Gaining Strength to Climb the Corporate Ladder, Literally

How being a fitness competitor helped me climb the ladder

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When someone finds out how early I wake up, the first question I get back is usually why?!?!

Why indeed.

If you want to make a change in your habits that you have spent years developing, you have to start with why.

Why is this change important to you? What will it mean to you, your family, and/or your future?

If you don’t have a strong enough why, you will not stick to the change. It takes upwards of 90 days to solidly form a new habit. That’s 3 months of sticking with it!

So what was the why?

My why started off with me wanting to become stronger and show myself that I could go to the gym and lift some weights. I also went through a nasty breakup shortly before so I was also inspired to have a bit of a “revenge body”.

That’s not a strong enough why for anyone to last very long with a hard change.

I knew I needed more. What was it going to be?

I then discovered the world of bodybuilding and knew I found what I wanted to do. I wanted to step out on stage in a sparkly bikini, high heels, and be a completely different person. I wanted to prove that I could stick with this exercise thing long enough to get there.

I studied nutrition and exercise and biochemistry to the point that I felt like I had gone to college and majored in it (I later did). I spent all my free time studying how to exercise, what to eat and when and the tricks that these competitors applied in their daily habits.

I learned that it requires a lot of physical and mental discipline to be able to get to the point of competing on stage. Saying no to free food because of sugar content or if it didn’t match your macro calculation for the day. Saying no to a late night because you needed to wake up early to go to a spin class, etc. Priorities were completely different.

Some may say that this is not fun, but if you want something bad enough, you shift your priorities and definition of fun.

After spending years studying fitness and nutrition, all while climbing the corporate ladder, these are the key habits that enabled me to advance both in my professional life and towards my health and fitness goals.

1) Workout Early

If you wait to workout until after work you may be too tired or facing a large crowd that is frustrating to navigate through. By working out early you actually get blood pumping to your brain so it has more nutrients and is firing on more cylinders when you get to the office. Instead of needing to go spend time in line for a coffee and groggily getting started you are busting through e-mails and prepped and ready for your AM meetings. 

2) Prepare your food on the weekend for the week

Making lunch the morning you are trying to get the door can be a headache and super time consuming. If you’re running late, frequently this can be skipped and you figure you will just go get something (then a lunch meeting or deadline hits so you can’t leave), get something from the vending machine (jerky and chips – sodium overload), or just skip it all together (and leaving your blood sugar crashing in the afternoon and needing a candy bar to get it back up). Prepare a batch of rice, chicken, veggies if you want quick and easy. Or make enough food for dinner the night before that you can have leftovers. Take the initiative to be in control of your food and always be prepared.

3) Drink water out of a HUGE container

I have had several 40-64 oz water bottles with me at the office. By staying hydrated you avoid brain fog (your brain conducts electricity so you need water) and it even helps stave off hunger so you avoid the munchies while at work. If you find you’re having to go to the restroom a lot more, just take your phone and quickly respond to an e-mail or 2. This way you stay on top of the ever growing inbox. If you are on top of your inbox you can also read a quick article pertaining to your industry and be up to date on latest trends and possibly bring new ideas to the boss. If plain water is not your thing you can try infused water (whole pieces of fruit, veggies, and herbs), non-sugar sweetened tea, BCAAs (check the ingredients), and other natural options. 

4) Be willing to say no

Just because someone brought a treat to the company picnic does not mean you need it. You can say no to desserts, home made treats, etc. If it is not in line with your goals (say loosing 30 pounds) then say no. This helps you become mentally tougher and allows you to actually say no to projects that you maybe shouldn’t be taking on to begin with. By saying no to the treat you are saying yes to yourself or the possibility of something else. 

5) Keep a journal

Track your calories and your exercise. If you are having to track it you have to hold yourself accountable more. This means you are less likely to sneak a cookie here or there. Also, this means you are going to appreciate your calorie reserve more. Once you have this principle down you can apply it to other areas of your life. How are you spending your minutes? Your thoughts? Make sure they count. You can use an electronic version such as my fitness pal, garmin, etc. 

Don’t forget to start with why and remember it while you are changing these habits. Nothing worth doing is easy at first. It’s hard until it’s a habit, then it’s easy.

Don’t forget your big why to keep you motivated as you begin this journey to a healthier, happier, more productive you. Try and keep on trying until that which seemed impossible or at least difficult turns into a habit that easily becomes a part of your daily routine.

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