Top 5 Methods To Stay Fit For An Entrepreneur
A sense of urgency surrounds the entrepreneur. Everything happens fast, and the deadline is always imminent. Full of passion for their company, the entrepreneur is dedicated to becoming successful. The life of an entrepreneur can follow a predictable pattern: long work hours, erratic eating habits and minimal sleep. There is a temptation to focus on the exciting work of the start-up and neglect their well-being. That mentality, however, can have long term consequences on the health of the entrepreneur as well as for the overall company. How can an entrepreneur stay healthy while nurturing their start-up? When there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get work done, how can the business leader squeeze in time for getting (and staying) fit? Making a commitment to good health is essential for the entrepreneur who wants to be around to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
There are five methods for an entrepreneur to stay fit: 1) sleep, 2) stress reduction, 3) healthy eating, 4) exercise, and 5) mental health. Finally, we’ll look at 6) tools the entrepreneur can use to stay fit.
There are a set number of hours in the day, and despite the pleadings of entrepreneurs everywhere, the universe never gives anyone extra time. During the heady days of a start-up, adrenaline pushes business leaders to work almost around the clock, establishing a company that has a bright future. Sleep, however, is one of the most essential methods of getting fit. In addition, sleep (or lack of) is a factor in decision making, accident prevention and risk. Entrepreneurs report that they can spend up to 100 hours a week in work pursuits. With only 168 hours in a week, that leaves 68 hours to accomplish the non-work items on a To-Do list, including sleep.
How to sleep more
Sleep must be a priority for entrepreneurs. Finding ways to increase the number of hours available for sleeping will help entrepreneurs in their quest to stay fit. Making sleep a priority is the first step. An entrepreneur must be the master of their schedule. To increase the availability of sleep times, block off evening hours for sleep every day. It seems ridiculous to schedule ‘sleep’ in a calendar, but for the entrepreneur who is tempted to push through the midnight hours, the reminder of an upcoming appointment with a pillow can be a reminder of the dedication to stay healthy.
Reducing the number of hours needed for non-working items is another way to generate more time for sleep. Spending several hours a day commuting to work is a waste of time that could be spent with The Sandman. Explore options for relocating, find ways to telecommute, or look for opportunities to shave time off the daily commute by changing work hours to non-rush hour times.
Expand the work week to allow for more consistent sleep amounts. There is a tendency, among entrepreneurs, to work around the clock during the work week, and then try to catch-up on missed sleep during the weekend. Instead of using the all or nothing approach, spread the weekly responsibilities over 6 or 7 days to allow for shorter individual days and longer sleep sessions. Aim for 8 hours of sleep a night for optimal rest.
How to sleep better
In addition to getting more sleep, the quality of sleep must improve. Trying to shut down the brain to allow for adequate sleep requires strategic steps. One of the primary steps is turning off cell phones and computers. It is easy to do a quick email check right before turning in for the night. Waking up in the middle of night provides a convenient opportunity to see if that important business contact responded. To avoid these activities that keep a brain from resting, keep the phone turned off, or at least out of arm’s reach from the bed. Keep a notebook and pencil near the bed for that middle of the night inspiration, but leave the technology for waking hours. Eliminate distractions such as TV, lights and noise from the bedroom and invest in drapes that block outside light.
Entrepreneurs know stress. It can be a motivator and it can be a deterrent. A majority of entrepreneurs, however, deal with their stress in ways that are unhealthy.
Understanding the causes of stress can help the entrepreneur deal with the level of stress they experience. A careful examination of the circumstances can help to establish the exact reason for stress. Is a large expenditure looming that will stretch available funds? Is the company expanding its focus on the expectation of growing business? Are there industry factors that are affecting the daily operation of the company? Begin to look for the signs of stress: headache, tight muscles in the neck or shoulders, short-temper are all indicators that stress is present.
Once the stress triggers have been identified, find ways to resolve or eliminate the stress. Many times, simply by knowing what is causing the stress is enough to diminish the negative effects of the stress. By identifying the causes of stress, a preventative plan can be developed to help avoid future stress situations.
Find ways to deal with stress
Share the stress with a confidant. It is helpful to establish a trusted relationship with someone outside the company, whom the entrepreneur can express frustrations and concerns with. Keeping stress bottled up is detrimental to one’s health and does not help eliminate the stress. By sharing the load with another, the overwhelming feeling of stress is reduced and is more likely to be overcome.
Turn stress into a positive force. Instead of allowing stress to draw attention to negativity, focus on the positive aspects of the stress factor. A large purchase may be financially intimidating, but is necessary because the company is expanding and generating more business. Looking at stressors differently reduces the negative effect of the stress on one’s health.
Channel the stress into problem solving. When stress occurs, it creates an opportunity to solve problems that cause the stress. A backlog in shipping can be the initiative needed to create a new system of packaging. Pending expensive expenditures can motivate sales personnel to seek out new streams of revenue and work harder to close deals.
Entrepreneurs are busy. Between establishing a solid company, securing funding, generating business and doing the daily work of the company, food is a minor detail. There is a tendency among entrepreneurs to mindlessly eat whatever happens to be the fastest and easiest food available. Even the entrepreneurs who carve out time to go out to eat are drawn to unhealthy foods.
Make healthy choices
Making a commitment to healthy choices is another important method of staying fit. Keep a bottle of water nearby to help curb the temptation to grab sugary drinks. Stash healthy snacks in easy to reach places: fruit, nuts or other choices help keep the need to visit a vending machine to a minimum. Maintain a log of calories eaten. By charting everything consumed in a day, there is less of a tendency to eat junk. When faced with food options, choose the healthiest option available, or by-pass the food altogether. Establishing a pattern of making healthy choices will lead to an improved lifestyle.
Eating healthy at work and home
For the entrepreneur who works extended hours, a majority of meals can be consumed at a desk, in the car or in a restaurant while conducting business. Making wise eating choices can be tricky, but are no longer out of reach to the average diner. Most restaurants have added healthy or lighter options to their menus, based on customer demands. Skip the appetizers, which are generally filled with fried, caloric laden foods and choose lean entrees. Eat more vegetables, drink water and pass on the desserts. It requires diligence to move through the menu without stopping at favorite dishes, but the commitment to healthy eating demands it.
Exercise must be a priority. One of the biggest benefits of being an entrepreneur is the ability to set one’s own calendar. Block time off for exercising every week, before the calendar gets full with meetings and other commitments. Workouts don’t have to be a long, drawn out process, a 30 minute workout 3 times a week is sufficient to maintaining good health. Find the time that works best. Some people enjoy working out before heading to work, others appreciate a mid-day break. Regardless of when the exercising happens, make sure that it is part of the weekly schedule. For extra incentive, collaborate with a friend or co-worker to stay accountable. The workout becomes more fun with it’s done with a friend and the likelihood that it will become a habit increases. Tennis shoes don’t like to be kept waiting – don’t skip the appointment.
Sneaky ways to get exercise at work
Most fitness gurus have their own ideas about how to exercise at work, and they seem to repeat each other. There’s a reason so many people say the same thing: they’re good ideas. Yes, one of the perks of being the entrepreneur is a reserved parking spot near the door, but save that for rainy days. Park at the edge of the lot, and give yourself the opportunity to burn a few extra calories by walking farther. If possible, walk or bike to work for even more exercise chances. Leave the elevator for visitors; take the stairs, every time. Instead of using the intercom, deliver messages by walking to others’ desks. Take a walk at lunchtime. Studies show that standing for 30 minutes a day can improve physical fitness. Instead of reclining during the next conference call, stand up for better health.
Equally as important as the physical health of the entrepreneur, the mental health of the business leader is vital. With an unending amount of work in front of the entrepreneur, the idea of taking a mental health break seems laughable. There is a mindset that nothing short of a ‘nose to the grindstone’ attitude will allow the company to succeed, and many entrepreneurs refuse to take days off, or schedule a vacation. Ironically, taking a break from work will actually be beneficial to the health of the entrepreneur. Business leaders who withdraw from daily operations to take a vacation or break are highly motivated to resume working upon their return. They return rejuvenated and refreshed, often pushing through problems that would have stumped them before vacation. These breaks don’t need to be extended amounts of time away from work, a simple afternoon off can work wonders for the health of the entrepreneur.
Much has been written about the power of positive thinking. Banish negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones that encourage and build up good mental health. Instead of worrying over the amount of time spent on an issue, seek opportunities to grow through the challenge. Try to find the positive aspects of every situation, and look for the chance to turn a negative into a positive.
Routine vs. Repetition
For entrepreneurs who thrive on passion and change, the idea of establishing a routine can seem daunting. However, to maintain a level of fitness, there are elements of routine and repetition that are effective. Routine is beneficial to the entrepreneur who is trying to stay fit. Beginning the habit of working out on specific days, or at a specific time is beginning a routine. Perhaps the routine will include a day of walking, a day of swimming and a day of playing tennis. Get into the routine of being physically active is half the battle of getting and staying fit.
Repetition can be important as well. Athletes perform the same training exercise over and over to develop their skills. The repetition of making healthy choices will allow the entrepreneur to develop a consistent habit and keep them focused on the goal of staying fit.
TOOLS THE ENTREPRENEUR CAN USE TO STAY FIT
Technology has provided some amazing tools for keeping fit. A busy entrepreneur can take advantage of the latest in apps and programs to help stay on track in the quest to be healthy.
MyFitnessPal: A simple app to use, the MyFitnessPal app tracks calorie intake, fitness levels and exercise plans with a few simple taps. Users input health stats: height, weight and desired weight loss, and MyFitnessPal will generate an eating plan. By logging in meals and exercise, the app tracks weight loss and motivates the user to continue their fitness.
GymPact: Operating on the premise that sometimes people need additional motivation, GymPact offers a financial prod to keep users active. Users determine their expected level of commitment, and a monetary value is assigned to each activity. Failure to complete the task will result in being charged, while successful completion of the activities will bring a windfall. Users won’t get rich, but they can get fit and earn enough money to pay for a post-workout smoothie occasionally.
C25K: For the entrepreneur who wants to do more than simply squeeze in a workout, the Couch25K app is designed to take someone from lethargy to a 5 K race. With graduated steps that move the user slowly from walking to running, the easy to use app will have the entrepreneur up and moving in no time.
There is no time like the present for the entrepreneur who wishes to begin an endeavor to become and stay fit. The exciting, active time of entrepreneurship can wreak havoc with an entrepreneur’s health. The business leader must take steps to ensure that healthy living is a priority. Staying fit may seem an insurmountable problem, but then, so did starting a company.
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