4 Ways to Decrease Stress and Maximize Performance

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Stress is one of the biggest factors holding people back from creating transformational breakthroughs in both their personal and professional lives. If you don’t know how to handle stress, it could become the factor that, at first, keeps you from performing at your absolute best, and ultimately — if not addressed — kills you.

This threat is widespread, of course, because, in the business world, the demands, obligations and expectations entrepreneurs face to continually deliver exceptional results, seems never-ending. Not to mention that, when you combine all of the different personal obligations you face, you begin to see why stress so often is called the silent killer.

Certainly, there are many different strategies that highly successful people use to deal with stress and not let it get the best of them. But I thought that instead of citing the experts, I’d share four particular things I personally pay attention to on a daily basis. All have greatly helped me to decrease the amount of stress in my life.

And while, initially, they may seem simple and just plain common sense, remember: What’s common sense isn’t always common practice.

1. Maximize endorphin production.

Nothing has positively benefited my life more than getting into the habit of having a workout during the course of my day, especially when I have a lot going on and feel stressed out.

One of the quickest and surest ways to diminish the negative side effects of stress is to get your sweat on. When you partake in some sort of physical activity during your day, your body releases endorphins, which end up triggering a positive feeling in your entire body. Not only will you decrease your stress by getting a workout in, but you will be lightening your mood and setting yourself up for a more productive day.

Personal experience: A few months ago,, I was completely worn out and on the verge of burnout. I was traveling all the time and giving the upper hand to my excuses as to why I wasn’t working out and taking better care of myself.

After three weeks of feeling miserable, I knew I had to do something fast. It didn’t matter where I was in the world: I made a commitment with myself to get two workouts in each and every day. So, I did a quick workout first thing in the morning to jump-start my day and then another workout later, which usually consisted of cardio at the end of the day.

This was the exact same routine I’d used when playing professional football and college football. Even though I was no longer an athlete, this routine of maximizing my endorphin production twice a day worked exceptionally well. I started to feel a whole lot better about myself and noticed positive changes in my work.

The message here is, you don’t have to get in two workouts each and every day like me, but you should make it a priority to maximize endorphin production at some point during your day. I have found from personal experience that one of the most efficient ways to increase productivity, reduce stress and spark creativity is to just get moving.

2. Learn how to say “no” more often.

As an ambitious and highly motivated individual, I find that one of the hardest things to learn over the years has been to say “no”more often. When you are looking to take your life and business to the next level, saying “yes” and agreeing to every little opportunity that presents itself is almost second nature.

But the fact of the matter is that many of the daily obligations and opportunities we agree to aren’t going to move the needle for us. Of course there are things that need our attention, as the day goes on, which we didn’t plan for, but I advise planning your day the night before and never having more than five tasks on your daily to-do list.

What this simple habit does is force you to zero-in on what matters most for that particular day that will give you your biggest return on energy and time.

Personal tip: Another key strategy that has helped me say no no more often is having in front of me at all times a list of the three biggest priorities that will impact my business the most. When a decision is needed or an opportunity comes knocking, I glance at those priorities — an action which then guides me, on where my time and energy will go.

If the opportunity doesn’t include one of those three things on my priority list, I will decide whether it needs to be delegated to a team member or if another course of action needs to be taken. Learning how to say no more often is a game-changer.

3. Go make someone else’s day.

One of the main reasons why a lot of us get easily stressed and let anxiety and worry take a place at the forefront of our lives is that we get too caught up in our own little world. Yet, there is so much more to life than what we ourselves are experiencing.

When I notice that I’m feeling stressed and that my daily workload is getting the best of me, I make it a habit — and it’s one that brings me great joy– to go make someone else’s day. For you, this might involve calling up a friend and asking how his or her day is going, lending a listening ear to someone who has it much worse than you do or giving back to the local community.

There is no right or wrong way on how to make someone else’s day, but the next time you feel stressed, I challenge you to explore different ways to be of service to someone in that particular moment.

Personal tip: I keep a stack of cards next to my desk, and not a week goes by where I don’t write a thank you note to someone that I am extremely grateful for. My grandfather always used to tell me when I was younger about the significance of handwritten notes, and I haven’t forgotten that advice to this day. Want to instantly elevate your well-being? Go be of service and make someone else’s day.

4. Monitor what you put into your body.

One of the first things people turn to when they’re stressed is junk food. Indulging in your favorite treat from time to time won’t harm you, but when you consistently fail to fuel your body with the right food, you’ll lose your chance to achieve a level of peak performance.

According to Mark HymanNew York Times best-selling author of Eat Fat, Get Thin, eating whole, real food restores balance and reduces the negative effects that stress has on your body. Replacing harmful substances such as caffeine, alcohol and refined sugars with clean proteins, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats helps regulate your hormone levels — including the stress hormones.

Personal tip: I tell people all the time that one of my best decisions for elevating my performance and decreasing stress levels was getting my blood tested to see what my deficiencies were, then hiring a nutritionist to show me how to fuel my body to fill those specific needs.

After one month of changing my eating habits and getting rid of the junk, I felt like a new man, able to perform at a higher level for a longer period of time than what I’d previously achieved. You can have all the success in the world, but if you don’t have your health, that success means absolutely nothing. So, make your health and what you put into your body a priority. Use the four strategies I’ve described.

And, don’t let the hustle and bustle of life and negative side effects of stress be the reason why you don’t begin the journey of living your best life. Today.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Make Someone Else’s Day, and 3 Other Ways to De-Stress

 

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A survey from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that close to half of all working adults say that their job negatively affects their life. And that certainly resonates: It’s easier now more than ever to get stressed out and adopt unhealthy habits into our everyday lives.

What’s more, the biggest problem about this epidemic is not the actual stress in itself, but our inability to do anything about it. Instead of thriving on all cylinders and being a top producer in our chosen lines of work, most of us settle for a state of survival.

Of course it’s important to work extremely hard, put in the long hours and do everything in your power to make sure you are living up to your full potential each and every day. However, that doesn’t mean you neglect your emotional, mental and physical health in the process.

Here are four things that will help you eliminate stress and reclaim your happiness.

1. Make someone else’s day.

Remember the famous Clint Eastwood line from Dirty Harry? Why not turn it around? Because one of the easiest ways to eliminate stress and put a smile on your face is to find a way to make someone else’s day. When stress beats us down, it’s usually because we put too much focus on ourselves.

We may be way too hard on ourselves, setting unrealistic expectations at work, and feeling consumed only with what we currently have going on in our lives. But when we make it a priority to be of service to someone and “make someone else’s day,” we just might learn one of the most fulfilling ways for minimizing stress and reclaiming our happiness.

2. Go on a digital detox.

One of the best decisions that I ever made was to go on a digital detox for one full week. I stayed off social media, never once opened my email and even made sure that my phone was in a completely different room locked away for the whole week.

This was a very powerful action that provided me with just the right amount of solitude and soul searching required to get back on track and come back even stronger. In the technology-driven world that we currently live in, it’s incredibly easy to fall into the trap of comparing our success (or lack thereof) to someone else’s achievements. It’s easy to let social media run run our lives. It’s easy to forget about what matters most in life.

I am not suggesting that anyone go on a technology detox for a full week like I did. But I am encouraging that people at least try it out for maybe a weekend or just one day. I am positive that you will enjoy the sense of relief and calmness that will result.

3. Let gratitude be the driving force in your life.

Every single time that I have been stressed out and on the verge of burnout, my absence of gratitude has always been the main reason why. It’s virtually impossible to be stressed out and feel terrible about yourself when you are in a constant state of gratitude.

And in case you’re wondering what that means, there are plenty of ways to incorporate gratitude into your daily life. I write in a “gratitude journal” each and every morning. The first thing I do when I wake up is write down three to five things that I am grateful for that day. Instead of worrying about what I have to do over the day ahead or taking a look at the hectic calendar waiting for me, I turn to gratitude first.

Another way that I bring gratitude into my life is by going on a daily gratitude walk. I learned this daily practice from my friend and bestselling author Jon Gordon. Before I listen to music or a podcast, I’ll go on a scenic walk early in the morning and say out loud everything that I am grateful for. This energizes me and is a profound way to start the day. Stress has no chance of surviving when you are in a constant state of gratitude. Don’t believe me? Check out this Newsweek article which reports on five scientifically proven benefits of gratitude.

4. Get lost in a great book.

One of my favorite things in the world is to read and get lost in a great book. There is something magical about picking up a great book and not letting your worries, fears and stresses win the battle of your mind. Great books have the potential to change lives.

Even though I read a new book every week, I have a stack of ten or so more familiar books that I always turn to when the going gets tough and I feel the hustle and bustle of life starting to really get to me. All it takes is for me to pick up one of these great books and start re-reading it for 15 minutes.

Reading a great book helps me to see the world in a different light and forget about all of the problems going on in the world. I might do the same for you: Getting lost in great books has totally changed my life; and I know it can do the same for you as well.

Stress doesn’t have to get the best of you and steal your happiness. I hope these four ideas help you just as much as they have benefited my life over the years.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

15 Things to Do When You’re Feeling Stressed

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Have you mastered stress, or is stress mastering you?Between work deadlines, bills, and family and friend obligations, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. And if it goes on for too long, you’ll find yourself struggling to merely survive instead of thrive.

 

I know firsthand how brutal it can be when you don’t make an effort to manage your stress on an everyday basis. And I also know firsthand that if left unmanaged,it puts you at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, weight loss or weight gain depending on your physiology, depression and other problems.

Around three months ago, the hustle and bustle and stress of everyday life started to derail me. I was sleeping only three hours a night, neglecting the gym almost every day, and withdrawing from my loved ones. I stopped my daily walks and moments of solitude, prayer and meditation, and stopped writing in my gratitude journal. My life was quickly spiraling downward into one big fat mess.

Here are 15 things that I did to take control of my stress. You can use these or modify them to fit your own life and personality.

1. Increase your endorphin production.

One of the quickest and surest ways to defeat the negative side effects that come from stress is to get your sweat on. You can start small if going to the gym seems too overwhelming. Take a daily 15-minute walk. When you do physical activity, your body releases endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling in your body.

2. Pay attention to what you’re putting in your body.

People often turn to junk food when they’re stressed. Eating a cookie now and then won’t necessarily harm you, but if you do it regularly, there will be consequences. According to Mark Hyman, New York Times bestselling author of Eat Fat, Get Thin, eating whole, real foods restores balance and reduces the effects of stress on your body. Replacing harmful substances such as caffeine, alcohol and refined sugars, with clean proteins, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats helps regulate your hormone levels – including the stress hormones.

3. Create a stress jar.

Sit down every morning (or before you go to bed) and make a list of things that are bothering you and stressing your day. Write down the things you can control and the things you can’t. Once you make that list, fold the piece of paper and put it into a box or a stress jar. Put that jar in a closet or in a place that won’t constantly attract your attention. “Out of sight, out of mind” is an old saying that can help you in this instant. You’ve written down your worries, so now put them away for the day and forget about them.

4. Keep a gratitude journal.

Whether big or small, write down everything that comes to mind that you are grateful for right this moment. You can start small with something as simple as, “I am grateful that I am healthy and strong. I am grateful for my family and friends. I am grateful I live in a city that’s enjoyable and fun.” The mere act of writing down things you’re grateful for will change your outlook on life. Do this every day.

5. Make a list of your goals.

After writing in your gratitude journal, make a list of your goals – no matter how far-reaching they may seem at this point in time. Writing your goals in a journal is a powerful way to rekindle your passion and remind yourself of your dreams, ambitions, and what’s truly important.

6. Learn how to say no.

Learn how to say “no” to things that would only add more stress to your life. It’s easy to fall into a “people-pleasing” trap where you say “yes” to everything. Perhaps you want to spend an evening at home alone and someone invites you to go to a party? What do you do? Perhaps people are asking you for free services because they’re your friend or because they don’t respect your time. What do you do? You have to learn how to say “no.” Whether it’s in your personal or professional life, agreeing to more than you can manage is a surefire recipe for stress.

7. Surround yourself with positive and encouraging people.

Surrounding ourselves with positive and encouraging people during stressful times can brighten our mood and help us put things in perspective. Who wants to be with someone who is negative all the time? There’s nothing more depressing or stressful, so avoid those who stress you out.

8. Get lost in a great book.

Being able to pick up a great book and get lost in it has the potential to transform your mindset and help you start to see the world in a different light. There’s nothing more relaxing and wonderful than reading a great book by one of your favorite authors.

9. Create your own Mastermind group.

Gather together some highly motivated and ambitious individuals, peers and associates, and build a Mastermind group. The group works like peer-to-peer mentoring in which you either meet or talk on the phone a minimum of once a month. You can even create a private Facebook Page for this group to discuss ideas. In this group, you can brainstorm with one another, talk about your current goals, plans for the future, and the stress that is bothering you at the moment.

10. Look in the mirror and talk to yourself like you’re a champion.

There are two types of people in the world. There are those who tell themselves they are a victim, and those who tell themselves they are not a victim, but rather, a champion. This brings to mind the great Muhammad Ali who died last week after many years of suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. He was the grandson of a slave, but did he let that define him? No, he saw something greater in himself. He proclaimed himself “The Greatest” before anyone else did and spent a lifetime living up to this statement. Instead of negative self-talk, Muhammad Ali created empowering self-talk.

11. Tap into the power of meditation and solitude.

When I finally decided to give meditation a try, I became instantly hooked. Practicing meditation on a regular basis can not only drastically minimize the effects of stress, but also help you live a more fulfilled life. I recommend an app called “Calm” aimed to help newcomers practice meditation. Solitude goes hand-in-hand with meditation because you need quiet for both. Amazing things begin to happen when you shut off the noisy and distracting world and listen.

12. Resolve to finally complete a project or task you have been begun.

Take a look at your important projects and tasks to see what you have been putting off for quite some time. Pick that one thing and work until it’s completed. You’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride.

13. Sleep more.

If you have been sleeping six hours, sleep seven. If you have been sleeping seven hours, sleep eight. Find 20minutes or so throughout your day to close and rest your eyes. Sleep matters and a lack of it is a major contribution to the negative effects of stress.

14. Leave the office for lunch.

Take a walk or eat outside. Force yourself to leave the office for lunch if you can. This will help you to redirect your focus and come back even stronger for the second part of the day.

15. Be of service to someone

How many times have you helped someone today? It doesn’t have to be a huge gesture – it could even mean just listening to a friend tell you about their day. Asking others how they’re doing is a way to be of service. We get wrapped up in our own worlds far too often. There’s a whole world out there that’s waiting for you. Want to feel instantly better? Go be of service and make someone else’s day.

Originally Posted on Fortune.com

3 Ways to Win the Morning and Save the Day

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I am a firm believer in how we start our day determines how the rest of our day goes. If you go to bed late, hit the snooze button multiple times, roll out of bed later than you were supposed to, get stuck in traffic, and then end up being late to work, that’s a good indication to how the rest of your day will go.

Most people are the furthest thing from being intentional about how their mornings go and what they do first thing when they wake up. Jim Rohn famously said, “Either you run the day or the day runs you.”

Unfortunately, there aren’t enough people who run their days. Instead, they let their work, other people and technology rule their every move in the morning. They neglect themselves and forget about the self-love that is needed in the morning to set yourself up for a majorly successful day.

I am fortunate that in being a former athlete, I am ridiculously obsessed with structure and having a plan for my mornings before I do anything else.

Here are three simple ways to dominate your morning.

1. Don’t check email for the first hour upon waking.

For some of you, this may seem like an impossible task to follow through with, but I promise that it will completely shock you at how it makes you feel over time. What do you do when you check your email? You respond to what everyone else wants from you or is asking you to do.

Instead of being proactive and setting the tone to how your day is going to go, you are spending precious and valuable time being reactive to everyone else’s wants and needs. I put this practice into my own life two years ago, and I was blown away by the results.

It’s amazing what can happen when you leave your phone alone in the morning and don’t check your email while you go to work on yourself doing things such as meditating, working out or reading before doing anything else.

2. Give your body the fuel that it needs.

The second thing that most people do in the morning after waking once they have checked their email is consume a ton of sugar and drugs to get their day started. Scarfing down sugar and caffeine first thing in the morning believe it or not is not the most beneficial way to start your day. You may feel energized and ready to go, but that same feeling is the main culprit as to why so many crash and feel sluggish after lunch and later in the day.

Give your body the fuel that it needs. I start each morning with a glass of warm lemon water to jumpstart the detoxification process, a green juice from Suja Juice and hydrate myself with water before I do anything else.

I’m not telling you to not drink coffee or indulge in your favorite drink, but I am encouraging you to give it a try in giving your body the fuel and energy it needs to sustain peak-performance all day long.

3. Work on yourself before you start your workday.

Working on yourself could refer to exercising, journaling some sort of spiritual practice or reading, among many other things. Find a routine that works best for you and execute on that routine every morning. The only requirement is that it involves working on yourself somehow, someway before you begin your workday. To me, this is the ultimate game changer that can be included to anyone’s morning routine.

When you set aside the time to work on yourself before you start your workday, you not only will begin to grow as a human being, but you will increase happiness levels, drastically decrease stress, anxiety and other negative emotions that rob so many of us from keeping a peaceful and healthy mind.

Find something that fits well with your schedule and goals, and then formulate a plan to follow through with that every morning. Over time, the results will be astonishing. Working on ourselves is something that so many of us forget to do in this fast paced and strenuous world that we live in. Self-care, self-love and self-growth are three wonderful gifts that you can give yourself each morning — and you do just that when you work on yourself.

Instead of talking about specific morning routines which has been written about so much, I wanted to share three practices that have added great value to my mornings and life since I have incorporated them. They are extremely simple things to do, but pack an incredible punch of excellence when you religiously follow through on them. Remember, when you win the morning, you win the day.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Want to Defeat Stress, Anxiety and Worry? Exercise, Say ‘Thank You’ a Lot and Use The Calm App.

20160329134106-calm-appImage credit: Calm

Stress, anxiety and worry are three things that drastically interfere with millions of people unleashing their best work and tapping into their full potential. Some are better than others at minimizing the negative effects that stress, anxiety and worry can have, but at one point or another, all of us will experience some sort of discomfort from the killer three I like to call them.

I call them the killer three, because they not only stop people from unleashing their best work and tapping into their full potential, but over time they actually do a whole lot more than prevent us from achieving success. Heart attacks, strokes, suicides and many other social and physical impairments can be brought upon by the killer three if we aren’t intentional about practicing mindfulness each and every day and working to defeat stress, anxiety and worry.

Here are three ways to help you defeat the killer three.

1. Start incorporating meditation into your life daily.

Meditation is a complete game-changer when it comes to defeating stress, anxiety and worry. Not only does it do a fantastic job of minimizing all of the side effects from the killer three, but the other benefits you reap when you invest in daily meditation is extraordinary.

At first, I thought I could never be someone who would sit down and relax for 20 to 30 minutes to meditate. There was just no way. I had too much to do, and there were never enough hours in the day to accommodate my strenuous workload. However, when things eventually became too hectic to function efficiently, I looked to meditation as my last resort — and never looked back.

We hear about how important mediation is for brain power and overall health, but there are still too many who are reluctant to try it. A great way to get started is to use The Calm app, which has been invaluable, as I have it with me everywhere I go. It has guided and unguided mediation sessions and I really think it can add value to your life as it did mine. If you feel overwhelmed from your every day workload or stressed with life in general, meditation is a must.

2. Exercise.

There are plenty of productivity apps and all sorts of different gadgets that promise to increase productivity levels, but the most powerful productivity tool there is isn’t an app or gadget. It’s exercise. Not only does exercise release endorphins, positively impact your mindset and take your productivity to the next level, but it is an absolute must if you want to decrease the amount of stress, anxiety and worry in your life.

When I was an athlete, I never had the worry syndrome or let stress get the best of me, even though there was so much doubt and uncertainty looming ahead. When I analyzed what the difference was between the two, I noticed that when I was an athlete, there was never a day that went by without me investing back into my body and exercising.

Sure, that was a major part of my job as a professional athlete, but you don’t have to be a professional athlete to exercise regularly. I took major notice as to how I would feel when I would go weeks or even months at a time not paying much attention to exercise or making it a priority in my life.

I made excuses, and in return, I felt like complete crap physically and mentally. Your health is your livelihood, and convincing yourself that you don’t have time to workout or exercise for at least 30 minutes a day is adding more harm than benefit to your schedule. I promise you that you aren’t freeing yourself up to get more work done or get ahead professionally. I don’t know about you, but I am all for increasing productivity levels, defeating the killer three, and feeling wonderful all day long. Daily exercise does just that — and much more.

3. Say ‘thank you’ more often.

Saying these two words with conviction on a regular basis can powerfully change the direction of your life. It’s important to set goals, create visions and think about what you want for your future, but often, we let what we don’t have get in the way of all that we do have.

We spend time worrying and stressing about where we want to be and forget to have an attitude of gratitude for having the opportunity at all. There is nothing more harmful to our health than forgetting the importance of being grateful for what we have and getting in a daily routine of saying “thank you” more often.

I have a note card that I carry in my briefcase with the two words, thank you, written on it. Everywhere I go, I’m reminded to give thanks for waking up, experiencing life another day and having the opportunity to work towards my dreams.

When you really think long and hard about it, it’s truly remarkable what a privilege and opportunity that each and every one of us has to wake up and live another day. It’s up to us how we shape our minutes, days, years and lives. Saying “thank you” more often minimizes the negative effects of the killer three and increases your sense of fulfillment every moment of your life. It’s so simple — yet so important.

Practicing mediation, exercising daily and saying thank you more often will not only reduce the amount of stress, anxiety and worry that you have in your life but also change the way you work and go about your every day life. I urge you to incorporate these three simple tasks into your everyday life, and see how they reward you over time.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

 

Why Worry? Because We Do. But We Can Kick the Habit.

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We all have different kinds of mental routines. Some are positive and nourishing to the mind, while some are so negative and tragic that they actually lead to death.

A key part in reprogramming the mind for optimal performance and healthy thoughts is to kick the worry habit. So many people love to worry about every little thing. Half the things people worry about are not even in their control. Most are worrying about things that they can do absolutely nothing about. They are creating stress and negative energy all throughout their entire body when they worry.

Worrying is unhealthy. Worrying kills. Worrying destroys dreams. Worrying creates bigger problems than the actual problem itself.

As human beings, we naturally tend to worry about so much already. Then all of a sudden go ahead and add some kind of adversity or major failure to the mix, and then the worry just intensifies. Worrying about anything, whether big or small, creates a huge burden in our lives that limits us from reaching our full potential.

John Lubbock said, “A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work.” I couldn’t agree more with that statement. Worrying completely sucks all of the energy right out of us. Worrying really does create more work than actually doing work itself.

Just like all of the other habits that we have and spend time doing every single day of our lives, worrying ends up becoming a habit for most people as well. There are all kinds of things you can do to temporarily eliminate all worry from your thinking, but the only way to permanently rid yourself from the worry habit is to get in tune with your faith like never before.

Bestselling author Max Lucado said it best when saying, “Feed your fears, and your faith will starve. Feed your faith, and your fears will.” You can’t worry and have faith at the same time.

Let your faith be so big that there isn’t even the slightest of chance that worry can even creep in at any point in time. When your faith isn’t there, it’s second nature for worry to occur. It’s almost expected, especially when your back is up against the wall.

Here are two ways to help you kick the worry habit.

1. Focus on what you can control.

It seems so self-explanatory, but it’s also one of the hardest things to do most of the time. One of the best ways to help eliminate worry is to put all of your energy and time on the things that you can control.

Each and every one of us spends more time than we should on things we have absolutely no control over. You can’t necessarily control an outcome, but what you can do is put yourself in position to win by focusing on the process and everything that you do have control over.

When we start to focus on things outside of our control, anxiety, worry and fear begin take over in a big way. I will be the first to say that only focusing on what you control is not the easiest of task at times. However, it’s an absolute must in order to minimize the amount of worry in your life. Focus on what you can control.

2. Make progress every day, and then acknowledge it.

When you focus on making progress each day and then acknowledge it, you begin to feel good about yourself and instantly boost your self-esteem. You come to the realization that you are better than you were the day before — and that gives you a deep sense of satisfaction.

A lot of the times most people worry when they feel like they aren’t making progress or getting anywhere in life. So by putting your attention towards making progress and then finding a way to acknowledge it can greatly help in decreasing the amount of worry in your life.

To give you an example, every night before I go to bed, I grab my journal and start writing down the progress that I made for that specific day. Some days I have more to write down than others, while some days it can be hard to find things to even write down in the first place. However, regardless of how easy or hard it is to find things to write down at night, getting in the habit of acknowledging your wins and daily progress can positively impact your life — and tremendously help in removing worry.

It’s awfully hard to tap into your full potential with worry becoming a natural and daily habit for you.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Your Food Choices Ultimately Influence Your Workplace Success

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We rarely associate our meals with workplace performance, but science is now telling us that what we eat has a significant impact. What you have for lunch can make a meaningful difference in your cognitive performance, energy levels and critical decision-making ability. Your food choices ultimately influence your workplace success.

Being properly fueled allows you to get the most out of your day and stay present through long meetings and stressful situations. Presentations in the boardroom, high-stress negotiations and client interactions require fierce concentration and brain power. Food helps fuel electrical impulses for learning, memory and other cognitive tasks.

Diets filled with energy drinks, fast food and sugar negatively affects your mood, learning and memory, whereas diets filled with fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds can enhance your concentration and outlook.

Plan your nutrition.

Staying alert on an empty stomach is difficult. It is imperative to plan your fuel intake throughout the day. Planning your meals and snacks in advance can take your work performance to the next level — especially if your life is filled with meetings and deadlines.

Decide what you are going to eat before lunchtime arrives. This leads to balanced, smart nutritional choices, rather than a trip to the vending machine or candy bowl.

Keep your snacks or “fuel supply” readily available throughout the day so you have options that are nutritious and provide consistent energy boosts every few hours rather than eating one big meal at lunch time. Healthy snacking is the key to maintaining peak energy levels and boosting brain power.

Your health should be a top priority. By taking care of yourself, you are better equipped to do your job. You should take a break to replenish your body when needed, which is why having your fuel supply nearby, readily available and freshly supplied every day of the week is so important.

Food affects your brain.

If you’re seeking an edge to achieve maximum performance, intelligent food choices are key. To function at your highest performance, your mind needs nutrient-rich and low glycemic foods. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and foods with B vitamins, antioxidants and essential fats.

The brain relies on glucose as its primary fuel, according to numerous studies on glucose enhancement of human memory. Increases in circulating blood glucose can actually facilitate cognitive functioning. This phenomenon has been dubbed the “glucose memory facilitation effect,”according to a 2011 study in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews.

Spikes in blood sugar affect your brain and productivity. When food breaks down in our systems it converts to glucose. Having a steady glucose level in your body equates to better focus. You should avoid processed carbohydrates and refined sugars that will cause your blood glucose and concentration levels to spike.

Healthy snacks including fruit, nuts, seeds, vegetables and protein bars will maintain your glucose at an optimum level. Eating quality protein and fats within each meal also help stabilize your blood glucose levels.

Eating disorders: a hidden danger lurking in Corporate America.

Eating disorders are more prevalent in the business world than many people realize. For many people in corporate jobs, skipping lunch is now the norm.

“Patients with eating disorders have the highest cortisol level in their systems, which means they carry an enormous amount of stress in their bodies,” says Dena Cabrera, PsyD, clinical director of Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders in Arizona. “They have a high rate of anxiety, perfectionism and obsessive-compulsive disorder.”

High-pressure jobs and executive positions often come with long hours and a large amount of responsibility. Placing a person prone to anxiety in that type of environment is the perfect storm for an eating disorder to be triggered, Cabrera says.

People miss the signs because they don’t expect adults to have an eating disorder. In the United States, about 30 million men and women suffer from an eating disorder, meaning the person is so preoccupied with food that he or she cannot focus on other things — including work.

Unfortunately, the pressure to perform at work leaves little time for self-care, which means that many individuals don’t seek help, Cabrera says.

“There is incredible stigma and shame associated with admitting or exposing mental-health problems, especially for someone with authority,” she says.

Treatment for eating disorders is widely available and successful when the disease is dealt with quickly. Facilities such as Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders have proven recovery models to help patients. There are signs to look for that a co-worker, employee or friend may be suffering from an eating disorder, including mood changes, significant changes in weight, eating very little or an enormous amount of food, changes in job performance and compulsivity on eating healthy or exercising, Cabrera says.

Focusing on nutrition should not be an afterthought.

The link between eating healthy and job performance is undeniable. People need to make their health and nutritional choices a priority in the workplace. In turn, they will be able function at the top of their game.

Likewise, employers should encourage their staff members to refuel with a snack and take time to eat a healthy lunch. Employers should set an example of what healthy “brain” food looks like. Instead of bringing donuts or pizza to a staff meeting, the menu should include fruits, vegetables and nuts.

This will not only help improve the health of your staff, it may just boost your bottom line as well.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

 

How Sugar Is Sabotaging Your Success as an Entrepreneur

Sugar Article

Successful entrepreneurs know that a disciplined and dedicated work ethic is critical to building their businesses. It takes commitment to set goals, meet deadlines and learn quickly from our mistakes, but too many of us are pulling the rug out from under ourselves every single day by the dietary choices we make. We work long, hard hours, and, if we’re not careful, we find ourselves taking shortcuts and choosing convenience over health.

We get accustomed to cranking up our energy with a fast food meal, energy drink or candy bar. Deep down we know that these are unhealthy choices, but what we don’t consider is how our food choices are actually making us much less effective and are sabotaging our success.

I recently sat down with Raquel Baldelomar, founder and CEO of the national healthcare marketing firm, Quaintise, and co-author with Dr. Richard Jacoby of the new book, Sugar Crush: How to Reduce Inflammation, Reverse Nerve Damage, and Reclaim Good Health, just published from HarperCollins in April 2015.

As a successful marketing and advertising agency owner, Baldelomar has firsthand experience with how quickly sugar interferes with our ability to focus, destroys the sustained energy we need to build a successful business and creates chronic health problems that sap our attention and well-being.

Sugar’s impact is not always obvious.

Focus and discipline are essential to creating success in life, but both of these qualities require a clear mind. I asked Baldelomar how she came to fully recognize the negative impact sugar was having in her life and on her business.

“In the early years of starting Quaintise, I was working hard but found that I was riding an energy roller coaster every day,” she says. “I tried to eat the right food to stay healthy and get me through my days: orange juice and whole grain cereal for breakfast, granola and fruit for snacks, and a sandwich for lunch. I rarely ate candy or cake, but still, I’d be ravenous by mid-day and then I’d hit an energy low in late afternoon that would have me dragging. I just didn’t realize what was draining my energy and making it harder for me to do everything I needed to do to build my business.”

Fortuitously, she was building her business in healthcare marketing and began working with Jacoby, who had been studying the impact of sugar on our bodies. He’d seen the rapid increase in patients with peripheral neuropathy and diabetes in the last several decades of his practice and wanted to understand the root cause.

“Dr. Jacoby found that sugar causes inflammation of our blood vessels, which leads to swelling, reduced blood flow and nerve constriction,” Baldelomar says. “The highs and lows of blood sugar spikes and drops in energy that I was experiencing were really warning signs that my diet was not only working against my ability to do my best work, it was likely destroying my long-term health.”

Baldelomar began to look more closely at her diet and realized that sugar was everywhere, not only in the obvious foods such as candy, cakes and doughnuts. She discovered that all of the starchy carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta, rice and cereal were really just sugar in another form.

“I saw a cycle that many entrepreneurs fall into,” she says. “When you are young, you exchange health to gain your wealth. And then when you have it, you exchange your wealth to gain back your health.”

Break the sugar addiction.

“Working with Dr. Jacoby opened my eyes into how brainwashed we’ve been by misinformation,” Baldelomar says. “I learned how to incorporate good fats and eliminate sugar, and the difference in my energy levels and my focus were immediately apparent.”

How difficult was it to cut out sugar?

“It was a little challenging at first because, like most of us, I was addicted to sugar, but the rewards were immediately worth it,” she says. “I now stay focused and am able to work long hours without feeling those energy highs and lows throughout the day. And the long-term benefits means I’ll have many more years to thrive and grow my business.”

As a former professional athlete, I know that mental and physical strength depend a whole lot on diet, discipline and conditioning. The fact that we are undermining both our success as entrepreneurs and our long-term health without realizing it through our misguided notions about a healthy diet is eye-opening.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Your Health Is Your True Wealth

When is the last time you not only worked out, but actually followed through on a consistent regimen? The number-one excuse I hear over and over again is, “I’m so busy with work right now, I really wish I had the time.”

Hearing someone talk about how they “wish” they had time to invest back in themselves and work out more often always crushes me. Here in America, we are privileged with options, and plenty of them. Along with those options come decisions.

A majority of studies have proven that over half of America isn’t very good at making healthy decisions. Whether it is someone dying a premature death, 30 to 40 year olds being diagnosed with diabetes, or maybe even having health complications yourself.

Even though Mexico just recently surpassed the U.S. as the most obese country, we don’t fall far behind. What this tells me is that half of Americans have gotten complacent with the infamous, “I wish I had more time.” Very rarely do I watch television, but when I do, I still come across all of these commercials promising us that if you take this pill, you will lose 20 pounds. Or if you try this piece of equipment, you will get the six pack you have always dreamed of.

I have some very disheartening news for you. There is no such thing as a magic pill. And there certainly isn’t a special piece of equipment that will trim your mid section and blast away fat while leaving you with six-pack abs. What does exist, and what can give you the results you are looking for, is commitment. The single best thing you can do to start a new journey towards your dream body and feeling the best you have ever felt is making a commitment with yourself.

One of our most important assets is our health. If we don’t feel well, we can’t do well. How can you expect to get the absolute most out of life if your energy levels are below average, carrying around excess fat, and feeling like complete crap? You can’t! Looking good is just a benefit. It is so much deeper than simply reaping the exterior rewards. The true benefit is what happens within us when we give our bodies the attention they need.

We all have different levels of fitness, and yes, different health conditions. If you haven’t worked out in 10 months, I don’t expect you to work out like someone who does so five days a week. However, I do ask that you make a strong commitment with yourself to make the time. Even if it is just a morning walk before the kids get up.

Here are three reasons why you should make “time” to work out on a regular basis:

1. Happiness!

We all want to be happy right? Exercising releases chemicals called endorphins that produces a happy state of mind. Talk to a runner and they will tell you all about “runner’s high.”

2. Health concerns make you a liability.

I know you don’t want to envision this, but what if you had a stroke because you haven’t exercised in a year? Who is the one suffering? Your children, spouse and the ones who love you most.

3. Get more done.

Why do you think CEOs of some of the most powerful companies in the world wake up ridiculously early to head to the gym? Apple’s CEO Tim Cook can be found in the gym at 5 a.m. What’s your excuse again?

Your health is your true wealth. Don’t neglect it.

Originally Posted On Entrepreneur.com

3 Ways to Help You Maintain Healthy Habits This Holiday Season

healthy holidays

The time is here! Planning parties, shopping for loved ones, an abundance of amazing food, alcohol, and the constant never ending things to do before Christmas and New Years.

During this time of the year, the number one question that I always get asked is, “How can I keep my healthy habits during the holiday season?”

I personally believe if you are just “interested” in living a healthy lifestyle and working out, this time of the year will expose that. On the flip side, if you are fully committed, you will find a way and persevere despite all of the chaos.

Let’s face it, sticking to a workout regimen, eating healthy, and incorporating a healthy lifestyle is no easy task. It takes a conscious effort with a whole lot of self-discipline. Anything that requires great self-discipline usually takes us out of our comfort zone.

As soon as we leave our comfort zone, the excuses tend to pile up and the little voices in our head begin to give us every reason possible as to why we shouldn’t follow through any longer.

Then, add on everything else that comes along with this time of the year. Without a deliberate effort, chances of sticking to your workout regimen and eating healthy become that much more difficult. Now, this isn’t to say don’t enjoy yourself and devour all of the wonderful holiday food with family and friends, but the goal is to not fall completely off like what happens to so many.

I personally believe this is one of the greatest times of the year. Spending time with those we love dearly, eating our favorite dishes, and enjoying all of the holiday festivities that we still remember as a child. Also, this is the time to lay down a firm foundation for the upcoming year. To plan, organize, and set ourselves apart so we hit the ground running once 2014 rolls around.

Here are 3 ways to help you maintain healthy habits this holiday season.

1.) Write it down. Just as it’s vitally important to write down our goals, it’s as equally important to write down our health and fitness goals, especially during this time of the year. With all of the distractions looming, writing down that you want to still workout four days a week and stick to your eating plan five days a week or whatever it may be, increases your chances to actually do so. I write down on a note card and a post-it-note that I will keep to my six days a week training routine and continue eating healthy. This is a constant reminder for me to stick to the plan regardless of what distractions come my way.

2.) Accountability partner. This one can play to your advantage exceptionally well. Talk with a family member or friend who has the same drive as you to keep your healthy habits this holiday season and come up with a strategized plan.

It could be that you guys talk every day, once a week, or every weekend, whatever it is, accountability works! For example, there were times when I got hit with a countless amount of distractions and it kept getting harder and harder. After having an encouraging conversation with my accountability partner, I was quickly reminded that I’m in this for the long haul and must stick to the plan.

3.) What gets scheduled gets done. Just as you schedule doctor appointments, meetings, and important functions, schedule your work outs and plan out your eating routine. This won’t last as long as it sounds. I typically use Sunday night to reflect on the past week and schedule everything for the upcoming week.

If you look at my calendar on my phone, you will notice that Monday through Saturday every workout is scheduled at a specific time along with my eating regimen. This is a game changer.

I hope you enjoyed my 3 ways to help you keep your healthy habits this holiday season. The only thing that matters is that you are able to find something that works for you.

What works for me might not necessarily work the same for you. Play around with it and have some fun. I wish you and your loved ones a joyous, healthy, and happy holiday season.