Playing above the line*

Wednesday, 2 May 2018, By Adam Lewinski

So, you're a successful businessman or woman. You earn good coin, earned the reputation and you're a leader in your industry. You have made it.

But guess what? You are probably overweight, overworked and unfit. You are unsuccessful in the most important aspect of your life, your health. Your nutrition is inadequate, you're physically weak, you're stressed out and you barely sleep. Something is going to give.

Working with top performing professionals for the last six years, the decline in not only their physical, but also their psychological health has me deeply concerned. Concerned that busy professionals in Australia are working too hard and too long, sacrificing key components to maintaining health, such as adequate nutrition, sleep and physical activity in an effort to further their careers, or as a response to the demands of their profession. A sacrifice that in their 20s and 30s may not have been so apparent, but one that reveals itself in their 40s in 50s through depression, obesity, mental stress and other lifestyle diseases.

And it's time to do something about it. It's time for you to do something about it. I am not going to start by talking about exhausting yourself with exercise, or top five tips to get 'shredded' or outlining Kim Kardashian's latest bikini workout. I am going to start talking about accepting your current unhealthy lifestyle, taking ownership, accountability and responsibility for your health and stop using blame, excuses and denial to justify poor nutritional and physical activity behaviours. You are going to startplaying above the line.

Your health is more important than your job. It is more important than your career, your title, your bank account and your reputation. Without it, you risk living a life of sickness and disease both physical and psychological, and none of the former will do much to ease the decline of quality of life in which you will experience.

Allow me to highlight some statistics in an effort to hammer this point home. According to a report by Workplace Health Association Australia and in conjunction with the University of Wollongong, which examined 30,000 Australian workers found:

  • 12.0% of workers had high blood pressure,
  • 23.8% had high cholesterol,
  • More than 50% were overweight or obese (40.3% and 20.2%, respectively),
  • Around 11% were daily smokers or consumed alcohol at a risky level,
  • Approximately 50% were physically inactive, and
  • 65.1% of employees reported moderate to high stress levels, where 41% had psychological distress levels considered to be at-risk (Workplace Health Association Australia, 2015).

However, it's never too late to start improving your health and fitness not only right now, but also well in to the future. How are you going to do this? You are going to become a victor, rather than a victim. You are going start to taking control of your unhealthy behaviours and start developing healthy alternatives. You are going to start playing above the line.

In regards to your health and fitness, playing above the line means:

  • Choosing to take full ownership of the decisions you make,
  • Being accountable for the actions you take, and
  • Acknowledging you are ultimately responsible for the end results.

Playing below the line means:

  • Blaming somebody or something else,
  • Creating excuses, and
  • Denying there is a problem.
Playing Above the Line
 With a victim mentality, failure is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more you fail, the more you get used to failing, resulting in an expectation of failure and therefore, continue to or increase actions that create further failure.

With a victor mentality, success becomes your self-fulfilling prophecy. The more you succeed, the more you get used to succeeding, resulting in an expectation of success and therefore, continue to or increase actions that create further success.

So, what can you do as initial steps towards moving from a victim to a victor mentality?  Let's consider where your attitude lies. Let's assume you:

  • Are overweight,
  • Are inactive,
  • Consume nutritionally poor food, and
  • Over consume alcohol.

Is your attitude towards that undesirable situation one that plays above or below the line? Do you accept that this situation is as a result of your actions and decisions, or do you use blame, excuses and denial to explain that undesirable situation?

  • "I don't need to track my food, I just have to exercise more" - Denial
  • "I don't have time to exercise" - Excuse
  • "I don't have access to healthy food" - Excuse
  • "Alcohol is part of my job. I have to drink with clients" - Blame

In the majority of cases, it was your decisions that led you to your current situation. You failed to prioritise your health and accepting this allows you to take ownership of your health and fitness. Consider the previous situation again, using language that plays above the line:

  • "My weight is my responsibility" - Ownership,
  • "I need to plan and make time for exercise" - Accountability,
  • "I can control the food I consume" - Responsibility, and
  • "Drinking with clients is not a necessity" - Responsibility

Taking ownership gives you a sense of accountability and in turn, gives you a sense of responsibility to look after your health and fitness. Accepting responsibility for your health and fitness allows you to be in a position to respond and that's a very powerful position, because it means you can do something about it. It is likely that you have arrived in your undesirable situation as a result of your decisions and it's time to start making better ones. Simple decisions such as:

  • "I am going to contact a professional to help with my health and fitness. I don't know where to start",
  • "I am going to start walking three times a week for 30 minutes, and once on the weekend for 60 minutes",
  • "I am going to stop buying my lunch, I am going to make mine instead", and
  • "I need to be focused during the week. I am going consume only four drinks on the weekend.

Moving towards a healthier lifestyle is often difficult. It is hard to know where to begin or where to focus your attention. Consider recruiting a personal trainer. A personal trainer's role is to educate, to motivate and to inspire. To improve your current health or fitness, you must first understand how and why you arrived at your current situation. A personal trainer can then design the best possible road map to improved health and fitness with a simple and clear plan based on the goals you would like to achieve. It's time to invest more into your health and fitness, starting with your nutrition.


Workplace Health Association Australia, and University of Wollongong. (2015) Health Profile of Australian Employees. Retrieved from

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