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Fit for Duty: Health & Wellness as Crucial Daily Hygiene…

Health & Wellness as Crucial Daily Hygiene… Not Fad Diets or Trendy Programs

The only thing consistent about protective services and extensive travel is that it is consistently inconsistent.  The hours are often long, we are up before everyone else and go to bed after everyone else.  If your client is a business executive with global responsibility it is always 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM somewhere in the world. So, often your sleeping and eating patterns can become significantly altered.  By the time we start or end our day, many times the quality eating establishments may not be open or are already closed.

Too often we allow our jobs to become a convenient reason to not take care of ourselves.  How often have we seen protection specialists work hard to secure an opportunity only to find themselves put on 20 pounds of unwanted weight after securing the job. That often leads to elevated blood pressure, nagging injuries particularly in the feet, ankles, knees and hips.  Through the years, we have lost far too many protection specialists and way too soon in instances that were health related.

One day I was sitting down with a good friend and we were discussing how his ailing father-in-law had recently moved in with him and his wife.  When he and his wife first met, his father-in-law in a better state of health. Unfortunately, through the years he had not taken the best care of himself and it was catching up with him. Since I knew high blood pressure ran in my family this incident reminded me of my decision to change that family legacy. Often as individuals or culturally we aren’t necessarily predisposed to disease. So it’s a fallacy when people say “my family is predisposed to such and such a disease.” Instead of this, what we are more likely to face is an inclination towards a particular unhealthy diet, which can help facilitate health complications especially if the diet is high in salt content or fried foods.

Through one of my clients, I met a phenomenal trainer who encouraged me to think of health and wellness as a lifestyle and not quick fix or fad diets. Through him I learned that once we develop a routine or habit it is hard to break that, regardless of whether it is a good or bad routine. For instance, we all know we should brush our teeth and shower every day. None of us would ever consider not doing this even if it poses an inconvenience or we just don’t have the time. Well, maintaining good health and wellbeing is as crucial, if not more, than your regular daily hygiene!So from observing my work ethic and attention to detail, he knew all he had to do was get me started and the rest would take care of itself. We focused on changing my eating habits and letting the exercise come on its own.  Needless to say, it worked, and success is its own motivator.  I am in as good of shape as when I was 20 years younger.  I tell people 50 is the new 30. My vitals are in great shape and my blood pressure and resting pulse are in the same zone many high performing athletes.

I now encourage everyone to make health and wellness their goal by learning to maintain a healthy and balanced diet, exercising regularly and getting plenty of rest.  In our industry rest may take multiple forms. For instance: learn how to get off your feet whenever you can during a detail; when you have downtime consider resting your eyes rather than binging on social media; learn to meditate; take power naps; sleep when you are off; and most importantly find a hobby that always you to mentally and physically to recoup and rejuvenate. And as you move forward in your career learn to incorporate vacation time and regular days off weekly or monthly into your client contracts.

Rest and RejuvenateI like the outdoors to escape. I know others who like to travel. Some like to hike, while others ski.  Vacations are a good thank because everything will work better if you unplug temporarily from time to time. Yes, even you.

NutritionWhile everyone has different nutrition needs, I like to focus on a diet that consists of 50% protein, 30% carbohydrates and 20% good fats from foods like olive oil, coconut oil or nuts.  Avoid foods and snacks that artificially spike the blood sugar.  While they may provide you temporary energy, the after crash can be brutal. I know a few who have chosen vegan lifestyles as a workable lifestyle. I am not saying that you need to become vegan or incorporate Mediterranean-type diet, I just encourage that your nutrition plan should support your wellness objectives.  As it has been often quoted, “you can’t outwork a bad diet.”

When quality food is at a premium or you are time challenged, consider protein shakes, power bars, fruits and nuts to help supplement your nutrition plans. Try to avoid protein bars with sugar and stay away from the energy drinks whenever possible as most are high in sugar. When traveling, I prefer individual protein mix packets as opposed to large containers and multi-serving packs. Most trips are not long enough for you to use the entire container or package and I would hate for a TSA to make you throw away a $35 – $50 container of opened protein mix that is in your carry-on luggage.  Also when you travel abroad and you are not a fan of the local cuisine, protein shakes provide a great meal replacement option. I know one protection specialist has even had protein supplements added to their entertainment rider!

Strength & ConditioningWeight training is great for building or maintain muscle mass, improving posture, better sleep, gaining bone density, maintaining weight loss, boosting metabolism and lowering inflammation.  Strengthening the muscles can help protect the joints, as muscles help carry the weight and stress of your movements under multiple conditions. You don’t have to join an expensive fitness center to stay in shape. Buy a resistance band and jump rope and leave them in your travel bags. They will provide you a 24-hour gym on the go. Between body weight exercises, like push-ups, sit ups, planks, squats or reverse dips on a hotel room chair will provide you a great workout until you get back home or can get to a gym.

The Importance of Cardio TrainingThe primary benefit of a good cardio exercise is that it makes your heart strong. A regular exercise routine has proven to lower blood pressure, lung capacity, reduce stress and aid in helping enhance sleep without the side effects of medication.  It also helps reduce your risk of heart attack, high cholesterol, diabetes and some forms of cancer. Make sure your fitness plan incorporates both strength and conditioning, as well as cardio. I have seen many in our industry often neglect the cardio components of their workout plans. For those who may not be fan of running, HIT Training (high-intensity interval training) workouts like boxing or hitting the heavy bag are great for functional fitness. Some of the key benefits of boxing are enhanced endurance, balance, mobility, hand eye coordination, calorie burning, stress reduction and improved total body strength.

The lack of cardio conditioning generally is not going to expose your weakness as a protection specialist during an attack on principal, but during routine functions like:

  • running between concourses to catch the last fight of the day, as the result of a delayed commercial flight

  • or a client wanting to take an extended walk and experience the local environment on vacation

  • or wanting to engage in sightseeing adventures like walking up the Eiffel Tower or the Great Wall of China

  • or simply extended and taxing intervals of standing.

If you can’t keep up with your client during routine activities, how will you maintain their confidence during an actual emergency?  While they may not comment, trust me they will notice.  The neglection your physical conditioning may be the difference between the client renewing your contract going forward or not. So see your health and wellness as daily hygiene not some fad or trend diet.

Fit for Duty – Health & Wellness as Crucial Daily Hygiene… Not Fad Diets or Trendy Programs By: Mark “Six” James CPO, EPS, CAS

Mark “Six” James is Founder and Executive Director of Panther Protection Services, LLC.  He is an internationally published author, keynote speaker, security consultant to educational institutions and frequent contributor to several print, broadcast and online media.  Panther Protection Services is a full-service protection agency focusing on Risk and Crisis Mitigation, Protective Services, Self-Defense Training, and Firearm Instruction.  www.pantherprotectionservices.com


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