Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Managing Your Calories and Health Takes Strong Leadership

Eighty percent of American executives feel that corporate America has a responsibility to promote wellness, according to a study by the American Management Association. On the other hand, less than twenty percent of U.S. employers offer lifestyle modification services, this according to the American Journal of Health Promotion.

If leadership thinks it is important enough, it will be implemented. The problem is there is a part of our culture that puts the daily lifestyle approach to true health and wellness on the back burner.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 75% of employers’ health care costs and productivity losses have a direct causal connection to employee lifestyle choices.

Now that I have established what the status quo is, let us move on to the solutions. The solutions are quite simple. Eat right, exercise regularly and think the right kind of thoughts about oneself and others. Personally, I include the relationship with the Creator in this formula.

A good leader sets the example, inspires and motivates others to do the right thing and gives direction, both long and short-term, on what goals to follow. A good leader communicates and sets priorities and establishes the standard by which to live and work. A good leader follows through so that subordinates know that the expressed goals are a serious priority and are therefore to be abided by and followed through on by all.

We are going to apply good leadership to an area of our life that affects workplace productivity and our private lives as well. We are going to manage our calories by applying the best practices of leadership.

There are only two issues to be considered when it comes to management of calories. They are quality and quantity of food. The number one issue when it comes to managing weight is the quantity of food, also known as caloric intake.

The secret is to become your own calorie manager.

Here are seven ways to manage your calories:

ONE. Burn more than you use. Exercise and movement of the body will increase your calorie burn. However, you cannot workout all the time so regardless of activity levels, you need to manage calories all the time. If your activity levels go down, you reduce the calories. If they go up, you increase the caloric intake in a balanced way.

TWO. Eat out less. Eating out is full of extra temptations and the portion sizes are too big. They are, for the most part, "calorie bombs" packed with excess calories.

THREE. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Another big secret to managing calories is to reduce high calorie foods and increase low calorie foods. Low calorie foods are vegetables. Fruits belong here too, because they have less sugar than processed sugary food items.

FOUR. Spice It Up. Spices are a great way to keep the calories low while increasing the flavor. I am a big fan of Old Bay seasoning. It is a great flavor enhancer. Ketchup and mustard will do too. One tablespoon of ketchup has 15 calories. I just had lunch of brown rice, black beans, broccoli, cauliflower and olive oil. I used one cup of brown rice (200 cal.), 1/2 cup of black beans (100 cal.), 1 tablespoon of olive oil (120 cal.) and two cups of vegetables (60 cal.). The three food items that need careful calorie management are rice, black beans and olive oil. I use measuring cups and spoons to keep them under control.

FIVE. Eat low fat and low sugar. We all need fat in our diets and we need sugar. We as Americans are eating too much of both. Eating fat and sugar has become a form of ill placed stress management that results in an addiction. I do not want you to say, “An addiction is an illness. I’m sick so I can’t be blamed for my overindulgence.” My answer to this kind of thinking is “Yes” and “No.” Yes, an addiction is an illness and therefore creates more challenges to control the behavior. You are personally responsible for the pursuit of getting rid of overindulging in sugar and fat. In that sense, you will treat it likes it is not an illness.

SIX. Write it down. If you need to get your eating back under control, spend a few days writing down everything you eat and drink. Then find out how many calories you have consumed. If necessary, put on your calorie manager hat and go to work making adjustments.

SEVEN. Read the labels. Be on the look out for sugar and fat. Be on the look out for high calorie content. That's easy to identify. For example, olive oil is high calorie content even though it is considered healthy. One tablespoon of olive oil has 120 calories. If you pour it on without measuring it, you can end up with several hundred calories from olive oil alone.

If you need extra help with calorie and exercise management my new book, Food & Fitness Journal - Achieve Your Goals in 90 Days is available online.

Your action plan: 
Assess where you stand with management of your calories and exercise. If you are responsible for others in the workplace, assess the state of health and lifestyles of your employees. Find programs to make healthy eating and exercise a part of your life and the lives of your employees. Healthy eating and exercise programs are excellent for team building and promoting team cohesion. It is a great opportunity to build an atmosphere and culture of employees helping and supporting fellow employees. If your business is practicing the basics of healthy eating and regular exercise, fancy, cost incurring programs are unnecessary.

You may share this article with others. Please always include the author name, Lt. Col. Bob Weinstein, USAR-Ret. and his website www.beachbootcamp.net.