It’s easy for busy individuals to overlook their health and lose track of keeping their shape. But how can you maintain your health while clawing your way to success? Being busy is not an excuse to skip an exercise because Kofi Nartey shares some health tips for busy entrepreneurs. Kofi does a full-body workout, yet he listens to his body more to know when to rest and slow down. He also shows the value of power naps in recharging your body to keep you going. Avoid starving yourself from success, and learn to keep your body going to reach your goal! Join Kofi Nartey in this insightful episode because he unpacks so much wisdom today.
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Kofi’s Fitness And Health Tips For Busy Entrepreneurs
In this episode, I’m going to do something a little bit different based on a lot of questions that I get online, on Instagram, and Facebook, about what I do for fitness and health. I pride myself on trying to keep my body together. I tell my kids I’m fighting the dad bod. Nobody wants to have the dad bod. That’s my goal. One of my fitness goals is to not be labeled as a dad bod. I try to hold it together. I tap into my past athlete and workout experience to maintain and keep myself together.
I am not a fitness or workout head, but I realized the importance of it for my life. I wanted to share some things that are working for me and the way that I help maintain my body, fitness, and consistency by staying on top of workouts and taking care of my health. I want to share some of the general benefits that I’m aware of that are helpful for entrepreneurs who pay attention to their health, fitness, and diets.
We’re going to go quickly on this one. We’re going to run through it. Bear with me. Before we even get started, let me give a little disclaimer. Make sure you consult your doctor or health professional before engaging in any specific fitness or dietary programs. I’m going to say it again for the people who are lawyers, the people sitting next to lawyers, and the people with lawyers on speed dial. Consult your doctor or your health professional before engaging in any fitness or dietary programs. Let’s jump right in, you guys.Consult your doctor or health professional before engaging in any fitness or dietary programs. Click To Tweet
I’m often asked, what do I do for my fitness? How do I stay in shape? How do I maintain my health? Even with the onset of lots of business building, lots of new clients, and expanding into different markets, kids who are in sports, and my wife who coaches sports, we have a lot of things on our plate, which makes it a lot harder to find the time to maintain health and fitness.
One of my sayings and Kofi-ism is don’t complain when your plate is full when you said you were starving for success. Part of the full mogul journey, even the concept of being full mogul, the highest and best version of yourself across all aspects of yourself, has to include your health bucket. I envision them as buckets. Your health, your family, your career, whatever is important to you, those are the different buckets of your life. Health has to be one of the primary buckets of your life, which means that you have to make time for it.
The goal across all aspects and buckets of your life is to make sure that there are no bucket red lines. Make sure it’s never empty because once it gets empty, your relationship, career, faith, and health, that’s when you’re in trouble. For me, not only is it something that I want to maintain to keep that bucket alive, but it’s also to keep myself alive. Fortunately, I enjoy working out.
Fitness, exercising, and working out are centering for me. I ran off all kinds of things that keep me busy and engaged on a daily basis. When I have that time to work out, it’s a time for me that’s stress relief. It’s a time for me that’s for me and about me. It’s a time when I can put on my headset, put on some music, and grind. That physical pushing of the weights or doing cardio is a win, recentering, and a stress relief for me. I try to get it as often as I can. I can’t go to the gym every day, but it’s about 2 to 3 days a week.
When we look at even studies that show studies of executives, business owners, and highly successful people, when we talk about the priorities that they have in life and identifying the priorities that they have in life, most of the executives and I don’t know the exact percentages, but I know it was most, I think it was something like between 60% and 70% of them identified health as their number one priority.
You would think, “What’s your big why? Why are you doing this? What are your priorities?” People would say, “My kids or my family.” It’s like they say on the airplane. Make sure you put your oxygen mask on first before helping the next person or your children. If you can’t breathe, you’re not alive to help them put their mask on. If your health isn’t where it needs to be, the people that you are maintaining that health for have the risk of losing you.
You have to put a priority on your health and maintaining a certain level of well-being because that will make you a better person for those around you, for those that you say that you’re sacrificing for, giving up your time for, giving up your career, and giving up your health. No, you can’t give up your health because if you give up your health, all the other things will disappear. If you’re saying those other things and other people are a priority, you have to take care of your health to be there as a priority for them.
Some of the things that I do in terms of working out is I have four different types of workouts. The first would be a full workout. This is when I bring my gym bag. I check out from work. I go to the gym either next door in my building because my office building has a gym, or I go to Griffin Club here in LA. It’s a tennis club or private club membership where we have a gym there. There’s a restaurant, tennis court, pickleball, pools, and all this fun stuff. The gym is adequate and I can get an amazing lift in.
When I go and do my full workout, I usually do a combination of upper and lower body each day. I am channeling some of my Cal football days, Raiders days, and ongoing access to exo sports training that my kids are getting through my wife coaches at the high school. They have exo sports training for the kids. I get to sit in on some of the strategy sessions on how to get the best workouts, diet, and nutrition.
It’s good to alternate the days that you’re working out different body parts, especially depending on your age. You need to give those body parts rest after you’ve worked them. I’m at an age where I’m not slowing down but I am listening to my body more. Even in those full workouts, I still do bench presses, squats, leg extensions, curls, low rows, and deadlifts. I do these things to continue to build muscle. My goal is to continue to build muscle, but again, I listen to my body more.The goal is to continue to build muscle but listen to your body more. Click To Tweet
Several years ago, when I would lift, I’d feel a little bit of pain and keep fighting and risk injury. Now, if I feel a little bit of pain and strain, I slow down or stop. I am still able to lower the weights at that point and push myself to exhaustion because exhaustion is where I’m going to break down some of the muscle fibers and still build because I still want to continue to be strong, feel strong, and be able to move some weight.
I have to be more thoughtful and mindful of how I lift. I have to be more thoughtful of my knees and back but I have this personal goal. My goal is to be able to still rep 225 pounds on the bench press until my son can rep 225 pounds on the bench press. He’s eleven. He hasn’t touched a weight yet. He does some pushups at home. I’ve got years of lifting ahead of me, but that keeps me motivated and going.
I usually would do a combination of bench press, some chest, some curls, and some leg extensions. I do calf razors and hamstring curls. On another day, I might do leg squats, pull-downs on the back shoulders, and a little bit of abs. I always do a little bit of a warmup. My warmup is usually the bike or the elliptical machine. I like those two because they’re easy on my knees. I do those for ten minutes. If I want to get a little bit better warmup, I’ll do it for about fifteen minutes to the point where I start to break a sweat and fire off some of those muscle fibers to get me ready to go.
Those are my full workout days. The second is what I call BTN or Better-Than-Nothing workout. Better than nothing is when I don’t have as much time. How long do I work out typically? I usually don’t go longer than an hour. I’m able to get everything that I need to get done within the hour, but a better-than-nothing workout might be a 30 to 45-minute window and I want to get something done.
What I will tell you is getting there, changing into my workout clothes, knowing that I don’t have the energy now, I don’t have as much time. I’m going to do a BTN or a Better-Than-Nothing workout. It almost always turns into a satisfying workout because once you get going, you usually end up doing a little bit more than you thought you could do. It turns out to be a win. That’s always a win of a workout, but some days it truly is a time-constrained workout where I’ll pick a couple of different exercises, a few different things that I’m going to do, and I grind those out in 30 to 40 minutes.
The third type of workout that I do is my no-sweat quick set. This one is interesting. You may or may not have heard of this because I made it up. You may not have seen it because I work out in my work clothes. A lot of days, I’m dressed in either jeans, a button-down shirt, and a blazer. Something like that is my normal work wardrobe. I don’t wear full suits as often, but sometimes I do.
No Sweat Quick Set
The no-sweat quick set is usually like a quick break from work, where I walk next door to the office in my work clothes. I pick one thing to do, whether it’s three sets of leg extensions, tricep pools, or on the sitting bench. Something that I can do 3 to 4 sets of without breaking a sweat. Those are workouts that I sneak in and get done to make sure that I’m doing something that day.
With both the better than nothing and the no set quickset, the goal is to keep the workout momentum in my life. We talked about your full mogul buckets, keeping those buckets going, keeping them from redlining, and knowing that this is part of who I am. This is part of my identity. This is a box that I need to check to maintain that identity. Sometimes, I need to get a better-than-nothing workout and then 2 to 3 days a week, I’m doing something that’s a full workout ideally.
The fourth aspect of working out is cardio. It is my weak spot. I don’t spend enough time on cardio. I keep leaning into that old saying and it’s a current saying that abs are made in the kitchen. I try to watch what I eat but I could be doing more cardio. I had knee surgery a couple of years ago. I still have a little knee pain here and there, but there’s no excuse. I can do cardio by walking, on the bike, or treadmill.
I don’t do enough cardio. When I do, it’s usually in the form of walking. I’ll go for long power walks with my wife. We call it our walk and talk, where we strategize about life. We also do it a couple of times a week. We’ve got a couple of good hills near our house. We walk around our neighborhood. We walk up the hill, through the neighborhood, and back down the hill. All along, we’re talking about life and strategy. We have great conversations. As a matter of fact, we could record those talks for the show.
If I’m not with my wife, I walk and listen to something in my headphones. I’ll listen to music or a podcast. The other thing you can do, and this was good for entrepreneurs, especially people with kids who are in sports. You’re taking them into practice or the game. We have soccer games every weekend. You have to show up an hour early. Your kids can warm up. While they’re practicing for an hour and a half, you can walk around the park where they practice. Walk around the track or the field where they practice.
Get in those steps. All the steps count. It’s not a zero-sum game. It’s not 0 or 100. Getting those steps in somewhere in between is better than nothing. I’m going to get 5,000 steps a day if I can’t get 10,000 steps a day. Those things make a difference. You have to commit yourself to getting it in where you can. If it’s not going to be walking or jogging, pick something that you like. Cycling, spin class at your gym, yoga, Zumba, swimming, whatever it is that you like to do for cardio, pick it and do it.
Tennis and pickleball are amazingly popular and it’s a lot of fun. If you’ve played pickleball, you break a good sweat with that. My wife still plays soccer. She coaches and trains our kids, but she also plays in this cool league called 18 to 80. It’s a women’s league of people from eighteen years old and even a little bit younger all the way up to 80 years old. It’s to keep people engaged. It creates community, engagement, and cardio opportunities.
Another thing that I do for my own health is power naps. I’m going to talk about the importance of sleep and rest, but being able to get in power naps during the day and workday and taking a little bit of a break recharges your body to keep you going. This isn’t a workout technique but it is something tied to health and well-being.
I learned this when I went to business school at Pepperdine. It’s called the PKE program at Pepperdine, Presidential and Key Executive Program. It’s for people who run their own companies or are part of the C-Suite of the companies. It’s a two-year traditional program. We have marketing, finance, and economics. We had our international trip. We had to do our thesis.
For the first four days of the program up at the Malibu campus, they brought in people to teach us things like yoga, mindful awareness, and meditation. The explanation around that was you’re going to go through this two-year program. You’re going to be making big decisions for your company. No matter what, in business, you never have perfect information. You never have all of the information. At best, you have 70% to 80% of great information. That last 20% of decision-making for your company and yourself is trusting your gut. You’re going to have to be able to tap into your gut. That’s why we did yoga, mindful awareness, and meditation for those purposes.
They also taught us the power of the power nap, where you lie down on your back or lie down as flat as possible. Sometimes, I do it in my car, and I put the seat back as far as possible. Turn off all devices, lie perfectly still, and close your eyes for 10 to 15 minutes. You’d be surprised. Sometimes you can fall asleep. If you fall asleep, make sure you have an alarm set on your phone for fifteen minutes. Your body will start to recharge.
It’s like plugging your phone in. The cells start to recharge. Your body starts to recharge. It starts to replenish your energy in that quick turnaround. If you have a little bit longer, you can take a twenty-minute nap. It’s not necessarily a long sleep, but you will find that energy shows back up in the afternoon, into the evening, or into the late evening when you need to get the extra work done.
One of the last things that I also incorporate is cold showers. I don’t do it every day because it’s not easy. Let me give you the full disclaimer on that. When I do a cold shower, I still wash in warm water because it’s hard to do a 7 to 8-minute cold shower. I’ll wash and get myself clean. For the last 2 to 3 minutes, I turn it to as cold as possible.
I’ve been doing this for about a year, and Wednesdays are my cold shower days. I’m going to up it to at least twice a week, if not three times a week because the benefits of cold showers have been amazing. I could feel the difference in my body. Research and studies show that it can benefit your body. I’ll give you guys some of the benefits that I’ve seen and have learned about along the way, but that 2 to 3 minutes of a cold shower is invigorating. It does a lot for your body and it’s not too hard to do it. It requires a little bit of mental toughness.
When I played football at Cal and even with the Raiders, we had ice baths. At Cal, we call them bear tanks. You have an ice bath that will rejuvenate your body and get rid of a lot of the inflammation in your body. UCLA Health did a study on cold showers. It does everything from bolstering your immunity to colds. Even a few minutes a day might keep the germs and the viruses from circulating in your body. That shock of cold water can stimulate the blood cells in your body to fight off the infections.
Secondly, it can combat the symptoms of depression. Some of the research shows that cold water is therapy against depression. It improves circulation. Cold water strains your body. It goes into survival mode. When you are in the shower, even in the bear tank, ice plunge or cold plunge at your gym, when you step into it or get into it or turn that water cold, your body goes into survival mode, and you feel it. Your breathing changes. You almost start to not hyperventilate, but your breathing gets quicker and more rapid. It increases the blood flow and circulation throughout your body because it’s trying to protect you.
This helps decrease the amount of time it takes your muscles to recover from exercise because your body is redistributing the blood and it delivers freshly oxygenated blood to the areas of your body that need to recover. It can also, as a fourth thing, increase your metabolism because your body is trying and fighting to stay warm while you’re in that cold shower.
There’s all these different reasons that I love cold showers. One of the biggest benefits is it reduces inflammation and even can prevent muscle soreness in your body. It’s some tangible, real pain relieving, inflammation relieving results from that cold shower remedy. Try it. Start small and short. For the first few times I did it, my trick was I was going to say the alphabet three times and not fast. By the time I got to Z, my body was adjusting.Cold shower reduces inflammation and prevents muscle soreness in your body. Click To Tweet
I was putting my head under the water and letting that cold water hit the back of my neck and body. I could feel my breathing changing. I was trying to still breathe through my nose and out through my lungs to get that good oxygen in through my body. Start small, build up to longer amounts of time, and more frequency of the days. That cold shower can make a huge difference.
As far as dieting, I don’t do a lot of special things for my diet, but I do have a few things that I pay attention to. That’s my sugar and salt intake. Cholesterol levels, fat levels, saturated fat, you want to avoid it. You have to consult your own physician to see what your body needs. Ideally, you have a diet that is servicing you in the ways that you specifically need it, whether it’s certain times of day. If you’re diabetic, you have to have a different diet. I’m lactose intolerant. I have to watch out for dairy products. Gluten-free if you are allergic to gluten. You have to pay attention to what you are eating based on your dietary needs.
For me, reducing the amount of sugar also reduces the inflammation in my body. Reducing the inflammation in my body reduces the risk of cancer. There are different things that you can do. I eat a lot of berries, anti-inflammatories, and different things that help your body fight the natural carcinogens and things that enter your body from an organic and food level. You see how unscientific I am. I told you this is what I’m doing for me. I’m not a scientist, but these are the things that have been working for me.
Some people drink. If you’re going to drink, the easy thing to do is drink in moderation and stay away from drugs. I don’t do drugs. That’s not my thing. I know I have some friends who don’t drink but they call themselves California sober. That means that they go to the dispensaries. I’ll leave it at that. If you’re California sober, do your thing. It is legal. I can’t tell you you can’t do it but it does have some ramifications. Make sure you know what you’re putting into your body and how it can impact you.
There are supplements. I take multivitamins every day. I bought it at Costco. It’s to make sure that I am getting the vitamins that I need. Lastly, I take fish oil in the form of what’s called Omega XL. That’s the brand that I like. I’ve been taking it for years. I met the owner of the company, a guy named Ken Meares. He’s a great guy. A lot of former athletes were promoting it. They made me a VIP client. I started using it. I shared it with my wife. She liked it. It helped with the information in our bodies.
It’s one of those things that you don’t necessarily know it’s working until you stop taking it. You take a couple of days. It’s a green-lipped mussel oil. It’s extracted from the waters of New Zealand. It’s omega oils that your body can benefit from but the weeks that I go where I don’t take it for a while, I start to feel a little bit of those joints and muscle aches and pains. It helps with inflammation in the body. Many things are attributable to inflammation in the body.
Lastly, from a diet standpoint, for me, drink lots of water. I don’t drink as much water. I’m supposed to drink 80 ounces a day, but I’m always drinking as much water as I can, even playing ketchup in the evenings, where I’m pounding a bottle or two of water to make sure my body is getting replenished with water. I start my days with water. As a matter of fact, one of the first things that I do, and I read it somewhere and started doing it, and it feels good to do it, is to drink half a bottle of water first thing when you wake up. It reinvigorates your system. Having that bottle of water go through your system wakes up your system. I found that to be helpful for me. I can feel the difference.
I want to run through a few things that I know are the benefits of paying attention to your fitness and health as it relates to our entrepreneurial journeys. I’m going to run through ten quick things to wrap this up and send you on with your day. Number one, it increases your energy levels. If you exercise, it helps your cardiovascular health. It leads to improved blood flow, oxygen delivery to your tissues, and different things that help you with stamina. If you’re in business and have the grind of business, being an entrepreneur, wearing all these hats in your world, being a parent, being a coach, and all these different things that we have to do, energy levels are critical.
Number two, it reduces stress. Physical activity itself releases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural stress relievers. Being able to go out, walk, do jogs, swim, and do a bit of the lifting helps reduce stress, feelings of anxiety, and even depression and helps with your overall mental well-being. Number three, it enhances mental clarity and cognitive function. It helps your brain function better.
We’re pursuing big goals. We’re on full mogul journeys. We have to have every aspect and ounce of our brain firing for mental clarity. It’s with that mental clarity that we make better business decisions. It helps us even in solving those complex problems that our work and life provide that we have to deal with to take our business from where it is now to those exponential levels of where we want it to be.
Number four, it improves our mood and emotional well-being. Your emotional well-being is tied to neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Physical activity stimulates the production of those things. Those things are associated with your mood and sense of well-being. Moving some weight, walking, and getting those bones and muscles going can help you have a more positive outlook on what you’re doing even a more positive outlook on workplace challenges.
Number five is boosted productivity. It’s been shown to also enhance your productivity and creativity. I talked about taking breaks with the power nap but also taking breaks for these physical activities and building in some of these physical activities. It will make you more efficient and focused when it comes to work.
Number six is enhancing sleep quality. We could do a whole separate episode on sleep. I couldn’t because I’m not a scientist on sleep but I know that it’s important to get that good rest. When you exercise more regularly, you sleep better. Number seven, it strengthens your immune system. We touched on this a little bit with the cold showers and how it release different things into your system to help boost your immune immunity, but exercising does this on a daily basis. A stronger immune system will help prevent illness and sickness, which will help prevent pauses and being able to work, hustle, grind, build, and go full mogul.
Number eight, it improves your time management. If you incorporate exercise into your daily routine and time block, you have a priority set for each aspect of your day, which improves your time management skills, even as it relates to BTN, a Better-Than-Nothing workout, no sweat quick set, getting it done, maintaining that momentum, and keeping that bucket going.
Number nine, it enhances your confidence. Achieving physical goals through regular exercise can help your self-confidence. Something that I like about working out is I can see my body changing as a result of the effort that I am putting in, and that increases my confidence. If I put in the work in the gym, I get the results. If I put in the work in the show, I get the results. If I put in the work in training myself on my scripts, objection handling, and sales skills, I will get the results. The physical evidence of working out is a reminder that that will show up in other ways in my business world.
Number ten, it’s a great way to build relationships. Working out with a friend, a spouse, or a partner provides opportunities for building relationships. Relationships are also tethered to longevity in life. Even as an ancillary benefit, it creates business referral opportunities, especially for our salespeople out there. Take advantage of all of those things.
I want to leave you with a couple of last things before we wrap up. One, it’s a message for what I call my almost there, almost fit, almost ready to get started, and almost working out. Do it now. My message to you is to do it now and do it to the next level. I have a lot of my buddies, good friends, and people that I know come across who are 70% to 80% of where they want to be fitness-wise. Find a season, not even a lifetime, to commit to being the best version of your physical self, especially if you’re right there.
We talk about it in sports and life. My wife and I talk about it. That 70% is like zero. If you do something to the point of 70%, it’s like not doing it at all. If you’re not doing it all the way, what is the point? We talk about it in homes that we sell. We walk into a house and this house is a B+. Why not make it an A and A+? Get there.
The almost there is the other reason that I even wear two watches every day. You can’t see me because you’re reading this. If you see me in photos, I will have on two watches because it’s a reminder that the time is now. We’re not promised tomorrow. You have to get after it now. Whatever those big goals are, your fitness, health, or business goals, get after them.
My second piece of advice for you guys is don’t fall into what I call the hero complex and let it compromise your health. I talk to a lot of my dad and mom friends all the time. They’re sacrificing their health to be a hero to their kids and work. That is not a full mogul. A sick hero is not a hero. Trust that you will be a better hero to those people that you love and care about. You’ll be a better hero to those people who are following you at your company, have bought into your company culture, and are helping you realize your vision. You’ll be a healthier, happier, better version of yourself if you take care of yourself.
Hopefully, that was helpful. It is not too scientific but it’s some of the things that have worked for me. Hopefully, some of them can work for you. Let’s continue the conversation. If I’ve said something that you guys think I can improve on, text or DM me. I’m always looking for great health and workout tips and more ammunition for this bucket in my world onwards and upwards, Mogul Nation. I’ll talk to you on the next one.