This post is part of Tech Cocktail’s “Healthy Entrepreneur” series, bringing you insights on food, exercise, and sleep on Mondays and Wednesdays throughout May. The series is presented by Coromega (more info and a giveaway at the bottom).
In our book, the pursuit of startup “success” at the expense of disease, depression, and/or death is a failure. That’s why Tech Cocktail has dedicated the month of May to providing you, the entrepreneur, valuable resources, interviews, tips and tricks to lead a happy, healthy life.
We’re also aware that your circumstance may not be conducive to a perfectly healthy lifestyle. Robb Wolf telling you to get more sleep might sound nice in theory, but in practice, you’re riddled with demanding deadlines, pending payrolls, and inquisitive investors. Eight hours might not be realistic- but improvement always is. (But you really should give Wolf’s advice a shot- for performance’s sake.)
That’s why we’ve reached out to a group of fellow entrepreneurs, those who can empathize with your situation, to share some simple tips for how they infuse a bit of good health into their day. Their responses are below. Enjoy.
Each day, I try to make as many meetings as I can walking ones. Not only is it a great way to add in some sneaky exercise but, for the right kind of meeting, getting up and moving can really energize and expand the conversation.
I practice vedic meditation, which calls for 20 minutes in the morning and in the afternoon, sitting up with your back supported, since we can’t all be monks in the Himalayas, right? In terms of physical exercise–it’s not about how long or how hard, it’s about how much heat you’re generating from within yourself. Actually, I think this should apply to everything you do–a combination of calm self-reflection plus heat and passion are the recipe for a good life!
Nothing inspires entrepreneurial types to get in shape like upcoming competition, so sign up for triathlons, 10ks, bike races, or whatever floats your boat. Lost 50 lbs after signing up for a half ironman despite barely being able to run a 5k.
I spin everyday now and not for my body but the disconnect from all things tech and for the clearing of the mind. It’s my meditation and an incredible workout!
Even if you only have five minutes, make a point to sit with your eyes closed and breathe. Better still — use the Insight Timer app and set a goal to do 20 minutes, at least three times a week. It’s like building a muscle — it will get easier over time, and you will be amazed at the clarity and creative problem-solving it brings in life and business. Insight Timer will help you build the habit by keeping a log of your sessions, as well as an optional “journal” prompt when you finish to collect insights and ideas.
I have a running ‘buddy’ (another founder whose company is in a similar stage as mine). We go on long runs together and swap stories, give/get advice, generally de-stress with each other. It’s a two-fer — we get healthy & keep sane.
Being a startup founder is a surefire way into a superficial life of bipolar ups and downs. one day you’re the flyswatter the other day you’re the fly. Scotch helps.
I usually spend a half an hour in the morning reading a travel book. Right now I’m reading, The Conde Nast Traveler Book of Unforgettable Journeys: Great Writers on Great Places. It helps put what we are trying to do in perspective. Every weekend I try to do a “reset” where I think back on the past week (thank the hell out of everyone who helped and everything we accomplished) and center myself on how to do it again next week. Perseverance is paramount.
I don’t have set times that I work out during the day. Instead, I use them strategically to stave off cognitive burnout. If I feel my mind failing to fire as quickly or efficiently as I want, or I feel as though my attention span is shorter and I’m starting to get sidetracked, I go work out. This happens twice a day on average.
I usually don’t have time to eat a full breakfast so I grab my “Nutribullet” and throw in vegetables, fruits, quinoa and some water and blend it up to something I can drink before I get to the office. Gives a natural boost and fills you up for half the day!
I take my time waking up. I open my eyes, think about my day (sometimes reaching for my phone to look at the calendar) and think about what outcome I want at the end of my day. What will make me happy? And then I briefly plan what pieces I will need to have in place\shift to achieve this sense of happiness. If I am dreading the day or fearing a frog (some task or activity I am not looking forward to) this moment of silence helps me build the strength to launch myself in the day with energy. It is also really nice to just soak in the silence and still ness of the morning before launching into the flurry of the day’s activities.
Whenever I feel stressed or overwhelmed, I stop and make a conscious effort to breathe deeply, through my diaphragm, for 5-10 breaths to relieve tense muscles and reset to a calmer frame of mind.
Every Sunday, I schedule an hour/per day of exercise for the next week. I try to sign up for classes, because then I’m committed and have the financial consequence embedded. This helps me stay healthy, positive and by blocking the time in advance, it helps to make it happen.
Install a pull-up bar in your office door way. Every time you come or go, crank out as many pull-ups as you can.
I train MMA every single day at Disciple MMA in Sterling. It’s the most analogous sport to founding a startup around. The rules are few and far between. It’s often boils down to who can hold their breath the longest. And no matter which way it goes it’s bloody.
I started practicing yoga about 1.5 years ago and it’s been life changing. As entrepreneurs it’s easy to spend endless hours in a chair stooped over a laptop. Regular yoga practice keeps the blood flowing and helps with posture and relieving stress in a huge way.
After sitting in a chair for 7 hours straight, there is no way I continue to be happy and productive without physical exertion. A run by the east river and 30 minute weight lifting session reenergizes my brain and puts a smile on my face.
Having a dog encourages me to get up and go on a walk several times a day and at routine intervals. If you’re going from not exercising at all to wanting to do something, having a dog practically forces you to start.
I set and stick to hard start and stop times during my work day. My brain runs 24/7 but my body doesn’t and by setting hours I ensure my body rests enough to keep my brain sharp.
Every morning before I start work I try to spend 15 minutes on Lumosity.com “brain training” through a series of games that are fun and help me feel more alert and focused. Couple this with a good physical exercise and diet routine, and you’ve got a formula to be an entrepreneurial power house!
One of the most efficient ways I’ve found to get the nutrients I need is to stock up on dark leafy greens and fruit – and then blend them (having a vitamix helps but is not required). Its an easy way to ensure getting at least one healthy meal in each day.
At least once a week, sit down and write a thank you note. Even if nothing especially worthy of a thank you note happened, send a letter telling someone how much you appreciate the work they do or how much they mean to you. It will not only make someone else’s day, but also will help you remain grateful and grounded, both of which are essential for a lifetime of health and happiness.
Every morning I reserve 20-30 minutes (minimum) from the day. Check RunKeeper – is there a specific workout reminder? If not, roll the Metolius simulator board into quick circuit session.
I awake at 5:00am every morning and do some form of endurance athletic activity, either swimming, biking, running or weight training. Although I don’t have the time to commit to getting back into Ironman triathlon conditioning, I find even just thirty minutes of activity a great way to come into the office refreshed for the day ahead. I also try to put a handful of races on the calendar to give me something to work towards – be it as short as a 5K race with colleagues or my fiancé or as long as a marathon in early summer or late fall.
No, not a power outlet though I do advise keeping your phone charged. Find an outlet to blow off steam whether it be working out in the gym regularly, yoga, playing an instrument or meditation. Find something that makes you happy and takes your mind off your work. Ideally it also gets some blood flowing to help burn off some calories and releases endorphins.
I make sure to get in a good grinder at Crossfit 3-4 times a week to reset the mind and bring my focus to the present. I am also very protective of my sleep and try to get 7-8 hours a night to allow for good solid restoration.
I avoid the television and everything pumped through it like the plague. It keeps my head clear and focused on what makes me happy and reduces stress.
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