Achieving the '10 Healthy Habits' - Brad Norris

Our goal at Synergy Health is improve people's lives through showing them how to integrate our 10 Healthy Habits into their daily lives.

Too often we can get caught up in the latest research on what we should (or shouldn't) be doing that we miss how to integrate simple healthy habits into our often busy lives. We thought we would share with you some practical examples of how real people achieve this. We start with Brad Norris - the Owner and Managing Director at Synergy Health Ltd.  As one of the founders of the 10 Healthy Habits, he was a good place to start to see how he 'walks the talk' while managing a busy business, family and life!

Q) WHAT'S THE BRAD STORY?

Managing a growing business in Australia and New Zealand, I currently spend a lot of my time travelling between both countries.  You can often find me in a departure lounge somewhere!

With a demanding travel schedule, being a single dad and leading a team to inspire and motivate the masses to improve their wellbeing, safety and happiness, I really do have to ‘practice what we preach’.

Having failed miserably at chemistry (and seeing my hopes for a physiotherapy career disappear!), I launched Synergy Health over 17 years ago, having just completed my Masters in Industrial and Organisational Psychology and a Diploma in Sports Studies.

Since this time, Synergy Health has been fortunate enough to work with many organisations to enhance the performance, productivity and resilience of their employees. I’m often heard saying:

“When organisations invest in their people’s wellbeing…both the organisation and their employees benefit”.

When I’m not at an airport departure gate, or working on Synergy Health, I can be found drinking coffee (black of course!), riding my fixie to and from work, or getting airborne at the BMX track with my kids.

Q) WHAT DO THE 10 HEALTHY HABITS MEAN TO YOU?

The ‘10 Healthy Habits’ are a framework to proactively manage my wellbeing.

Unfortunately, we see too many people compartmentalise their health. That is, they tend to engage in their ‘health related behaviour’ between specific hours of the day (e.g. 5.30pm - 6.30pm while going to the gym).

But it’s the decisions that we make throughout the day which actually have the biggest impact on our overall wellbeing.

I attempt to promote as many of the '10 Healthy Habits’ throughout the day as I can, no matter where I am, or how little time I have. If I identify one of my key indicators of stress (e.g. a headache) I first evaluate against the '10 Healthy Habits’. On most occasions, I’m able to quickly identify why I’m feeling the way that I am through not fulfilling one (or more!) of the habits.

Q) WHAT DRIVES YOU TO LIVE AND BREATHE OUR HEALTHY HABITS?

Having felt the benefits of promoting the ‘10 Healthy Habits’ for a long time now, it’s something I just now integrate into my day.

I’m motivated to find ways to promote these habits without necessarily having to add more time into my day – just making a number of better decisions throughout the day to promote as many of the healthy habits as I can.

Q) WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU AND HOW DO YOU PRACTICE THE HEALTHY HABITS?

A typical day involves a 6.30am start. I tend to wake up naturally which means I’m more likely to wake up coming out of a sleep cycle. I make it a priority to follow healthy habit number 6: ‘Get Adequate Sleep’ so I don’t often oversleep. Having kids means an early start to my day whether I like it or not!

I make myself a long black and tend to read/watch the news. I make us all a real food breakfast, typically an omelette or scrambled eggs. I prepare as much as I can the evening before to ensure a smooth morning. After the school run, I often head home to do 30 minutes – 1 hour of work before heading into the office. This sets up my day by generating some momentum before working with the team at the office. This helps me to set my own tasks for the day before I am drawn in to any other urgencies, and I feel I am more likely to stay on top of things this way. I find if I actively promote my own personal values, I’m a much more effective manager.

I try to cycle into the office when possible, and once I am there, I mix my desk time between standing and sitting. I make sure I do not sit all day. Whenever I’m on the phone, I’ll go for a walk outdoors to ensure I’m moving slowly lots during the day. This is also a great way to 'Get Adequate Sunlight' to help promote sleep at night.

At lunchtime, I eat with a colleague where we talk strategy. We walk to the café to further increase our incidental activity.  I drink sparkling water throughout the day - never sugar fuelled fizzy drinks.

After work, I cycle home before picking the kids up and getting home for homework, a game of soccer in the driveway and we often talk together about what we are grateful for that day while we have dinner.

Not being a great cook, dinner tends to be very simple. I tend to default to meat and a lot of vegetables which is cheap, relatively quick and real.  We have very little processed and ready/convenience foods. As a family full of gluten intolerant or coeliac people, staying away from the packets is pretty important in my house.

When I don’t have the kids with me, I go to the gym in the evening to do my strength training. I do a maximum of 30 minutes of weight training. If I have the kids and can’t get to the gym, I do some shorts sprints on my spin bike. This is a great way to promote the healthy habit ‘Move Quickly Once In A While’. I’m also about to take on a new challenge – The Burpee/Mountain Climber Challenge which is something I can do at home with no gym equipment.

Once the kids are in bed or after the gym, I tend to work for a couple more hours. While I am conscious of how much screen time I’ve had, I find this a very productive part of my day as I don’t get as many work interruptions. I have also downloaded an app which washes out the blue light on my devices so that it doesn’t affect my sleeping habits too much.

That’s probably as exciting as it gets on a weekday. I enjoy a glass of red wine and a square or two of dark chocolate when I’m feeling wild!

Q) HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN THOSE HEALTHY HABITS WHEN YOU’RE TRAVELLING?

Because travel can be demanding, fulfilling the '10 Healthy Habits’ only becomes more important.

Some of the strategies I put into place include:

  • Eating real food meals as much as possible. While I carry snacks with me (e.g. nuts, fruit), I find eating real food meals means I don’t often have to snack during the day.
  • Moving slowly lots and getting adequate sunlight through walking between meetings as much as possible, doing an extra lap of the airport, and not always sitting at every available opportunity. I always find it easier to stand and walk when taking calls on the move.
  • Ensuring that I 'Get Adequate Sleep' as much as possible. I expose my eyes to as much daylight as I can, whilst I am awake and the sun is up. This helps to keep my body clock ticking along well, and I sleep better at night for it.  Particularly when having to adjust to different time zones. Avoiding sugar also helps. Even when I’m tired and flagging maybe late in the afternoon, I tend to reach for a protein injection like nuts as oppose to a high sugar/high carbohydrate snack.
  • Understanding my body moves through a natural circadian rhythm, I try and schedule my challenging meetings in the morning as much as possible. More creative and collaborative meetings happen in the afternoon.
  • I do as much incidental activity as I can throughout the day, I always take the stairs and never the escalator, I walk between meetings, I also use the gym wherever possible and if that means getting up early to do so, I do it because I know I’ll feel better for the workout!
  • I try to have some fun whilst I work to promote our healthy habit, ‘Play’.  Whether this be a game of ‘Would You Rather’ with a colleague on the way to a meeting to disengage and have a laugh, extending my stay overseas to spend time with friends so that it isn’t always just about work, and generally trying to find the lighter side to life and having a laugh wherever possible.
  • With a lot of travel, I always try to 'Manage My Thinking' and see it as an opportunity rather than a demand. I focus on the time spent in a plane as an opportunity to focus on a project uninterrupted or allocating time doing tasks that directly promote my personal values (e.g. being creative by writing a new presentation). Time spent on the plane is my time doing the things that engage me the most. I find this is a great way to cope with a demanding travel schedule.

Q) WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU’RE STRUGGLING FOR MOTIVATION OR HAVE ZERO TIME?

I focus my attention on healthy habit, ‘Engage Yourself’.  I do this by actively disengaging during down time.  When I feel like motivation is wavering, this is usually an indicator that one of my values isn’t being well promoted. Our programs are designed to provide the tools and resources to understand your own values, and how best to promote them.  I’m always surprised at how impactful understanding and promoting personal values can be on my engagement and motivation levels.

From an exercise perspective, this can involve me taking on a new fitness challenge or engaging in an activity that allows me to be competitive.

From a general wellbeing perspective, this can involve reviewing some of the successes we’ve had as a business, taking on a creative project or spending more time with those most important to me.

Q) WHAT ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT NEXT YEAR? HAVE YOU SET ANY GOALS/RESOLUTIONS?

I don’t tend to set resolutions, but 2018 will be another big year for Synergy Health. I’m focused on growing the business while maintaining (or enhancing!) my wellbeing. I really enjoy the challenge of finding new ways to integrate the healthy habits into my day without having to dedicate more time.

I’m particularly excited about some of the new updates we are bringing to this program shortly. These updates are designed to help users get more out of our program and make promoting the healthy habits even more fun.

Q) DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR OUR READERS?

‘Momentum’ is a powerful thing. Look at ways that you can integrate the '10 Healthy Habits’ into your day-to-day life. Look for opportunities where you can integrate multiple habits doing a single task. For example, having meetings or making calls while walking around the block (move slowly lots, get adequate sunlight).

Also do not fall into the trap of compartmentalising your ‘healthy’ behaviour, and understand that no one of the healthy habits is more important than the others.  For example, poor sleeping habits will make it harder to avoid sugary foods. Fluctuating energy levels due to sugary foods make it harder to be motivated to move more during the day.

Doing a little in each area will help to give you the best benefits.  Wellbeing is the whole you, sleep, getting enough sunlight, nutrition, activity, fun, engaging yourself and manging your thinking so you can be the best version of yourself.



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