Top health tips for the creative entrepreneur
The joys of starting a business… the urgency, the deadlines, the meetings and networking, the ‘to do’ lists, blogging, emailing, reading, researching, the non- existent amount of hours in a day, ideas coming to you when pen and paper are nowhere in reach (aka. driving, exercising, showering… you know, the most inconvenient times). Being a business owner myself I know the passion and the drive pumping through your veins, you’re totally dedicated to being successful but the life of a business owner can become predictably repetitive, and not for the best. Life follows something along the lines of waking up, long work hours, erratic eating habits, introverted-ness (who has time to socialise, we’re building an empire..right?), minimal sleep, repeat. Sound familiar? There’s this temptation to work on all these new and exciting concepts and all of a sudden your well-being is like, so yesterday.
So when there doesn't seem to be enough time in the day to get work completed, how are you meant to find time to get (and stay) fit, eat well and work on those yoga moves… “I can't help but to Nama-stay and keep working" I hear you say. Well, I'm here to tell you that committing to your health is essential if you want to stick around and enjoy the fruits of your labour. Pun intended.
Im going to lay it out real easy for you and break it down into five simple areas, because I know your emails are calling your name. Im going to name the obvious but I'm going to tell you why these are super important to start incorporating into your daily lifestyle habits…
There are 24 hours in a day and no matter how much you plead with the universe, thats it! Generally, a 9-5 worker would split their day into 8 hours work, 8 hours pleasure and 8 hours sleep. However for the business establisher with adrenaline pushing them to work around the clock, your day can look like work, work, work plus 5 hours sleep.
Research suggests that those who sleep 5 hours or less weigh approximately 3 kgs more than those who catch 8 hours of shut eye a night.
Lack of sleep is also linked to accidents, weight gain and immune issues and also disrupts circadian rhythms, leading to inefficient body regulation of energy, hormones, metabolism and appetite. Leptin (a hormone that tells your body to stop eating when full) can also be found to be out of whack without enough sleep, so pretty much your body won't tell your brain to stop eating when it needs to stop eating. Hello love handles that we don't really want!
Make a good nights rest a priority in your day to day schedule. I have an alarm that goes off every week night at 830pm to force me to shut all electronics down (and charge them up in the office, not in the bedroom… to ensure I don't “just send one last email” whilst in bed), I eliminate all distractions and I’ve invested in a great pillow and mattress (because theoretically you live here 1/3 of your life here). The best part about this is you get to ball out on a bed - do it, you deserve it!
Between establishing a brand, trying to make some bank, generating business and all the dazzling in between that comes with being an entrepreneur, food, and good food at that, can become a minor detail. Trust me I know.
Simple explanation here, the tendency to go for the quick and easy option (ie, take away, drive throughs, packet mix-quick-microwave food) is doing harm to your brain, your energy levels, your productiveness and sharpness, your thinking and bodily functions. Man, you kinda need all of those things to have a successful and thriving, functional business to call yours.
Ditch the sugary and fizzy drinks unless you want diabetes and replace it with water (your body requires a lot of water, minimum 3L a day actually, even if you're stuck in a chair all day. Being well hydrated keeps you mentally alert, flushes out toxins from air conditioning, and will help with food cravings that are usually mistaken for dehydration).
Get rid of all nutrient empty snacks and replace them with fruit and raw nuts. Even put these healthy snacks on your desk to graze on throughout the day so that when your office buddy Sugary Sue comes around with her freshly baked brownies, you are well and truly full with real nutrients (and you won't even crave sugar). Try celery and carrot with home made hummus, pesto dip, beetroot dips etc. And stop getting take out, you are wasting money and filling your body with baddies like MSG, preservatives and sodium!
If you’re the type to work late into the night, take a 45 minute time out to cook some greens and protein, have leftovers for tomorrows lunch and keep going. I know schedule demands make this part hard, so a suggestion would be consider a healthy meal delivery service… there are companies who offer 5 meals a day for 5 days a week for as little as $100. You wont even need to go grocery shopping!
And one last thing, sugar will NOT keep you “going and going”. High carb/high sugar foods will give you a huge peak of energy really fast and what comes up must come down, so you will find yourself coming down very fast off that sugar high to lower levels than you were previously. You'll get the yawns and the brain fuzzies and boom, just like that you’ve blown your productivity potential.
Business owners know stress well. It can be a motivator, or a deterrent. But not dealing with stress can be unhealthy and will just cause you to pretty much implode on yourself and we don't want this. Having a mental health break (holiday, weekend away or even a day off) seems laughable to some but seriously, its something that needs to be scheduled in just like meetings and appointments.
I know what you're thinking… with the amount of work piled up how can a vaycay be on the high priority list? Well ironically, time off, even if its an afternoon off a week, will do wonders for you and your business. It will rejuvenate the body , freshen the eyes, clear the mind and you will find when you return to your fort, you will be able to problem solve, deal with stressful situations and potentially have way more light bulb moments.
My tips… eliminate stress by having ‘you’ time one afternoon a week. Have a little sneaky weekend away with a loved one or bestie every now and then (no emails allowed) and book a getaway at least once a year. Travel, explore, get lost, meet new inspirational people and come back a new you. Do it for your sanity.
One of the biggest perks of being your own boss is you run your own schedule. So this is where you need to block out your exercise time in the diary religiously every week before it gets jammed packed with everything else your business demands. Your workout doesn't have to be a long, drawn out and tedious process, research states that 30 minutes three times a week is sufficient to tick the “I exercise enough” box.
Some like to go for a walk/run before brekkie (great for fat burning), some like a mid day break, and others like to punch the bag out after a long days work. Whatever floats your boat, regardless of what time you do it, make sure its done. Include a buddy to make it an easier process and to throw in some accountability and motivation into the mix.
Let me tell you a little bit about working out the old ticker. You start to release all these weird and wonderful hormones such as endorphins (hello happy thoughts), Irisin (hello fat burning), Peptide YY (decreases hunger post workout, hello correct direction) , dopamine (the pleasure hormone, hello nothing-will-worry-me attitude) and Serotonin (oh welcome, a restless nights sleep).
Sneaky ways to help this to happen? Take the stairs not the elevator, stand up during meetings/presentations, walk/ cycle to your work/appointments/meetings, and once every hour do a mini 10 minute yoga stretch session on the office floor. You get the drill… get that heart rate up!
It is critical that you plan exercise into your schedule. If you don't plan it in the chances of it happening are pretty much zilch.
Errmagehd, last but not least, my favourite topic. I could seriously be a representative for Myfitnesspal and Fitbit. These are my two favourite apps at the moment and anyone who walks themselves into any type of health and fitness convo with me, gets forced to get these two apps.
The Fitbit is awesome for the hard worker bound to the office chair all day, because you clip the actual device under your clothes and it measures your daily activity (you can buy the actual Fitbit from stores such as JB HI-FI, Dick Smith Electronics or on the Fitbit website). So by linking the device to the free app, not only can you see how much you've moved around and the calories you've burnt, but you can also log in the food you have eaten for the day, and it tells you if you have eaten too much/ not moved or exercised enough to ensure you are avoiding weight gain.
Myfitnesspal is a food logging app where you can put everything from food consumption, water intake, exercise and weight gain/loss into it, along with your goals, perfectly marrying all your info into awesome and easy to read graphs and charts. It even has a barcode scanner to scan the food you've eaten to add to your food diary!
EVEN BETTER, Myfitnesspal and Fitbit link up and together give you full on accurate details about you calorie in vs. calorie out. This is awesome for when I have been stuck behind the computer all day, because I realise I need to get up and move around a little, encouraging me to go to the gym or a late afternoon beach walk.