How health affects performance

I’m currently devouring Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Habits. It’s such a good book for anyone looking to get after it. Not only does he give interesting data (which God knows I love), he also gives actionable steps to up your performance. Usually authors give you a little too much of one or the other in their book but not Brendon. He gives the perfect balance, which is why I love the book so much.

By this point, you’re probably wondering why I’m raving about a business book in a health blog. Luckily for you, I anticipated this question. So, I’m going to tell you. I’m writing about High Performance Habits because in Chapter 2 (that’s less than 150 pages in) Brendon talks about the importance of health and high performance.

There is a big correlation between health and performance yet most of us aren’t even aware of it. Listen to this: Brendon found that the top 5% of high achievers are 40% more likely to exercise than the bottom 95% of high achievers. Forty percent more likely! And that’s just among high achievers. Think about how much more likely the top 5% are to eat, move, and sleep well than the average person or underachiever?

And let’s not forget about food. Brendon points out that what you eat is predictive of success and productivity, citing that good nutrition not only affects the individual but has also been shown to affect the macroeconomics of a nation.

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Before you go poo pooing these comments and statistics – take a look at the people you most admire in business. My gut says that 95% of them will fit your definition of a “healthy person”. Am I right? Of course I am. Because, despite all the advances in neuroscience (and energy drinks), science continues to show that your overall health – you know, what you eat, how you move, when you sleep – is integral to your energy. And energy, friend, is integral to your performance.

That’s right, energy is key to – in fact it’s among the top predictors of –  success. And, as I just laid out, your health is pivotal to your energy. Yet, so many us are quick to drop healthy habits when things get busy. We think we’re giving ourselves an edge by putting more time into our businesses by disregarding time eating or moving. But it’s actually working against us. Think about it. Working out and eating well is consistently shown to deliver more strategic thinking, increase output, and improve mental clarity. That means when we take time to be healthy, it’s not the time suck we think it is. Rather, it’s a time enhancer as it allows you to get more done in a shorter period of time.

For those of you saying to yourself, “I’m in. I want to up my health to up my productivity, but I don’t know where to start”, I got you. I’m going to give you the quickest way to get there: through your gut (the internal gut, not your external). You see, your gut is your second brain, which means it has to be right for your first brain, i.e. the brain we all know and love, to function well.

Fortunately, improving your gut is pretty simple as it typically involves eating more real foods, i.e. food made from plants and quality animal products/by-products, but it’s a little nuanced depending on where you are with your health. So, here are couple general rules to get you started:

  • If you’re relatively healthy and/or only 10-15lbs overweight, add probiotics (natural and/or supplements) and more fiber to your diet. This will increase the diversity of good bacteria in your gut, which in turn, will positively affect your serotonin and immune function.
  • If you’re more than 15lbs overweight or suffer from a chronic condition, forget the fiber for the time being and decrease the amount of added sugar in your diet (i.e. sugar that is not from a fruit). This will starve off the bad bacteria among your gut flora, which will set you up to properly receive probiotics and fiber when it’s time to up them in your diet.

I could talk about this subject all day, but I’ll leave you here (for now). And as always, if you have any questions, get at me and sign up for my newsletter for more tips like these!