Entrepreneurs approach business with a dedication, discipline and passion second to none, so why do so many neglect the one part of their lives that could yield the greatest long-term benefit?
Their personal health.
I get it. Starting and running a business takes time, energy and focus, and what busy entrepreneur has an excess of any of those to divert to the food we eat?
Here’s the thing. Regular healthy eating habits have proven effects for combating disease, increasing life expectancy and, more important, increasing your energy, improving your mood and reducing your sick days.
I ask you therefore what busy entrepreneur has time for sick days and generally pissy moods when trying to lead a company toward success?
Because what we eat has a dramatic effect on how we feel and act, creating healthy eating habits should be as important an aspect of your personal strategy as marketing is to your business strategy. Here are four tips to get you started on the road to healthy eating and business success.
1. Understand your needs.
Entrepreneurs do not typically pursue a business idea without some research and understanding of the market and industry within which you operate. The same goes for your eating habits.
What you need to eat in terms of nutrition and calories depends greatly on your age, gender and physical size. Take some time to understand your physical needs by reading blogs or subscribing to health magazines. If you have the budget, consider speaking with a dietician or nutritionist, who can provide you with a personal analysis and nutrition plan tailored to you.
2. Make a schedule.
Business entrepreneurs have schedules for meetings, phone calls, creative brainstorm sessions and so on. You do this so that you have plenty of time during the day to complete the most important tasks. The same organization should be applied to your eating habits.
Research continues to show that eating as many as six small meals throughout the day, instead of two or three, helps keep your metabolism burning and energy level high as the day progresses. Set reminders on your phone to notify you when it’s time to grab a quick healthy snack, have a glass of water or take a brisk walk around the office. If you need help, consider an app such as Good Habits, which allows you to electronically set goals and reminders.
3. Create a strategy.
In business, entrepreneurs create vision statements to keep business focus, short- and long-term goals against which to measure successes, and assigned action items with concrete deliverable dates. Your eating plans should be no different.
To get on a healthy eating path, you need to make a healthy eating map. Start by writing down your vision ("Not to fall asleep during afternoon management meetings"), your goals (" Fit into my clothes") and actionable to-do lists ("Fix meals for the week on Sunday night").
Make a list of the foods you should eat and those you should avoid. Start with a simple list of high energy foods, then add as you do more research and find what works for you. Men’s Health and Women’s Health regularly post articles about healthy eating options, so consider signing up for newsletters and peruse the tips once in a while
4. Record your progress.
You measure return on investment with marketing campaigns and assess costs with manufacturing processes for one reason: to measure progress and recognize success. Your healthy eating habits should be tracked with the same vigilance.
I regularly use a journal to track daily to-do lists, accomplished tasks, conversations and also what I eat and how I feel. On those days I crash (in energy) in the afternoon, I review what I consumed and have found, for instance, that no matter how much I love Chipotle, I should avoid it before a long afternoon meeting.
Also, as you do with promoting successes in your business, it is important for you to recognize your health achievements. Consider an app such as MyFitnessPal, which allows you to set goals, track meals and exercise, as well as track your progress. You can also connect with friends who can give you words of encouragement.
I admit that the road to business success does not necessarily depend on healthy eating. Warren Buffett, after all, claims to eat like a 6 year old and be one-quarter Diet Coke. I would argue, however, that the road to business success can be far more enjoyable and effective if you were mentally and physically not burdened with the terrible health effects of a bad diet. And, as in business, a well thought-out strategy can help you achieve this.
If you need more motivation, look me up on MyFitnessPal, and we can share encouragement -- or, like many of my close friends, trash talk and guilt each other over our failures. Whatever works for you.