Why is Health Critical to Traders?
It is well known that a person is a combination of body, soul and spirit. Each part is intertwined and has an effect on the others. Just as we know, it’s not good to trade if we are sad, angry, excessively sleepy or dull or if any other myriad of troubles are upon us. It can affect our trading and so too it can affect our health!
Ultimately, our goal is to be in fine form; mentally, physically and in every way focused and sharp for our trading days. That is the goal. Just as a performance car runs better if it’s all tuned up, has fresh high octane gas and oil, etc. So too our bodies and minds will perform better for us if we are tuned up.
I have “dabbled” in health as a hobby for 10-12 years now; read books on various subjects and though I don’t consider myself an “expert”, I do know where to look for the experts. So when I need healing, I turn to the Herbalist that knows what to do. When I need vitamins and supplements and good nutrition, I have a guy who is very wise in this subject who kindly provides me with some great aid, and so on. When I want to know about which oils are good and which are bad I turn to the experts that wrote the book “Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill”. Now, I may not remember all that I read in a book 5 years back but the core idea will sink in and I choose to act upon the knowledge. Now, let’s get down to it.
There are 3 things we all need; activity, rest and nutrition. Let’s start with nutrition. We all have heard the saying “garbage in equals garbage out” and it’s true. Our bodies and all of its systems (liver, blood, brain, etc.) is made out of thousands of very complex things. The average “American” diet in the last 50 years has made people totally sick. It all started with “the bleaching of the wheat” around 1911 and slowly moved to the depleted soils almost completely devoid of what is actually needed to grow healthy food. To compensate for what is stripped out of the ground and never put back in organically, farmers dump NPK on the soil trying to make up for it, (nitrogen, phosphorus, etc.). Where are the minerals? Where are the trace minerals or the micro-nutrients? They were gone 65 years ago. To keep the sick plants from being killed by disease and pests you dump herbicides and pesticides on the food, to stop nature from killing it! Yum! We then transfer this to the manufacturing plants which process the heck out of it and then add a bunch of chemicals that you cannot even pronounce and they ship it to the store for you to buy. If you should buy from restaurants, know that they also microwave this stuff quite often; being sure to change it into something your body cannot use.
So basically we are fed a bunch of “Franken-food”. It looks like food but it is often quite monstrous, lacking a ton of nutrition we really need. So what can we do about this? Well, not everyone will be willing or able to make changes but each thing that we can do to improve will help and the more the merrier! I don’t want to come across as an expert or “know it all”. I am not. But over 12 years and lots of reading this is what I have done so far and willing to add more, that is for sure.
I have thrown out all Teflon, discarded all plastics, and tossed all aluminum (stainless steel and glass only for me). We have a microwave, but do not cook with it. The only thing we will do with it (and it’s rare) is a 30 second burst to heat a lukewarm coffee. We try and buy organic whenever and wherever we can. If I have a choice, I choose the non-hormone fed: meats, cheeses and milk products and organic vegetables whenever possible. In addition to all this I take a ton of supplements. How many? A ton. Liquid minerals and many different types of vitamins in the best form I can find, plus Co-Q10 and green vegetable drinks that taste kinda yucky. Once or twice (if I can muster the motivation) each year, I go on a massive herbal fasting thing that is combined with 100% raw uncooked organic foods for a month. This is a bit hard to do, I mean I like it, and I feel great but I dream of killing cows and eating them (joking). So when I am done I slowly work back into cooked foods for a few days and then pig out on a juicy steak! All right let’s move to the next part.
After getting as much nutrition, vitamins, minerals and good healthy fiber for our bodies and minds to run on, comes… activity! There is a lot we can do to exercise; from a simple 20 minute walk each day, to the hardcore Mr. Olympia workouts. A good idea might be to mix things up a bit. Like one day take a walk or a jog and one day do some weight training. Perhaps one day do some stretching exercises. Another day ride a bike or row a canoe. Something is better than nothing. Mixing it up can take away exercise fatigue (where you just get bored). Personally, I look at exercise in 3 ways. The cardio part is something that gets the heart up and the lungs and blood pumping like jump rope. The stretching part is a rotation of every joint in the body like you would do at Kung Fu class for 20 minutes before starting. Weight training is just pumping iron, ripping the muscles to force them to grow stronger. I like all 3 in moderation and am actively pursuing each lately (for the past several months). What do you like to do? Find something and try for at least 20 min a day.
Lastly, we come to the rest part. Some rest is just “vegging out”, shutting down the computer and watching a movie, reading a book, sitting on the deck for a cup of tea with friends or whatever. But the rest I am really talking about is the sleep. Its’ precious! It’s needed! I have heard that if you only get 6 hours instead of the 8 recommended that you can only think 80% as clear as you can if you had 8 hours; your focus and concentration drops hard. Stress levels supposedly double to 100% on 6 hours sleep and stroke risk climbs many times for those that do this. So, if it is at all possible, force yourself into a strict regimen of sleep at very specific times. Make it dark, and as quiet as you can get it. If it helps you, spend $100 or so on some 800 thread count sheets or some fine pillows. Do you need some music or aromatherapy to help out? There are all kinds of ‘sleep help’ products out there on the internet. Oils, smells, sounds, special sleep CDs (I have one of those). Try a few things and find what works for you or helps you, but find a way to get some rest! It will do you good.
So there you have it. Rest your mind and body, proper. Get some light workouts and maybe some sun and fresh air. Get some good food and nutrition, whatever you can handle or afford, whatever you choose to add. Realize that every one of these things can help on their own but cumulatively it gets even better. As traders we need to be at our Peak performance and if not, we simply suffer to some extent for it. Well, I hope this has been a help to some of you folks and I wish everyone a great week trading. Till next time.