating with his strength coach. Lucas also proactively seeks out health information and as I result I also did customized research into theory of willpower, caffeine, fiber, micro-supplementation, heart rate variability (HRV), Wim Hof method, Refeed techniques and optimization, reverse dieting, and oxygen. I also monitored Lucas’ daily food and food and exercise logs, including wireless inputs from his Withings scale and sleep monitor.
  
Lucas had the highest level coaching (>>80%) adherence of his executive team (adherence is measured by made/missed coaching sessions, food logging, and tangible progress in fitness markers).
  
In his own words, Lucas describes his experiences and insights into becoming healthier and fitter:
“I am a type ‘A’ personality, highly ambitious, highly aggressive. I want to be successful and I want others to be successful…I have to lead by example. I have to change the organization by changing myself.” — Stonewood Group interview

In the past, what kinds of diets or exercises programs DIDN’T work for you and why not?

  • Previously I never really engaged in gym classes or diets.

What results did you achieve?

  • Cleveland Clinic indpendently measured my health and fitness markers prior to and after being coached. Here are my results:
Cleveland Clinic
Measure
Before
Coaching
After
Coaching
Absolute
Change
Relative
Improvement
Weight94 kg86 kg-8 kg8.5%
Waist103.9 cm95.3 cm-8.6 cm8.3%
BMI31.4 kg/m^^229.1 kg/m^^22.3 kg/m^^27.3%
Resting
HR
69 bpm63 bpm-6 bpm8.7%
Peak
HR
157 bpm174 bpm+ 17 bpm10.8%
V02
Max
33.3
ml/kg/min
42.0
ml/kg/min
+ 8.7
ml/kg/min
27.3%
Push
Strength
59 kg62 kg+3 kg 5.1%
Pull
Strength
42 kg60 kg+18 kg42.9%
Grip
Strength
90 kg96 kg+6 kg 6.7%
Flexibility
(fwd flex)
74
degrees
92
degrees
+18
degrees
24.3%

What specific changes did you make to your eating or exercise did you make while being coached?

  • I became more aware of good and bad choices in my eating and how to select alternatives foods.
  • I lowered my daily calorie intake.
  • I added high intensity internal training to my toolkit.

What health habits were easiest and hardest for you to change?

  • Stress eating (especially carbs) was the hardest thing for me to change.
  • Maintaining my workouts and keeping track of calories was easiest.
“Year-over-year, I’ve lost weight, I’m stronger and more aware, despite a worse combination of heavy travel, reduced sleep, and high stress.”

Client HIIT TrainingHow do you measure yourself to see if you are staying on track?

  • I measure my weight and body fat, strength (weight lifting), running stamina (distance).

How do you get yourself back on track if you miss miss your nutrition goals, workout, coaching session, etc?

  • I just keep going no matter what.

You travel for business. How do you maintain your health and fitness when you are on the road?

  • It’s hard. I take healthy snacks when I travel, avoid airport and plane food, and adjust my meals based on the healthiest options available to me.
  • Fitness-wise I focus on maintenance and I am more conscious of my sleep needs.
“We travel to see customers a lot in our business, and when you are sick, its hard to travel.”

In what ways does social support play a role in changing your eating or exercise habits?

  • My coach was helpful and my team kept me accountable. At home it was mixed because everyone has their own personal food preferences. My broader social network was not helpful.

You are a busy member of an executive team. How do you find the time to be healthy?

  • I prioritized the time.
“I love that I can work out in just a few minutes at the hotel when traveling.”

If you could go back and do anything different about improving your nutrition or fitness, what would it be?

  • I would be stricter on monitoring my food intake.

What was the hardest thing for you to change?

  • Stress eating.

What do you enjoy the most about your healthy lifestyle? What inspires you to keep it day after day?

  • I feel better about myself!
“Under stress people reach their highest levels of ineffectiveness.”

Compare how you feel now compared to when you first started out?

  • Definitely better :)

What has surprised you most about the health changes you’ve made?

  • I was surprised how small health changes positively compound over time.
“If you’re building a business you need high energy. High energy is very important.” – LAS, Stonewood Group interview

What success factors, tips, or hacks can you share that help make your health habits and motivation consistent?

  • Weekly online coaching kept me prepared and on track.
  • Reducing my sugar was a big improvement to my nutrition.
  • Interval training saved me time when working out.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

  • Small health and fitness changes add up to huge results.
“Feeling healthy and strong feels more in control and this leads to better decisions and better results.”

David’s Story

David Charron is the Chief Financial Officer and Corporate Secretary of Redknee. David is responsible for all financial and corporate matters of the company, including financial and management reporting, financial planning and analysis and investor relations as well as Redknee’s legal function.

Coaching Observations: Due to the nature of his corporate role, David started his health coaching with high stress levels. His readiness assessment score was noncommittal and his nutrition awareness score was neutral to low. His motivation to improve his health included a vacation in Hawaii and an 82 year-old role model who was very active and very healthy. David faced the usual challenges of corporate travel and team-building meals. He also had to overcome a minor injury that prevented him for exercising for a few weeks.

Because of the timing of his annual executive health review at Cleveland Clinic, David was able to objectively measure his year-on-year health coaching changes as follows:

  • Lost 13 pounds (from 190 to 177)
  • Lost 5 inches off his waist (from 43″ to 38″)
  • 24% improvement in aerobic capacity (from 33 to 41 ml/kg/min)
  • 1.5 cm taller in height (improved posture)
  • 9% increase in Grip Strength (from old L: 91.4 / R: 96.2 / A:187.6 to L: 98.6 /R: 106 / A: 204.6)
  • Stronger in Push-Pull Test
  • Improved bloodwork
  • Lowered cardiovascular risk (Framingham Score)

On a day-to-day level, David noticed his clothes fit loser. He developed greater nutritional awareness about sugar and protein and kept healthy snacks at work when he notice the company snack bowl was stocked with chocolates and chips. He sustained his health and fitness routines while on vacation, especially his walking. The CEO of his company noticed and commented quite favorable on David’s health and fitness improvements. David’s coaching session adherence was 52% (13/25 = 16 calls in 29 weeks +1 text check-in -3 business -1 family).

In his own words, David describes his experiences and insights into becoming healthier and fitter.

david-charronIn the past, what kinds of diets or exercises programs DIDN’T work for you and why not?

  • Diets that did not work from me included strict calorie, carb or alcohol restrictions.
  • Exercise programs that didn’t work include long programs that are impractical.
“I feel in my best shape in 10 years.”

What specific changes did you make to your eating or exercise did you make in the last 6 months?

  • Specifically I did shorter exercise program of basic movements (push-ups, pull-ups and squats) and HIIT exercises coupled with daily treadmill fast-walking (while watching sports).
  • Eating habits I changed include daily protein shake for breakfast, a focus on protein and greens/vegetables and a protein bar as a snack. I also have cut down on alcohol and sugar.
“My golf drives have never been longer…I feel more core strength and better balance….less ‘chopping wood’.”

What health habits were easiest and hardest for you to change?

  • Easiest for me was to focus on basic exercise movements at home or hotel room; hardest was to cut back on alcohol!
“This year, I actually enjoyed getting my annual physical.”

How do you measure yourself to see if you are staying on track?

  • My measurements included daily caloric consumption via MyFitnessPal (at first), daily weight measurement, and “max ability” of exercise repetitions.

How do you get yourself back on track if you miss miss your nutrition goals, workout, coaching session, etc?

  • Getting back on track is generally through a feeling of guilt and/or sluggishness that motivates me to return to practices that make me feel good about myself.
“This year my doctor didn’t give me the ‘usual lecture’ about my health and fitness.”

You travel for business. How do you maintain your health and fitness when you are on the road?

  • What works for me is exercising in the hotel room and making “good” choices regarding food/snacks/limiting alcohol

In what ways does social support play a role in changing your eating or exercise habits?

  • It’s very important. At home, I’m fortunate to have my wife and daughters who are also very health conscious and who make exercise and healthy eating a daily routine. At work I make sure I have healthy choices available to me.

You are a busy member of an executive team. How do you find the time to be healthy?

  • Routines are important! I exercise in the morning before m first meeting starts. And I make sure healthy food choices are available at my desk, or a short walk away.
“I prefer strength training over cardio.”

If you could go back and do anything different about improving your nutrition or fitness, what would it be?

  • Ideally – I would have started this sooner because I feel healthier now at 54 than i did in my 40’s!

What was the hardest thing for you to change?

  • The hardest thing for me was cutting back on carbs/snacks and alcohol…it’s still is a challenge
“My exercises are very efficient. No excuses!”

What do you enjoy the most about your healthy lifestyle? What inspires you to keep it day after day?

  • Feeling stronger and more active is the best part for me. My golf game is better andI feel more active around the house in general.

Compare how you feel now compared to when you first started out?

  • I feel stronger, fitter, and more energetic than I did 6 months ago.

What has surprised you most about the health changes you’ve made?

  • I was surprised that it didn’t require wholesale or 180 degree change. Instead, small changes that over time made a significant impact!
“I liked Jeff’s approach of forming good habits. The key is keeping it simple.”

What success factors, tips, or hacks can you share that help make your health habits and motivation consistent?

  • Weekly coaching (like going to church) provides me with both motivation and inspiration. Daily measurements are also helpful.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

  • I remember a saying that goes the something like “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. That applies to having more strength and stamina as well!
“Executive Health Programs are like going to church once a year. You need to go every week for it to have any effect.”

Ralf’s Story

Dr. Ralf Guckert is the Chief Technology Officer at Redknee. In this role, he is in charge of implementing Redknee’s product roadmap with a focus on creating solutions to the problems faced by customers. He lives in Europe with his family and is an avid motocross rider.

Coaching Observations: Like many executives, Ralf was active and energetic (soccer, running, gym) until several corporate relocations caused him to lose his fitness edge. He came to me frustrated by his decreased energy and flexibility and increased weight. He had a prior history of failed crash diets and struggle with his health motivation. After starting health coaching, Ralf noticed subjective improvements in his energy levels after 6 weeks and could see new lean muscle in 8 weeks (47% increase in push-ups). He was able to lose 5 kg (11 lbs) of fat due to changes such as getting rid of junk food and sweets from his pantry, reducing his white card intake (bread, potatoes, noodles), increasing his protein (including tofu), and using nutrition logging to assess his food choices. A previous back injury that immobilized him for 3.5 days previously (carrying a heavy printer) now only resulted in minor soreness for 2.5 days (carrying a box of heavy books) due to the Health Executive posture module. His coaching session adherence was 65% (15/23 = 13 calls in 29 weeks +2 email check-ins, -3 travel, -3 family).

In his own words, Ralf describes his experiences and insights into becoming healthier and fitter.

Ralf GIn the past, what kinds of diets or exercises programs DIDN’T work for you and why not?

  • Previously I tried various programs in an effort to reduce my weight. They were all about a limiting the amount of calories (some fairly extreme). In short, this reduces your weight but there is a “ping-pong” after you stop your diet. My overall result from these programs was slightly negative (I gained weight).

What specific changes did you make to your eating or exercise did you make in the last 6 months?

  • I reduced the amount of “bad food” that I used to have in the kitchen (chips, chocolate, etc.). I was mostly eating them in the evening when I watched TV. Also, Jeff made me focus on “less carbs – more protein”. This helped me a great deal.

What health habits were easiest and hardest for you to change?

  • I found it difficult to reduce my chocolate (it is a reward to myself). But it was pretty easy to reduce my carbs. My wife helped by “modifying” our main courses. I did not change all my habits — I still enjoy red wine too much :-)

Ralf Polar GraphHow do you measure yourself to see if you are staying on track?

  • Pretty much by looking at my scale. On occasion, I check the calories for main dishes I am not familiar with. Also, I am still looking on improving my physical strength using boxing exercise (I monitor my heart rate with my Polar…pretty easy).

How do you get yourself back on track if you miss miss your nutrition goals, workout, coaching session, etc?

  • I try to make up for it when I am back in my familiar environment. I do skip coaching sessions once in a while :-)

You travel for business. How do you maintain your health and fitness when you are on the road?

  • I’m not sure I am doing as well as I could. I do try to watch the amount of food I eat when traveling. I have an exercise routine that I do in the morning (a scaled down version of my boxing work-out) that I try and do every other day.
Winner of Corporate Award for Most Improved Nutrition and Fitness

In what ways does social support play a role in changing your eating or exercise habits?

  • This is pretty essential. The good news is that my wife liked the idea of me becoming a bit more heathy a lot and she is a great cook. It was even fun for her since she got to try new recipes and dishes.

You are a busy member of an executive team. How do you find the time to be healthy?

  • I find that a scaled down version of the boxing excersise in the evening works well. I also augmented that with riding my motor-cross bike 2-3 times a week in the evening. I also do a high intensity session on the weekend.

If you could go back and do anything different about improving your nutrition or fitness, what would it be?

  • I don’t really know. I would not do another diet that just reduces the amount of calories as I am convinced that this does not work in the long run. So far, the Healthy Executive program seem4 to be more sustainable.
“”People noticed I lost weight including my CEO.”

What was the hardest thing for you to change?

  • I miss the sweets I used to eat in the evening sometimes.

What do you enjoy the most about your healthy lifestyle? What inspires you to keep it day after day?

  • I enjoy the higher energy level that I seem to have. Also, I love my motorcycle runs and my team event on the weekend.
    It’s a challenge to do additional short workout sessions during the week.

Compare how you feel now compared to when you first started out?

  • I feel more energetic and also enjoy my “new look”. And of course, people noticing that I lost weight…
“I don’t miss my unhealthy habits — and now I miss my healthy habits when I’m on vacation.”

What has surprised you most about the health changes you’ve made?

  • I lost 5 kg (11 lbs) and gained obvious upper body strength. I am fairly amazed that this was not so hard. It was just a case of improving my diet and adding a few exercises.

What success factors, tips, or hacks can you share that help make your health habits and motivation consistent?

  • I found that I need to “measure”. I got myself a Polar that allows me to measure the heart rate during my exercise. I use their web-application to see how well I did. I find measuring is important because I discovered that I work a lot harder when in a team compared to being alone in my basement.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

  • So far my journey has been fun! Let’s see how that continues. My biggest challenge will be to keep the “fun” level fairly high. And I will still enjoy my wine…

Nitin’s Story

Nitin Singhal is Vice President of Partner Alliances and works with the world’s leading System Integrators to enable monetization of the mobile internet. He lives in Canada with his family and travels extensively around the world on business.

Coaching Observations: Nitin improved his nutrition and was able to lose a total of 8.5 lbs fat and as result had to have his suits retailed. He improved his aerobic fitness (V02 Max) by 9% by doing high intensity intervals on his home elliptical trainer. He reported increased energy 8 weeks into his coaching program and ran the Canadian Cancer Society “Ride N’ Stride” with his son. Specific nutrition changes included reduced late night snacking (75% reduction), substituting 50% quinoa for rice in at-home meals, eliminating salad dressings at lunch, modified baked goods recipes to be lower in sugar and butter (i.e. zucchini bread), and avoiding poor foods rather than having to log/report them to his coach. Nitin developed a very concious health and fitness psychology, with a willingness to experiment with new choices, take social events eating in stride, and monitor how his nutrition and exercise choices made him feel. His coaching session adherence was 64% (16/25 = 15 calls in 29 weeks +1 email check-in -2 travel -2 family).

In his own words, Nitin describes his experiences and insights into becoming healthier and fitter.

nitin-singhalIn the past, what kinds of diets or exercises programs DIDN’T work for you and why not?

  • I never really engaged in gym classes or exercise programs. As for diets again I never really followed a formal diet. I did try the go to the gym 3 days a week for 1 hour and that died off after a few months because of other life distractions.

What specific changes did you make to your eating or exercise did you make in the last 6 months?

  • I delay my breakfast so as to reduce the quantity of food based (its easiest not to think about food early in the day). I reduced the snacking at night and the number of baked goods I eat. The other main change is I eat salads for lunch.
  • I do 3 simple exercises a few times a week that don’t require going to the gym.
“I was very aware of not feeling good — this was my motivation to change.”

What health habits were easiest and hardest for you to change?

  • The snacking at night and reduction of baked goods were the easiest.
  • Delaying breakfast and going to salads and lunch were the easiest.
“Heroic efforts are not sustainable.”

How do you measure yourself to see if you are staying on track?

  • Taking weekly weight readings, checking with myself how I feel, looking in the mirror, and seeing how my clothes fit.

How do you get yourself back on track if you miss miss your nutrition goals, workout, coaching session, etc?

  • I simply go back to my default healthy meal plan.
“I don’t feel like I am dieting, but instead I am making smarter nutrition choices.”

You travel for business. How do you maintain your health and fitness when you are on the road?

  • I stick to my nutrition plan and continue my simple exercises.

In what ways does social support play a role in changing your eating or exercise habits?

  • It was helpful to know that the work that I was putting in was appreciated and it was motivating to try and show my family and friends the improvement I was making.

You are a busy member of an executive team. How do you find the time to be healthy?

  • I make it an integral part of my life.
“I feel educated and in control.”

If you could go back and do anything different about improving your nutrition or fitness, what would it be?

  • I wish I had been more aware of them earlier in life.

What was the hardest thing for you to change?

  • Adjusting my eating and resisting temptations.
“The biggest risk is too many irons in the fire — then health gets skipped.”

What do you enjoy the most about your healthy lifestyle? What inspires you to keep it day after day?

  • I feel better and look better!

Compare how you feel now compared to when you first started out?

  • I feel 50-60% better, and still have room for improvement.

What has surprised you most about the health changes you’ve made?

  • I was surprised that I could sustain healthy changes and not have a huge impact to my life.
“A feeling of momentum is important.”

What success factors, tips, or hacks can you share that help make your health habits and motivation consistent?

  • Make sure that you find something that works for you!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

  • I would add that you will truly feel better and it is worth the investment to education yourself and that you don’t have to impact your life or add a lot more hours to do things to hit your health and fitness goals. Just being aware makes a big difference.
“I don’t feel I am missing anything as a result of my heath & fitness changes.”

Vishal’s Story

Vishal Kothari is the Chief Operating Officer at Redknee. Vishal is responsible for Redknee’s global sales, delivery and support organizations. He leads a diverse and experienced team that is responsible for all aspects of the company’s sales, operations and delivery services including professional services and customer support.

Coaching Observations: Vishal started his online coaching with good foundation of nutrition (vegetarian) and aerobic fitness (avid runner and former squash player). His main fitness goal was to develop his strength and lean body mass. He followed a basic but effective bodyweight strength routine. He also incorporated interval training into his regular running routine. His nutritional goal was to improve his macronutrients, specifically increasing protein and decreasing sugar.

Vishal’s composite strength increased 66% ((26+18+57)/(12+6+43)) based on his following individual measures:

  • 117% increase in Pull-ups (from 12 to 26)
  • 200% increase in Push-ups (from 6 to 18)
  • 33% increase in Squats (from 43 to 57)

Vishal’s internal training had the following impact on his aerobic efficiency (Cooper V02 Test)

  • Before = 12.6 minutes 70% percentile
  • After = pending

His coaching session adherence was 77% (17/22 = 10 calls +7 mail check-ins in 29 weeks -7 travel absences).

In his own words, Vishal describes his experiences and insights into becoming healthier and fitter.

vishal-kothariIn the past, what kinds of diets or exercises programs DIDN’T work for you and why not?

  • I never really followed a dieting program in past.

What specific changes did you make to your eating or exercise did you make in the last 6 months?

  • I added regular interval training and intermittent strength training.
“I make my mind up to do something and just do it.”

What health habits were easiest and hardest for you to change?

  • I found that interval training was easy to add. My strength training took some time to start, but once I started it became routine.

How do you measure yourself to see if you are staying on track?

  • I measure my regular runs, strength training repetitions, and watch my intake of chocolates :)

How do you get yourself back on track if you miss miss your nutrition goals, workout, coaching session, etc?

  • I just make sure to do it.

You travel for business. How do you maintain your health and fitness when you are on the road?

  • Running is the main thing I do.

In what ways does social support play a role in changing your eating or exercise habits?

  • Both my wife and I are both into regular fitness, so we keep each other motivated.

You are a busy member of an executive team. How do you find the time to be healthy?

  • I make time on most days.

If you could go back and do anything different about improving your nutrition or fitness, what would it be?

  • Perhaps I would join a gym to ensure more regular and a more variety of strength training.

What was the hardest thing for you to change?

  • For me it was getting into habit of doing something beyond just running.

What do you enjoy the most about your healthy lifestyle? What inspires you to keep it day after day?

  • I enjoy being fit.

vishal-strengthCompare how you feel now compared to when you first started out?

  • I certainly feel good that I can do more pushups and pull-ups than when I started. Health-wise I feel similar.

What has surprised you most about the health changes you’ve made?

  • There were no surprises.

What success factors, tips, or hacks can you share that help make your health habits and motivation consistent?

  • The key thing is to try new things for a few times.
“I enjoy being fit.”

Chris NS’s Story

Chris NS is the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Redknee. Chris is responsible for developing Redknee’s market strategy and enabling our global partnerships. In this function, he has responsibility for product management, corporate and product marketing, and the development of Redknee’s portfolio of patents.

Coaching Observations: Chris began his coaching already healthy and fit and at a good weight. He achieved an almost perfect score in the Sitting-Rising Test (SRT). His assessment scores showed preexisting good commitment to health, fitness, and nutrition. His food environment, social support, and readiness for change scores were also positive. His stress was moderately elevated (70th percentile) — not unexpected given his corporate role. Chris’s motivation was that he saw his “free health pass expiring” and wanted to improve his nutrition and protect his back against preventable and future injuries.

Chris used his health coaching to explore his nutrition and exercise options. He then selectively adopting habits that worked best for him — notably exercise when traveling and smartphone tracking and tutorial apps. He also joined squash club and began training for a half-marathon. Interestingly, Chris rated the format of online coaching sessions as low for him. But at the same time he also asked many good health and fitness questions and was able to translate my recommendations into modes that fit his psychology and lifestyle. In the context of his already good health and fitness this is not an unreasonable outcome.

In his own words, Chris describes his experiences and insights into becoming healthier and fitter.

chris-newton-smithIn the past, what kinds of diets or exercises programs DIDN’T work for you and why not?

  • I haven’t been on a diet previously. I don’t have an exercise program that didn’t work for me.

What specific changes did you make to your eating or exercise did you make in the last 6 months?

  • I made no changes to my eating. I have been exercising more regularly and more often.
“My free health pass is expiring.”

What health habits were easiest and hardest for you to change?

  • For me the easiest was adding exercise while traveling (Jeff provided some suggested exercises).
  • The hardest was to exercise consistently when not traveling.

How do you measure yourself to see if you are staying on track?

  • I use some of the smartphone apps to track my progress for both cardio and strength exercises.

You travel for business. How do you maintain your health and fitness when you are on the road?

  • Jeff provided me with exercises that I could do in my hotel room. I complemented these with some workouts from the Nike Training app.

In what ways does social support play a role in changing your eating or exercise habits?

  • Encouragement from my wife was helpful.

You are a busy member of an executive team. How do you find the time to be healthy?

  • Doing shorter, more frequent exercise sessions.
  • Adding more exercise while traveling.

What was the hardest thing for you to change?

  • Improving consistency was hardest for me.

What do you enjoy the most about your healthy lifestyle? What inspires you to keep it day after day?

  • I enjoy feeling fitter.

Compare how you feel now compared to when you first started out?

  • I feel noticeably fitter.

My energy, strength, or stamina has improved as a result of health coaching:

likert-item-4-rating

What success factors, tips, or hacks can you share that help make your health habits and motivation consistent?

  • I find smartphone apps effective. They track my achievements, progress, and provide instructional videos.

 

Angela’s Story

Angela is a professional engineer and a senior sales executive at a high-tech company. Her role requires frequent international business travel. She servers on the Diversity’s Women on Boards Committee for the Information Technology Association of Canada and was Founder and Co-Chair of the Women in Trades, Technology & Engineering Committee.

In her own words, Angela describes her experiences and insights into becoming healthier and fitter.

Angela JetIn the past, what kinds of diets or exercises programs DIDN’T work for you and why not?

  • Diets that consisted of drastic “cold turkey” changes were never sustainable for me. I would usually give up since there was never any scientific information provided on health benefits and how the diet is truly impacting my body. Diets and exercise programs tailored to my lifestyle and my personality would have longevity.

What specific changes did you make to your eating or exercise did you make in the last 6 months?

  • I began to track what I put into my body with the use of MyFitnessPal. I prioritized my workouts and scheduled them into my work schedule. While travelling I had a plan of attack on making sure I stayed active and brought along healthy snacks in case I only came across fast food options.
“I know what is needed to sustain my healthy lifestyle.”

What health habits were easiest and hardest for you to change?

  • By having alternatives for unhealthy options while out for client outings and meal planning ahead of time I was able to sustain healthy eating habits, but if my work schedule picked up with travel it was difficult to sustain. I wouldn’t look at what I did wrong yesterday to bring me down, but continued to stick to the plan right when I returned from a hectic work week of travels. Being a female, I found it difficult to not give into my cravings during PMS, but long-term as long as I plan to have healthy alternatives in advance I’m sure I can overcome this.

How do you measure yourself to see if you are staying on track?

  • I gain weight in my bottom half, so I would take thigh measurements to see how much I would progress. Also, I would weigh myself weekly and just gauged my progress through looking in the mirror and the way my clothes would fit.

How do you get yourself back on track if you miss your nutrition goals, workout, coaching session, etc?

  • I don’t beat myself up about falling off track and just get back to it. As long as I continue moving forward and I’m adamant about making my health goals I am happy with my accomplishments.

You travel for business. How do you maintain your health and fitness when you are on the road?

  • By planning ahead and buying healthy snacks during travel I am able to maintain my program. Sometimes my work schedule during travels and my jet lag begin to take a toll so I make sure to prioritize rest and make healthy eating choices if I can’t make the gym. I also have a short 12-15 min full body HIIT workout I can do in my room for when I can’t do a full workout.

In what ways does social support play a role in changing your eating or exercise habits?

  • By getting my family and friends involved in my health goals we were able to motivate each other into making health conscious decisions when out at social gatherings. We also took the initiative to do physical activities together and check up on each others progress.

You are a busy member of an executive team. How do you find the time to be healthy?

  • I have realized my health is very important to enjoy life with my loved ones. I have learned to make it a priority and not to stress or give up when I fall off track.

If you could go back and do anything different about improving your nutrition or fitness, what would it be?

  • I wish I learned more about nutrition and healthier habits during my university days. I think we all don’t realize the impact of a healthy lifestyle when you are young and have full mobility. It’s never too late to make these changes, but the sooner the better.

What was the hardest thing for you to change?

  • The social aspect to my personal life and my outings with clients made it quite difficult for me to cut out alcohol. I’m still working on these changes and making healthier choices.

What do you enjoy the most about your healthy lifestyle? What inspires you to keep it day after day?

  • To know that if I sustain this healthy lifestyle I will be able to travel the world with the people the mean most and continue having full mobility and strength to explore any activity or place I desire.

Compare how you feel now compared to when you first started out?

  • I feel more knowledgeable about nutrition, stress, exercise, social pressures, self motivation and how my personality impacts sustaining changes. I also know what is required to continue to make positive decisions and to sustain a healthy lifestyle.

What has surprised you most about the health changes you’ve made?

  • I surprised myself with how I continued to stick with my health plan and didn’t deviate from it when I put my mind to it.

What success factors, tips, or hacks can you share that help make your health habits and motivation consistent?

  • I would say not giving up and keeping a positive attitude around these changes even when they didn’t go to plan this is what has kept me going. The positive changes in my health and my exercise routine have truly made me feel better day-to-day.

What success factors, tips, or hacks can you share that help make your health habits and motivation consistent?

  • I have made my health a priority and I truly believe that is an accomplishment in itself especially in this North American mentality where hard work and devotion to your job is expected. Finding that balance between your family, health and career can be quite the circus act, but in due time your efforts will pay off and you will truly feel like you can accomplish anything.

Angela Construction Site

 

Chris M’s Story

chris-mcgradyChris M has 25 years’ experience in the IT industry and is Vice President of Human Resources, Integration Management, and Corporate IT & Security.

Coaching Observations: Chris’s health goal was to lose weight and his fitness goal was to run comfortably with less wear and tear on his body. His master goal was eudaimonia, the Aristotelian ethic of “human flourishing” or living well. Chris has a “family centered” heath psychology and this borne out as he became his son’s running coach. While in my program, Chris contracted an acute respiratory illness but he made an expedient and full recovery. In his opinion, the robustness of his health was a key factor in his recovery; this was corroborated by hospital tests of his immune system.

Nutritionally Chris eats well at home and on the road, but finds diet a bit more challenging when his kids are home during school holidays. As a result making Healthy Executive changes to his nutrition, he was able to reduce his weight nearly 20kg (from an all-time of high of 136 to 116kg).

My baseline measurements indicated Chris was physically strong — in the 99% percentile for grip strength and push-ups, and the 95% percentile for aerobic capacity. His sitting-rising test score indicated less than ideal lower-body flexibility (lower back and knees). He improved his lower back flexibility by stretching and rowing twice a week and used an elliptical trainer to work around a recurrent knee injury. Chris does regular strength training and improved his lifting when coached on the “in-roading” technique.

In his own words, Chris describes his experiences and insights into becoming healthier and fitter:

In the past, what kinds of diets or exercises programs DIDN’T work for you and why not?

  • Eating three meals a day with limited servings did not work for me. Due to lower-back and knee injuries, my exercising was very sporadic.

What specific changes did you make to your eating or exercise did you make in the last 6 months?

  • I generally limited food to 1-2 meals per day and reduced low nutrition intake (beer), limited carbohydrates (stopped eating sandwiches for lunch). Also, I became rigorous around daily morning exercise – 40 minutes aerobic and 20 minutes of strength training.
“I lost 20kg (44 lbs) while being coached.”

What health habits were easiest and hardest for you to change?

  • All my changes were relatively easy. My difficulties come when ‘normal’ daily routines are disturbed, such as school holiday times when children are at home.

How do you measure yourself to see if you are staying on track?

  • I continue to weigh myself weekly and informally count calories. I also try to set increasing effort levels on exercises (greater x-trainer resistance, more reps, more weight ) progressively.

How do you get yourself back on track if you miss your nutrition goals, workout, coaching session, etc?

  • I try and get back into my rhythm. I find that having a set daily routine is most effective for me.

You travel for business. How do you maintain your health and fitness when you are on the road?

  • In general I do a few bodyweight exercises in my hotel room and keep my dinner with my team moderate.
“My strong health contributed to my rapid recovery from an acute illness.”

You are a busy member of an executive team. How do you find the time to be healthy?

  • By making sure my work is scheduled effectively and well in advance. In general, this gives me a fair amount of freedom to use my leisure time effectively.

If you could go back and do anything different about improving your nutrition or fitness, what would it be?

  • I would like to be doing more intense workouts but still seem to have a residual knee problem which is becoming long-standing. This prevents me from running as I would like to – I am considering getting some additional medical consultation on it to see if can be improved.

What was the hardest thing for you to change?

  • Not eating with the children at lunch time when they are on school vacations.

What do you enjoy the most about your healthy lifestyle? What inspires you to keep it day after day?

  • I like to feel ‘stretched out’ and having had some effort in the morning before starting work. Without it I tend to feel a little less relaxed.

srt-scoringCompare how you feel now compared to when you first started out?

  • I feel fewer lower back aches and stiffness. I also notice the weight loss as feel lighter in general in movement.

What has surprised you most about the health changes you’ve made?

  • I find that being more aware of my nutrition has helped a lot. The impact of diet over and above exercise is my biggest success factor. In past I tended to use exercise without combining it with diet and this was less effective.

What success factors, tips, or hacks can you share that help make your health habits and motivation consistent?

  • I think regular weighing and assessing fat loss in the context of the past few days of exercise and diet can be motivating. It also helps assess what foods/exercises are most impactful in making progress.

What success factors, tips, or hacks can you share that help make your health habits and motivation consistent?

  • Regularity and consistency help me with a sense of achievement and ultimately that self-esteem that carries me through the day.
“General vitality is important to me.”

Conclusion

In a business world that is changing at warp speed, high performance is more necessary and difficult than ever. Companies can’t afford to address their executives business capacity while ignoring their health and fitness. In the gym or in the boardroom, high performance depends on a foundation of health and strength, on how they manage their lifestyle as much as how they manage their work. When executives feel healthy and strong, they perform better for longer, with less fatigue and illness. They win, their families win, and the companies that employ them win.

Jeff Popoff, an executive health coach, has worked with dozens of executives to increase their performance and energy. He is also founder of The Healthy Executive, a concierge online coaching service for men. He can be reached at jeff@thehealthyexec.com + 1 (408) 893-9570 [text or voice].

References

  1. Chamine, Shirzad (2012-04-02). Positive Intelligence: Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential AND HOW YOU CAN ACHIEVE YOURS (p. 7). Greenleaf Book Group Press. Kindle Edition.
  2.  Sull, Donald; Eisenhardt, Kathleen M. (2015-04-21). Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World (p. 6). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
  3. The Making of a Corporate Athlete
  4. What Can Coaches Do for You?
  5. What’s the Hard Return on Employee Wellness Programs?
  6. The Research Is Clear: Long Hours Backfire for People and for Companies
  7. CEO Advisor
  8. PATH Citation – link back
Appendixes

Appendix X – ELT Mid Point Assessment Survey
Appendix X – Survey Scoring Explanations
Appendix X – 16 Health and Fitness Alternatives
Appendix X – PATH Definitions (Health Psychology)
Appendix X – Grip Strength
Appendix X – Standing Rising Test (SRT)
Appendix X – Definitions