Ralf is the CTO of a high-tech company with more than 1,600 employees across the globe. He lives in Europe with his family and travels extensively around the world on business.
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.
In his own words, Ralf describes his experiences and insights into becoming healthier and fitter.
- 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 :-)
- 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 :-)
- 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.
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 seems to be more sustainable.
What was the hardest thing for you to change?
- I miss the sweets I used to eat in the evening sometimes.
- 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…
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…