Health Hack Habits

Last week was very busy as I was in Austin for most of it to attend and present at our first company national meeting since 2019. The trip also included participating in two advisory board meetings. In order to meet my weekly blog commitment, I felt it wise, and necessary, to leverage off some of the material I used during my presentation to our associates. It was great to finally reconnect in person.

CWS May 2022 Annual Meeting CWS BRIDGE

Over 300 people attended and there were so many new faces. Because it had been so long since we had been together we wanted to make the meeting much more personal versus emphasizing training and education. We wanted to connect via the heart versus the head since our theme was re-connecting and because so many people had never met each other. I must say I think it was a great success.

My presentation was very personal in that it borrowed from the Rolling Stones song Torn and Frayed as an overall metaphor about how so many people (and businesses) were feeling during Covid. I saw this image on Twitter and thought it was a good depiction of the mental and physical state of so many.


I have had many instances in my life when I have felt this way as well. And yet, I have done all I could to never stay in that state for too long. The presentation was a recap of my journey over many years which discussed how I have gone from Torn and Frayed to the Road to Resilience.

Rather than recapping the entire presentation, I thought I would cover one aspect of it: My interest over the years of learning about ways to improve one’s health and to find those high payoff habits which can be significant contributions toward living a healthy life. Some of these I have discussed in previous blogs, but for this one, I will do a quick summary of all of the ones I have ritualized and add some photos when applicable.

In 2018 I read the following article from the Harvard Business Review that was very impactful.

Cold Shower Leads to Fewer Sick Days

As a result of this article and the research, it discussed the correlation between cold showers and fewer sick days, I was on board to try it out. I liked it so much that I haven’t missed adding at least 30 seconds of cold water to my otherwise hot showers in over four years. And I have not had to take a sick day either. To be fair, I have not had to take many over my nearly 35 years at CWS. Nevertheless, I feel much more energetic after taking them and it’s something I intend to keep doing.

I’m sure there’s research related to the next health hack, but this is one I adopted on my own. I liked the cold shower experience so much that I thought applying ice to my forehead, face, and neck (and sometimes my lower back when it is in pain) might also be another way of stimulating my immune system and feeling more energetic. And if it has the added benefit of helping my skin and lowering inflammation, then even better. I look forward to applying one ice cube to my face every morning and putting three others in the blender for my smoothie.

Gary with ice cube

And speaking of my smoothie, here are the ingredients I put into the blender each morning I’m home. This is something that I have been doing for over 20 years and is another ritual I look forward to carrying out every morning.

smoothy smoothie ingredients

Here is the smoothie end product. I also eat a whole orange since I have read that eating an orange maintains more of its vitamins and nutrients than blending one. In addition, I eat cereal every morning in order to get iron into my system. When I left the hospital after my heart surgery in February 2021 I had very low hemoglobin. It was recommended that I eat foods rich in iron to help my levels get back to normal. Cereal was one potential source of iron. I’m happy to say that my iron levels have been in the normal range for many months now.

smoothie orange cereal breakfast

During Covid, I read a number of books and articles about the benefits of breathing through your nose and, conversely, how bad mouth breathing is for you. I highly recommend doing your own research and learning about this fascinating subject. I think you will come away convinced that there are huge benefits to nasal breathing and almost none from breathing through your mouth.

How breathing through your nose will change your life with Patrick McKeown

One of the recommendations to help train yourself to breathe through your nose is to put tape on your mouth when you sleep. I have done this as well as when I have gone on hikes. I particularly found the latter to be very invigorating and helped increase my lung capacity and overall stamina.

Gary tape over mouth

I read the following article on Medium and found it to be quite compelling. My problem, however, is how difficult it is for me to do such yoga poses.

5 reasons you should experience the Power of Inverted Yoga Poses

The solution came when I heard someone at my tennis club talking about how he got a piece of equipment that allows one to go into inverted positions while also stretching one’s spine. He said after using it he no longer had to go to the chiropractor for his sciatica issue. My ears pricked up as I too have had a sciatica problem and it also seemed like a great way of putting inversions into my life. I must admit that I have not ritualized this like the other habits I discuss in this post but I have found that it is helpful when I do it and my goal is to make it more of a habit.

Gary inversion for back

Gary hanging by ankles

Twice a week I work out with a trainer at 6 a.m. for close to an hour. I find that I need to start that early or I will let other things get in the way and I will be less inclined to stay committed to doing this on a regular basis. The focus is on core strength because that is the foundation of building up strength in other areas. My trainer is great in that he cares about my health, he pays close attention to how I am doing the exercises, he has a curious mind, and he is a very likable, personable guy who is enjoyable to be around. I joke with him that every correction he suggests I make always results in it being more difficult so maybe he should stop watching me so closely.

Gary plank work out with trainer

Gary pushing sled weights workout

Oral hygiene and gum health are so important. I have written before about some of my challenges related to these. I also discussed how I really did not like to floss. After that blog post was published, one of our investors reached out and he said he had the same issues and that it was imperative that I get a Waterpik system. He said his gum health improved significantly. I was excited because I thought I could use this in lieu of flossing. I had my follow-up dentist appointment and while my teeth and bones look great from the x-rays and exam, I could still benefit from adding flossing into my routine on a regular basis. So now I have added flossing back in using floss sticks (one is shown on top of the Waterpik) to my nightly routine. I very much enjoy the Waterpik and now I’m getting much more comfortable with flossing on a regular basis as well.

Water pik and floss pick

Writing is something that has been central to my career and my life overall. In addition to my book and blog, I have written a quarterly article for our investors for over 20 years. It is extremely satisfying to get the printed version at the end of each quarter and come home and add it to my binder. I am now on my second binder as the following picture shows since the first one reached its capacity. 

It is very gratifying to see how many articles I have written and how in some ways it represents a business diary for me. Hopefully, someday others will find value in the collection and from the writings may come to learn how challenging it is to make decisions in real-time with imperfect information while also being constrained by one’s biases and influences. And from reading some of them, others can benefit by having these articles help improve their decision-making skills.

Overall I feel like my health and well-being have been positively impacted by these healthy habits. They are all now activities I look forward to as I can see the benefits and it’s satisfying to experience small, but consistent gains that compound over time.

Gary Quarterly Update lead articles 20 years


2 comments on “Health Hack Habits
  1. Mary Pruitt says:

    Love the personal picks! I had cheerios mixed with a few grape nuts and thought of you. I’m going for the orange later. Thanks and
    Happy Monday Gary!

  2. BILL WILLIAMS says:

    a good article for those of us who are very health conscious.

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