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Staying Healthy while Running a Small Business

June 18th, 2009 ::

2002716151641603857_rsOk, so I went back to the gym about a month ago after six years of letting my business life over take my personal life and not forcing a balance in my life. I have lost 15 pounds over the last six weeks and have about 70 more to go or a “middle schooler” as I like to remark often. My goal is not to turn this blog post and the blog into fatblogging Steve’s path to fitness, however, I do want to make this the first of many posts related to Health & Wellness for Entrepreneurs/Small Business Owners. I am on the hunt for guest contributors in this area so if you know of someone with experience in this area, please have them reach out to listen@networksolutions.com and put “Guest Blog Contributor-Small Business Health and Wellness” in the subject line.

Nevertheless, let’s discuss the state of fitness which in most cases is just poor. People are stressed even more these days with less time because they have to work harder on their business to keep things running as smoothly as possible through this economic downturn. Still, you will hear that people don’t have the time to work out when in fact, if they don’t integrate health and fitness into their business lifestyle, they can increase their chances of health problems that could hurt their business in the long run.

Many entrepreneurs fall into two distinct categories of health and fitness – Type A Athletics who view exercise as critical to their performance AND Type A Achievers who usually have a routine but the new stresses and schedule of running a business run their fitness regiment off the rails.

I fell into the later category and I realized that these past few years had really taken a toll on my body. Lack of sleep and exercise, unhealthy foods and high stress had kept me performing at my best. I realized that this correlated to the fact that “your business is only as healthy as you are”. I have come to realize after many years of insane schedules, horrible eating habits at client meetings and while on travel and ignoring my gym despite paying for a membership and driving by it almost every day that I can get busy being healthy or risk my very well being and not be able to do what gets me out of bed every day.

The Three Things I Do Every Day to Get Me Healthy and My Fitness Back to 1999 levels

I was in great shape in 1999 and I partied like it was 1999 for the last 10 years. 95 pounds and five inches on my waist later I began this journey and they three things that I do every day keep me motivated:

  1. Eat a healthy breakfast – used to skip it all the time or eat sugary junk that would jump start me. These days it is oatmeal or fruit or the occasional eggs and wheat toast to keep the variety.
  2. Slowly remove the empty calories – I took two weeks and moved from Half and Half to Skim milk and shaved 150 calories a day. I ask for a box at the beginning of a lunch or dinner meeting and cut the meal in half. If it isn’t in front of me on the plate, I don’t eat it. Over six months or a year you will be amazed at how much this will add up. Plus I have leftovers that save me money. Double win.
  3. Walk everywhere – I used to live in the city and I love to walk. Living in a suburban environment, the car is not a treadmill and in fact just makes your butt bigger and posture worse. If you are not going to the gym, find places you can walk and just get moving. You will feel great and full of energy.

The changes are starting to become apparent and my energy hasn’t been as high since the last century. To people around me and in words of my friend Meghan “every time I see you, you are shrinking”. I look forward to hearing that every week.

Here are few easy things you can do to be a healthy entrepreneur and small business owner:

  • Be a Role Model. You’re a role model for employees. They look to you for direction within your company. Why wouldn’t they look to you as a model of healthy living?
  • Get Everyone Involved and Reward Them. Create your own physical-activity incentive program. Do your organizational culture and facility support health? You’d be surprised how creative people can get when they’re outside moving together.
  • Make Life Changes, Don’t Go on Diets. Diets do not work. They are temporary and fleeting but most of all could be damaging to your body. Trust me, I know this personally. Life changes are what stays with you the long term as does your improved health and fitness.
  • Meditate and Disconnect. I know this might sound “New Agey” and fuzzy but even if it’s only for a few minutes a day, take time to do something you really enjoy that doesn’t have anything to do with your business. Clear your head and disconnect. You will be surprised how much your creative juices get flowing and not only gets you recharged it could allow you the time to come up with a breakthrough idea.
Photo by marcos_bh