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Why CEOs Run The World

Why CEOs Run The World

If there was a Runners Anonymous self-help group, a lot of the addicts would be CEOs. These days, running (or maybe endorphins) seems to be the drug of choice for CEOs. Why is that? And why am I following that stereotype? I hate to follow the crowd. Any crowd. I see myself as an unconventional thinker, a trailblazer. Yet, here I am fitting right into a stereotype and perfectly happy doing so.

Last Sunday morning, I ran 13.1 miles – effectively a half marathon, except this was on my own – around the coast of Manhattan and Brooklyn in 1 hour 35 minutes. Just for the fun of it! (Though I was also keen to try out my new Lululemon running gear) This was a new personal best and follows a pattern of me beating my personal best a half-dozen times per year for the past four years. At the age of 46, surely I should have peaked long ago, and now be gliding gently towards my rocking chair. But I’m still on the run.

Kansas City half Marathon
    CEO Ben Legg at 2016 Kansas City Half Marathon

    Always On The Run

    A little background: I have always been a runner of sorts.

    I started my career as a British Army officer, which involved running 2-3 times per week, along with all sorts of other exercise. I was fit. When I left the army in 1999 to enter the world of business (initially as a strategy consultant at McKinsey), I dropped that frequency to one run of six to eight miles every weekend. This was at an unmeasured pace – probably around nine minutes per mile – with my dogs tagging along. So I have never been unfit. However, through the next 13 years travelling the globe working in executive jobs at McKinsey, Coca-Cola, and Google around the world, I flatlined at that level. My assumption was, that over time, I would let my fitness slip gently.

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    So what happened to make me running obsessive, and fitter now than when I was in the army?

    I think the most likely explanation is becoming a CEO in 2012. CEOs make conference speeches and TV appearances more than others, and I am no exception. This leads to seeing your own picture a lot more often, and noticing yourself looking a bit chubby is a great motivator to become fitter. You also hear a lot about the link between fitness and being able to cope with stress. Getting some alone time is attractive too, given that your days are packed with back-to-back meetings.

    Therefore, since 2012, I have one-by-one initiated a number of actions that have each nudged me towards ever-increasing fitness:

    My own gym:

    I bought my own gym. I had often joined commercial gyms in the past and not gone to them. The time required to get there, work out, get home, get changed, etc. just seemed like too much. However, with a home gym, you dramatically reduce the unproductive admin time associated with working out, so you have no excuses but to do it. I now workout 3 times per week.

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    Running midweek:

    In 2012, I toured the U.S. with a colleague and he suggested running together for fun. So, I took my running kit and loved it. What better way to see the cities I visit for work than running around them at sunrise, when everyone else is asleep, the streets are empty, and the sun is just peeking over the horizon? I now run twice per week midweek, in addition to my weekend run.

    Half-marathons:

    Four years ago, I signed up to do my first half marathon in years and loved it. I wasn’t particularly happy with my time though, so I signed up to run around six half-marathons per year, in order to always have a “test” ahead of me, to prevent slacking off.

    Company health:

    When the insurance broker came to me a few years ago and said that our healthcare premiums would rise by $1,000 per person per year, even if we maintained the same level of claims as before – just due to industry cost inflation – I decided to try to fight it. I gave the HR department $300 per employee to get the organization fit and reduce the number of claims. They then set about giving out subsidized Fitbits, organizing fun health-related activities, and incentivizing health improvements that were based on twice yearly medical checks. Clearly, I needed to lead by example. We did avoid those health cost increases, and also had a lot of fun in the process.

    Fitbit:

    Clearly, this has been a major driver of fitness for many people. Since getting my first Fitbit, I have tracked my pace on every run and always strive to keep improving. Benchmarking my weekly steps vs my friends and colleagues is also highly motivating. Like other CEOs, I like to win, and certainly hate to be out of the top three in my friends’ league table (of about 80 people) so can’t have a single slack day. I now average around 120,000 steps per week – between running, walking, and working out.

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    Running tourism:

    Given my new habit of running midweek at sunrise, I started to try to find the perfect morning running route. I now scour Google Maps for every city that I travel to, looking for the best runs – based on views, architecture, history, serenity, and other factors. My current favorite is in San Francisco, taking an Uber to Sausalito just before sunrise, then running back over Golden Gate Bridge and along the Embarcadero. Awesome!

    Setting minimum standards:

    I have set myself several “bars” for acceptable running standards. These include:

    • Never running less than six miles per run.
    • Never running slower than a seven-and-a-half minute pace per mile.
    • Always overtaking at least 10 times more people than the number that overtakes me (to keep me in the top ten percent of runners).

    Calendar blocking:

    To ensure that I manage to fit exercise into my overloaded calendar, I pre-block my calendar with recurring entries – three runs and three workouts per week, at sunrise. That keeps the time free. If I need to schedule an early morning call, I move the calendar block to a different time in that day, to ensure I get my exercise.

    HelloFresh:

    Diet clearly plays a part too. I used to eat too many carb-heavy, rich meals. Then in 2015, I subscribed to HelloFresh, which now delivers three boxes of ingredients to my house every week, for me to cook awesome meals (clear instructions are provided). The service provides very healthy ingredients and sensible portions, and this has definitely led to a bit of weight loss, enabling even faster running times.

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    Tough Mudder:

    What a great invention! Running 12 miles with a bunch of friends – braving mud baths, monkey bars, razor wire, and electrocution – strikes me as a fine way to spend a Saturday morning. I have completed two this year and am planning many more.

    Featured photo credit: Kansas City Business Journal via bizjournals.com

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    Ben Legg

    CEO of Adparlor

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    Published on May 3, 2019

    8 Wonderful Weight Loss Tracker Apps: Achieve Your Fitness Goals Fast

    8 Wonderful Weight Loss Tracker Apps: Achieve Your Fitness Goals Fast

    Are you frustrated by why on earth you can’t lose any weight? Have you ever wondered if you don’t actually know how many calories you eat in a day?

    How much exercise do you ACTUALLY get? Why does nothing seem to be working!?

    If any of those questions sound familiar, then read on. Because I am about to show you some of the best tools you can use to pull yourself out of that rut!

    If you can relate, I’ve been there too. In fact, if it helps your situation at all, I think most of us have at some point or another. Most people feel like, at some point or another, they reach a plateau. It’s that exasperating place that seems to keep us from moving forward (or is moving us slowly).

    How can we break past this point? How can we start to see results and have the momentum to keep moving forward? The answer is simple:

    To have a game-plan and know exactly what is going on inside your body.

    Let me put it this way, in your business, do you go into work figuring you’ll find something to do once you get there? Probably not. You know exactly what needs to get done and you have a game-plan (a task sheet or to-do-list) to get you there. You might even have a few different “games” you play with yourself to make your work more enjoyable or listen to a motivational speaker to make sure your morale is up.

    The same goes for fitness. If you really want to excel at your fitness goal, then you need to have a game-plan for success. You need to know what will keep you motivated, how to simplify things, how to be more efficient at your goals, and even find what you enjoy the most.

    If you’re blindly trying to chase your goals, then you probably feel about as hopeless as a carpenter with a butter-knife. So, it’s time to stock your toolbelt for success!

    I am about to show you the top fitness apps that will be game-changers for you. From nutrition trackers to step counters, these apps are sure to set you on the fast track to your fitness goals.

    Keep reading to find the apps which might just shoot you past your plateau and into the lifestyle you dream of.

    1. MyFitnessPal

      When it comes to favorite fitness apps, this one takes the cake (The Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan cake that is).

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      MyFitnessPal is the best all around calorie counter that I have found on the market. This app is free, and has almost all the calorie counting resources available to you. Not only does it seamlessly estimate the daily calories needed to hit your goal, but it also gives you the methods to track it.

      Just enter the ingredients into each meal and it will add up how many calories you eat. Indulged in a burrito? No problem! Just scan the barcode and it will enter that in for you.

      Going a step beyond that, this app also tracks your macros (according to your own customized goals) and nutrients.

      While that all seems impressive enough, this app also tracks exercise calories and can sync to Fitbit, MapmyRun, and other apps to measure your exact energy ratio.

      If you want a one-stop map to success then this is it! This will not only help you develop a gameplan, but will also create a flexible plan to get you there.

      Get MyFitness Pal here!

      2. Fitbit

        I know you’ve already heard about this app before, and for good reason. Fitbit has been helping thousands step their way to health since it first came out.

        While investing in a Fitbit may not be cheap, I believe it to be well worth the investment.

        Fitbit will track your total amounts of steps each day. For those of you who are competitive, this is the perfect app to keep you moving throughout the day.

        This app can also sync with other fitness apps, like MyFitnessPal, to measure your exact energy expenditure each day. It’s a keeper for sure.

        Get Fitbit here!

        3. MapMyRun

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          This is another one for the competitive, beginner, or exercise enthusiast alike. MapMyRun measures the distance that you run and even tracks your route. And, you can sync your daily results with MyFitnessPal to keep track of your daily calorie burn.

          If you want to go at it with a friend, you can challenge them in competitions that are sure to keep you both moving!

          Once, my boyfriend (Now Husband) ran for 2 miles just before midnight to beat me in a competition that was ending the next day. Talk about motivation!

          MapMyRun is perfect for those who like to challenge themselves, love to be apart of a fitness community, or want a place for friends to hold them accountable to their goals.

          Get MapMyRun here!

          4. Zombies, Run!

            Are you having trouble pulling away from entertainment to go out and run? Then why not combine the two?

            ZombieRun is a fun app that is sure to get you moving if you are someone who is motivated by a good time. In fact, you might even have such a blast you will forget that you are exercising!

            This app takes you through a story-line makes you the hero. Each level will present a new challenge to help you progress and keep things exciting.

            And don’t even worry about your pre-workout. Imagining you are the hero in the story will be enough to keep your adrenaline pumping on it’s own.

            Just be sure not to move too slow or the “Zombs” (As we runners affectionately call them) might catch you!

            Get ZombiesRun here!

            5. Prepear

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              Are you tired of sitting down for hours and trying to strategize what to eat? This app helps cut this time in a quarter.

              Simply add online recipes into your weekly meal plan (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and it will organize all the ingredients you will need into a shopping list.

              With all your meal planning in one organized area, it will be easy to find which meal you plan to make for the day. This will keep your healthy recipes delicious. You will seriously never have to fret about meal planning again!

              Bye Bye paper shopping lists! And Bye-Bye fast food! You won’t be needing that anymore!

              Get Prepear here!

              6. Strava

                If walking is your health resolution, this one might be for you!

                Strava was actually sent to me by one of my clients for me to track his daily walking. This app is sure to get you into healthy habits that you enjoy. In fact, you might start losing weight before realizing that you’ve even been exercising.

                This app enables you to track your trails and mileage, take pictures, and invite friends to join. It is a keeper for beginners and hikers alike.

                Get Strava here!

                7. Aaptiv

                  If you find yourself at the gym and not sure what to do, then this app might be for you.

                  Aptive gives you workouts to do and instructs you how to do them.

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                  While there’s nothing quite like the accountability of a personal trainer, Aptive is a great way to be guided through exercises without having to dish out tons of money.

                  The online instructors will guide you through the movements and keep you focused on finishing the workout. This app is sure to make you a gym rat in no time!

                  Get Aaptiv here!

                  8. Freeletics

                    Here’s one for those of you always on the move! Freeletics is an incredible app designed for people who just don’t have the time (or motivation) to drive down to the gym.

                    Freeletics provides online workouts designed specifically from bodyweight. No equipment is needed!

                    You will be surprised at what a great workout you can get without any equipment.

                    That’s right, you work-travellers — Say goodbye to your excuses because this app is bringing the trainer to you!

                    Get Freeletics here!

                    The Bottom Line

                    These 8 apps are sure to revolutionize your fitness goals. Guesswork will no longer be a part of your fitness journey. These apps are like carrying professionals around in your pocket all day!

                    Get ready to be motivated, informed, and ready to start achieving your dreams! Good luck on your fitness journey!

                    Featured photo credit: Marion Michele via unsplash.com

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