A master fitness trainer, bodybuilder (he’s participated in more than 250 competitions and has been Mr. Natural Universe 7 times), Williams experienced a childhood of poverty as a foster child. At age three, his father had left him with another family “to babysit” and never came back. Worse still, as a child who was already sensitive to feeling unwanted and unloved, he was sexually abused.
Eventually, Williams found a calling in competitive sports. He learned all he could about health, nutrition and natural bodybuilding and set international records. Simultaneously he learned to feed his spirit and to serve others as a non-denominational pastor. Today he serves entrepreneurs and clients as a professor of exercise physiology, an author, and developer of the Iron Chest Master product many fitness enthusiasts have seen. Ron Williams is an entrepreneur, author, professional coach and a non-denominational pastor.
To that end, I asked Williams about his observations for leaders in business. He strongly maintains that of the people he observes, those who are most successful in business (and life) are the ones who protect and nourish both their physical and spiritual health. The two are best when working together, hand in glove, he maintains. In that light, these are the things he suggests that entrepreneurs do every day:
- Do some form of exercise every day. Stress causes your body to act in a certain way, Williams says, and the cornerstone of an entrepreneurial existence is, unfortunately, stress. The body’s stress hormone, cortisol, is a “muscle-wasting/fat-storing” hormone. Cortisol attacks muscle fibers and converts them to glycogen (as emergency fuel for “fight or flight” response). “Scientifically, it’s as if you’ve eaten straight sugar,” Williams says. “The pancreas pumps out insulin in response to glycogen, converts it to triglycerides, and pumps it into the fat cells. Stress can make you fatter without eating a morsel of food.” In addition to its many other benefits, exercise is especially beneficial for releasing the hormones that ease and counter entrepreneurial stress.
- Stretch. Every day. Even a little bit of cardio is useful, says Williams, but it is critical before even a short cardio effort or workout to warm up at least a bit and then stretch. “Eighty percent of injuries occur with in the first 10 minutes of a workout because people fail to warm their muscles up first and then stretch,” Williams says. Run or jog lightly for a few minutes, slow to a fast walk, stretch the muscles, then work them out. “Muscles are similar to rubber bands,” he says. “If they’re warm, they’ll stretch, but if they’re cold they’re more apt to pop and break.” And stretching is beneficial for releasing the tension that resides in stressed-out muscles as well.
- To increase leanness, never eat a carbohydrate alone. All carbohydrates convert to sugar, which spikes glucose, then brings blood sugar down and converts to triglycerides, Williams says. A simple carbohydrate, by itself, will make a body get fatter. Instead, eat proper combinations of food. Eat a carb, a protein and an essential fatty acid together. Even if you eat 2-3 times more calories, Williams says, your body will use the calories more effectively if you can stick to this one simple rule.
- Avoid additives and chemicals. It is more than a principle of “Zen” to limit your exposure to the many additives in today’s processed foods. The chemicals in our food and water are fat-loss resistant, Williams explains. For example, if you have two people with the same body types and same metabolism go on a program and one loses 2 pounds and the other goes down by 20, you may be observing a body that is fat-loss resistant due to the chemicals that are present in our water and food. Estrogen mimickers form a molecule that mimics estrogen. The body treats the resulting compound like estrogen and converts the calories into bodyfat. These chemicals are in our water, our medication (such as heart or depression medications). If you see a man or a boy with gynecomastia (breast tissue or even lactating) it’s a sign of this issue. “Sixty percent of men suffer from fatty tissue around their chests because of estrogen mimickers,” Williams says. Likewise, aspartame, aspartic acid and MSG are chemicals that cause us to gain bodyfat.
- Limit refined sugar. Refined sugars are horrible as “false energy” for entrepreneurs who are working to maintain maximum effectiveness and healthy leanness and weight.
- Make time for spiritual exercise and nourishment, too. Spiritual exercise may include getting down on your knees every day to spend time in contemplation and prayer that will nourish your soul, Williams says. It can also include meditation, music, and inspiring messages and reading that restores and energizes your spirit. Entrepreneurs who feed their spirits on a regular basis experience better happiness and also better business success, Williams maintains.
- Believe in your dreams. A positive belief system is vital to a healthy spirit, Williams believes. For entrepreneurs, he notes the best successes of all come to those who believe in a dream fully enough to turn it into their work and their passion. “If what you love to do can end up becoming your job, you’ll never have to work again,” Williams says. It is one of the key principles he has learned to live by as well. “My work is my vacation. It’s fun for me.”
- In the face of adversity, learn to turn “walls” into “doors.” “In my younger years I was faced with so many walls,” Williams says. “Now I view them as doors—turn them into inroads to what I wanted.” Another way of looking at that principle is to memorize the phrase “So what did that just open up for you?” If an employee has stolen, for example, or a partner has behaved with dishonesty, “So what did that just open up for you?” is a way to recognize the occurrence as a blessing and an opportunity to clear the impediments away quickly and become a stronger organization than before.
In all, it is clear that physical and spiritual health function best when they are working together." (Originally published in Forbes online)