Fuel to go: Eat well to stay well in the workplace

Fuel to go: Eat well to stay well in the workplace

EATING well is not only good for your health, it is also proving to be very good for business, writes Clodagh Finn.

That’s what two Cork businessmen found when they decided to improve their diets and exercise at least three times a week.

Pat Phelan, CEO of SISU Clinics, has just opened a sixth aesthetic clinic, something he says he’d never have been able to do if he had continued to eat bad snacks, big evening meals, and takeaways.

“If you are launching a chain of aesthetic clinics, you can’t be wandering around with your belly hanging out over your trousers,” he says.

That was part of the motivation for switching to a low-carb diet and joining a gym. The other big incentive was to boost his energy. He went from slumping on the sofa at night to feeling as fit as he has ever done in his life.

Patrick Hogan, group managing director of Sea Box Group, tells the same story.

He has never had more energy and, this year, he is set to launch three new businesses in Cork: NRG Store, Sea Box Shop, and Smart Builder.

By making a series of better diet choices and getting into a regular gym routine, he has dropped nearly four clothes sizes and has buckets of energy.

It’s a question of taking small steps and changing your mindset, he says. And the benefits have been enormous.

Patrick Hogan, Sea Box Group
Patrick Hogan, Sea Box Group

The link between diet, health, and the bottom line in business, however, is nothing new.

Recent research from Ibec, the business and employers’ association, found that healthy workers are also much more productive workers.

Launching this year’s Workplace Wellbeing Day, Danny McCoy, CEO of Ibec, said 76% of employees say they believe there is a positive link between employees’ health and wellbeing and company productivity.

After all, Dr Doireann O’Leary tells Feelgood, our workplace is like our second home and our colleagues are like family, so promoting health and wellbeing among staff is really important.

“If we’re not healthy at work, we’re not healthy overall,” she says, but adds that there is a growing awareness among employees and employers of the importance of healthy, well-rested staff who eat and live well.

Patrick Hogan says the only sugary foods that are available at their facility in Little Island are small sweet trays that are sold for charity.

They have a full cooking station and microwaves to encourage healthy eating. For his own part, he says he keeps it simple and is very aware of what he is eating.

He used to have about eight or nine lattes a day, for instance. He’s reduced his caffeine intake and now opts for a lower-calorie Americano.

He’s swapped rolls for healthier wraps at lunch and has developed a new interest in — and love of — vegetables, which he piles onto his plate with steak or chicken in the evenings.

The three weekly sessions in the gym aren’t a hardship either, as he has teamed up with colleague Coadie and focuses on how good he will feel afterwards.

Pat Phelan, meanwhile, says he feels about 25 years younger than his 54 years. He trains three mornings a week in the gym and does cardio at home on a treadmill and an attack bike on three evenings.

His diet is essentially low-carb and an average day might start with porridge with banana and protein powder, then a snack of rice cakes and peanut butter, a burrito bowl with a tiny bit of rice and lots of veg and meat at lunchtime, followed by meat and salad for supper.

He drinks about three litres of water a day as, he says, it’s very important to stay hydrated.

In just over 18 months, he has shed over five stone and lost 10 inches off his waist.

The key to success, he says, is to plan meals. 

It’s as easy now to get a healthy option as an unhealthy one, so there’s no excuse.

And his advice to others: “Start. Get into a group, as it’s very important to have a support network, and then just start.”

To sign up to Wellbeing Day on April 12, see www.wellbeingday.ie

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