So your first mistake was taking your shirt off.
And your second mistake was standing in front of a mirror when you took your shirt off.
You were able to avoid it at the beach—you kept your shirt on the whole time.
You stay away from gyms where people lift heavy things—no reason to let anyone else know that you have a hard time opening a jar of pickles.
But here you are staring at yourself in the mirror. And it’s impossible to miss.
You’re not in good shape.
In middle school, I was ‘husky.’
When I started high school, I was 5’2″ and weighed close to 200 pounds.
I kept my shirt on at pool parties. I found every excuse possible for skipping gym class. I hated looking at myself in the mirror.
I wasn’t in good shape.
You Just Have to Start…
There was no Damascus Road moment for me.
No bullies kicked dirt on me at the beach.
No one made fun of me.
I didn’t get inspired by a parent or a coach or a superhero to train, eat my vitamins and say my prayers.
But at some point in high school, I made a choice to make a change.
I started lifting (small) weights. I started doing (a little bit of) cardio.
I didn’t know much. In all honesty, I didn’t do much.
If you’re not physically healthy, maybe that’s the most significant bit of knowledge I can pass on to you.
You don’t have to know much. You don’t have to do much.
You just have to start. And not stop.
It Takes Strength to Lead
In my most recent blog post, I introduced you to Five Factors Leadership [DOWNLOAD Our Free Overview], a new paradigm for leadership built around five elements of health: resilience, presence, hope, ambition…and strength.
Healthy leaders—Five Factor Leaders—are strong.
Healthy leaders—Five Factor Leaders—possess the physical strength to handle the rigorous demands of life and leadership to the best of their ability.
What does that mean?
Here’s a simple strategy that you can easily remember.
Eat + Sleep + Move = Strength.
Eat, Sleep, Move
When you think about someone who is strong, what do you see?
If you imagine someone lifting heavy things, you wouldn’t be wrong.
But if you think lifting heavy things is all it takes to be strong, think again.
If movement—the physical routine and ritual that builds strength—is the pinnacle of physical health, then eating and sleeping is the foundation.
As one of my friends and favorite trainers likes to say, “You can’t out-train a bad diet.”
Putting It All Together
If you’re not in good shape, eat-sleep-move is your strategy for building strength.
Eat: Less Calories Than You Burn
Sleep: 7-9 Hours Each Night
Move: To Minimize Stress and Maximize Strength
This simple strategy works for anyone—man, woman, young, old.
How do you eat less, sleep more and move smarter? Those are great questions. Feel free to ask specifics below in the comments section, and I’ll give you my best answer.
More important than the details is your intent and action.
Don’t let your quest for a perfect plan get in the way of progress.
Look, no one is gonna confuse me with a superhero. But after 20 years of showing up day after day, I’m not scared of what I see in the mirror.
More importantly, as a leader, I know I have the physical strength—the focus, stamina and resilience—to carry out the assignment God has given me as a pastor and business owner.
That’s my hope and wish for you.
Your physical health doesn’t make you. But it can break you.
Do the Next Right Thing
Do yourself a favor and commit to being a Five Factor Leader – the kind of leader who cares enough to develop and maintain physical health.
If you want to learn more about Five Factor Leadership, here’s a FREE overview that paints a picture of what’s possible if you want your life and leadership to last and leave a legacy for the next generation.
And if you’re committed to building strength, take the next step in the Eat-Sleep-Move strategy.
If you’re not eating fewer calories than you’re burning, start here.
Then make sure you’re getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
Then—and only then—should you shift your focus to training for less stress and more strength.
BONUS: How to Minimize Stress and Maximize Strength
In their book Lose Weight Here, brothers Jade and Keoni Tata suggest using a 3-2-1 exercise plan that consists of:
3 or more rest and recovery activities per week
These activities include naps, hot Epsom salts baths, massages, sex, certain forms of yoga, playing with your family, friends, pets.
You can’t do too many of these activities.
2 traditional weight training workouts per week
These are standard weight-training, full-body workouts comprised of four movements: shoulder press, squats, bent-over row and pushups. Four sets of each exercise, 8-12 reps, with 1-3 minutes of rest between each set. The goal of each movement is failure on the last rep of your last set.
Remember that you’re just getting started or hitting reset. Now is not the time to join a CrossFit box. For now, focus on lifting heavy weights (for you), so you overload your muscles and stimulate muscle growth or maintenance.
1 hour of slow, leisurely walking on all or most days
We’re not talking about power-walking. The emphasis is on slow and comfortable—the speed you take when walking a dog. Include your family and make it even more valuable by spending time with others.
Leisure walking is incredibly healing to your metabolism. It is one of the few activities that lowers your cortisol levels and balances your nervous system. Translation—it helps your body deal with stress in a healthy and productive manner.
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This article originally appeared here.