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. 

Whole Foods for Heart Health

heart healthAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. About 600,000 deaths in the United States each year are attributed to heart disease, that’s one in every four deaths. Coronary heart disease alone costs the American public almost $109 billion each year. Our rising obesity and diabetes trends also play an important role in our nations continuing epidemic of illness.

Our diets have changed more in the last 100 years than in the last 10,000. If you asked your grandmother what she bought at the grocery store, what would she say? What kinds of things did her mother buy? I know that my grandmother wasn’t buying neon colored cereal or mac and cheese from the box for my mom. I remember standing on a stool in my grandparents’ kitchen at four years of age teaching my grandfather the magic of mixing orange powder with milk to make creamy cheese. This was completely new to him!

Most of our food today comes from factories instead of farms. Food is now processed, packaged, labeled with various health claims and strategically placed on grocery shelves at eye level (or our children’s eye level when it comes to that neon colored cereal). We have replaced butter with processed margarine and sugar with high fructose corn syrup because we thought they were the healthier and cheaper options. But, despite buying foods that are labeled “low fat,” “heart healthy,” and “all natural” we are becoming sicker and fatter than ever before. This food is making us very sick and our heart health is suffering significantly.

The way we are eating and living is clearly not working. In our ongoing quest to make food healthier we’ve neglected to notice that food already IS healthy. I’m not talking about sugar free drinks, low fat yogurt or even a package of kale chips. The best foods for our heart and overall health are the whole, unprocessed, unrefined foods that nature is providing us. Brown rice and quinoa, leafy greens and Brussels sprouts, squashes and parsnips, apples and avocadoes, real butter and olive oil — these whole foods provide you with all the vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, antioxidants and fiber you need to keep your arteries clear and your heart pumping strong. Remember, factories cannot create healthier food than nature.

To get you started here are three tips for eating for heart health:

  • Skip the Sugar: on average Americans consume 75-100 pounds of sugar each year in the forms of white cane sugar, beet sugar, high fructose corn syrup and others. Studies have shown that sugar suppresses the immune system, causes arterial inflammation and is highly addictive. Sugar is not just in your favorite candy bar – it is hidden in everything from deli meat to applesauce. Start reading labels and avoid sugar in places where it shouldn’t be. Sugar in soup? No thank you! Save your sugar intake for occasional sweet treats instead.
  • Focus on Fiber: In the past we thought fiber was just helpful for making toilet time a little easier. While this is true, fiber also acts like a cholesterol “sponge” soaking up cholesterol-laden bile salts in the small intestine and eliminating them through the bowels. Soluble fiber in particular is great for supporting heart health. Foods rich in soluble fiber include oatmeal, beans, legumes, peas, carrots, pears and citrus fruits. Try to eat fiber rich foods at every meal, including snacks!
  • Get Cooking: When we cook more at home we eat healthier, less processed meals by default. Restaurant and take-out food is full of inflammatory fats, preservatives and loads of salt — 75 percent of our salt intake comes from eating out! You can start by simply making a big pot of soup, stew or chili on a Sunday night to eat for supper during the week. Start packing your lunches at least 2-3 times per week. Go to the library and check out one or two cookbooks for inspiration. Get your kids involved and ask them to help you re-create their favorite restaurant meal at home.

Tanya McCausland, NC, practices Holistic Nutrition at Simply Well in Carlisle. She supports clients through nutrition and lifestyle counseling focused on hormone balance, digestive health, pre/post natal nutrition, food allergies and many other health challenges. Learn more about her and her programs at www.homecookedhealing.com.

Three Ways to Drink to Your Health

According to the USDA, the five most popular drinks consumed by Americans in 2010 were soda, coffee and tea, milk, 100 percent fruit juice and alcohol. This data is from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, which are re-evaluated every five years. Will soda budge from its number one spot? Let’s hope so!

The high amount of sugar in many beverages leaves us with off balance blood sugar while the caffeine leaves us wired and tired. Not a great combination for feeling energized, focused and ready to accomplish what’s on our to-do list. And I’m not just talking about soda! Coffee is of course a heavily relied on caffeine source. But, don’t forget that all those mixed and flavored coffee beverages are also loaded with sugar or chemical sweeteners. Fruit juice and alcohol are also very concentrated sources of sugar.

One of the first thing I focus on with my clients is what they are putting in their glasses and mugs – not necessarily what’s on their dinner plate. Changing what you drink is an excellent and critical first step in improving your health. Chances are if you make healthier beverage choices, the healthy food will follow.

Here are three simple ways to sip your way to great health:

1. Get Lively with Lemon: Lemons are a powerhouse food that can benefit us in many ways. They are rich in vitamin C, which can neutralize free radicals and help boost our immune system. Lemon helps support healthy digestion and they contain an important substance called glutathione. Glutathione helps the liver clean out built up toxins so they can be eliminated from the body. One of the best ways to start incorporating lemon is to start your day with a cup of hot water and a squeeze of lemon. This gives your body a health jumpstart first thing in the morning. Just be sure to use organic lemons if you put the whole lemon slice in your drink. Otherwise, just add the juice and discard the rind.

2. Drink Your Greens: One of my students recently made just one change to her diet – she added a green smoothie every morning. Within a few weeks she had lost 5 pounds. Wow! Green smoothies are one of the best things you can do for your health. Period. They are nutrient-dense, delicious and take only minutes to make. Start by using spinach, as it is the most mild of all the leafy greens and work your way up to using kale, Swiss chard and other greens. Fruits like banana, pineapple, oranges and berries do a great job of covering up any “green taste” that some find unpleasant.

3. Goodbye Coffee, Hello Dandelion: Coffee is one of the most abused and addictive substances. While enjoying an occasional cup here and there is not such a big deal, relying on coffee to get you up in the morning and functioning throughout the day is a big problem. Coffee is very dehydrating to the body, stresses our adrenal glands, increases our stress response and in the end leaves us feeling exhausted…so we grab another cup. It’s a vicious cycle. A wonderful alternative to coffee is something called Dandy Blend and it can be found at most health food stores. Dandy Blend is an instant coffee substitute that contains roasted dandelion, chicory and beet roots. Not only is it delicious but, dandelion is particularly supportive for healthy liver function. Now that’s a great way to start the day!


Tanya McCausland, NC practices Holistic and Therapeutic Nutrition at Simply Well in Carlisle. She supports clients through nutrition and lifestyle counseling focused on hormone balance, digestive health, pre/post natal nutrition, food allergies and many other health challenges. Learn more about her and her programs at www.homecookedhealing.com

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!