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Fit to Lead
The Proven 8-Week Solution for Shaping Up Your Body, Your Mind, and Your Career
By Christopher P. Neck, Tedd L. Mitchell, Charles C. Manz, Emmet C. Thompson II
St. Martin's Press Copyright © 2004 Christopher P. Neck, Ph.D., Tedd L. Mitchell., M.D., Charles C. Manz, Ph.D., and Emmet C. Thompson II, D.S. L.
All rights reserved.
Why Should You Get Fit?
More Energy, Less Stress, Improved Job Performance, and Much, Much More
There's no question that people who are fit are more productive. They enjoy their work more and accomplish more.
— Dr. Jerome Zuckerman, exercise physiologist
Being a leader today is not for the meek, the timid, or the mild. Being a leader is not easy! The job of the executive has become more intense over the last decade. A profusion of new demands confronts executives, particularly physical ones.
For example, the global economic thrust of many businesses today has forced CEOs to step up their travel schedules in an attempt to develop and maintain an international presence for their companies. In addition, simply being responsible for many people, their welfare, and the success of the company creates a stressful, physical demand. Endless meetings and extremely long workdays are now par for the course for executives.
Yet executives who enjoy optimal fitness — the ability to accomplish life's activities without undue fatigue — can better handle these demands and thus perform better in their daily tasks with more energy, focus, and creativity.
In short, fitness works. Fit executives perform better than unfit ones. We know because we've reviewed numerous studies and tracked thousands of executives — fit and unfit — who come through the doors of the Cooper Clinic each year. We also interviewed numerous executives, and our research all adds up to one thing — an executive's worth can be tied directly to his or her fitness level.
For example, Michael Mangum is president and CEO of the Mangum Group, a diversified, closely held business with interests in highway construction, asphalt paving, and equipment management. The company employs more than 350 people and generates over $80 million in annual revenues. He told us:
I do believe fitness impacts my job. I usually exercise during the middle of the day, say, one to fourP.M. or so. I find that my energy level is much enhanced when I return from a workout. Further, I find that because I choose to go during the day, my thoughts tend toward work while exercising. I have some of my most creative thoughts when working out.
Judith Kaplan had a similar perspective while she served as CEO of Action Products International, Inc., an educational toy manufacturer in Orlando that generates $8.2 million in sales each year.
I never felt better, physically and mentally, than when I was exercising regularly three times a week. I could work harder. Instead of collapsing at the end of the day, I'd still feel good.
Likewise, Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino's Pizza and current chairman of the Mater Christi Foundation, a private foundation that focuses on Catholic education, Catholic media, community projects, and other Catholic charities, says:
Since I have been exercising regularly and eating right, I have had more energy and a better self-image. Fitness and exercise also have helped me develop good disciplinary habits, which carries over to good business habits.
James Harris, vice president of player personnel for the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, offers a similar perspective:
I believe fitness can enhance your concentration and endurance to perform the task at hand. Physical conditioning gives you confidence and energy to achieve.
Carol Cone, president of Cone Communications, a marketing and public relations firm, also believes that fitness enhances her on-the-job performance:
I must make fifty to one hundred decisions a day, and it's important to have the same clarity of thinking at seven or eight o'clock at night as at seven or eight o'clock in the morning.
The Proof Is in the Research
Don't just take the words of a few successful executives and the president of the United States. Hundreds of well-controlled studies prove what they've learned from personal experience — that fitness improves job performance.
In one study, commercial real estate stockbrokers who participated in an aerobics-training program (walking and/or running once a day, three times a week, for twelve weeks) earned larger sales commissions than brokers who did not participate. Also, workers from a hospital equipment firm who participated in an aerobics-training program (walking, running, swimming, and/or bicycling once a day, four times a week, for twenty-four weeks) enjoyed greater productivity and job satisfaction than workers who did not participate.
In addition, a variety of studies show that fitness boosts mental performance, especially for individuals within the age range of many executives. For example, one study of fifty-six college professors revealed that physically active people process data faster and experience a slower age-related decline in information-processing speed than inactive people. Similarly, a study of postal workers found that not only younger employees (age eighteen to thirty) but also more fit older ones (forty-three to sixty- two) consistently outperformed less fit employees on mental tasks involving information processing.
Individuals who are fit are also less likely to become obese and more likely to possess higher levels of energy and enjoy enhanced feelings of well-being. Further studies have shown that fit individuals tend to enjoy psychological benefits as well, including a reduction in anxiety, depression, tension, and stress.
* * *
"My weight has dropped twenty-five pounds, my body fat dropped from 19 percent to roughly 10 percent, and my cholesterol from 225 to 110," says Michael Mangum, two years after embarking on the Fit to Lead program. "My ultrafast CT scan showed no spread of previous heart-related calcifications, and my time on the treadmill stress test improved by three minutes or so. The program has made a big difference for me. On a related point, I find that I miss less time from work due to illness. Since I started on a pretty rigorous wellness program, I have seen a marked drop in my sick days. I virtually don't get sick any more."
* * *
The Benefits Keep Adding Up
As we have been emphasizing, besides your job performance, fitness also improves your health. In fact, sticking to an exercise program may be the most important thing you can do to ensure a longer, fuller life.
For example, one study revealed improvements in cardiovascular function and strength, as well as reductions in body fat and weight, for sixty-six men engaged in a two-year exercise program located within their corporate headquarters. Another study, led by Dean Ornish, M.D., shows that lifestyle changes that include diet and exercise can reverse the atherosclerotic changes of coronary heart disease and unblock arteries enough to avoid surgery. Finally, an estimated 35 percent of cancers, the second leading cause of death in the United States, are related to diet. In fact, there is a growing body of evidence that links poor food choices with the incidence of cancer, particularly cancer of the esophagus, breast, prostate, and colon.
Additionally, solid evidence shows that physically fit people live longer. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine of more than one million adults during a fourteen-year period confirmed that being overweight shortened a person's life.
Several landmark studies done at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research have investigated this association between fitness and death. One of these seminal research projects investigated the relationship between fitness levels and the risk of dying in more than ten thousand men and three thousand women. The study revealed that men and women with low levels of physical fitness had more than twice the mortality rate than those with even a moderate level of physical fitness. Fitness in this case helped reduce risk for all causes of mortality, including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
The major finding from this study and others — that physical fitness can prolong one's life — has tremendous significance for you and the organization you lead. Your fitness level can greatly impact the success of your company. If you become ill, especially if you're a top-level executive, your ill health could pose far-reaching consequences for your organization. Al Hirsch, president of G+A Communications, learned this lesson all too well in 1991, when he was diagnosed with a heart fibrillation. He remarked:
Maybe it was stress, maybe it was poor diet. I don't know the exact cause — the doctors don't either — but I knew I had to start eating right, exercising right, and somehow handle the anxiety that comes with managing a business.
Lean foods and a twenty-minute run four times a week remedied Hirsch's heart problem. A fitness program focusing on exercise and diet helped him gain optimal health.
Fitness is important not only to you but also to the economic health of the company you run. Economic effects from cardiovascular disease (which research shows can be related to poor fitness habits) amounted to an estimated $286.5 billion in 1999. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, such losses affect employer and employee alike "in lost work days and wages, lost productivity, increased health care costs, and lowered morale."
Bob Jeffrey, president of the North American Region of the $4 billion grossing J. Walter Thompson advertising agency, recognizes the benefits of fitness for employees in his organization. His employees can "work out and relax in a 'de-stress room,' get free massages and yoga or nutrition lessons, join a company sports team, and consult with a personal trainer." As Mr. Jeffrey remarks: "We're [the company] totally dependent on the ideas and talent of our people, so we have to help them feel great about themselves."
Fitness Designed for Your Needs
So now you know why you need to get in shape. Let's move on to how.
Based on research conducted by the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research and other scholars, the Fit to Lead program offers you a three- pronged approach to fitness. You'll find sound prescriptions for exercise and diet, as well as a leadership plan that will help you to better implement these prescriptions into your life. We've specifically designed all three components for busy executives.
The Fit to Lead prescriptions will help you achieve optimal levels of fitness necessary for superior leadership performance, giving you the tools to begin a Fit to Lead lifestyle. In Chapter 2, we share more details about this exciting program that offers the potential to change your life and career!CHAPTER 2
The Fit to Lead Prescription
Our Three-Part Program Will Get You Fit from the Inside Out — Helping You to Become Fit for Life
Knowledge cannot make us all leaders, but it can help us decide which leader to follow.
— Management Digest
Now you're convinced that becoming Fit to Lead will help you improve your job performance. Here's the big question: How can you get there?
The science of fitness and nutrition can seem confusing, mostly because so many programs offer divergent approaches. From the latest fad diet books to locker room chat, misinformation abounds. So now that you're convinced that you want to get fit, we will convince you that the Fit to Lead program is the best way for you to get there.
Everyone wants to change from flabby to fit fast, and busy executives are no exception. Millions of people are hooked on the latest ticket to quick-and-easy weight reduction: melt-away-fat belts, exercise programs without exercise, high-protein diets, no-fat diets, low-sugar diets, and even high-carbohydrate diets.
Unlike such fad diets, we don't promise miracles. Yes, you will probably lose weight, if that's you're goal. You will gain more energy. Your outlook on life will improve. Most important, your job performance will perk up.
But you won't transform yourself overnight, in one week, or even in one month.
Every fitness fad promises that the pounds will slip off in record time, results will appear almost instantaneously. What these fads don't tell you is that your chances of keeping off those pounds and staying fit are close to zero. Studies show that five years after beginning a diet without an exercise component, the vast majority of the dieters have gained back the weight they lost — and more. The big problem is compliance: Most programs, particularly those that require you to give up major food groups, are just too darn hard to follow day in and day out for an extended period of time.
Once the weight comes off, the dieter thinks he or she is home free and then proceeds to gobble up previously "banned substances" such as cookies, potatoes, breads, or fats. Before long, the pounds creep back on, the bad habits take over, and the dieter and diet fail.
But there's another problem with diets. They focus on only one aspect of the equation — food. We've found that you need a three-pronged attack on flab, one that includes exercise, nutrition, and mental toughness. Skip any component and you risk failure.
A Fit to Lead lifestyle plan is NOT a fad. It's also NOT a diet.
In our plan, there are no taboo foods, no slick promises of instant weight loss, and no complicated balancing act to achieve success. Instead, you'll find a simple three-pronged approach that every executive can follow.
Not only are you allowed to be "bad" some of the time, but you are actually encouraged to do so. Under this plan you follow a "workweek" mind-set. From Monday through Friday you follow good, healthy principles of nutrition and exercise, which over the long haul will help you lose weight and get fit systematically — and permanently. Then, on the weekends, you get a chance to splurge a little. In other words, eat right and exercise the majority of the time and you earn the right to have the occasional feast on the weekend and lie on the couch and watch television.
The plan includes the following three components, all specifically designed for an executive's busy lifestyle.
1. Body Fitness. Our exercise plan requires no fancy equipment. You can do it anywhere, anytime — including your office, hotel room, or living room. The exercise program will help you improve three fitness variables: your endurance, your strength, and your flexibility. (You'll learn more about how each of those variables will improve your job performance in Chapter 3.) This is an excuse-proof exercise program. We've tested it on numerous executives. It works.
2. Nutritional Fitness. We know that executives lead busy lifestyles. We know you often eat out at restaurants, including fast-food ones. We know you often must grab food on the go. Finally, we know that you may have very little time to shop for and prepare healthy food. That's why we designed our nutrition plan in Chapter 4 around your unique needs and lifestyle. You'll learn how to make more healthful food choices no matter where you eat, including fast-food and airport restaurants. With this eight-step nutritional plan, you can't go wrong.
3. Mental Fitness. Our eight-step self-leadership plan uses sound business principles and applies them to eating and exercising. You'll learn how to lead yourself toward sound body and nutritional fitness. Exercise and healthful eating will become an automatic and even enjoyable habit. It's what sets our program apart from other fitness and weight-loss programs. And it's what will help you get and remain fit for the rest of your life.
Does this all sound too good to be true?
It's for real. It works. We know, because we have seen the benefits of this program for years. It's worked for the countless numbers of executives who have come to the Cooper Clinic for lifestyle advice.
In fact, one member of our author team, Tedd Mitchell, would like to share how the Fit to Lead plan impacted him personally. What follows is a story of his wife and himself and how Fit to Lead hit home for both.
Excerpted from Fit to Lead by Christopher P. Neck, Tedd L. Mitchell, Charles C. Manz, Emmet C. Thompson II. Copyright © 2004 Christopher P. Neck, Ph.D., Tedd L. Mitchell., M.D., Charles C. Manz, Ph.D., and Emmet C. Thompson II, D.S. L.. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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