If you earn your living in almost any aspect of real estate or building, you probably recognize the related hazards to physical and mental health stemming from long, often irregular, hours of work under pressure. Then add the competitive factor of the businesses, the tendency to avoid regular physical exercise and the likelihood of over-compensating by playing too hard and then getting insufficient rest. All this can add up to trouble - for people in real estate or building or any form of livelihood.
Well, that puts a focus on the problem. But what are people doing about their own personal situations?
Some, like Thomson M. Hirst, 34, have undertaken formal exercise and eating programs to improve their physical well-being and business productivity. Hirst credits a basic 45-minute evening program of running and calisthenics - along with attention to health foods and avoidance of high-cholesterol foods - for increasing his business efficiency in 1976 to a total of $10,602,000 in personal brokerage.
"Eighteen months ago I was feeling the strain of intense negotiations and drinking too much coffee to stay mentally sharp. Now I drink less coffee and have more energy to get through the tough days. My formula: regular exercise and a sensible diet. Exercise need not be fun but it must be regular and medically right for the individual. And it does take discipline, but the results are worth it," said the 145-pounder who is 5'8" and a non-smoker.
But not everyone is so doctrinaire. For instance, sales agent Rosanna White of Colquitt-Carruthers lifts weights and jogs and is successful in her work, according to boss Arch Kennedy. He also added, after an informal survey of personnel, that Sandy Sassoon of the firm's Arlington office maintains physical fitness by regular belly dancing at home.
Realtor Waverley Taylor, who will be 81 next Saturday, walks four miles a day before breakfast - "even in rain or snow." He lives near the Potomac River off River Road and has a walking route there. He generally stays on a vegetarian diet. "Ever since I was 30 and heard a lecture on diet and physical conditioning, I've stayed on a rigid personal regimen. But I do not infringe my eating habits on others when I entertain or am entertained. Then I eat the normal things that most people enjoy. I grew up in a gourmet family and drank too much when I was a young man here. But now, I have only an occasional screwdriver or Dubonnet," said the non-smoking developer-investor, who has 85 on his payroll. He works five days a week until 6 p.m.
Kenneth J. Luchs, an executive with Shannon & Luchs, is somewhat typical of many thirtyish men in real estate: They lead active lives and play tennis but tend to put on weight. Under medical scrutiny, he went on a no-food, liquid-plus-protein-vitamin diet last year and dropped 27 lbs. But before he finished the program, which would have put him back on a restricted but fairly normal eating pattern, he fell out of pace and regained half of what he had lost. He plans to give it another rip.
Incidentally, many women who sell real estate are advocates of Weight Watchers and attend regularly. No need to mention names, but when one Northern Virginia sales person went to one of the WW sessions in order to shed a few excess pounds, she found a number of her realty colleagues in attendance.
And, not unexpectedly, several men and women volunteered that sex activity is the best recipe for staying physically fit. None wanted to be quoted.
Another bright note was a quote from architect Roger L. Strassman, who tells friends: "I jogged for two months and then talked about it for 10 months - and lost my double chin."
On a more serious note, realtor Justin Hinders has no program of regular exercise or diet discipline. "I just get up early, usually around 6 a.m., and keep moving and active through the day except for lunch with a drink or two. But I walk a lot to do what I do and even walk between phone calls in my office. And I'm usually in bed by 10 or 11 p.m. The important thing, as I see it, is just to keep moving every day. Do something!"
And broker John D. Thompson, now president of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, agrees. "I guess I'm a work aholic. I have a long busy day and keep moving almost all the time. I try to avoid highly seasoned foods and watch desserts, which I love. There's no way I can resist Jello with fruit. But I'm usually around 202 to 207 and that's not bad for a man of 53 who is 6-foot-2."
Carl M. Freeman, a veteran builder and developer who admits to being over 60s, maintains his weight at 170 for 5'8" frame by swimming winter and summer, riding and overseeing a 1,400-acre farm. "I'm up at 7 and bedded down by 11," he added, noting that he has no special diet. All builders and developers tend to stay active by keeping an eye on their jobs, he said - and "by sprinting now and then to stay ahead of the lenders."
Agent Annie Sonnabend of Town & Country Properties in Virginia in an advocate of controlled eating. "I do not diet, as such, but I check my scale every morning and adjust to what I see. I'm basically tall and slim and try to stay that way with a busy schedule and some tennis and sailing. I have a glass of milk or juice for breakfast. Lunch is usually skipped, but I supplement with a glass of juice or broth. Dinner is steak, chicken or fish with a salad and a baked potato an green vegetable. No sweets. But I do like some wine."
Realtor Henry E. Nichols, 6'2" and 210 of mostly muscle, frowns on drinking and smoking but he "eats anything." An avowed physical fitness devotee, he works out regularly in a gym on a rigid program of weight-lifting.
"I work on different muscle groups on different days four or five times a week. Besides being good for the body, it also relieves mental tension," Nichols said.
Broker Don Edwards keeps his weight stable at about 185 by keeping "active" and jogging or lifting weights occasionally. Edwards sales agent Regina Charlene Chapman does calisthenics regularly at home.
No sampling gives an absolutely accurate report on any given study topic. But somewhat random interviews with real estate and building people do seem to indicate that they are not unlike most of us in that they are concerned about their health and its relationship to business success and personal satisfaction. Tennis now seems to be the most popular exercise, next to you-know-what. And golf has always been a favorite of persons in realty and building. But hard-line health addicts tend to emphasize the benefits of prudent jogging and diet discipline.
It might be noted that some people in realty and building, particularly those in middle and upper executive levels, do tend to drink and smoke more than some other folks. And they tend to work longer, more demanding hours too. But their one saving habit, if ultra-extremes are avoided, may be that they tend to stay active, physically and mentally. Shortly
- Before departing to Dallas and the national home builder convention, Charles V. Phillips, the Kettle executive who is the new president of the Suburban Maryland Home Builders Association, said for the record that he and other SMHBA members are hoping that the Montgomery and Prince George's political leaders come to an agreement soon on the allocation of existing sewer taps for new homes in Montgomery County. "The WSSC has the capacity for new taps but they cannot be allocated to builders until some kind of harmony is reached between political leaders of the two counties, which need the economic boost of new construction. Now that the sewer capacity is available, a number of builders and people who work for them are eager to get their programs under way this year," he said.
- The Red Carpet real estate office franchise system, based in Walnut Creek, Calif., now has six persons working in this area to sign up brokers to participate in the national marketing program. The Century 21 franchising system has been under way here for several years. Century 21 and Red Carpet have been competing strongly in many parts of the nation to bring many of the smaller brokerage firms into their programs. A spokesman for Red Carpet said that the goal is to sign up 50 brokerage firms between Frederick and Manassas so that program can be instituted in April. David Hutton is on board at the Red Carpet office in Rockville as the eastern regional manager. Red Carpet said that among brokers already signed are Market Homes Realty of Vienna, Allen & Marcey of Arlington. Century Realty of Manassas and Woodard Real Estate of Woodbridge.
- The price on the McLean estate of departed Treasury Secretary William E. Simon, now vacationing in Hawaii, has been lowered to $495,000, according to broker Ruth Marsteller of McLean, who handled the listing. The house was built about 10 years ago by Herbert Klotz and it was sold several years ago to Simon for a price remembered to be "about $300,000." The house includes an oval dining room and a garden room off the living room. Simon redid the second floor of the home on Langley Place in the Ballantrae Farms area.
- H. R. Crawford, who became 38 this week, intends to speak out on housing issues. The former assistant secretary of HUD, who was dismissed about a year ago and recently "cleared" of charges of misusing his office, advocates the separation of FHA housing insurance and housing assistance programs and a restudy of all subsidy programs "without stopping what is being done now." He said more emphasis needs to be placed in federally subsidized housing programs on energy-saving devices, deferred maintenance programs and greater security for residents. Recently, Crawford bought a property at 502 M St. NW for $24,000. He said it is only one of several that he has been acquiring and rehabilitating without moving out the tenants.
- Washington architect Thomas W.D. Wright was one of the area citizens who submitted white papers on urban housing to the Carter transition team. Wright suggested that given the right tax incentives, private enterprise can provide decent housing for middle, moderate and low-income families. He said that new construction and rehabilitation of existing dwellings are below par. Wright said his own experience with the Capitol View Plaza development on East Capitol Street SE at the Maryland line has lead him to believe that citizen participation, planning and management are the keys to success. But in the case of Capitol View, he added, HUD bureaucracy hindered the development. Wright advocated the use of specific federal allocations under the direction of local agencies, with flexible guidelines and construction by private enterprise. "A strong federal administration could reward middle-level decision-makers who expedite projects and provide disincentives for those who sit on files," Wright added.