Over the last couple weeks or maybe even months I’ve mentioned the importance of health in running a business.
So many entrepreneurs I’ve met over the years have been in poor health. I’m not saying I’m in perfect health, but throughout my life I’ve wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I’ve seen that many have struggled with various health issues.
And having those issues is not very appealing. To avoid those, we all have to figure out a way to be entrepreneurs while also maintaining our health. It’s not for our own benefit, but also the benefit of our family and for our pocketbooks.
I’m getting married this summer and starting a family and I’d like to be around for them for a long time. And I don’t want to be in my 50s, 60s and 70s with huge medical bills and high insurance premiums that take up all the money I worked to earn as an entrepreneur.
This is going to be a two-part series. This one is on eating health and the next one is on exercise.
However, there is an important element that goes into overall health and that’s sleep.
Entrepreneurs Need Sleep
A recent post here on the GBW Blog included some of my favorite TED videos. One of those videos was from Arianna Huffington. She spoke about the importance of sleep and how our country is kind of backwards when it comes to valuing sleep. I like her joke about a guy that was bragging about only getting four hours of sleep. She quips that their conversation would have been better had he gotten five.
Don’t brag about getting sleep. Nobody wants to work with someone that is tired, inattentive and unable to function. Get your sleep each night. Shut down the systems a few hours before you’re ready to get to sleep and try to get at least 7 and even 8 hours.
You’ll wake up feeling refreshed in the morning ready to take on the day.
I used to pull late nighters on occasion. I could get a little extra work done, but the next morning I’d lose work time because I would be so out of it. It seemed like for every extra hour I worked into the night that I would lose two hours the next day.
In a time-precious role like entrepreneur that’s not sustainable yet most try to do it.
Even wonderful pro athletes get things wrong on occasion. I’m a fan of Russell Wilson (Go Wisconsin!). I think he’s a great player with a great work ethic and seems to focus on helping people with the tools he has, but he has this NoTime2Sleep campaign and it drives me nuts.
I get that it’s about hard work, but don’t swap out sleep in exchange for hard work. Swap out other activities instead, but still get your sleep every night.
A few tips for getting more sleep:
1. Read More: Shut down the email at 5 PM or even earlier. Have a nice dinner. Go for a walk. Then read more before bed. Sit in your chair with a dim light and read. You can read business books to help your business if you want, but read. It’ll keep your brain quiet and keep your thoughts in the present so you’re not full or worry as you go to bed.
2. Exercise: I think walking is great during the day and we’ll talk about exercise in the next post. Doing so at any time during the day gives you energy, but it also signals your body to shut down and sleep so your muscles can recuperate, which is a good thing. A 20 minute walk or 20 minute sprint can be great for your sleep.
Alright. Now we’ll get into the eating plan.
Step #1: Cut Out Grains And Sugar
This is the biggest thing and it’s really as simple as cutting out grains and sugar.
No cereal. No pancakes. No crusts. No pasta. None of that.
Many of the health problems people face today result from grains and sugar. It happened to me and for years I lived on carbs. Three years ago I switched my diet to include vegetables and a little meat. I instantly lost weight and my body transformed. I had more energy and seemed to be more focused.
The real kicker was that I haven’t gained the weight back as is common with many diets. The reason is that I enjoy eating vegetables and other great foods. I don’t miss the carbs at all.
Don’t cut out the carbs with replacement items.
Gluten-free is a big thing right now and that’s great, but there are a lot of gluten-free foods that you still want to avoid.
Some gluten-free mixes and foods are made with corn. Corn is a grain and should be avoided.
You don’t need pancakes. You don’t need bread. There are tons of other options.
Step #2: Skip Breakfast
Intermittent fasting is the term used for this and it’s great. It might seem crazy to skip breakfast. Your stomach might growl the first few days, but if you’re going crazy without breakfast it’s probably because you’re eating too many carbs. So go back to Step #1.
When you eat veggies and fats like oils and nuts your body will have all it needs to fuel you through the morning.
If you’re like me and like breakfast foods (omelets) then you can still eat them at 11 AM.
The goal her is to give the body time to process foods and to burn fat that may have accumulated. You’re closing your eating window to 10 or maybe even 8 hours. I try to eat at 10-11:00 AM in the morning with a second meal around 5-6:00 PM in the evening.
Step #3: Eat Healthy Snacks
You’re still going to want snacks on occasion especially when others are snacking on the usual culprits like chips, donuts and other items.
I love macadamia nuts. They can be expensive, but you only need a few to make it worthwhile. Instead of dessert, I try to eat something like a little bowl of blueberries.
I cut out a lot of fruit and use it as a dessert sometimes. Fruit is pretty high in sugar and carbs so it’s not good to eat a lot of it, but it’s better as a dessert than a cupcake or piece of pie.
One tricky thing is on game day. I like watching football, but the usual snacks aren’t good.
I’ll cut up some cucumber slices and dip that into my favorite salsa or guacamole. Maybe I’ll make some meatballs with a homemade sauce. There are lots of things like that you can make instead.
And the great thing is you’ll usually get filled up sooner on a couple meatballs than you would with a few handfuls of potato chips.
Step 4: Ignore The Peanut Gallery
This was a tough part early on, but now it’s no problem. But you’ll probably deal with it if you start eating healthy.
It’s weird, but when you stop eating carbs and tell people they’ll look at you like you’re an alien. Just ignore them. I found that when I tell people that I don’t really eat pasta they’ll say, “I could never live without pasta!”
Or they might say something like, “If you don’t eat carbs what do you eat?”
This is usually said as I’m eating a delicious steak with steamed broccoli while they’re eating a hot pocket or Lean Cuisine or something. Or if I’m eating an omelet with bacon and they’re eating cardboard cereal.
You’ll get over this. Focus on your own results and your own satisfaction.
My Common Day
I wake up at about 5:00 AM each day.
My first move is to have my one cup of regular coffee.
I’ll check in on the latest news sources and blogs. I’ll play the NYT Crosswords app to get the brain flowing.
Then I start work for the day.
At around 10-11:00 AM I’ll go work out or move around a little.
Then I’ll have my first meal.
On Monday, I usually make five big salads for the week to make up my first meal. I’ll include spinach or kale. I’ll include broccoli. I use walnuts, swiss cheese and sometimes a little ham or turkey. I’ll top it with olive oil; maybe a little salt and pepper.
This fills me up.
Sometimes I’ll have a snack or two. I like pickles or nuts. I also like canned oysters.
Then at 5-6:00 PM we’ll have dinner. I’ll have a meat like fish or chicken and sometimes red meat. I like meatloaf and a good burger (no bun).
And we always have vegetables – broccoli, okra, brussels sprouts, etc.
We try to use butter or coconut oil now to good meats and things.
That’s pretty much it. For dessert, if I need one, I try to have blueberries. I also like a glass of red wine sometimes.
Do I stick to it perfectly? No.
But I try to be pretty good 80% of the time and it works out pretty well.
Energy is high. My weight is good and my body is healthy.
Here are two essential resources for information on healthy living:
Now you’re on your way to a healthy eating plan that will benefit your health and your business. You’ll become a better person for yourself and for your family while also benefiting your pocketbook in the short and long run. It’s good all the way around and you can start working on it right now.