I guess many people struggle with the same problem. How to stay in healthy and in shape and still dedicate most of the time into performance and growing the business?
That is quite a challenge, also for me. I ask myself that question nearly every day, try out things and still 'don't have the correct answer on all the topics. Maybe, this is also not what we all should aim for as a goal? Well, this is not a how-to guide of getting in shape or improving your mental state and health, because I am still far away from it by myself. But, I want to give you some insides in the routines, tools, apps, books, and videos that help me reach my goal in small but constant steps.
It started all a couple of years ago, late 2014 to be exact. I founded my first business. Time changed dramatically for me as did my lifestyle and habits. Traveling more, eating out way too often, occasional drinking here and there stepped into my life rapidly. I was not afraid about it, no, I liked it, and it feels right to me. My body had something else to say about that, like many of you might guess.
I put on quite some weight. Not to call me fat, but I started to feel uncomfortable within my body, and it became present more and more. Most of it came from inconsequent eating habits, especially while traveling. When you're sitting on the plane for long distance flights for basically every month, it can crash your "normal" eating habit instantly. Suddenly, you have free drinks, free food, great airport lounges and this appealing "Now I am allowed to" feeling. I think I am not the only one on the planet to experience that, I know, and this encouraged me even more to write a few lines about it. For everyone out there, take care of your self, you only have one body and one life, staying healthy on a physical and mental stage will protect you from a lot of bad things like stress, anxiety or even underperformance and laziness. I experienced all of it.
What helped me out were smaller and more significant changes in how I use the 24 hours of the day I have. I want to give you some insights into the tools and routines I found out to be effective. Maybe, they are not the best for all of you, but for me, they are finally working. And this is it, what it is all about.
Planning the day:
Many people call me crazy because of that, but I try to plan and schedule most of the things in my daily life. This planning also includes fixed workouts, eating windows and of course, meetings and travel schedules. I recently started to do that as well for my private life. It might sound wrong in the first place, but it helps a lot to have everything in one place and give every scheduled event its priority. I was so thankful for my most important partner in the company, to take over the internal communication part, which also includes all the tools. I am a huge fan of Microsoft Planner, Teams and OneNote now and I do not use much else besides that for planning and communication. Having all the things always ready on every device in seconds was a breakout for me.
Everyone is talking about workouts. What I want to give you is a little insight into the practicability part of a workout routine. Of course, the best you can do is hitting the gym consistently and hard. I experienced the problem of not having a gym everywhere I travel to, which I started using an excuse. Same went for hard and long working days. Also here, everything changed through proper planning. I added "Gym" into the must-haves of my bookings on booking.com and added two workouts a week into my calendar, where I hit the gym hard. One push and one pull workout, mostly in the morning before anything else. In addition to that, I try to catch my daily steps goal of 10.000 steps. Therefore I used "Pacer" before; now, all those measurements are installed on my Huawei P20 pro.
The Third workout is a home workout with kettlebells or some other sports like tennis which I try to include in my routine once per week.
I highly recommend the book "The 4-Hour Body" by Timothy Ferris, which explains the 80/20 principle on training and nutrition pretty well and helps me a lot to change my mindset in the gym.
Here is the YouTube link to his Google talk a few years ago:
Another big topic that you will also find in Tim's book is eating habits. I was not too much of a fan of the slow card or any other diet. It was merely not practical to me. I needed a change in my whole eating routine. This was the time where I read about intermittent fasting and the 16/8 and 20/4 method. I don't want to explain it too much here, as there is a lot of content out there, but 16/8 gives you a 16h fast and an 8h eating window, while 20/4 (also called "warrior diet"), gives you a 20h fast followed by a 4h eating window. For me, fasting changed everything. I always struggled with concentration and focus, especially while breaking my daily tasks with a lunch break for example. Same goes for breakfast. I started with 16/8, but results have not been too good for me, now I practice the 20/4 routine, and it already helped me a lot, especially while traveling. It is always a matter of priorities, also on the topic of food. I also felt a way more intense connection to the food itself during the eating window, which was not there while eating something in the office quickly for lunch.
I know it sounds hard, but you will see, after 7-10 days you adapted perfectly.
I want to leave two useful tips here for you. First, I am using an app called "Vora" to track my eating and fasting time. It also reminds you pretty well related to those events. It helped me a lot, especially in the beginning. There are also many other apps out there, but this one works functional and straightforward.
I also leave you one link to a youtube, whose content I enjoy a lot lately. I know, there are so many of them out there and most of them are misplaced or only commercially driven. But this guy explains the topic of intermittent fasting good. Check him out.
Everyone is talking about it. And yes, it works. Try it out. Not much to say about that topic. I started meditation daily a couple of months ago, very simple with a 10 minutes session every day. I use an excellent app for that called "Headspace." It is free, but of course, you can add some premium course, that is not that expensive either (approx. 50$ a year). The app guides you through different topics such as reduction of stress, improve self-esteem or mindfulness in general. I would highly recommend everyone to check it out. A turning point for me was my last visit to Sri Lanka where I talked to a lot of Buddhist monks regarding our Cultural PLaces project. They showed and explained to me a lot about meditation, how and why they practice it. But also without those insights, try it out. It's free; it doesn't take much time but has a huge impact.
I found it to be very impactful, especially when you are practicing it regularly. Journaling helped me to put all my thought down, which is again needed for further development, but also content creation. I used to journal on my MAC, which I stopped very quickly when I first tried pen and paper. The latter works for me way better as the process of writing by hand has its impact on your brain and thoughts. You can start small, for example with one idea a day and you will soon want to write more by your self. Believe me. Currently, I write 1-2 pages every morning which reflects the last day and also includes some new challenges that I have. Try it out and don't forget to bring your pen an paper while traveling.
The last point on my routine list I want to share for now is reading. I was never a big fan of traditional books, but I have been a massive fan of audible for years already. Today I can say, that I enjoy both methods a lot. I use them differently. 20-25 pages of reading every morning proved to be not only enjoyable but also something I am looking for every day. Audiobooks, on the other hand, are convenient while traveling, walking or sometimes in the evening. I would recommend everyone to try it out one day. You will see, how much information you can add to you and your brain daily.
Here are some books I highly recommend
(15 of the latest ones I read in random order):
"Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman" by Richard P. Feynman
"Daily Rituals" by Mason Currey
"The Power of Broke" by Daymond Jon and Daniel Paisner
"The 4-Hour Workweek" by Timothy Ferris
"The 4-Hour Body" by Timothy Ferris
"Tools of Titans" by Timothy Ferris
"The 10X Rule" by Grant Cardone
"The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck" by Mark Manson
"Crushing It!" by Gary Vaynerchuk
"Principles" by Ray Dalio
"Silicon Valley" by Christoph Keese
"The Hard Thing About Hard Things" by Ben Horowitz
"The Icarus Deception" by Seth Godin
"Purple Cow" by Seth Godin
"Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World" by Jack Weatherford
That's it for this article. I hope you can take something out of it and I added some value to your life. Of course, I am always very interested in discussion those points and sharing ideas and experiences. There is still a long way to go, but it will be a good one.
I wish you all the best for now, and I would highly appreciate a comment or feedback. If you have time, also check out the rest of my website, where I publish a short 5 min video every week on my weekly thoughts and learnings.