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#016 – 4 Simple Pillars to Better Performance at Work and Life


 Bonus Resources

Learn more about the 4 Pillars of Performance –

Connect with Tim –

7 Primal Movement Patterns –

The Movement Spectrum –


Podcast Transcript


Welcome to the Working Well Podcast. I’m Tim Borys CEO of FRESH! Wellness Group. This show explores the diverse aspects of workplace health and personal performance. On the Working Well Podcast we dive into the foundations of what makes wellness work in workplaces around the world. We connect with corporate leaders, executives, and industry experts who are helping make life more awesome at work and home.

Join us to learn workplace wellness, best practices, personal performance tips, and access resources to jumpstart your personal and corporate programs.


Welcome back to the Working Well Podcast. I’m Tim Borys, and in case you haven’t realized, the Working Well Podcast is not just about being better at work, improving your performance. It’s about being better in life and actually having a life that’s awesome and enjoyable. Now I firmly believe that being healthy, happy and fit is amazing and my career has been dedicated to helping people experience this. At the fundamental level most people get this concept. But let’s face it, life throws us a lot of curve balls. Some of those curve balls are shared such as the recent pandemic, but others are unique to each person. However, regardless of the challenges that we face, better health, happiness, and fitness, it’s going to improve our ability to cope and manage over the longterm.

Now back in 2017, I originally wrote my book, The Fitness Curveball, and it wasn’t with the pandemic in mind yet the information is more relevant today than ever before. In fact, I had a client recently messaged me to say that she thought I should have called it the unofficial guide to thriving during a global pandemic. While I appreciated the comments I’m not going to change the name of the book, but her comments were spot on. The four pillars of personal performance that I covered in the book and that we’ll cover today are the foundation for building resilience, health, happiness, and better performance in every area of life at work and home. Those pillars are mindset, habits, movement, and fuel.

And the key is to address them in that order. The struggles that most people face stem from the fact that they’re trying to address their challenges in reverse order. Now you may be tempted to think what the heck does this have to do with working well and why you featuring it on the Working Well Podcast. But that’s where the health and fitness challenges that many people struggle with each day are directly impacting their performance in the rest of their life.

Now a bit of background may help to explain this more effectively. For those of you who don’t know I started my career in the fitness industry, and this is back in the late eighties, ah, the days of spandex and neon and aerobics. Those of you who were there. Absolutely no, those of you who weren’t just hope it doesn’t come back.

I still laugh every time I see some pictures and be like, wow, I can’t believe we actually wore that. I can’t believe we thought it was cool but I guess that’s like every trend. At the time, I was a young personal trainer, just out of university, working with clients. And again, the top two goals get fit and lose weight as they still are 30 something years later.

The fact that those are still the same goals means that what we were doing and what we’re continuing to do doesn’t work and that’s where the four pillars of performance come in. So I would work with clients and I’d see them on average, about three days a week in the gym or three hours a week, they’d come in for their session, I’d give them this great workout. They all got more fit but a lot of them weren’t reaching some of the other goals they had, like the weight loss side, I’d give them nutrition advice, I’d give them meal plans, all this diet strategies and realized that they weren’t getting the results they wanted. They still weren’t reaching their weight on the scale.

Because I saw it as my goal to help people get results I really sat back and thought about what is it that’s holding people back. And so I started asking questions. What did they do when they left the gym? And as a young, naive, personal trainer, I give homework every single session for people to do in between the times that I saw them. And I just assumed that people would actually do it. I didn’t think they would slough off their homework because no one does that. But the fact is outside of the session there were so many other distractions and parts of life that were impeding their ability to get results in the gym or the things that they hired me to do. So this is where I came up with a rule called my hundred and 65 hour rule.

So as I mentioned on average, I saw people about three hours a week. That meant there were 165 other hours in the week that I wasn’t seeing them. Those 165 hours, way more important to the results that the person got. Now, this is where it comes into the corporate side, because when I started talking about what the biggest challenges were, the two things that came down to were family commitments and work commitments.

They’re like all work got busy. I had to work late, I’ve got kids stuff going on. So I wasn’t able to do the things that you asked me. That’s important to consider. It’s also how I came up with my four pillars of personal performance, the mindset, habits, movement, and fuel. Think about it this way. People came to me to get fit and lose weight yet despite the best workout plans I gave them the best nutrition advice I could give them, they weren’t able to get them done. So that tells me that more fitness and more nutrition advice isn’t the solution to the problem. It’s not going to help them, yet that’s what people continually go back to until I realized that until we addressed the mindset and the habits, people would not improve.

Once I made that, that mental shift or that mindset shift for myself, I was able to help clients make that. I realized that my in the three hours I was spending with them was best spent trying to improve the other hundred and 65 hours. And if that meant sitting, sitting down with them and coaching them through mindset challenges, and putting their success habits in place, those are things that were a much greater return on the time investment.

And what I noticed is that not only did people get more fit and lose weight, because they were actually doing the things that they were supposed to do. They were actually improving the rest of their life. People would come to me and say, oh, my relationships at home are so much better. I’m sleeping better. I have so much more energy. I got a promotion at work. I’m firing on all cylinders. I’m so much more creative. All these things were happening simply because they were able to put the pieces in place to allow them to get healthier and more fit. And it’s not that people don’t want to get healthy and fit. They do .

And in fact, one of the questions I ask people, when they first sit down with me, they say, I want to lose X number of pounds and get in better shape. And I’ll say, you understand that regular exercise and, and healthy eating is important to accomplish that goal. And they all look at me and say, yeah, yeah, I realize that.

And I’ll say, okay, so why aren’t you doing it? If you already know what to do, what’s the issue. And then that highlights the fact that, oh, it’s not just about fitness and nutrition. It’s about the mindset, the habits, and the framework we put in place each day to facilitate the accomplishment of all the goals and objectives that we have.

Now, this isn’t rocket science. At the fundamental level, people understand this, yet it’s not being done consistently. And we, when we look at it from a employee and workplace performance standpoint, it becomes just as important for the company and for employees as it does for every individual out there. As mentioned earlier, we all face curve balls in life. That’s just part of life, but there’s a common curve ball that often holds people back from accomplishing the health fitness that they desire, particularly as it relates to work. And that’s that the belief. Health and fitness is a zero sum game. In order to be healthy and fit I need to give up something else in my life time with family work success, and that is a complete myth.

In fact, the opposite is true. The healthier and more active and happy and fit someone is the more they’re going to have the energy, the enthusiasm, the drive, the motivation to accomplish things in other areas of their life. Another common curveball or myth that people believe that holds them back is the fact that people think to be healthy and fit that requires undying devotion to going to the gym every day. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I own several gyms and I don’t believe people should spend all the time there. What we do in the gym should allow us to be better outside the gym. And if you hate going to the gym, we want to look at the mindset side of that first of all.

But if the gyms not your place, you don’t after ever have to step foot in a gym in your life, you can still be completely healthy, completely fit and never stepped foot in a gym. You don’t have to do traditional weight training, do something else that gets you active, gets your body moving. And we can talk about that in another episode, but the fact is you don’t ever have to do traditional workouts. You just have to move your body. Talk about that when we briefly review each pillar in a minute here. So let’s take a quick look at each pillar. This will, hopefully you wrap your brain around what we’re talking about a bit more.

Starting off with pillar number one mindset. As mentioned, this is the most important of the four pillars. And I define mindset as the filter, through which we see the world. It sets the stage for everything else to come, yet it’s the most neglected and people who struggle with change. Now our goal with mindset is to cultivate a positive and growth-oriented mindset in as many areas of life as possible. If you want a great book on it, book called Mindset by Carol Dweck. Fantastic. She talks about the difference between growth versus fixed mindset. And again, we’re not going to dive too deep into it right now, but fantastic book. One of the key learnings from that book is that yes, your mindset can be changed.

Your mindset it’s the combination of all your thoughts, your beliefs, attitudes, experiences, actions, and the outcomes you’ve achieved in life. Since these are always changing, so is our mindset. When we learn how to tune into those different aspects of our life and what we’re thinking are, what our thoughts, our beliefs or attitudes are, we can make positive change. We can choose to shift our perspective. So shifting your mindset involves a number of key areas. One is identifying your mission, vision values, goals. And again, we are familiar with this from the corporate side. Now I won’t go down that rabbit hole for them from the corporate side, because I believe a lot of corporate mission vision values are just words on a plaque and they sit on a wall and no one ever follows them.

True mission, vision, values, and goals are intricately linked. We want to live based on the deepest values that we hold. And we set our mission and vision to inspire us. And our goals are set up around that. Every individual I believe should have that because if you don’t, you’re just randomly going through life without that purpose or connection and that passion to drive your purpose.

Next step is auditing your beliefs. We have so many beliefs and a lot of them are completely false and holding us back. We want to critically assess the things that we’ve taken for granted in our life. We see lots of this around personal performance. People think, oh, I’m horrible at that. I’m horrible at this. Or I’m, or I’m really smart in this area. As Carol Dweck would say we’ve got fixed mindset in some areas of life and growth mindset in others, but being able to look at some of those deep beliefs that help form the basis of that mindset is really important to being able to move past them.

If someone has told us since we were a kid that we’re not good at something. Maybe we’ve stopped practicing. We’ve stopped trying to learn because we just think that that’s how it is. When we really critically look at that, we can start to realize, Hey, you know what? Maybe I do have the capability. And in fact, from science and research, we do, we know that everyone has the ability to improve and grow and being able to cultivate a growth mindset in as many areas of life as possible is a key aspect of creating success in life.

As mentioned earlier, one of the aspects of transforming your mindset is goals. And everyone in the corporate world is familiar with setting goals. We do it on an annual and quarterly basis for our company, for teams within an organizations within the company. The process is nothing new yet. Very few people actually set specific, measurable the smart goals approach for their personal life.

They don’t sit down and write them down. And this is again, another critically important part. Now at, at FRESH! we like to go beyond with my company we go beyond smart goals and we do smarter goals and we can explore that in another episode, but the fact is most people dont learn how to set effective goals and do that in both professional and personal, because if you’re not doing it in personal, that’s an area of your life that’s being held back because goals work. Goals that are properly done work goals that are not properly done can actually be demotivating.

So if we look at the, the corporate side, I think this is my belief this is a really essential employee training skill that not a lot of companies put in place. Remember that our mindset is how we see the world. So shifting it is that catalyst for change. It’s the foundational, the Keystone structure that is going to facilitate all the rest of the change.

Let’s jump into habits now. So if mindset is our filter through which we see the world habits are the framework with which we implement that mindset. Now we’re all familiar with habits. We have them in every area of our life. The key is to identify which ones are working for us and which ones are working against us. And also to realize that habits can be changed. A lot of people think it’s really difficult to build habits, but you’ve built every single habit you currently have in your life. Now this past year and a half with the pandemic has shifted a lot of habits. Think of all the new things you’re doing now that you hadn’t been doing a year and a half ago that you probably take for granted at this point.

So habits are constantly changing. The key is to understand the habit framework and the process, the science behind how habits are created and formed, and then to be able to essentially hack that system. I’m not a big fan of that word, but to modify and tweak the system to your own needs. If we say, Hey, this habit’s not working for us, it might’ve been good and helpful at some point, but I need to change it.

Now, when we understand the habit change process, we can fairly easily implement new habits that are more proactive and progressive and performance-based in our life. This is where things can get a bit frustrating for people. And they often give up because they say, well, I don’t even know where to start. What habits do I start to change? And they might end up focusing on things that don’t really make as big of an impact. They put effort energy into creating a new habit, but it’s really one that is not the most important one. And we have to just look around fitness and nutrition to see that people say I’m going to build a habit by going to the gym for two hours a day, six stays a week, and maybe they’ve never gone to the gym before they haven’t set their mindset around going to the gym.

They don’t have the habits in place to support that process and they wonder why they fail. This is the New Years resolution issue in a nutshell. After working with thousands of clients over the past 30 years, I’ve been able to break it down to three, what I call daily success habits. And these are things that some of you already have in place. But very few people have all of them in place and dialed in effectively and they’re based around times a day. So the first one is a solid morning routine. At FRESH! we call it the fresh start morning method. Then we have daytime performance habits. I call these energy accelerators, focus finders and pattern interrupts.

The third one is a strategic evening routine and I call this the evening wrap-up ritual. Now we can create all kinds of habits. But when we look at the setting, the foundation for our success, having these three habits in place makes a world of difference. It really is the engine that drives performance in every other area of life.

At the most fundamental level, these can be reframed as three simple statements. The morning routine is get up and get motivated. The daytime ones are stay energized and focus. And the evening ones are wind down and set yourself up for success tomorrow. That’s it, there are many nuances of course, and other factors involved but when we look at people who are struggling with performance, it’s usually because one or more of these success habits are missing. Individuals that have them dialed in are much more likely to perform well. Companies that help employees learn these skills and support their implementation are going to benefit in enormous ways

As discussed earlier, once we have our mindset dialed in, we have our mission, vision values. We set some goals, we got some motivation behind them and we have our three key success habits in place. It’s so much easier to exercise regularly and eat well because we already have the framework dialed in, our minds, focused on the things that we’re doing to improve our performance. At this point, life becomes a lot easier. As far as the actual fitness and nutrition or movement and fuel as I like to call them because it’s much more than just fitness in nutrition. There are some basic principles to follow. With the movement side I call it movement for that specific reason, because it’s not about fitness.

There’s a concept that I created called the movement spectrum that explains it perfectly. Movement at the foundational level is just taking the joints in your body through their full range of motion. And ideally we do that as many times a day as we can. One of the first homework assignments I give clients is what I call the mobility minute or movement minute. And it’s, as soon as their feet hit the floor in the morning, they stand up and they take every joint in their body through its full range of motion. Usually we start at the head and work down to the feet. So you move all the neck muscles and take the joints through their full range of motion. Then you do the spine and the shoulders and your hips and wrists and elbows, knees ankles.

Literally it takes a minute. But the fact is most people don’t do that. Most people get up, bleary-eyed stumbled to the bathroom or grabbed their cup of coffee. And then they’re either into their day or they’re sitting for the entire day, the human body was meant to move. And so addressing the fundamental aspect of movement is a catalyst for everything else you’re going to do in your, in your day to day life from a movement standpoint. Movement taking your, all the joints in your body through its full range of motion. The next step in the movement, spectrum is activity and activity is dead simple. It’s just the activities of daily living. The pandemic over the past year and a half has highlighted this aspect extremely well. We are a lot less active each day than we were a year and a half ago.

It’s just hands down. I know my personal step count went from about 8,500 a day on average, down to about 1500 to 2000 in an average day, if I’m not focusing on it. And I’m someone who’s highly tuned into the aspects of the movement spectrum. So this activity component is where the 10,000 steps a day came from. It’s a fascinating and overlooked aspect. Now the actual number of 10,000, it was just a random thing that some researchers came up with. It doesn’t seem nice goal to shoot for, but it’s not essential that you hit that. The key thing is that we move our body more. Get out and we be active. We go walk, we pick things up, we do more manual labor. We take the stairs instead of the elevator or the escalator, simple things like that add up and again, the human body was meant to move. So movement take the joints through the range of motion, full range of motion activity, be as active as we can each day.

Notice how I haven’t said anything about the gym. Exercise is the next one. Exercise is simply activity done above a baseline of intensity. So if you just get out and go for a walk around the block in the morning while you’re maybe drinking your coffee or just taking in some of the scenery and you just have it for a casual walk, that’s activity, if you go out and you walk a bit more briskly and you get a bit of a sweat going, that’s considered exercise. It doesn’t really matter what activity you do at a higher level of intensity it’s exercise. You’re challenging your body to increase heart rate level, put out a bit more force from the muscles. That’s important. Again, nothing to do with the gym. What happens is the next step in the phase is fitness.

So we’ve gone. Movement, activity, exercise, and then fitness. Fitness is exercise done with a specific purpose that might be you’re increasing your heart rate to work on your cardiovascular capacity. You might be challenging yourself by lifting some weights to improve muscle strength. That’s fine, but it’s optional. You don’t need it for general health and wellbeing. It’s nice to do. And as people progress through the movement spectrum, that’s a logical progression. For many people performance is simply fitness done in a competitive environment, whether it’s for time or against an opponent, lots of different reasons for doing that.

But again, it’s optional, fitness and performance are optional. You do not have to do. And this is the issue that a lot of people fall into is they forget about movement, activity, and exercise, and they go directly to fitness and performance. This is what I call the weekend warrior syndrome. And it’s why a huge reason why physiotherapists are in business because people don’t move their body. They don’t do the base level foundation for health and wellbeing yet they expect their body to perform at a high. If you’ve been sitting at a desk all day and your body’s tight and restricted and hasn’t moved and there’s very little blood flow in your brain and muscles, aren’t connected. And then you jump up and go to the gym and you expect your body to perform well.

It just doesn’t work. That’s how people get injured. That’s how they get frustrated because they’re like, oh, I’m not seeing the results. And at our coaches at FRESH! when we working with clients on the, on the movement side, we will often spend 20 or 30 minutes getting their body, rehabbing their body from a sitting all day to get them so they can actually move effectively for the workout that they want to. Yet most people don’t do that. They just jump headlong into a fitness class or, you know, they pull up their Peloton app or whatever app they’re using and they just dive into it. They do a one or two minute warm-up as part of an it’s, maybe a couple basic exercises.

And then they’re right into something high intensity and they wonder why their body hurts and they’re not able to get the results they want. So understanding the movement spectrum is critical to making sure that you’re properly caring for your body and your health, your wellbeing over time. In another episode, I’ll dive a bit deeper into the movement side, and we’ll talk a bit about the seven primal movement patterns. I’ll also throw some resources in the show notes here. If you want to jump in and click on some of the videos and links for, for these, the movement spectrum, as well as the seven primal patterns.

And this brings us to the last pillar of fuel. And again, I’ve called it fuel because it’s more than nutrition. Food is so much more than just calories in calories out. Food nourishes, our, our social aspects, our mind, our body, our health, our wellbeing. There’s, there’s so much emotion involved in food negatively for a lot of people, but food is something that we need to sustain us for life, but it’s so much more than that. And when we can understand and embrace food in a different way, think of it, our mindset around food. We’re able to overcome so many of the challenges that people face around nutrition and weight loss.

And there’s a reason that fuel is the last of the four pillars. It’s still important, but the other three are more important. Once we have our mindset dialed in, once we have the foundational framework of habits in place and we’re moving our body effectively using the movement, spectrum, nutrition becomes easy. We’re able to see our food choices from a more positive, proactive mindset. We’re we’ve got our goals in place, so we’re caring for our body and we’re much more likely to want to eat healthy, nutritious food that lifts us up rather than makes us feel like garbage.

The other thing to consider is that most people already know what healthy, nutritious food is, they’re just not eating it. It goes back again to the mindset and the habits. If you have the right mindset, you’ll start to make more positive choices. If you have the habits in place, you’ll take some of the behavioral challenges out of it and allow a schedule, a proper eating schedule. You’ll be able to plan your meals and make your own food and lunches. And these, these simple behavioral challenges that a lot of people face and struggle with. And there are a lot of good nutritionists and dieticians that have argued with me about why fuel is the final one, because people say, well, abs are built in the kitchen, not in the gym. And I’m like, yeah, but none of nothing happens until mindset and habits are in place.

And by moving our body, we’re able to increase the endorphins and the positive hormones throughout the body, which allow us to make more positive and effective decisions around nutrition and food in our life. And again, I can go deeper into the fuel topic in another episode, but I want to bring it back to the corporate side right now because all the things we’ve been talking about today are about personal health, wellbeing, and performance in life. Yet, they’re also fundamental to our ability to perform at work. Companies that understand this are able to help employees improve their performance. Employees that understand this are able to show up more effectively at work, create with more energy and create better work.

It’s just, it’s proven time and time again. Yet, I’m still amazed at how many people and companies overlook the simple principles. So the four pillars of performance. If you’re wanting to improve your performance, your team’s performance, your company’s performance. Find a way to dial them in, of course, I’m happy to help if you want. For more information on the four pillars themselves, you can check out my book. The Fitness Curveball has been recently broken into four separate books, one for each pillar and a little more digestible for a lot of people. The other thing for companies we go in and do corporate presentations, employee training programs, and design and manage workplace wellness programs across the entire organization.

Most companies will say they have a workplace wellness program yet very few companies are specifically addressing these four pillars within the organization, with employees and have the programs in place to actually improve them because well, programs might exist. They’re not being used. And the ones that are being used are not producing the results that need to happen. That’s where workplace wellness in my opinion needs to go in the future. And whether it’s me or FRESH! that helps you or someone else make sure that those changes are happening because without it performance for individuals will continue to suffer. And companies won’t reap the benefits that improved employee health and wellbeing can have across the organization.

So check out or I’d love to chat. Once you start implementing these for yourself, let me know what results you’re getting and if there are workplace wellness programs in your company that are really working well, I would love to hear. Have an amazing day until next time, be well and keep active.


Thank you for listening to the Working Well Podcast. If you enjoyed the show, don’t forget to rate and review us wherever you get your podcasts. We’d love to hear your experiences and how you’ve applied tips from the show to your daily life.

So please keep us posted on your progress. To stay up to date with new episode releases, make sure to subscribe to a mailing list by emailing and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, thank you everyone for tuning in. And once again, I’m Tim Borys with FRESH! Wellness Group.

We’ll see you on the next episode.

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