Known as “America’s On-The-Go Health Guru”, health and fitness keynote speaker, Dr. Jo Lichten has presented over 1,000 programs for busy professional adults looking to boost their energy, production, and happiness. A registered dietician with over 25 years in the field, she is a consultant with Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute and a media spokesperson and nutritional consultant for Yoplait, Starbucks, NatureMade, NutraGrain, and many other companies. Additionally, she is the author of four books, including REBOOT – how to power up your energy, focus, and productivity.
SPEAKING.COM: Your newest topic is REBOOT YOUR ENERGY. Could you tell us more about this theme?
LICHTEN: We’re all being asked to do more in less time, which is difficult when we’re already running at full capacity. That’s where REBOOT comes in. My extensive review of the medical literature has uncovered strategies to help people banish fatigue and optimize energy so they naturally stay more focused and get more accomplished during the workday, allowing them to experience more joy during their downtime. These strategies involve getting quality sleep, taking recovery breaks during the day, staying hydrated, and eating earlier in the day to improve energy and focus. These factors, in turn, help raise productivity.
SPEAKING.COM: What prompted you to get into the study of nutrition and dietetics?
LICHTEN: Sadly, I have to say that I trained to become a registered dietitian, not to help others, but to help myself. Prompted by the ridiculously thin models in teen magazines, I went on my first diet at the age of 16, even though I was an ideal weight. I rapidly developed anorexia, a severe eating disorder resulting in a dangerously low weight – in my case, 40 pounds below normal. The eating disorder then morphed into bulimia (with a 65-pound weight gain) during those four years of college.
I remember at one point holding a glass of a liquid protein supplement used for dieting when I heard on the news that sixty people had died in connection to that supplement. I seriously debated continuing to use it, and in the end I chose to stop and get better.
Now, decades after my own personal recovery, I inspire others to be at their optimal best in all areas of health by making small changes in the way they eat, think, move, and sleep. I often say it’s not about aiming for “perfection,” since that’s unattainable anyway. Rather, I try to get people to reach for being “perfectly imperfect.”
SPEAKING.COM: You now look so healthy and are so full of energy so you’ve obviously recovered. How did you do it?
LICHTEN: Back in those days, there were no eating disorder clinics. My family felt helpless, and frankly so did I. I was so physically weak that I didn’t have the energy to do the emotional work needed for recovery.
All that changed during my summer job between my bachelor’s and master’s. I was hired to provide dietary instructions for participants in a research study on Meniere’s disease. The hypothesis of the study was that controlling blood glucose levels through diet could reduce both the incidences and severity of this incapacitating condition, the key symptoms of which include ringing in the ears and dizziness. In addition to instructing the subjects on what to eat and when, I had to make sure they ate enough to keep their weight stable for the study term. I expected them to return with reports of decreased symptoms in regard to Meniere’s disease; what surprised me and caught my attention, though, were the frequent remarks from subjects that they had experienced a dramatic increase in energy.
At that point in my personal condition I was so weak and ready to try something new. When I started fueling my body with the food it needed, I found that I finally had the physical, mental, and emotional “energy” to work on my recovery. Many of the business execs I work with are in a similar state of exhaustion and find that they, too, need a REBOOT!
SPEAKING.COM: What’s covered in REBOOT?
LICHTEN: I reviewed more than 1000 medical articles in the writing of my book, Reboot: How to Power up Your Energy, Focus, and Productivity, and discovered proven solutions in the way we eat, think, move, and sleep. As a consultant with Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, I work with so many C-suite executives and they are always so delighted to hear that they can boost their energy, focus, and productivity just by making small changes.
SPEAKING.COM: What are a few simple changes people can make to feel more energized?
LICHTEN: I’m glad you said “simple”, because that’s what I strive for in my presentations. Too often, people try to make healthy changes by focusing on the BIG things, the ones that are often difficult to keep up long term. Drawing from my doctoral dissertation and extensive additional research on subjects who have successfully increased their energy, I encourage people to make the changes that are “no big deal” for them.
In the area of sleep, we discuss the sleep cycle and how any interruption (even when we don’t fully awaken) can reduce our deep sleep and recovery for the next day. It might be as simple as getting the kids and pets out of the bedroom, because every little interruption can bounce us out of deep recuperative sleep.
I also introduce the notion of food as fuel, a concept helps people look at food differently. People often think of “energy” as just physical energy, but our body needs food for emotional and mental energy as well. I focus not so much on the “what” part as much as “when” you eat. Our brain runs 24/7 so it needs fuel on a regular basis to optimally function and simple changes like eating three meals a day instead of one large meal can help.
Finally, it’s important to realize the role that thoughts and worries often play in exhausting us; these can be offset with simple deep breathing exercises and visualizations.
To bring health and fitness keynote speaker Dr. Jo Lichten to your organization, please contact Michael Frick at: Mike@Speaking.com