The Science of Health, Happiness and Productivity

For entrepreneurs, physical and mental health are essential for doing business. In today’s Deep Expertise, Catherine Roscoe Barr shares her best tips from her research to give insight on health, happiness and productivity.

By Catherine Roscoe Barr. Connect on Twitter and Facebook.

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As entrepreneurs and businesses owners it’s important to be in peak physical and mental health so we can bring our best hustle, creativity and energy to the world.

I’ve always been curious about how to do this.

After graduating university with a pre-med degree in neuroscience I decided to change course and pursue a career promoting wellness rather than treating disease, and became certified as a personal trainer, fitness instructor and older adult specialist.

For the next decade I worked in retirement homes, college and university athletics, big gyms, and boutique fitness centres, and spent my days teaching people about exercise and nutrition. But there was something missing. The knowledge to take action – to do regular physical activity and prepare healthy meals – was there, but the willpower wasn’t.

Why? What was causing this disconnect of generally knowing what to do, but not doing it? I wanted to know why.

When I turned 30, I needed a change, so I left fitness to pursue a career as a journalist. But the question continued to nag me, especially as I now had a sedentary job and, as a fitness, food and travel writer, and one that also included a lot of calorie-rich food and drink.

I was experiencing the same internal and external disconnect I’d seen in my clients: I knew that healthy eating and regular exercise were important, but I wasn’t taking enough action.

I’ve always been fascinated by the brain and an avid reader of self-help, scientific nonfiction, health and wellness. The more I learned, the more little pieces began to accumulate, forming a big picture: stress management and mental health – brain health – were what was missing from the conversation on exercise and nutrition.

Stress management, exercise and nutrition are what I began referring to as The Trifecta of Wellness. They are the keys to peak physical and mental health. They are the keys to bringing our best hustle, creativity and energy to the world.

With this wonderfully exciting new insight, I not only turned my own life around in the most incredible and seemingly magical way, but created my company, The Life Delicious: the science of health, happiness and productivity, and have helped my clients do the same.

My 32-unit curriculum – available via private wellness coaching, group workshops, public speaking, wellness retreats, and soon-to-be online videos – draws from positive psychology, contemplative neuroscience, exercise science, and simple, practical, delicious advice on healthy nutrition.

Today, I’m excited to share two powerful yet simple approaches guaranteed to give you a leg up on your journey toward health, happiness and productivity.

1. Change your brain chemistry for immediate health, happiness and productivity

Thoughts and actions manifest as chemical cascades in your brain and body. Are you creating a toxic slurry or a nourishing elixir? You’re either doing one or the other.

Choosing health, happiness and productivity can be as easy as choosing to think and act in ways that optimally change your brain chemistry.

I stumbled upon this amazing realization when I began keeping a mood, food and fitness journal, documenting in detail how my thoughts and actions made me feel. This approach radically changed my life.

The mood, food and fitness journal is a pillar of my wellness coaching program. I highly recommend you begin your own!

In my journal, I focused on writing down how I felt after each time I ate, how I felt after I exercised, how I felt when I didn’t exercise, and how I felt in general each day based on the stress management choices I’d made, like taking time to meditate or just sit quietly, spending time in nature, or do something creative or fun.

No more sugary, high carb snacking and then mysteriously feeling sad, lethargic and unmotivated. I could directly connect the action to the resulting feelings, which was the most powerful form of clarity I’d ever experienced. It replaced the need to wrestle with willpower. I began to crave the thoughts and actions I knew would produce optimal brain chemistry: stress management, exercise and nutrition.

I discovered that cultivating optimal brain chemistry was essentially as simple as doing the things that I’d documented as having made me feel good and avoiding (or at least reducing) the things that I’d documented as having made me feel bad.

Reflecting on my feelings was the tool that set me free from craving junky, processed and sugary foods, “not having time for exercise,” and, most importantly, feeling hopeless and unhappy.

I began to view stress management, exercise and nutrition as tools to improve my mood – to optimally change my brain chemistry. The exterior, physical results, like weight loss and muscle tone, were a secondary bonus.

In your mood, food and fitness journal, start figuring out which thoughts and actions serve you, and which ones don’t.

Don’t worry if you don’t like to write or journal.  Do whatever works for you to be mindful of how your thoughts and actions make you feel.

2. Change your brain structure for long-term health, happiness and productivity

Neurons that fire together wire together. Are you building roads that lead to health, happiness and productivity?

Neuroplasticity describes the brain’s ability to change itself, to rewire itself and build new connections. Think of these connections like roads. The more traffic along a road, the more well-worn the path becomes. If you’re constantly going down the road to negative, worrisome thoughts, junky, processed food, or a sedentary lifestyle, it becomes easier and easier to keep going down those roads.

Self-directed neuroplasticity is the conscious, deliberate sculpting of the connections in your brain, the attentive action of developing specific behaviours or patterns.

The first time you try to go down a new road – like searching for the good in things, preparing a healthy meal, and taking even just a few minutes to move your body – you have to do a little weed-whacking. It may be a little tricky and effortful to push through the brambles. But the more you go down those roads, the easier it becomes – and the old roads that weren’t serving you become overgrown with disuse.

You can build super-highways to health, happiness and productivity by slowly, consistently and mindfully making better choices, and the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

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These two approaches – consciously changing your brain chemistry and structure – not only elevate your overall health and happiness, but create the calm, focus and creativity necessary for unprecedented productivity, so you can bring your best hustle, creativity and energy to the world.

To learn a little more about The Life Delicious: the science of health, happiness and productivity, check out the following links:

 

Catherine Roscoe Barr is the Founder of The Life Delicious, a collection of insight and information on health, fitness, food, drink, travel and sustainability. Catherine is also an FWE Member and is featured on our Member Spotlight. Connect with her at @LifeDelish on Twitter and on Facebook.