Devoted employees are constantly trying to come up with ways they can improve their work, from reading up on industry news, to attending workshops in their spare time. But one of the most effective ways to improve your performance is to improve your diet and wellbeing.
A few years ago, I was so determined to succeed professionally that I put all my effort into my career. I was driven and prepared to work hard to make it happen. Eventually though, I learned that it takes more than raw motivation to become a top performer.
I was beginning to feel worn out, and felt that it was time to reassess. I came to the conclusion that, while I was working hard to improve professionally, I wasn’t working hard enough to improve personally. So what did I need to change?
Get in Gear
The human body can be compared to a car: in order to run as efficiently and for as long as possible, it needs to be supplied with the appropriate fuel. Use the wrong kind, and you’re in for a rough ride that could result in irreparable damage to the engine. Crude oil, for example, is too unrefined to effectively drive a car, while rocket fuel is refined, but was never intended for use in cars. Yes, you could probably use them to get the car to move forward, but would you ever dare put either of those in your car?
In health terms, we can compare saturated fats (beef, butter, pork) to crude oil, and processed sugar to rocket fuel. Saturated fats technically contain plenty of energy, but our bodies can’t process them quickly enough to be of any use. Sugar on the other hand gives us a short burst of a lot of energy. They are two very different results, but they are equally problematic. Yet many of us fill our bodies with both of these on a daily basis.
If you aspire to be a top performer in the workplace, you need the right fuel for your body and mind. Over the last three months, I’ve made three fundamental changes in my diet. The first is making sure I eat 3 or 4 pieces of fruit & veg each day. Going from rarely eating fruit to 4 pieces a day takes a bit of getting used to, but it becomes second nature soon enough.
The second change I made was replacing sugar with complex carbohydrates, such as rice or pasta. Unlike sugar, complex carbohydrates give us slow release energy so we don’t get a rush and suddenly burn out. They’re also less likely to be converted into fat in the long-term.
The third change I made was to my portion sizes. I’m not claiming to be an angel by any means, but I try to avoid the feeling of being stuffed. When I look in the mirror, I don’t see Zeus looking back at me, but it’s not about that. Eating healthy isn’t about vanity, it’s about wellbeing. Plus I still have a daily “cheat meal” or “treat” (although I hate those terms!)
So over the last few months, what difference has it made? Overall, I feel far more energetic. I’m getting more done, and getting it done more consistently. The 3PM slump is now a thing of the past (most days) as I no longer suffer my daily sugar crash. And to top it all off, I feel much better about myself. My skin has cleared up, I’ve lost 5kg, and my confidence has never been higher.
A large part of the reason we try to succeed in work is to provide ourselves with a good life, but progress is a two way street. Lifestyle changes impact every aspect of our existence, and just a few small changes to your diet can have a huge impact on your wellbeing, helping you to improve yourself and your career at the same time.
Rocket fuel might get you to the moon, but it won’t get you to work, so take care of your body, and the fuel you put into it. Your career will thank you for it.
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