The Healthy Executive

Increase Your Energy = Increase Your Productivity

Executive Energy and Personal Performance

One quality that Executives seek for themselves and their employees is sustained high performance in the face of ever-increasing pressure and rapid change.

Almost no one has paid explicit attention to the role played by energy.

More Energy =  More Capacity To Get Things Done =  Increased Performance 

So where does our energy come from? And how can we increase our:

  • energy,
  • productivity,
  • and performance?
Increasing your energy is like adding an extra 4 hours to your day[1]

Reading Time: 1.5 minutes (1,000 words @ 600 wpm[2]).

How Do We Spend Our Energy?

miserable moneyWe invest our time and energy in three main roles:

  1. Provider
    • As executives we work ten, 12, or 14 hours a day taking care of our customers, company stakeholders, and our teams. By far this is where we expend most of our daily energy.
  2. Protector
    • In addition to working hard to provide for our families, we spend a large majority of our time hanging out with our spouses and playing with our kids.
  3. Play
    • After work and family, we put any of our spare time or energy into relaxing, socializing with friends, or recreation.

Where Does Your Energy Come From?

Energy is the product of good health[3] and fitness[4] which are a result of the following inputs:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Exercise[5]
    • Exercise is analogous to turbo-charging (aerobics) your engine (body).
    • In order to perform well we need lots of horsepower (strength).
  3. Recovery
    • That which does not kill us (stress) makes us stronger (adaptation).
    • However,  adaptation only occurs when we recuperate (relax or sleep).

Shrinking Muscles Increasing Fat When Your Energy Runs Out

Between the ages of 20 and 40, people typically notice their fatigue level increasing and their energy decreasing.

During this same time, increasing work responsibilities and family obligations put more demands on our energy and time.

By your mid-forties demands on your energy exceed your supply.

Timeline Age 20 to 40Why?

  • Your energy ‘engine’ (lean muscle mass and aerobic capacity) is shrinking.
  • Researchers have determined that, starting around age 25, most people lose roughly 5 to 10 pounds of muscle during each decade of life.

Age-related muscle loss decreases your metabolism.

  • A metabolic drop of 25 per cent is roughly equivalent  to 500 calories.
  • Since it’s hard  to cut 500 calories from your daily meals to compensate for your slower metabolism, you end up packing on fat instead.

Less Muscle + More Fat = Less Energy + More Fatigue

Your Energy versus SupplyHow To Increase Your Energy

It goes without saying that having more energy results in increased productivity, performance, efficiency, and even zest for life.

Your energy level is a complex but predictable function of your energy inputs (nutrition, exercise, and recovery). The biochemical and physiological pathways of energy metabolism are shown in the Sankey flow diagram at the start of this article.

Here are specific actions you can take that will increase your energy, performance, and productivity:

  1. imageLose Your Spare Tire
    • You can increase your energy by 17% by maintaining your optimal weight.
      • For example lower your body mass index (BMI) from 30 to 24.9
        • A 5’9″ person would need to drop from 203 lbs to 168 lbs
    • A 17% increase in energy is like extending your day by an extra 4 hours.[1]
    • Tip: Track your energy inputs/outputs using a smartphone app like MyFitnessPal.
      • A 250 calorie deficit per day results in 1/2 lb of fat loss per week.
  2. FDA New Nutrition Facts LabelFood Is Fuel
    • Reduce your sugar intake. Recently the US FDA improved the Nutrition Facts Label to clearly highlight foods with added sugars.
      • Tip: Eat your meats and vegetables first. This will automatically displace and reduce the amount of carbohydrates you eat (sugars, breads, dessert, etc).
    • Eat one red, one white, and one green vegetable per day. Vitamins and supplements are intended to augment, not replace real food.
      • Tip: Vegetables can even be combined using food technology known as “salad”.
      • Tip: Better sleep leads to better food choices and a reduced tendency to stress eat.
  3. imageBoost Your Horsepower 
    • Two key predictors of health and longevity are lean muscle mass and aerobic efficiency (VO2 max).
      • Tip: 10 minutes a week of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) will improve your aerobic efficiency in far less time than endless cardio.
      • Tip: 10 minutes a week of strength training will maintain your lean muscle mass (two sessions a week will increase it).
  4. Performance versus Wake TimeGet More Done In Your Sleep
    • 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 of work.
      • Tip: Invest your non-productive working hours into an extra hour of sleep per night.
      • Benefits:
        • Extra sleep will allow your mind and body to better recuperate — you are more energetic and productive when well rested.
        • Your cognitive performance and decision making improves when you get adequate sleep.
        • Lack of sleep is associated with weight gain — in effect you eat more calories for energy instead of getting energy from recuperation.
        • More than 7 hours of sleep makes your immune and endocrine systems less susceptible to flus and colds .
How Stressful Is Business Travel

Business Travel Is An Energy Vampire

Watch Out For Energy Vampires

  1. Travel
    • Travel is a “Nightmare Trifecta” that robs us of energy and increase fatigue:
      1. We often miss meals on the way to the airport or meetings,
      2. We get less sleep quantity and quality,
      3. We exercise less, if at all.
    • And that’s not including other effects such as jet lag or stress eating,
  2.  Posture

use it or lose it


References

  1. 4 hour extra Energy / 24 hours a day = 16.66% (assuming extra performance is equivalent to taking less time to perform similar task) ↩
  2. Do You Read Fast Enough To Be Successful?, Forbes  ↩
  3. Health: A physiological state in which there is an absence of disease or pathology and that maintains the necessary biologic balance between stress and recovery states. ↩
  4. Fitness: The bodily state of being physiologically capable of handling challenges that exist above a resting threshold of activity. ↩
  5. Exercise: A specific activity that stimulates a positive physiological adaptation that serves to enhance fitness and health and does not undermine the latter in the process of enhancing the former. ↩

Also published on Medium.

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