Welcome to At the Peak of Health
A new newsletter from USANA’s Chief Scientific Officer
Ten years ago, I was living a life that many people might call successful.
I had a fantastic job as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer of another nutrition company. I flew first-class globally, often over a half a million miles a year, and met so many interesting people along the way.
In my work life, I was on top of the world.
My body, though, was rock bottom.
All the work and travel (and bad habits associated with the stressful life of doing two roles) left me with a health résumé that hardly made me qualified for the job of life. I was developing metabolic syndrome, I crept up to 250 pounds (80 pounds more than I am now), and I was hospitalized several times for sheer exhaustion.
During one of my hospital stays, I was walking around the ward and saw men in their 40s and 50s who looked like they were dying. They had heart disease, they were overweight, they looked old and done. They looked like me.
That’s when it hit me: I had young children at the time, and if I didn’t change right now, I likely wouldn’t be alive to see them grow up.
That was it.
I got to work and I started fixing my life. I corrected my poor eating habits. I started exercising regularly. I made my body a priority—because my family was my top priority.
My numbers started improving, my weight started dropping, and I started to re-discover what had drawn me into the health and nutrition space in the first place: We all want to live with vibrancy and energy, and we want to be strong enough to enjoy what we love the most.
We want to live At the Peak of Health.
I’m thrilled to be starting this newsletter as a way to connect you to your goals through not just the high-quality products of USANA, but by expanding our mission to educate you on optimal wellness through our seven pillars.
• Physical wellness (exercise, sleep, etc.)
• Nutritional wellness (diet, supplements, etc.)
• Emotional wellness (stress reduction, gratitude, etc.)
• Social wellness (community, companionship, etc.)
• Environmental wellness (nature, energy, etc.)
• Intellectual wellness (learning, avoiding toxins, etc.)
• Spiritual wellness (helping others, reflection, etc.)
And I want to do it by helping you navigate the often-complex world of health and wellness. Yes, there are so many advances, technologies, and products that can help you improve your minds and bodies, but they can be confusing. Or the overload of information can simply feel too overwhelming to dive into amidst all of your other responsibilities and distractions. So many of us are under so much stress, and taking care of ourselves can feel like that last item on a way-too-long to-do list.
I’ve spent the last 30 years producing products that help people improve their health, and we’ve done that at USANA. But now, I aim to reach people in a different way—with more context about the news that you’re reading, more high-quality information to help you make good decisions, and (I hope) a gentle nudge that can serve as a small piece of inspiration to help you on our journey.
During lockdown, I found myself reverting to some old habits, and I made a commitment to re-engage with better ones. I was slipping into eating like a carnival-goer, thinking that supplementing my diet made me bulletproof against a poor diet. But it didn’t, and I had to re-commit to those wellness pillars.
After all, my goal is to feel good, look good, sleep well, have healthy relationships, and do everything that makes me feel strong and happy. I think your goals may be a lot like mine.
So I’m thrilled that you’re going to join me on the ever-changing adventure to be the best you, striving for and living At the Peak of Health.
News on Napping
For years, napping was the darling of wellness chatter. Nap to be healthier! Nap for more energy! Nap to avoid the 3 o’clock super slump!
The headlines from a recent study from the American Heart Association may have made you wonder if all the good news had taken the revolving door to bad news.
This particular study showed that frequent napping was associated with a 12-percent higher risk of developing high blood pressure and a 24-percent higher risk of having a stroke (compared to never-nappers), which seemed concerning and unusual to me. It looked like a really bad rap for napping.
Let’s take a look a little deeper. This study showed a relationship between the two, not a cause-and-effect. So instead, the take home could be this: Frequent napping could be associated with other comorbidities. That is, if you’re overweight and don’t sleep well, you may nap more frequently, and it’s really the comorbidities that are what put you at risk, not the nap itself.
Now, we all know that sleep is as important to our bodies as an engine is to a car. Without it, you’re not going to get very far. And frankly, the pandemic threw off a lot of people’s sleep patterns (why not binge on Ted Lasso for the 12th time until 2 in the morning!)
There is such a thing as a healthy napping, especially if you’re sleeping well at night. In fact, because I often have work calls with people in opposite time zones, I will often catch a nap in the late afternoon before I start my “evening shift” working the Asian time zones. Power naps won’t replace nighttime sleep because your body doesn’t go through the deep sleep and REM cycles but for a quick recharge they definitely work well, as proven by characters ranging from Fred Flintstone, to NASA astronauts, to Presidents. For busy people, they are very useful.
I find the nap (about 45 minutes or so) to give me the jolt I need and an important part of my sleeping and energy approach. I’ve also really worked on my sleep hygiene over the years—a light-carb snack before bed, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon, no screens in the bedroom, for example—to maximize the chance that I’ll sleep better at night. Now, I’m finding I wake up before my alarm—and have more energy throughout the day, too.
Keep in Mind to Be So Kind
One of my most special family memories was when I took my three sons to South Africa on a philanthropic trip my company was making to deliver resources and supplies to a school in need.
When I got there, I was in awe of how smart and engaged the children were, even though their resources were scarce. Their schools were mostly shells of a room in what looked like a shipping container.
At the school, my boys—who at the time were between 8 and 12—jumped right in with the other kids. Playing, talking, engaging. It was such a kind and gentle moment—there was no fear, just humanity. To this day, my children say it’s the most special trip they’ve ever taken. To me, it’s one of my favorite memories, as I saw so much kindness taking place among the children in front of me.
A recent study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that people who do acts of kindness don’t really think about the good feelings they deliver, but rather think more about what they deliver. The researchers suggested that people could be less likely to perform acts in the future because of it.
It really seems to me that the people who do kind acts not only see it as a way to help someone else, but they also see that they get some benefits, too—that the feeling of gratitude that they get back has a positive impact on their own wellness.
And it’s a good reminder that kindness—especially in a world that doesn’t always feel so nice—is the glue that unites us, the action that inspires us, and the quality that strengthens us.
Coming Soon! At the Peak of Health Podcast
The end of the year means different things to different people. The holiday season, more time with family, strategizing about a no-nachos New Year’s Resolution. This year, I’m looking forward to something else near the end of the year—the launch of our new At the Peak of Health video podcast.
In it, I’ll explore all the pillars of wellness with the hope of connecting you to the information and inspiration that can help you improve your longevity, your energy, and your overall wellness. I look forward to sharing more details soon.
Until next time, God bless you and keep you happy, healthy, and safe.