Tips for a better SECS life with Tim Judge and ‘Healthy Hospo’
Credit: Tim Etherington-Judge
Staying fit is important, both physically and mentally, and that’s doubly true today when our industry is facing such troubling times. Yet how can bartenders manage to maintain a healthy routine in their professional lives? Tim Etherington-Judge, founder of the ‘Healthy Hospo’ initiative, supplied some practical tips in his BCB talk. Here is our summary.
He knows what he is talking about: Tim Judge has had a meteoric career, quickly making it to the top – and hitting bottom. Judge, who is British, started working in the hospitality trade at the age of 14. He went on to become a bartender and served as a brand ambassador for a large spirits firm in India before going on to become global brand ambassador for a world-famous whiskey brand. Judge was on the go for 250 days a year, spending one out of every three days airborne on average, as he reported at the start of his BCB presentation. While that may sound like a glamorous jet-set life, the reality was far less appealing: he had to cope with the stress of never-ending travel and a lack of movement in spite of always being on the go. A different hotel almost every single night. Eating at irregular intervals, and frequently far too many drinks. As a brand ambassador, he was both isolated and the centre of attention – his friends were far away, yet he was constantly surrounded by lots of new people. Finally, he ended up in a download spiral, and as he freely admitted, in 2016 it nearly ended up costing him his life.
“If you want to get through this horrific year in one piece, it is all the more important that you pay attention to your physical and mental health. That way you’ll be in even better shape when the bar scene gets back on its feet again.” Tim Judge
Initiative for a healthier hospitality industry
The red section shows the average screentime per day
Judge pulled the plug, but he did not turn his back on the industry. In fact, over the course of many conversations with the colleagues who helped him get back on his feet again, Judge came to realise that there were a lot of people who felt the same way he did. Working in the bar world can be a wonderful thing, but it is also stressful, and it can be hazardous to your health. That is why Judge decided in 2017 to found ‘Healthy Hospo’, an initiative that aims to make the hospitality industry a healthier and happier place. What started out as a blog and social media posts in which the ex-barman described his recovery has since developed into a comprehensive training programme for many aspects of life – from better sleep and mental health to financial security.
He offered specific tips for the BCB trade visitors viewing his web talk on how they could put their own professional and private lives on a better footing. And, inspired by Salt-N-Pepa’s 1991 hip-hop classic, his motto is ‘Let's Talk About SECS, Baby!’. SECS stands for Sleep, Eat, Connect, Sweat – in other words: sleeping well, eating properly, maintaining social contacts and doing sport. Here are his tips for each.
Tim Judge believes that sleeping well is the key to a healthy life. This is a particularly critical point for bartenders, because they are frequently working when other people sleep. That makes it even more important to establish a good routine.
1. Make sleep a priority: It is recommended that people get at least 7.5 hours of sleep. Achieving this means that sleep must be a higher priority than checking emails, scrolling through social media feeds or watching TV, for example.
2. Preparing to sleep: Create rituals for unwinding 90 minutes before it is time to go to sleep. Do something calm – this could be reading a novel, or clearing up in a relaxed manner.
3. Setting up the bedroom: According to Judge, the mattress and bed are the two most important things anyone will ever buy. High quality is essential. For those who need to be careful with their money, a mattress topper is an excellent idea. These should be cool, dark and calm. Smartphones should be banned from the bedroom. As Judge puts it: “Bedrooms have only two purposes: sleeping... and sleeping with someone.”
4. Calculating caffeine intake: Many bartenders love to drink coffee – Judge does, too. Yet the body needs five to eight hours before it can break down even half of the caffeine. His tip: Try to limit coffee intake to the beginning of a shift. There should be at least eight hours between the last sip of coffee and the time someone goes to bed.
When it comes to how to eat right, there are almost as many opinions as there are people, according to Judge. He suggests keeping it simple.
1. Go for regional ingredients: Purchasing and cooking natural foods from within the region not only helps local producers – it is also good for a person’s health. Processed foods and ready meals, on the other hand – and here he presented the 60 ingredients that go into a Big Mac – should be avoided.
2. Don't eat too much.
3. Eat a lot of plants: Vegetables, fruit, berries, pulses, grains, leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds – these are not only delicious and flavourful (as mixologists know very well), but also ideal sources of vitamins and nutrients. Judge’s rule of thumb: Two-thirds of what we eat should be plant-based, regardless of whether someone is vegetarian or not.
Judge believes that we do not talk nearly enough about the importance of maintaining social contacts. Meeting other people face to face is important to our well-being – the blend of conversation, gestures and voices/sounds is key. None of this is very easy right now. In a time of social distancing and reduced personal encounters, however, it is more important than ever that we maintain our social contacts. Judge’s tip for the time of the coronavirus: be sure to contact three people privately every day. Friends, acquaintances, colleagues: write to them, or better yet, give them a call if you happen to think of them. Leaving voice messages cannot take the place of this dialogue.
According to Judge, one of the benefits of working at a bar is that it involves a great deal of movement. Even so, this movement alone is not enough. Sport is better – ideally, a sport that you enjoy. Judge, for instance, loves cycling, but he hates going to the fitness studio. Everyone must find their own passion – and pursue it. This works better with others: doing sport with friends motivates people and helps them overcome their inertia – and it also helps people Connect.
Anyone who would like to find out more about the initiative launched by Tim Judge or who needs help can contact ‘Healthy Hospo’ directly – they will be happy to assist you. More information is available at www.healthyhospo.com.