with greg layton

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“I used to believe that fitness wasn't part of my work day; nowadays, if I do a workout five times a week and it costs me five hours, that's work hours.”

In today’s minisode, I am going to cover executive health, executive fitness, and what it means to build health and fitness in our crazy, busy lives.

In the last year, I've got my fitness back to the best it's been since 2010. It's been a journey, a few highs and lows, a few setbacks, an operation on an appendix, a bulging disc in my back, very recent and very painful, but I've made a real shift in the last year and want to share with you some of the things that have worked for me in particular.

Number one has been a bit of a paradigm shift. The paradigm shift was that I used to think, I used to believe that fitness wasn't part of my work day. Right, so let's say I worked 45, 50 hours a week, sometimes more, I would have fitness outside of that. Plus family, plus all my other commitments, and it did make it very, very difficult. This year, my wife and I, who works in the business, changed that completely and said, no, fitness, like an elite athlete, is a part of your work.

So what that means is if I go to the gym, or we've got a home gym here, I've set that up, if I do that workout five times a week and it costs me five hours, that's work hours. Now that's a subtle shift, but when you sum up your hours into the week, you wanna be thinking, hey, I don't wanna be able to subtract that time. So that's been a big shift for us. I know some of you are all about billable hours and things like that, but this has been something that has definitely helped me. Any sort of workout, any gym stuff better, making me a sharper executive, making me a sharper coach, making me a sharper leader, therefore it's a part of my day job like any other learning and development that I do. That's been the number one paradigm shift. Number two has been, I started this thing earlier this year in January called five out of seven health protocols. It's a little health protocol that I follow and I followed five out of seven days.

Now I haven't always been perfect to chief. I'm not gonna pretend as though I'm like this super disciplined guy that is actually not really my personality. I've built up a bit of discipline over my life, but I can easily sort of lay back. I can be a bit lazy on my diet from time to time, which is why I do this stuff five out of seven days. I get out of jail free cards. So here's my protocols. I'm gonna go through them quickly, then I'll come back and circle through what they are.

So five out of seven days I do a workout. I have an ice bath. I meditate. I don't drink booze. I don't take coffee after 2pm. I was into intermittent fasting when I wasn't working out so much. I do box breathing and meditation. And you're like, what? That's a hell of a lot of stuff, right? There's about seven, eight things there. Well, actually, let me show you how it all comes together.

So for me, a few of them are easy. Like no booze and no coffee, right? Five days a week, not that hard. Don't put it in your critical path. I swapped out the afternoon coffee for a cup of tea. That was an easy change. And booze, you know, we just got it out of the way of sight, I put it downstairs in the cellar for a glass of wine. Look, every now and then I have a glass of wine mid-week, I don't beat myself up about it, okay? Five out of seven days, don't touch alcohol, okay?

I do my workouts five days a week, and what I've done with that is I've really aligned that to my own energy cycle of the day. So we had a wonderful, called The Sleep Doctor on the show recently, go back and listen to that if you haven't. And what he said was make sure you do your work and your exercise that aligns with your own personal energy rhythm. If you're a night owl don't try and get up at 5 o'clock and go to the gym. It'll probably never work for you. I've never been able to work out 5 or 6 in the morning. Every time I try I run out of steam. What I am good at is working early. So I sort of work with my wife and we say well a few days a week I go to work at 6 o'clock in the morning or even 5.30. I go to work, I work really hard to about 10 or 10.30 11 then I do a hard workout. By that time, I’ve done a five, six hour day.

So what I've done is I've sort of front ended my day with work, get a break in the middle of the day and then I work again in the afternoon. And that has made a really, really important shift for me. I'm able to do it, really get into it, have that mental and physical break in the middle of the day, work out hard, come back strong for the afternoon.

Ice baths were fantastic for me. Even through winter, I actually used my pool, which is on the edge of a hill, and it's just got this breeze that goes over, it's freezing cold, and I would do that every single day through winter. In the summer, I've had to go to ice showers, and I'm about to install an ice bath at home. This has been a wonderful way to reset the body. The work of Wim Hoff on this is pretty groundbreaking. Highly recommend following Wim Hoff and getting into that.

The box breathing, I do at the start of the day. That is how I start my day. Really big deep box breathing. There's a lot of research about how important this is. Big deep breaths right into your belly, expanding your diaphragm, lifting the intercostal muscles, which are the ones that go between your ribs and allowing that full bit of oxygen into the body.

Right, so amazingly, those six I found actually pretty easy to do throughout the year. The one that I found a bit harder was meditation and I got a good rhythm after meeting Nicho Plowman, he was in our show a while back and I used his Insight timer and that was really cool just lost a little bit of a momentum there for a couple of months but now I'm back into it.

I also found the thing that is really important. This has been important for gym workouts and for meditation in particular is where you do it. So I built a really cool gym at home that I love going to. I bought a good mountain bike that I love getting on and I can go and hit that and love it because I'm on the bike that I love. If you don't love your workout equipment, if you don't love your clothes, if you don't love where you do it, if it's not an inviting environment, you will not go and do it. So create that and then you'll wanna go. 

I've got this meditation chair, it's actually sitting over here, out of screen, and I love that chair. I can go and sit in it for hours. And for a while we had it the wrong part of the house, and I wouldn't go. Now I've got it back where I want it. At the end of the day, I'm gonna meditate before bed. Just 15, 20 minutes on Insight Timer and I'm back. I've got two or three tracks there I listen to, sort of on rotation, and that gets me going. 

So Chief, create. This is my little challenge to you. First of all, consider your fitness more like an athlete, an elite athlete if you like. Don't leave it to chance. The evidence is endless about how important your physical health is, not only for living long and being great for your family, but for your executive performance. It is so good for your brain, it is so good for your people to see you in good health and it is just a wonderful feeling. 

Like I've been through a couple of annoying health situations this year and I've actually come out of them pretty well, right? In the end I've actually fought through them and straight afterwards I feel great, I really feel great. So that's all really, really important.

A couple of other things that have really helped. One is this particular tracker here. I use a Garmin Phoenix to track a lot of my health data and I track that over a particular year or months and it really gives me some feedback to tell me how I'm going. How's my heart rate going? How's it tracking overnight? What's my resting heart rate? And here's an interesting thing. When I started these protocols before and after there was a drop in resting heart rate at night, like about four to five beats per minute and I just found that absolutely incredible, okay?

A couple of other key things, if you're getting stuck with your workouts and your sport or your meditation: Get a coach. It's not hard. Go and find someone who can at least get you going and teach you some of the key things that are important for you. Two, get your sleep. It is so important if you haven't listened to the episode with Dr. Breus the sleep doctor, please go back and listen to that episode. It is so important. Look after your health via sleep.

Chief, my challenge to you is think of yourself as an athlete. Build a health protocol that is five out of seven days, such that it's not so horrible you can't keep doing it week after week after week.

I would say my track record for this year would be that outside of the meditation which I had fell off a bandwagon a tiny bit, I have done every single, I don't think there's been a week I've missed. Maybe when I was sick with appendix. Other than that, I have done every single one of those five out of seven. Actually, as I said, a couple of glasses of wine a week. Can't deny that did happen a few times, right?

So, Chiefs, that is where you're at. I want you to have a crack at that, try and build it out for you, make it a part of your end of year process, get it into your notes. I'll put it in my notes on my phone, and I'll try and tick it off at the beginning once I start it out. But after that, it's become a habit, and I just feel so much better, so much stronger, fitter. I've lost a little bit of weight, those kilos I couldn't get rid of I go on. 

Okay Chief this is it for you, get a five out of seven protocol, get a coach, make the space interesting, stack your habits and get fit and be a true athletic Chief!

Stay epic,