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Let’s be honest: Living the life of an entrepreneur can take a huge toll on your health. Amid the long days of work and erratic scheduling, it’s difficult to find time to exercise or plan a healthy meal. However, it’s incredibly important to make a healthy lifestyle a priority, especially for entrepreneurs. You’ll find that your mood, productivity, energy levels, and happiness will all improve as a result.
With that in mind, here are five strategies to get you back on track.
1. Don’t be chained to your desk.
It’s easy to get stuck at your desk, but it’s actually a big problem if you don’t find a way to watch your diet and activities during the day. Wendy Chant, in a recent contribution to SheKnows, said that sitting all day causes your body to pick up on the wrong kinds of signals.
She says, “The body thinks it’s in an emergency state because of high blood sugar and high cortisol — and it’s thinking something major here, like famine — causes the liver to signal the body that more consumed calories should become fat, and that this fat should be stored mostly around the belly as an easy energy resource when the perceived emergency comes.”
Changing your diet can help prevent these problems. Chant says nuts, seeds, and raw vegetables are great choices, as are protein shakes and oolong tea.
2. Skip the energy drinks.
Not only are energy drinks harmful to your health, but they can also make you more tired in the long run. While they may seem like a quick pick-me-up at the time, the negative effects can outweigh the positives. James Hamblin says in The Atlantic that the government has gone even further recently to warn people about the dangers. He writes:
“The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA, a government behavioral health agency) issued a report … that called energy drinks ‘a continuing public health concern.’ Yes, energy drinks like Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy, Monster, Full Throttle, CHARGE!, Neurogasm, Hardcore Energize Bullet, Facedrink, Eruption, Crakshot, Crave, Crunk, DynaPep, Rage Inferno, SLAP, and even good old Venom Death Adder.”
Not only that, but Hamblin says energy drinks can have hidden caffeine — in the form of guarana. While many energy drinks advertise that they have the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, he says they fail to include the caffeine found in this additive. That’s one more reason to skip the energy drinks — you could be consuming more caffeine than you think.
3. Stay active during the workday.
Work can be incredibly busy and stressful, but it’s important to make time for physical activity throughout the day. Joe Barton, CEO of Barton Publishing, offers some great tips on managing the sedentary nature of office work. He says:
“Humans weren’t created to sit motionless for hours in front of a digital screen. When we become sedentary and inactive, problems start to occur. Our eyes become strained, our back and neck get out of whack, and we gain weight.”
That’s why Barton recommends taking a physical break every hour for at least five minutes. He says you should “get up and walk around, get a drink of water, stretch out, breathe deeply, and do some jumping jacks or push-ups to get your heart pumping and blood flowing. You’ll feel energized and it’ll kick start your metabolism, while releasing endorphins.”
4. Make meetings (and phone calls) active.
Chuck Cohn, CEO of Varsity Tutors, tries to take all of his phone calls standing up (or even walking around). It’s a great idea because it improves alertness (so you can pay better attention to the call) and helps incorporate physical activity while you work. Cohn also tries to make all of his meetings active. He says:
“Many people with whom I work — like our accountants and lawyers — want to meet with me over lunch at a nice restaurant, which almost always results in an unhealthy meal. I’ve started requesting that we grab a coffee instead at a local Starbucks. Once we grab a coffee, we usually just walk around the block while we talk. We both get exercise and get out of the office, and it tends to make the meetings more efficient.”
5. Manage your stress levels.
Stress can be the gateway to myriad other problems, including fatigue, depression, and anxiety. Failing to manage this all-too-prevalent component of an entrepreneur’s life can lead to some devastating consequences. As Diana Rodriguez wrote in this Everyday Health article, managing stress is just as important as diet and exercise. Rodriguez wrote:
“Being busy is sometimes inevitable, but regularly taking on more than you can manage can cause unwanted and unwelcome stress. Tell yourself that it’s okay to say no to activities at your child’s school or to extra projects at work — you are not obligated to accept every request made of you. Additionally, don’t take on more financial responsibilities — such as a new car or a bigger house — if you think they’ll be a stretch. Being realistic about your finances is an important strategy for managing stress.”
It’s true that entrepreneurs have some of the worst health habits — this happens because our lives can be extraordinarily busy, and we don’t have set schedules to accommodate routines, like regular exercise. However, these five tips are great starting points to reducing stress, eating healthier, and getting active. The better your body runs, the better you’ll be able to run your company.