Archive for April 2014

Eating right and eating less improves health

The first place a lot of people look for help when trying to change seems to center around weight and fitness. In the last post, I talked about fitness, “You don’t have to be a jock to be healthy!” All we really need to do to stay fit is move every joint every day and walk a lot more than we do.

We have grown around not up since the 1950’s

Before I talk about our eating habits, I have to tell you about some classic radio programs I’ve listened to on satellite radio lately. One series titled “The Fat Man,” follows the investigations of a private detective known by the moniker of the series title. The interesting thing about this 1950’s radio program, the six-foot fat man tips the scale at a “rotund” 220 pounds! Fat? Not in today’s society. He’d be considered normal on the streets of any of our cities.

Few adult men in the fifties weighed 200 pounds. Now half the adult men push the scales past the 200 mark. What’s happened?

The issue is quantity (calories) as much as quality (junk food)

The issue usually isn’t the quality of food as much as the quantity of food, although both play a huge part in the overall demise of our nation’s health. Everywhere you go to eat in both fast food and sit down restaurants, proprietors want to make sure you get a bargain and come back. Consequently, super-sized orders are the norm rather than the exception.

Many of the meals we eat out in restaurants have more calories in a single meal than we should consume in a day, yet we eat three or four of those every day. It’s no wonder we keep growing around instead of up. We consume more sugar in the United States than the rest of the world combined. Maybe that means we’re affluent, but it also means we’re killing ourselves through a multitude of long-term debilitating diseases.

So how do we fix it? First, quantity IS important. Calories count! If you think about the body as a machine, it needs fuel to operate, but if it doesn’t burn all the fuel (calories) you put into it every day, it stores it as fat. Some of you might think exercise will burn off whatever you eat. Think again. Exercise does change your metabolism a little, but only a little. That Oreo you eat after you walk a brisk mile will talk you another four or five miles to walk off. So what you just gained by walking, you destroyed with the Oreo.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Oreo’s, but their calories must go into the calorie count. From a simple math perspective, just sitting around doing whatever you do to live and breathe takes about 1200 – 1500 calories a day. Anything you eat more than that, you got to burn off through increased exercise (which doesn’t count for much when you look at the tables).

So the only effective way to lose weight is to learn to do push ups well – that is, push up from the table after eating just enough to satisfy your caloric requirements and no more.

What you eat gives you more or less energy, keeps the body tuned up, increases or decreases immediate availability of glucose in the bloodstream, keeps arteries from getting clogged, and all sorts of other things. Eating right puts the right nutrients and minerals in your system so you stay as healthy as you can.

Diets don’t work long term

nutrition, food, diets, So what does a good diet look like? Not like Atkins, or the Beach, LA Diet, or Mary Jane’s chocolate syrup diet, or anything else that deprives you of a balanced meal. The place to go for guidance is the food pyramid provided by the USDA at http://www.choosemyplate.gov. Other good sources can be found at the American Diabetes Association at http://www.diabetes.org or the American Heart Association at http://www.heart.org. Anyone would do well to use those two nutrition plans, particularly if a family history of diabetes or cardiac conditions exist.

Good nutrition isn’t hard, just something to pay attention to every day. Especially when it comes to eating more than we should. Start thinking about those second helpings as second hurtings! Count those calories and burn more than you eat if you really want to drop pounds. It really is the only way to lose weight. There’s just no fad diet or secret pill or even any amount of exercise that will make you lose without dropping calories at the same time.

So that’s the end of lesson number two on staying healthy. Two simple things so far. Move – not necessarily fast, but move every joint every day and walk whenever it’s practical instead of riding. Second, eat right and eat less than the normal American.

Simple stuff, we just need to discipline ourselves to do it. No one can make us. We have to find the intestinal fortitude to do it for ourselves.


You don’t have to be a jock to be healthy

Keeping healthy is up to us

One of the important principles in keeping a balanced life is maintaining a healthy life. Some things we can’t help when it comes to health. We sometimes get illnesses or injuries that we just can’t avoid. But there are things we can do to help us maintain a state of health that keeps us better than the average American if we will just do it.

I’m not talking about going to the gym five days a week or running a hundred miles a week. I’m not sure that’s even healthy for us. If you think about your grandparents, they could probably work you under the table any day of the week. I know mine could. They never went to the gym, because they didn’t exist in the form they do now. Gyms at the turn of the last century were places for boxers to train, not places for spinner or yoga classes.

My grandparents didn’t run or lift weights. They didn’t exercise everyday or consciously think about staying in shape. They didn’t attend yoga groups or swimming schools or any of the things that capture the attention of the younger generation today. Yet they could work all day every day and get up the next morning ready to do the same thing again.

Is the sedentary life style to blame?

healthy, fitness

coach potatoes

I know, you’ll tell me much of their fitness was due to the fact they didn’t live a sedentary lifestyle, and that’s exactly the point. Today we circle the parking lot looking for the space closest to the mall entrance so we don’t have to walk the extra fifty feet before we walk through the entire mall three times looking for just the right dress for the prom! Pretty dumb thinking! We get gadgets to help us not expend energy, like all the remote controls on our entertainment systems. In fact, I don’t even know where the on/off button is on my television or if it has one.

So how do we get out of this dilemma we put ourselves into that drains our physical fitness? What can we do to get back into the physical shape we desire without spending hours in the gym or running miles on the roads?

Mimic your kids

Watch a documentary about come newly discovered tribe in some jungle or desert or wilderness somewhere. Watch how they move. They don’t have gyms or weight lifting regimens. No one teaches them about fitness, but watch the grace of their movements. Now watch little kids move and mimic them. You’ll be amazed how flexible they are and how inflexible you’ve become. Their joints are not significantly different from yours except theirs are new and yours are underused.

The fitness industry might hate me for this, but I think the real secret to fitness lies in looking back at what our grandparents and their parents did. WALK! If you can get to wherever you want to go by walking in fifteen minutes or less, walk. Park in the back of the parking lot instead of at the front. Take a stroll around your neighborhood after dinner instead of watching that mindless television show. Make it a family affair. Start a new trend in the neighborhood.

The second thing you should do is move every joint every day. Because of our sedentary lifestyles, we allow ourselves to get stuck in the same position for hours at a time. Be conscious that the joints in your body are there for a purpose. They were intended to move. When they don’t things don’t work as well as they should. If you don’t move them often, like everything, they get stiff and stuck and painful. So just move everything several times a day. Get up and walk around and move around.

Just walk and move

That’s it for better fitness. Just those two things. The problem most of us have with fitness is we think we need to spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in gyms lifting weights and doing what fitness trainers tell us to do. We strain muscles, pull tendons, injury joints, and do untold damage to our bodies physically and psychologically doing things our bodies were never built to do. All we really need to do is move every day and often.

You don’t need to be a jock to be fit. A bunch of them are always on the injury list! You only need to move constantly and consistently. Move enough and you’ll be able to move like those tribal men and women on the documentaries. Move enough and you’ll bend like a five-year old. Just move.

If you agree, share this with someone who needs to hear it. If not, send me your comments.


What can we learn about leadership from a fruit tree?

What can we learn about leadership from a fruit tree?

I’m often engaged in helping companies figure out why their organizations don’t function as efficiently as the C-suite officers think they should. It’s always interesting to sit down with them after doing an assessment of the staff, including their own actions and those of their personal staff. A few days ago, a discovered a natural analogy that might help some of you understand some of the dysfunction in your company. It might not be comfortable, but I’ve found it fits many of the situations I run into in my assessment of multilevel organizations.

Trees get their strength from their trunks

First, we must remember the girth and health of the trunk says a lot about the strength of aappletree tree. When living on Staff Post Road in my last assignment, we had more than a half-dozen hundred year old pecan trees in our yard. Massive things that stood strong in every storm. I liken those trees to the leaders of an organization, the CEOs, the senior vice presidents, the people with heavy decision-making responsibilities. When the senior leaders live healthy, balanced lives across the five areas of physical, family, spiritual, emotional, and social dimensions, they can give strong leadership to their companies.

They must also learn to exercise good leadership skills, however. And of extreme importance is the need to provide a clear vision and mission for those who work for them. As leaders, however, their focus must also include ensuring everyone organizationally below them get access to the resources they need to accomplish the tasks assigned them. The leader serves his employees in this way to ensure the organization’s success.

Fruit only appears at the blossoms, beyond the ends of the branches

Second, we need reminded in a multilevel organization that the final production only happens at the end of the line. CEOs, commanders, senior vice presidents, the C-suite folks seldom do any actual manufacturing. They seldom deal with customers directly. They seldom do any assembly or take care of personal sales in multilevel companies. Their principle job centers around providing resources, setting strategic vision, and keeping their organization focused on that desired outcome.

When we think about the fruit tree analogy, the fruit comes as the result of those leaves and blossoms coming out at the right time and drawing resources through the trunk and branches. The leaves can’t provide their own resources. They must draw upon the capillaries running through the trunk and out through the branches. But no fruit appears on the trunk or the branches, only on the stems surrounded by leaves and blossoms. No buds, leaves, blossoms – no fruit. That’s an important principle to remember. The trunk by itself cannot produce fruit. Neither can the branches. Only by working together can fruit come into being.

Branches link the trunk to the fruit, but also create problems

Now consider the branches. As mentioned above, the branches connect the trunk and the water and nutrients it carries to the mechanisms that will produce fruit. But when you look at the branches of almost any tree, you’ll find a lot of confusion, they intertwine and get entangled with each other. That’s not unlike many staff sections in multilevel companies. Each vying for position, trying to determine which section provide more to the company than another. In case of a drawdown, who gets pink slips first?

Staffs forget their sole responsibility within the company provides resources and support to the lower levels of the organization to ensure they can get their jobs done. Too often, upper level staff members assume the roles of the seniors they work for instead of the staff role they occupy. By that I mean, the CEO gives the vision and direction to guide a company toward a particular outcome. Everyone below him should be working to enable the lowest tier of workers to accomplish that vision. Instead, a vice president will direct and change the picture, expect certain perks and pleasures forgetting that the people at the lowest level are producing the outcomes, not the people at the top.

The staffs are important. They are skilled at marshaling resources, using people’s skills and talents collectively to get things done effectively and efficiently, but without those lowest level employees, the CEOs and managers and commanders and staff members would just sit in empty offices with banker and investors breathing down their necks asking for their returns.

Back to the tree analogy, every part is important. No fruit comes with the absence of any part, trunk, branches, or leaves and blossoms. But all of us must also remember in every working orchard, a pair of pruning shears stands sharp and ready all the time. The best orchards produce the most productive crops by continually and consistently growing and pruning branches! Those of us who spend our lives clambering for senior staff positions should take note. Pruning is a necessary, healthy part of any companies life. If a branch doesn’t produce fruit, it soon disappears from the tree. We cannot expect to hang on if we’re not producing.


Find Your Purpose

I read a story last night about a young man trying to find his purpose in life. Although he enjoyed helping, he didn’t work want to work with his parents in their nursery. He would come home from school, work in their business, but felt unsatisfied. He climbed mountains. He explored caves. He dabbled in archaeology. But none of those things satisfied and inner longing that he couldn’t put a handle on. Finally, he discovered his real dream in researching hidden meanings in ancient texts.rat race

Story reminded me that we all have a purpose and until we find that purpose and begin to work in it, there will always be something empty in us. I believe we each have a purpose in life, and when we find it and work towards it, we will have fulfillment in life. The difficult part for many is figuring out what that this is.

A few tips to help you along the path include, knowing your values, your skills, your talents, your experiences, your desires, then putting them all together to discover your purpose. Let’s take a quick look at each of these and see how they fit into that discovery.

You have a few values that you hold very dear. These are the things you give your life for. The things that are uncompromised. If you say integrity is one of your values but are dishonest with others then integrity is not truly one of your core values. But the few things that you hold most precious to you, those are your values. Those are the things you would give your life before you change. Perhaps at your faith, your family, maybe your job. But those few things are sacrosanct.

Skills and talents may seem ordinary to you. The combination of things you do well are unique to you. There is something that you do that few do as well as you. What are those things? What the things for which you receive compliments? What are the things people stand back and let you do because you do them so well? What knowledge do you have that many around you do not have?

Sprinkle in your experiences. There are things you have done and things you have seen that made you what you are today. What are those unique combinations of experiences that you can point to and say, this change my life or that impacted how I think and act? What events have shaped your personality and your character traits? These experiences help you discover your purpose.

Finally, what are your desires? What do you dream of doing? If money were no object, and you could do something for the next 300 years, what would it be? What makes your eyes light up in the morning and drive you out of bed to get after? Your desires are linked to your passions, and whatever you’re passionate about you’ll do well.

All these things together help you determine your purpose in life. There are tools and techniques to assist you in this journey. If you’re struggling to find purpose, give me a call today.


Everyone has a uniform, some just don’t recognize it.

As you’ve noticed, I’ve taken a short hiatus from writing on this blog post for the last several months. Partly because of health, partly because of other interests, partly because I got a little lazy on this one while continuing to populate a daily devotional on richardagee.com.

Nevertheless, it’s time to get back to sharing thoughts about career planning, life planning, and how to gain margin in your life. So here we go…

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be finishing up an e-book or workbook (I’m not sure which yet, maybe both) that I think will benefit those leaving the service in particular, but anyone in general. Those of us who were told what to wear every day for years don’t quite understand that every job in the civilian sector carries similar requirements. I quickly found when I walked out the door of Army service, I faced a uniform requirement at my next place of business. But it was up to me to figure out the uniform instead of being told what the uniform of the day would entail.

Uniforms in the work place

Every day in the business I entered as a consultant, my bosses and my clients expected me to wear a coat and tie. Friday’s were dress down days with a sport coat and no tie… unless, of course, I had an appointment with a client. Then, it was coat and tie anyway. No one told me the uniform, but it took me about two seconds to look around the office and find everyone in the same outfit. Colors came in navy, charcoal gray, and black, but everyone looked about the same. The radicals wore colored or striped shirts!

soldiertocivil


 It would take showing up once or twice without a coat and I would find myself looking for another job. That’s just the way it was. Those of you in those kinds of jobs know exactly what I’m talking about. Some of you wear polo shirts or button shirts to work, maybe you ladies wear slacks and matching tops or suits, but you’ll probably agree that every company out there has a uniform to adhere to. From formal wear to shorts and tee-shirts, every industry and every company keeps its employees to a certain dress standard.

The same holds true of other company policies and procedures. Just as the military has its rules and regulations, every company has theirs. Sometimes, they come in formal bound tomes of required reading, exams to make sure you understand them, and refresher training to ensure everyone knows the ‘right’ way, the company way, to do things. Sometimes, it’s the boss telling you what she wants as an end product, but in the telling she gives a little advice on the boundaries of how to get the job done.

More similarities than differences

Things inside and outside the military have more similarities than differences when each step is broken down into its individual parts and each examined from a business perspective of getting to the end-state desired by the owners. People get hired and paid to accomplish individual tasks that together serve to accomplish the goals of the entity, whether business, non-profit, or government.

I find much more commonality that difference in the way things run, especially since the services now operate with all volunteer forces. Every member of every service chooses to serve, just as in every company of every industry, employees choose to serve. We might at times think our job traps us, but in truth, we all have the choice to leave and do something else. Most of us don’t have the desire or courage to do so, however. Or lack the confidence and understanding of how to make it without the current job we’re in and so we stay, unhappy with out plight, but afraid to do anything about it.

Also in a few weeks, I will start experimenting with podcasting from the perspective of finding a life coach, helping others find purpose and passion in their life, and balancing life to really live a happier and more fulfilling life.

If you have topics of interest you’d like to hear about, send them to me at richard@ageesconsulting.com and I’ll see about putting the topics into future blogs or podcasts. Stay tuned for more information in the near future.

Richard