THIS is More Important Than Leadership Development…

I’m going to let you in on a secret about Diamond6….

Even though the word “leadership” is in our name, we often consider it secondary to a much more important topic – your health. Let me explain.

When I ask you to visualize a hardworking, successful leader what do you see?

This?

 

 

 

 

Or this?

 

 

 

 

 

My guess is picture number one.

The expectation is that to be effective, successful and respected by colleagues and subordinates a leader should be doing something all the time. Days are full of meetings, phone calls, emails and 24/7 accessibility. Every moment of the day must be filled or else we aren’t working hard enough. “No rest for the weary!” or “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” are all too common phrases that we hear – either from others or we tell ourselves.

Our lives are hectic, there’s no doubt about that. Technology makes us accessible no matter where we are or what time it is, causing work time to flow over into our personal time. Who hasn’t checked work email at dinner or been on a conference call during soccer practice?

We know that putting aside time for health and self-care is important. But, we don’t make it a priority like we do work-related tasks. Habits like exercising, eating well, drinking plenty of water, and spending time outside are squeezed into whatever open space may be left in an already overflowing calendar. If we do make time for, or prioritize self-care it often comes with feelings of guilt and shame. Guilt for making ourselves a priority and shame because we’re afraid what others might think. “She should be working on that big report instead of going for a walk!”

The Rippe Health Assessment Study of Senior Executives found that senior executives are at a higher risk for heart disease and are more inclined to having elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure. This study further concluded that 73 percent of the executives who participated were not active enough, and nearly 40 percent were obese.

This study was conducted by Dr. James Rippe, associate professor of medicine (cardiology) at Tufts University School of Medicine and founder/director of the Rippe Lifestyle Institute and Rippe Health Assessment. In response to the results, Dr. Rippe said, “The critical levels of risk factors for heart disease among senior executives affect everyone in the business world, from employees to stockholders.  And because risk factors multiply each other in relation to the risk of heart disease, an overweight, inactive senior executive is something that no American company can afford.”

I would add that inactive, sick employees is also something your organization cannot afford.

If you are not regularly practicing self-care habits you are doing a disservice to yourself, your organization and those you lead. A sick, tired, and stressed leader will be ineffective, making all other knowledge about leadership completely obsolete. This is why we believe that your health is of utmost importance.

All leaders must lead by example. This cannot be more true than when it comes to the health of the people in your organization. When others see you practicing self-care habits it gives them permission to do the same for themselves.

Here are three self-care habits you can start TODAY and lead others to taking care of themselves as well.

  1. Walk: Studies have linked sitting to a greater risk for a variety of cancers, as well as type 2 diabetes. And, more than half of our waking hours are spent sitting. Walking meetings are a great way to incorporate movement into your day, while still getting work done and getting others motivated to move. For example; set aside an hour once a week for your walking meeting and put it on your calendar. Let colleagues know if they wish to discuss something with you they are welcome to join you for your walk. Encourage others to follow suit and schedule walking meetings into their calendars as well.
  2. Drink: It seems simple enough, but most of us don’t drink enough water. My recommendation is to drink half your weight in ounces. For example; if you weigh 150 lbs you should be drinking 75 ounces of water each day. To get others on board with drinking water make sure to bring your water to meetings or offer a bottle of water to anyone who comes into your office. Make sure employees have access to clean drinking water by providing a water cooler or water fountain close by.
  3. Learn: The wonderful part of being in an office setting is that you have built in teammates. Learning together about health and wellness is a great way to get motivated and consequently hold each other accountable to practicing new self-care habits. It can also foster team building, compassion and awareness for one another. Reach out to a local health expert to conduct a “Lunch and Learn” class or bring in a yoga instructor once a week to do a short stretching class.

Check out my upcoming webinar!

During this class I will share a step by step guide for making lasting changes to the way you eat, my favorite clean-eating staples and much more! Click the image below to reserve your spot. 

Of course, I encourage you to lead by example and share this class with your team, colleagues or organization! I look forward to speaking with you then.


Tanya McCausland is the COO at Diamond6 Leadership and a Holistic Nutrition Consultant. She is board certified by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals and teaches executive wellness to leaders at all levels. 

Leader Wellness: Your Post-Holiday Recovery Plan

I can’t believe it! We are already over three weeks into 2013 and even though the holidays seem like a distant memory you may still have the side effects still hanging around. I’m talking about low energy, fatigue, sugar cravings and a few extra unwanted pounds might have you cursing the cookies, crackers and candy canes you consumed. You may be inclined to hit the gym 6 days a week and only drink green smoothies in a desperate attempt to get your pre-holiday body back and shake that groggy, heavy, tiredness. But, we all know those resolutions will mostly be forgotten by February 1st.

So, I’ve decided to share my personal post-holiday recovery plan with you. Whether you want to shed some holiday weight, jump out of bed in the morning or be able to handle the New Years stress at work this plan will help you get there. These simple tips are possible no matter what your schedule and I encourage you to incorporate them into your daily routine for 2013.

Drink More Water: Pure water helps to cleanse the body and wash away impurities. Being dehydrated can cause fatigue, foggy thinking and an overall blah feeling. Get a glass or aluminum water bottle that you can keep at your desk and carry with you to meetings. Be sure to drink about half your body weight in water each day. So, if you weigh 140 pounds you should drink 70 ounces of water every day. Does plain water seem boring? Add a slice of orange or lemon to your water. Or, invest in a Sodastream for fresh, bubbly water (just be sure to skip the sugary, chemical soda flavors).

Eat Sweet Veggies: If you have a sweet tooth (like me!) then you probably ate a record number of cookies over the holidays (like me!). If you’re craving sweets incorporate more sweet vegetables into your diet. My favorites are carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, beets and Brussels sprouts. Roast any of theses or a combination with a drizzle of olive oil and pinch of salt at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes (depending on the veggie) and you’ll have a delicious sweet side dish for dinner or to add to your salad for lunch the next day.

Eat Breakfast: If you’ve sat in on one of my presentations or read my articles you know I harp on breakfast all the time. It really is the most important meal of the day and yet the most neglected. Make sure to take at least 15 minutes each morning to sit down and have breakfast. This could be as simple as a bowl of oatmeal and a hardboiled egg, a yogurt parfait with seasonal fruit, apple and peanut butter or leftover dinner with a fried egg on top. Without breakfast you will be reaching for sugar-laden, carbo-loaded snacks all day long.

Cut the Coffee: Often a cup of Joe is the only thing that motivates us to get us out of bed in the morning. And, then it’s the 2, 3, 4 or more cups everyday that keep us from taking a nap under the desk. Ask yourself; are you using coffee as a crutch to get you through the day? If you answered yes consider cutting coffee out for about 10 days (and drink more water) – you will be surprised how much more real energy you have. If this seems completely insane to you cut back to one cup a day and truly savor that one cup. Coffee gives us bursts of energy initially but then it drops us down just as quickly leaving us reaching for the next cup. Plus, coffee goes great with pastries….I’ll just leave it at that.

5-Minute Movement: Most people made some sort of New Years resolution around hitting the gym in 2013. But, sometimes work, life and to-do lists get in the way and then throw in the towel completely. Instead, focus on incorporating short spurts of movement at regular intervals during the day. Set a timer every two hours and then step away from the computer and take at least 5 minutes to walk around the office, do a few stretches or jumping jacks. This will help increase blood flow, elevate your energy, boost your metabolism and allow you to de-stress.

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Tanya McCausland is a Health and Culinary Coach and the founder of Home Cooked Healing in Alameda, CA She inspires, encourages and motivates her clients to create a life of health and balance through delicious food and simple lifestyle changes. She believes that our kitchens have the ability to heal – we just have to stock our pantries with real food and not be afraid to wield a wooden spoon every so often!

Leader Wellness: Boost Your Immune System

**This is an excerpt from Tanya’s weekly 10 Ways Tuesday series. Go to the Home Cooked Healing blog to get all 10 immune boosting tips and be sure to join her on Facebook to get her latest tips and recipes.**

I’m in recovery from a pretty nasty cold. One day I was spending time with friends in Monterey, the next I sounded like a 6-pack a day smoker. I spent last week rotating between the couch and my bed with a few shuffles to the kitchen to make tea and soup.

I must say that I can’t remember the last time I’ve had such a bad cold – it’s probably been at least 3 or 4 years. I guess I was due.

It’s the time of the year when coughs, sniffles and sneezes become more prevalent. So, to keep you safe from sleeping with the tissue box clutched under your arm, here are 5 ways to boost your immune system and stay sniffle-free!

1. Eat Lean Protein at Every Meal: Protein gives you a double-whammy for your immune system. The antibodies that help fight disease are made up of proteins AND protein foods contain other immune-boosting nutrients. Beef, pork, beans and some seafood are high in zinc, which is important for keeping your immune defenses strong. Many nuts are also high in magnesium – also an important immune boosting mineral. So, load the nuts on your morning oatmeal, add beans to your salad at lunch and have a grass fed beef burger for dinner.

2. Take 10-Minute Walks: Carve out some time to take a brisk 10-minute walk a few times a day. Daily exercise increases circulation so antibodies and white blood cells can detect illnesses sooner and release a hormone that can detect an invader. Schedule short walks after each meal or take one 30-minute walk after dinner. Added bonus: walking after eating will curb those cravings so you won’t be reaching scrounging the office kitchen for holiday cakes and cookies.

3. Get Your Vitamin D Levels Checked: Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that can boost our immune response. We get this vitamin from few foods and the sun. However, because many of us spend much of our time in offices we miss out chance at getting enough Vitamin D, especially as the days get shorter. Request a Vitamin D test from your doctor. 50 nmol/L is generally considered enough to maintain overall health; less than 30 nmol/L is too low for most adults. If you are low, talk to your doctor about taking a supplement. Oh, and take those walks!

4. Eat Your ACE’s: Vitamins A, C and E are especially important to enhancing your immune function. You can get Vitamin A from sweet potatoes, carrots and dark leafy greens. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits like lemons, limes and oranges. Top that off with Vitamin E rich foods like nuts, seeds and Swiss chard and you’ve built a flu-fighting army!

5. Limit the Liquor: Alcohol suppresses your immune system by weakening dendritic cells whose job it is to seek and destroy invading microbes. This leaves you nearly defenseless against the winter sniffles. With upcoming holiday parties the drinks will be flowing. Try and stick with 1-2 drinks per evening and then hydrate with water or a juice spritzer.

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Tanya McCausland is a Health and Culinary Coach and the founder of Home Cooked Healing in Alameda, CA She inspires, encourages and motivates her clients to create a life of health and balance through delicious food and simple lifestyle changes. She believes that our kitchens have the ability to heal – we just have to stock our pantries with real food and not be afraid to wield a wooden spoon every so often!

Overcoming Your Energy Crisis

Let me guess….everyday around 2 pm the only thing in the world you want is five minutes to put your head on your desk and take a little cat nap. Your eyelids are heavy, your mind is struggling to think clearly and you’re sighing heavily just thinking about how much there is left on your to-do list. But, since getting a little shut-eye won’t go over well with your boss you take quick trip to the office kitchen or the coffee shop downstairs and do one of the following:

 

1)   Grab a giant cup of coffee
2)   Pick up a sweet pastry (or substitute the office candy bowl here)
3)   Both

Unfortunately, these are only short-term solutions for the long-term energy crisis you are experiencing. Using caffeine and sugary treats to get you through rest of your day is like creating a bonfire using newspaper. Sure, it will get big and hot….but for a very short period of time before all you have is a pile of ash. Your body blood sugar will surge very quickly giving you that boost of energy but it will drop quickly leaving you hungry, tired, foggy brained and moody.

Instead of being reacting to your afternoon energy crisis by mainlining a cup of Joe, become proactive so you don’t experience it in the first place. Here are a few tips to get you started:

–       Get Hydrated: This is the FIRST thing I have my clients focus on. Water can help curb cravings, help you think more clearly and give you a little energy boost. Be sure to drink at least half your weight in ounces and keep a water bottle on you at all times.

–       Eat Breakfast: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – no doubt about it. Taking 15 minutes to eat breakfast will improve your whole day, help you focus and keep your blood sugar and energy stable. Try and have about 15-20 grams of protein (that’s 3 eggs, ½ cup cottage cheese or ½ cup of beans)

–       Fruit and Fat: Fruits like apples, pears, bananas and berries are a great snack. They’re portable and don’t need utensils to be enjoyed. However, they fruit is best when eaten with some sort of fat like nut butter or cheese. This prevents a blood sugar spike, keeps you satisfied longer and makes important fat-soluble vitamins available for your body to utilize.

–       Get Social: Are the only people you interact with during lunch on Facebook or in your inbox? Step away from your desk and eat with others. Eating should be a communal experience – not a solitary one. It will get you away from your computer screen so you can rest your eyes and real life engagement is incredibly energizing!

–       7th Inning Stretch: During your days’ “half-time” make sure to get up and do some stretching. This will help increase blood flow to your extremities and your brain giving you a nice little energy boost. Get up, reach for the ceiling with a deep breath, and exhale while bending over to reach for your toes. Do this 3-5 times and you’ll have all the energy and focus you need to finish that grueling report.

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Tanya McCausland, N.E. is a holistic health and lifestyle coach and founder of Home Cooked Healing. She has made it her mission to help individuals and organizations successfully make positive changes that will have a huge impact on their health, happiness and bottom line.
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This article is from our March 20, 2012 newsletter. Click here to view all our newsletter articles and features.

Overcoming “collaboration burnout”

The recent NYTimes article titled “The Rise of the New Groupthink” really got me… well, thinking. The premise of the article was that workplaces, schools and even congregations are increasingly leaning on collaboration and brainstorming while leaving little room for privacy and uninterrupted work time. Susan Cain, the article’s author writes, “solitude has long been associated with creativity and transcendence.” More companies are embracing open workplaces with cubicles and classrooms are herding kids together for never-ending teamwork with little to no emphasis on quiet, personal reflection. Cain goes on to cite studies which show that people who work in “open-plan offices… are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, stress, the flu and exhaustion.”

You may not work in an open workspace. You may have a closed office. But consider how many meetings are you attending every day. How many committees, brainstorming groups and boards are you a member of? How often are you checking your email, voicemail, social networks in and out of the office? These are forms of collaboration that quietly steal time from reflection, moving you out of the space where strategic action and innovation can take place.  Who hasn’t been to a meeting or read an email that caused stress, increased our blood pressure and zapped us of energy?

This is by no means an argument to get rid of teamwork and collaboration. They are important tools for gaining diverse and creative ideas, getting buy-in and moving a project or concept forward quickly and efficiently. However, for leaders who are steering the ship it is important to create some clear skies so as to not get lost in the fog of meetings, email and social media.

Here are three simple strategies that can help you avoid “collaboration burnout”, so you maintain the energy and focus needed to cultivate creative ideas and move your organization forward successfully.

All’s Well That Starts Well

Consider your morning routine and the first five activities that comprise it. The way you start your day generally sets the tone for the rest of the day. Many of my clients check email before they even step out of bed and immediately turn on the news to see what tragedy has happened in the world. That just screams stress! Take notice of the first five things you do in the morning and modify your routine accordingly. The first five activities should be guiltlessly self-centered. Do some stretching when you get out of bed, turn on some music you enjoy, make a cup of tea, eat breakfast and take a shower before allowing the stress and noise of the world to creep in.

Have a “Me Meeting”

I’m sure you have no problem committing to meetings with other people. But what about a meeting with yourself? Without some time to decompress we are less effective, more agitated and just overall unhappy. Try scheduling “me meetings” in your calendar as you would any other meeting (and commit to them!). These “meetings” could be taking 20 minutes for breakfast every morning, walking around the block at work during lunchtime, going to the gym three times a week or a standing lunch with friends every month. Start tuning into what you need physically, emotionally and spiritually so keep the wheels on the “you bus” moving smoothly and effortlessly.

Avoid the Octopus Syndrome

Multitasking is completely and utterly overrated. It’s not a talent or a skill that you should admire or hope to cultivate. Spreading yourself too thin will only lead to shoddy work, resulting in anxiety and madness. The primary change I suggest to my clients is to stop eating in front of the computer. Thoughtless eating can condition us to habitually eating food that doesn’t necessarily nourish or satisfy us. Most of the time, we only end up hungry afterwards. Eat lunch away from your computer, in the cafeteria, outside on a bench or with friends in the break room. Multitasking doesn’t always have to be physical – we often do the majority of multitasking in our heads. We might be working on a report, but in the back of our minds we’re thinking of all the other tasks that need to be completed. Next time those thoughts creep in, notice them, acknowledge them but don’t judge yourself. Write them down and push them aside. Focus on this moment, this job; focus on the task at hand. Having a running to do list scatters your energy, creativity and focus, resulting in finishing a number of projects haphazardly, instead of producing one satisfactory piece of work.

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Tanya McCausland, N.E. is a holistic health and lifestyle coach and founder of Home Cooked Healing. She has made it her mission to help individuals and organizations successfully make positive changes that will have a huge impact on their health, happiness and bottom line.
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This article is from our January 25, 2012 newsletter. Click here to view all our newsletter articles and features.

Leader Wellness: A Lesson in Eating

When it comes to improving our health we tend to focus all our efforts on what to eat. Eat more vegetables and less meat. Drink more water. Choose salad and avoid the bread basket. But, once we sit down to eat we dig in voraciously, barely taking the time to breathe let alone truly enjoy the delicious food we are eating. We often don’t remember the last thing we ate and wouldn’t be able to describe it vividly to someone. And, sometimes we could eat an entire meal and still be hungry afterwards.

I talk with my clients a lot about how to eat. Between meetings, emails, voicemails and business travel taking the time to eat gets pushed aside. Rushing through meals overwhelms our stomach, which means undigested food ends up sitting and fermenting in our digestive tract. It’s almost like trying to flush a t-shirt down the toilet. This can lead to common digestive complaints such as acid reflux, heartburn, gas and bloating as well as food sensitivities and fatigue.  You can eat the healthiest diet but by rushing through it you won’t reap any of the benefits of those nutritious foods. So, take the time to eat calmly and with awareness by adopting the following tips.

20 Chews – Next time you eat, pay attention to how often you chew before swallowing your food. You want to chew each bite 20 times. Seems impossible doesn’t it? Start with 10 chews and work your way up. Your stomach is unable to properly break down and digest large pieces of food so don’t be afraid to take the time to chew, chew, chew!

Put Down That Fork – Once have our fork in hand we can’t seem to let it go. Put your utensils down between each bite to avoid shoveling in food. This will also help you take the time to chew properly, enjoy your meal and the people you are eating with. Eating should be a delicious and enjoyable experience; release your death grip on the fork!

No Distractions – It seems that we now eat breakfast in the car, lunch at the computer and dinner in front of the television. Get rid of these distractions so you can focus on the enjoyment of eating. Doing other activities (such as driving in morning traffic) while eating also increases our stress levels, impairing our ability to properly digest food. Step away from the computer and eat with colleagues outside and bring your family back to the dinner table.

15 and 30 – Do you know how much time you take to eat lunch during the week? I’m going to guess it’s usually less than 15 minutes. I advise my clients to take at least 30 minutes to eat meals and at least 15 minutes to eat snacks. Set a timer and make those meals last! And, make sure you instill a culture where lunch and break times are respected – everyone deserves a quiet time to eat.

Now, step away from the computer, grab a colleague and have a calm and relaxing lunch.

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Tanya McCausland, N.E. is a holistic health and lifestyle coach and founder of EatFit. LiveWell. She has made it her mission to help individuals and organizations successfully make positive changes that will have a huge impact on their health, happiness and bottom line.
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This article is from our September, 2011 newsletter. Click here to view all our newsletter articles and features.

Leader Wellness: Changing Corporate Health Culture

Workplace wellness has become quite the catch phrase in the world of corporate health and it seems like everyone is “doing it.” While large-scale wellness programs might be a good way for large companies and organizations to try and whip everyone into shape, I don’t think it’s the right approach for everyone.

In fact, for many organizations, the old adage “small things make a big difference” rings even more true for health and wellness initiatives. You don’t leap off the couch one day and decide to run a marathon. You train first. The same concept applies to workplace wellness. Trying to make a sudden change magnifies the potential for a failed program and leads to low participation rates and wasted resources implementing and running the program.

At Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC, we believe that health and wellness play a vital role in effective individual and organizational leadership. For this reason we are further developing workshops and offerings in this area to continue delivering an innovative and holistic approach to leadership challenges.

During recent workshops, participants discussed ways to integrate meaningful yet simple health and wellness changes into their organizations. Here are some examples of what other organizations are doing that inspired our participants. I hope they will give you some ideas and inspiration as well.

Active Meetings
John Fahey, CEO of National Geographic magazine has an open invitation for anyone in the company to join him for his lunch-time bike ride. For many employees, it’s a great way to get the bosses ear in an informal and relaxed setting. In a recent interview with NPR, Fahey said “what happens is, I find out sort of what the scuttlebutt in the hallways is. And sometimes, it’s totally ill-informed and sometimes, it’s spot-on. But it’s really good to know what people think.” Other ways of incorporating this concept is to work in a daily 20-30 minute walk around the school track or circle the block a few times. The important thing to remember is s to be consistent and make sure that other managers in the organization support attending the sessions. You will be seen as an approachable leader who takes fitness seriously and knows how to integrate it into your daily life.

Dump the Doughnuts
Who made the rule that doughnuts, bagels and pastries are required in the waiting room, at meetings or company events? Chef Ann Cooper (also known as the “Renegade Lunch Lady”), the Director of Nutritional Services at Berkeley U.S.D. asked the same question about school lunches. She pushed the envelope and put salad bars into all Berkeley schools. In a 2007 Ted Talk Chef Ann Cooper said “everyone said it couldn’t be done…kids would spit in it….” Now, what does this have to do with the doughnuts at your next meeting? Challenge the assumptions about meeting food. Try healthier choices such as bananas, apples, pears, cucumbers, nuts, sliced cheese and hummus dip. Serve water and iced tea instead of soda. You may be pleasantly surprised that people will be excited about these changes. So much so that they will be encouraged to make healthier choices at other times. One added bonus, people will be more alert and participate more during the meeting because they won’t be overloaded on carbs and sugar.

Stop the Stress
Job and stress are often synonymous for many of us. According to the American Institute of Stress, nearly 1 million Americans are absent from work each day due to work-related stress. Stress not only has poor effects on us mentally but it can also lower immune function and even have a negative impact on our heart. The biggest problem with stress is that many of us don’t know how to deal with it properly. Providing people with “stress education” is an effective, affordable way to help people deal with stress in a healthy way. At Quantum Health in Ohio they have taken it just one step further. Employees created a “serenity room” a dimly-lit private room with massage chairs and soft music for people to relax and unwind. A recent Inc magazine article provides a comprehensive list of other ways to help reduce stress in the workplace.

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Tanya McCausland, N.E. is a holistic health and lifestyle coach and founder of EatFit. LiveWell. She has made it her mission to help individuals and organizations successfully make positive changes that will have a huge impact on their health, happiness and bottom line.

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This article is from our July, 2011 newsletter. Click here to view all our newsletter articles and features.