27 posts categorized "health and wellness"

January 22, 2016

Four Life Lessons I Learned From the Gym

About two years ago, I rededicated myself to physical fitness in order to lower my blood sugar and improve my mental performance.  I joined the David and Barton Gym in my office complex, hired a trainer and started going three or so times a week.  While the whole point of working out was mind-body fitness, I learned some life lessons that have enhanced my professional performance as well.  Today, if I don't work out, I feel like there's something lacking from my day. That's how any life-changing performance-improving process works.  Here are the four lessons that I've taken away from the gym:

  1.  Motivation Is a Daily Requirement - As Rosanne Barr once said: "The problem with working out is that you have to do it again!" She's right, too. It's very easy to find excuses not to go to the gym, and when you get there, just treadmilling it for 30 minutes while watching cable is a big temptation. Doing all the reps, including the painful core work, requires internal motivation.  It's too easy for me to find an excuse not to get in the car and spend 1.5 hours roundtrip working out, and only I can overcome it. I've realized this applies equally to my professional life. Every day, I must find the focus and energy to work on what's important, finish the must-be-done and put in the effort to continually improve.  No author, mentor or guru can or will do that for me.  
  2. Coaching Is a Necessary Ingredient - At first, I worked out by myself, which led to a piddly approach.  Did a little of this, a little of that, and had no regular routine.  I wasn't building up, I was just doing reps.  Being a search-sleuth, I looked up routines, which helped a little, but still I lacked the perspective to understand what my body really needed and how I could stretch myself to go a little further every day.  A few months in, I invested in hiring a personal trainer, who changed the game for me.  He put a process around my physical fitness and monitored my form.  He didn't congratulate me for just showing up.  He encouraged me when I could finish the reps required.  In this process I realized that no matter how long I've been in business, I still need coaching to move forward on the daily.  Since then, I elicited the help of a few colleagues to serve as that trainer, giving me feedback on my professional strategy and monitoring my form as an author, consultant and speaker.  It's greatly enhanced my ability to grow a little every day, and find new ways to reach milestones in my career. 
  3. Progress Is Mostly Intangible - I really didn't expect to get "swole" like Popeye by hitting the gym, but I was surprised that after a year of regular exercise, I largely looked the same.  But my limberness, endurance, strength, agility and mental alertness were all greatly enhanced.  Even though I couldn't point to the results, they were permeated throughout my being.  This is the same for professional life.  When we study or work on stretch projects, the results can't always be measured in dollars or title-progress.  But if you'll pay attention, you'll find that your mental agility, sharpness, courage, cunning, productivity and influence are growing by leaps and bounds. 
  4. Injuries Happen When Training For Strength - As a 50-something, I know that it's important to conduct strength training and not just focus on cardio.  So I lifted weights of all types, did pull ups and pushed myself to challenge my capacity.  And of course, I've injured myself a few times along the way.  I'm nursing a slight tear in my rotator cuff now, which is likely the result of doing just a little too much on the bench.  That's how it goes, I find out.  You can't push for strength without pushing boundaries and there's no clear signal that you are about to pay the price.  That's why I'm not alone in the gym being injured, all the other ambitious members experience it too.  This is exactly what happens when you are trying to grow your influence or gain more power at work.  As you try and be a stronger manager or harder closer, social injuries will happen. Feelings get hurt or you get disappointed in yourself or others.  Sometimes, you might lose friends along the way, since there's no clear line on how much coaching is too much.  But that comes with the territory if you want to move up in your career and not just do your time. 

I'm curious: What life lessons have YOU learned in the gym?  I'd love to read them in comments and am willing to append this post to add the best.

December 05, 2012

Skip Your Email Before You Go To Bed

There's a new habit in our info-life.  A stop on our way to lala land every night.  Our Inbox.

Sometimes, it's a computer on a desk.  Others, it's your iPhone by the bedpost. Any device will deliver your email, a constant string of welcome and unwelcome chatter.  And your curiosity kills you, just like a kid watching the post man stuff the mail box.  You can't help but check it over and over again all the day long. 

And right before you go to bed, just before you brush your teeth or tuck in the kids, you steal a glance at your Inbox.  You just can't help yourself.  In most cases, the chatter is innocuous.  In the rarest of cases, something needs your attention before the next morning.  And I mean, rare.  

But then there's the monthly or quarterly sleep killer that never fails to show up:  An email that pisses you off.  Maybe someone has been sipping and sending, being curt when they should be kind. You read the note, wonder, "why would he say that to me!?" and either tap back a salvo or trudge off to bed to mutter to yourself.  You rehearse how you are going to tell her off tomorrow. 

It sneaks into your sleep psyche too, sometimes your dreams.  You complain to your partner or friends at the gym the next day, getting worked up about a stupid email you read at 10:30 last night.  Then you go off on the culprit the next day, who often sheepishly replies, "jeez, I didn't mean any thing by it!"  Does this read familiar to you?  

Email is a horrible way to express your intentions, so of all media to eat before bedtime, it's the worst one for your soul.

Lately, I've been passing by my laptop on the way to bed.  It's not there.  I don't drag the iPad to bed, I read out of my Kindle instead.  And I'm sleeping better too.  Nothing's gone wrong, either, so turns out, it was a waste of time.  The next morning, over a cup of coffee, last night's email never reads that badly.  

For more, check out this video, from one of my keynotes. 

Get Some Sleep from Tim Sanders on Vimeo.

November 21, 2012

Finding Your Thanksgiving In Every Day

A few years ago, when I was working at Yahoo, I encountered a lucky soul that celebrates Thanksgiving 365 days a year.  He is almost always in a good mood.

We were passing out gift certificates to employees, having some cake in the break room and knocking off early the Weds before Turkey Day.  My admin got into a conversation with one of our maintainence employees about how much she was looking forward to Thanksgiving.  She asked him, "what are you doing special tomorrow?" and he softly replied, "It will be another day, with too much food cooked, which we'll share with our friends and neighbors.  Besides the sharing part, it's a typical day for us, because every day we give thanks for this bounty."  

He and his family had moved to California from central Mexico several years before, and he was now a citizen with gainful employment and a way to send his two kids to college.  "We never thought this could happen for us, and when it did, we made the decision that every day was Thanksgiving," he continued.  "Except Nov 25, and that's the day we make more than we need.  Then we have a ball feeding others with it.  We can afford that once a year!" 

This is the true spirit of what the Pilgrims meant when they set aside a day to give thanks.  They never thought they'd find a new home, with so much bounty to feast on.  Here's my takeaway: as Billye taught me, 'gratitude is a muscle, not a feeling.  If it were a feeling, you'd be feeling it all time!' 

I'm going to find a Thanksgiving signal in every day, from home to work or even as I run errands.  I'll rethink Nov 25 as a day I demonstrate my gratitude by helping others find their bounty.  This way, my focus will be on what I have to share, and not what I lack. 

What are you thankful for, every day of your life!?  Tell us in comments and exercise your gratitude muscle. 

January 10, 2012

Sitting Is The New Smoking

The above image is taken from a great infographic on Techcrunch

It's message is simple: The more you sit, the worse you'll feel.  Recent studies suggest that of all of our bad contemporary habits, sitting all day is a killer.  With the rise of the information age, more of us earn a living sitting down, working on computers.  Our parents were more likely to sit less than a quarter as much as us and their parents more even less sedentary.  

So why isn't this post titled, "Cube Farms Are The New Coal Mines" ??? 

Because sitting all day is your choice, not your fate.  You can beat this disease risk by tweaking the way you work.  It's my 2012 resolution to sit at least fifty percent less than I did last year.  That's just as good as kicking my weekly french fries or losing ten pounds!  Here are several ways you can sit less and live longer: 

1.  Stand Up While Working On Computers.
 There are several great standing desks, including hydrolic ones where you can sit (during meetings with others) or stand.  My old boss at Yahoo, Anil, had his desk permanently setup where he stood while he worked.  He had a tall stool for those times he needed to take a load off.  He also had a foot rest, as this is the proper way to work on computers while standing.  If you can't do any of this, yet work on a laptop, occassionally pull it out of your docking station or off your desk and work on a bar counter or some other standing friendly surface.  

2. Talk Daily Walking Breaks.  Walking is great exercise, and according to many doctors, a great prescription for too much sitting.  Each day I carve out 20-30 minutes for 'walk-time' either outside or on a treadmill at my gym.  When walking outside, I frequently conduct my daily (no-paperwork or web access required) phone calls.  It's made a huge difference both in terms of my health and my mood state when I was finished. 

3. Convert Work Into Walking.  Conduct phone calls or meetings standing up and/or walking around.  (You'll have shorter ones as a result!) Take the stairs at work instead of the elevator.  Get up out of your chair to ask a quick question of a colleague, instead of sending an email 200 feet.  

Change your habits, and beyond health, you'll be better at work.  To be creative and confident, the formula for excellence, you need to feel good.  Sitting all day drains your energy, creates distracting physical pain and reduces your endurance.  And it's your choice.  You quit smoking, and don't miss the smoking breaks - you won't miss sitting either!


April 19, 2011

4-20 Is #HighOnHelping Day

April 20 has a variety of meanings leading to various celebrations - some in the moment and others for future generations.  For me, it's a big day I'm conducting a media tour to support my new book,  Today We Are Rich.  One of the key points of the book is that you can give your way out of burnout.  In principle four, Give To Be Rich, I echo Dr. Norman Vincent Peale's obsersvation: Generosity  is a Wonder Drug.  

In the spirit of Carpe Diem, I'm claiming 4-20 as a national day of giving, observing and sharing of emotions.  Much like Dicken's Scrooge, anyone can lift their spirits dramatically by giving, helping, volunteering or directly donating to those in need.  Researches have a name for the medicinal power of giving: Helper's High.  

When you share what you have to help others, in that moment, you are worth something - and it will help you ease any pain.  Looking for a blanket to throw over your blues? Here's what Dr. Stephen Post of the Institute For Research on Unlimited Love would deal to you:  "To rid yourself of negative emotional states, push them aside with positive emotional states and the simplest way to do that is to just go out and lend a helping hand to somebody." 

Looking for a buzz?  Volunteer.  Women participating in a study by the Institute For The Advancement Of Health reported that after volunteering time to help others, they had a physical experience similar to meditation or a vigorous workout.  In a compilation of fifty studies recently published by Case Western University's Stephen Post, the exact phenom becomes clear:  When we perceive that we've helped someone, we trigger the reward center in our brain, which produces Dopamines, Endorphins and Serotonins.  These powerful chemicals give us feelings of profound joy, calmness and spiritual connection.  We get as high as a kite, or gain the internal/chemical feeling of true Richness.

We lift off, emotionally, and it lasts for days, sometimes weeks.  Researchers found that you could reinject yourself with the WonderDrug Of Helping just by thinking about it (but you need to focus your energies on recollecting all the details to generate empathy).  During my book tour stop in Franklin TN, I had a cup of coffee with Sandy Griffin, fellow author and big giver to the homeless in greater Nashville.  As she recounted how she secured some corrective shoes for one of her new friends, and the difference it would make to his quality of life - she lit up, high on the loving-giving experience.  Proof positive that this research is true!

In his research, Dr. Post also observed that when we are in Helping Mode, our body produces Oxytocin, which is known as the "bonding hormone."  When faced with a crisis or a problem, people on Helper's High spring into "Tend and Mend" mode, instead of the more aggressive "Fight Or Flight" mode.  In other words, Helper's High brings out the emotion of trust and nurture.  

And that's not all, choosy drug shoppers, you also get relief from Helping too!  In a surprising study back in 1956, stay-at-home moms had less emotional stress markers than the breadwinners, because their mothering gave them natural relief.  Post explains it this way: Helper's High (fueled by the brain's reward center) dominate Cortisol, the stress hormone.  Help and you'll conquer stress, and according to research in teens as well as adults: You'll beat most depression too. 

Giving is a WonderDrug, the only one to take when you need a dose of Euphoria or a cure for the blues or a stressful life.  It lasts much longer, probably costs you less than substance or alcohol and more importantly - converts your selfish approach to 'coping with life' to a life of service and significance.  Try it out today, you'll see.  Turn up for 'helper's radar' and find an opportunity to do something helpful for someone.  The research warns that writing a check or texting a donation will NOT produce the high, you need direct contact with someone you generally care about or feel sympathy towards.  Give encouragement, a hot meal, a hand up or some volunteer time.  Keep your eyes open for the difference you make and savor the high that will come.  Make a note to reinject your psyche with the experience on May 1.  It'll work then too! 

Here's How To Spread The Word: Retweet this post if you a Twitter-head or click the Like button is Facebook is your thing.  After you help someone today, either comment about your emotional experience (document your Helper's High) or share your deed and feeling on Twitter with #HighOnHelping as a hashtag.  The more you talk about it, the more you are dealing a new solution to your extended network: Take Giving, It's a WonderDrug. 

Thanks to Jon Acuff, Randy Elrod, Ken Coleman, Ron Edmonson and others for joining this campaign via their blogs, podcasts and networks.  If you decide to participate, send me a note and I'll add you to the #HighOnHelping bandwagon. 


April 04, 2011

How To Stay Sane In An Insane World

It’s a miracle anyone can keep his or her mind focused and clear these days.  We have content, devices and ubiquitous distribution all clamoring for our attention.

If you aren’t diligent, it’s easy to get swallowed up by it all. 

That’s what happened to my friend Rick.  A few years ago, he shared how depressed he was with me – and how we felt like he was losing his grip.  When I asked him about his waking to sleeping info-routine, he chronicled a typical New Economy professional’s life: Wake up, check email, surf social stream, post/update, interact, slam coffee, get to work, keep up with the flood, graze on more when you get home, check email before sleep --- repeat the next day.  And like Dr. Phil, I had to ask him, “how’s that working for you?” (For the full story, read the free excerpt “Feed Your Mind Good Stuff”)

Breakfast is not only the most important meal for your body, it sets your day’s mental tone as well.  And, if you don’t possess some info-recovery zones in your life, you just may come down with NEDS – New Economy Depression Syndrome.  A few years ago, I partnered with HeartMath Institute to conduct a survey/study on the impact of too-much-information and too-little-face-time.  (read the full results here)

For those that can’t unplug and get real, the results aren’t pretty.  Depression, anxiety, decreased performance and relationship difficulties are all outcomes of an insane information life – where technology owns you instead of you owning technology.   I’ve found a few ways, as an author and blogger, to avoid this trap:


  1. Don’t go online first thing.  Wait at least thirty minutes before you login to your email or social media websites.  Take it slowly, reading from a book that’s either helpful or inspirational – and rehearsing your coming day.  If you can, wait 45 minutes for best results.  Don’t worry, you won’t miss anything – and people still have your mobile or home phone number for true ASAP issues.
  2. Carve out offline zones in your schedule.  At SAS Institute, employees are given after 5pm and weekends offline.  Not just ‘off’, but offline – where they are not expected to check email or even carry a blackberry/iPhone.  The result? Top company to work for in 2010.  Do the same for yourself and train everyone in your life to work around your schedule unavailability.
  3. Don’t carry information devices everywhere you go.  Don’t take a smart phone into the restaurant, have a real date instead.  Otherwise you risk checking your device instead of staying engaged with your partner, and when you do, you’ll be like those other disconnected (depressed) phone gazers sitting around you.
  4. Don’t use social tools that you don’t need to.  We are told “you need to blog” (2005), you need to be on LinkedIn and keep up (2006), you need to Tweet (2007), you need to Facebook (2008) and god-knows-what’s next.  Really? 

Pick your battles, measure the results and don’t get sucked into the Innovation Trap of social and new media.  Quit something today.

This is from Principle 1 from Today We Are Rich



February 21, 2011

How to snap out of a bad mood

It's up to you: Either stew in your head or snap out of it. 

This morning, I woke up in a bad mood.  Yesterday, I'd received some get-busy (eg. bad) news and last night I tossed and turned, having nightmares to boot.  This AM, I found myself rehearsing what I was going to say and grumbling to my wife Jacqueline.  Fortunately, I caught myself, realizing, that being in a good mood is a prerequisite to being effective.  So I launched a plan to flip my mood from crappy to happy.  

By 1PM, I was well with the world again.  Not because yesterday's problem was fixed, but because of a few things I set into motion to reverse my state of mind.  If you have a bad mood AM (and you'll know it because you'll have a case of the Mutters), here's what you can do: 

1 - Admit you are in a bad mood to your significant other or best friend.  Confess that it's likely overblown and will ruin your day's work if you don't solve it.  That will paint you into a positive corner. 

2 - Get more information about the 'thing' that set your mood off.  I know, sometimes a bad mood is more general than that, but often there is a stressor that triggers your negative feelings.  Directly confront or engage with the most-responsible-party involved to find out more, and redefine the situation as one of those "I'll have to roll up my sleeves, but I'll live" situations.  Focus on solutions, not problems.  If you avoid the stressor or it's cause, thinking that today's not a good day for it - every spare moment will throw you back into your funk as you pontificate and guess.

3 - Take a few minutes to connect with family or friends.  Focus some energy on how grateful you are for them, and take a walk outside with one of them (or call them on the phone, not to talk about your mood, but to talk about love or friendship).   Don't stay alone on a bad mood day. At the same time, don't use this time to dump on those you care about.  You might give them the same funk or spin them up into a frenzy.  Just be. 

4 - Give your body a treat.  You mind is sending Cortisol through your system when your mood is bad, and that's not good for the body.  Eat something healthy or even treat yourself to something tasty or sweet.   Today is had some Pho and green tea and it's really helping. 

5 - Focus your attention on purpose.  Why are you here?  Why are you doing your job?  Why is today and important day for you and those you care about.  If your focal point is the "Why" and not the "What", you'll find that your stressor or situation is very small in the bigger scheme of things.  


This is a concept that's included in my next book, Today We Are Rich.   Visit the book page and you can pre-order a copy and receive a free eBook excerpt with an entire principle!  You can also visit its facebook page too.


November 20, 2009

Take the weekend off

I shot this video @ home on Monday, but waited until today to share it with you. 

I want you to take some time off this weekend.  As much as possible.  The more you take off, the better you'll be next week.  Check out this video clip for the screed:

The Value Of The Pit Stop by Tim Sanders

July 27, 2009

A prescription for worry or stress

Holt_nedsvictim small BNW

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale's book, The Power Of Positive Thinking is packed with life changing ideas and easy to implement daily do's.  One of them is simple: If you are worried, do something physical. According to Dr. Peale, you won't get any better sitting and stewing! 

So many people I talk to these days are worried about their jobs, the economy, politics or families going through hard times. If they don't get up and move around a little, they'll just simmer in the pressure cooker of life until they turn to mush. I've seen some individual cases already. They search the net, their social spaces and their soul for answers but the easy one is right in front of them.  Move for life!

Of course, this is a true home spun remedy.  But it works!  Research indicates that physical therapy or going outside for a walk/run are good for your body's emo-chemical mix.  Often stress creates an elevated level of Cortisol, the stress hormone.  This reinforces your feelings, attacks muscles and generates toxins inside your body.  You more you worry, the worse you feel and in that bad feeling state -- the more emotional you become. Think of it as a downward spiral.  

Breaking it is as simple of getting out of your chair, walking outside and letting some sun or rain fall on your face during a smoke break length walk (I don't mean have a cigg, I mean 7-10 minutes). When you get back to your chair, the world will be as you left it, but you'll have positive chemicals (like DHEA) pumping through your system. 

May 29, 2009

A lunch for champions


Eat a lunch that gives you energy and health. 

It's really not hard, all you need is a microwave and five minutes of prep time.  My lunch plans usually involve a Jalapeno Boca veggie burger with a slice of cheese on a whole wheat bun, along with two handfuls of steamed broccoli (steam it and you triple the nutrients you'll absorb). If you like, add a little lo-fat salad dressing for the broc. 

Don't use mayo, use mustard instead.  That alone makes a big difference.

This has replaced burgers, fries, dogs, mex food, junk, etc. for lunch.  The total calorie count is below 250 and the fat is limited to the slice of cheese.  After a while, even my dog believes it is a burger and fries and begs for a bite daily! 

In 2003-2004, when I went from waistline 34 and rising to 30, this was one of my diet secrets.  

PS - Here's my good friend Dr. Mao's recommendations for lunch.

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