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Thoughts on your health from my latest, 3rd edition of Succeeding

Posted by John Reed on

Eating less better than exercise

Will exercise cause you to lose weight? Absolutely, but it’s the harder, dumber way. If you are some sort of masochist, and have hours to waste, you can exercise your way to a proper weight. But it’s a heck of a lot easier to do it with diet. For example, if you drink a can of Coke, you need to walk a mile to get rid of those calories. It’s faster and easier not to drink the Coke to begin with.

The less you eat, the more important the quality of your diet becomes. Succeeding discusses the mainstream supplements you should take—vitamins and minerals. I am not into any kooky or “alternative” medical stuff.

Being overweight is a habit. So is being a healthy weight. Neither is harder than the other, although the transition from overweight to healthy weight takes a little effort—mainly suffering hunger pangs that you refuse to respond to.

Cardiovascular and strength fitness

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not against all exercise. Indeed, you need to exercise for good health—both aerobic cardio (I ride an exercise bicycle every other day)—and weight training (I do upper or lower body weight lifting every other day).

The only exercise I discourage is exercise designed to counter the effects of over-eating. Don’t over-eat to begin with. For one thing, if you are ambitious to succeed, you do not have time to over eat or to exercise for hours a day to remove the resulting fat.

You also need to be careful not to overdo exercise. Too much exercise can cause over-use or acute injuries. Also, I have found in my own life that I occasionally set overly ambitious exercise goals. The result usually is that I stop exercising altogether. Because the session becomes too daunting. Better you should set more modest goals and actually achieve them religiously than set unrealistic goals on paper and end up getting no exercise at all.

Tricks of the health ‘trade’

As with diet, there are a number of tricks to optimizing your exercise. Succeeding tells you about setting goals, exercising as you age, the correct kind of exercise, and so forth.

Playing sports, for example, can be a bad idea. It is too intense, affects too few muscles, and is likely to cause injury. After college, it’s hard to find teams at competitive levels that match your ability and age and to find compatible teammates. Team sports also usually require long commutes that take precious
time. Those and other revelations about healthy exercise are in the new edition of Succeeding.

Motivate you to be healthy

I try not to write rah rah stuff in Succeeding. I leave that to all the other authors on the subject. But I do recognize that most people need to be more motivated with regard to health. Rather than engage in rah rah, I instead lay out some hard facts designed to motivate you to take better care of yourself. Failure to do so adversely affects your love life and business relations with others.

Poor health also starts a chain of dominoes falling. Overweight leads to diabetes which leads to other diseases and limits the ability of doctors to treat other diseases and so forth. Too often, your friends and relatives do not tell you what you need to hear about your health or appearance because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

Since you’ve read my books before, you know that I do tell you what you need to know regardless of whether it is what you want to know. Arguably, that makes me a better friend to you than those who won’t tell you what you need to know.


Another new chapter in the 3rd edition of Succeeding covers appearance. Many would say your appearance is not, or at least should not, be important. I won’t argue that it should not be as important as it is. But I disagree that it is not important. Numerous studies have shown that appearance is often decisive in the selection of presidents, executives, and spouses.

Your appearance does affect how others relate to you. If they can see you, that is. If unchangeable parts of your appearance—like skin color or handicap—adversely affect your ability to achieve success, consider media where you cannot be seen like radio, writing, Internet or direct-mail businesses, etc.

If they can see you, as is the case for most people, you need to make a favorable impression. You do that by taking care of yourself health wise including things like weight, muscle tone, and teeth. You also do it by posture, hair, dress, and other daily decisions.

The chapter on appearance covers both health and daily decisions with my usual practical details, not the rah rah, “empowering” psychobabble you normally get in success books.

Your appearance is perhaps most important to you. To the extent that improving your appearance boosts your self-confidence—and there is tons of evidence that it does—your chances of achieving your goals will increase—maybe dramatically.

Confidence is extremely important. Don’t let correctable appearance issues hold you back unnecessarily.

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