Regular exercise and an excellent diet are fleeting for entrepreneurs, aren’t they? After all, startup founders are in the habit of working 50, 60, or 70 hours a week – they don’t have time to shop for organic food and spend an hour and a half at the gym on most days of the week. If this has been your train of thought, it’s time to think differently. It’s time to shift your attitude about eating right and working out.
According to NBC News, “America’s obesity crisis appears more unstoppable than ever.” And, a troubling report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that “almost 40 percent of American adults and nearly 20 percent of adolescents are obese – the highest rates ever recorded for the U.S.,” NBC reported. Someone is considered “obese” when their BMI is 30 or higher.
“Overall, 70.7 percent of Americans are either overweight or obese, meaning that an unhealthy weight has become the norm, with normal weight Americans – a BMI of less than 25 – now in the minority,” according to NBC. To calculate your body mass index, check out this BMI calculator from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Chances are, you’re in the 70.7 percent of Americans who are overweight, but if your BMI is below 25, then congratulations are in order. You’ve beaten the odds and chances are you are extremely health conscious, or you were blessed with a killer metabolism. For the rest of the population, let’s take a closer look at the epidemic.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the following health problems are linked to being overweight: sleep apnea, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, fatty liver disease, kidney disease, and pregnancy problems (gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, increased risk of C-section). For a lot of business owners, these issues seem distant, remote...until the reality of their poor health finally catches up to them and it always does. It’s not a matter of “if,” it’s a matter of “when.”
Small Lifestyle Changes Pay Off in Spades
Ten months ago, I was exhausted and overworked. As a mother of three approaching my thirty-ninth birthday, I was working 50 to 60 hours a week, eating the wrong foods, and NOT exercising. I was a former gym rat and health fanatic who somehow let myself go. I had every excuse in the book:
· I work too much.
· I don’t have time to exercise.
· I don’t have time to cook healthy meals.
· I am under too much stress.
· I want to spend what free time I have with my kids.
· Approaching forty, my metabolism is shot.
· Organic food is way too expensive.
Thinking back to when I had 12 percent body fat and wore a size four, I felt sad and depressed about my predicament. Somehow, I had convinced myself that I couldn’t be healthy. That my days of having a flat stomach died the day I gave birth to my third child. But something snapped one day and I told myself I had to get my rear in gear.
Perhaps it was because my dad had recently died of a heart attack at 62-years-of-age because of obesity, or perhaps it’s because I ran across this research: “Being overweight or obese is clearly linked to an overall increased risk of cancer,” according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). After losing too many friends and family to cancer, the disease scares the living daylights out of me.
The ACS says that being overweight is linked to cancer of the breast, colon and rectum, endometrium, esophagus, kidneys, and pancreas, but excess weight may also raise the risk of other cancers, such as cancer of the liver, gallbladder, ovaries, cervix, and prostate. There is just so much information out there about the ill effects of being overweight that I decided I was DONE making excuses. And you know what? I discovered that shedding the pounds was not as hard as I thought.
If you’re a busy entrepreneur with a hectic schedule, your health is absolutely vital. Not only to the success of your business, but to you, and the ones you love. You cannot expect to run your body into the ground and to operate at “peak performance.” To think that would be absolute foolishness. If you abuse your body for too long, you’ll pay a hefty price through lost productivity, higher medical expenses, higher insurance premiums, and ultimately, a shorter lifespan. Not only that, but your quality of life will suffer.
“Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “About 630,000 Americans die from heart disease each year – that’s 1 in every 4 deaths,” the CDC reports. I, like a lot of people, never thought twice about heart disease until it took my dad’s life. But when I did, I immediately thought back to the hundreds of hamburgers I had watched my dad eat over the years and suddenly, salads became more appealing than ever to me.
The KISS Principle (Keep it Simple, Stupid)
The KISS principle was coined by aircraft engineer, Kelly Johnson (1910-1990). It’s an acronym for “Keep it simple, stupid,” and it supports the theory that simplicity trumps complexity. According to Johnson, the key goal with designs and systems should be to keep things simple. After all, isn’t that why we all love Apple products, because they’re so simple to use, a six-year-old can figure them out? Well, diet and exercise shouldn’t be any different.
In this day and age, there is excellent data on eating right and exercise, but if you’re like a lot of small business owners, you may not exactly have time to read the latest books on weight loss. Lucky for you, I’ve done loads of research and if you commit to changing your unhealthy eating habits and lose the weight for good, you can achieve a healthy BMI under 25. That said, here are 10 weight loss hacks for busy entrepreneurs:
1. Remove flour from your diet – NOW.
2. Do not eat rice or potatoes.
3. Remove sugar from your diet – NOW.
4. Eat fruit in moderation until you reach your goal weight and monitor how fruit (the sugar in fruit) affects the scale after that.
5. Drink loads of water.
6. Eat organic dairy products.
7. Do not drink fruit juice or regular or diet soda, but do juice your greens at home!
8. Get one hour of daily exercise.
9. Consume healthy fats, such as ghee, avocado oil, coconut oil, and olive oil.
10. Eat grass-fed beef, hormone and antibiotic-free chicken and turkey, and wild caught fish.
I’d describe my diet as a plant-based diet or as a “caveman” diet. I mostly eat whole foods in their natural state. Before I put something onto my fork I ask, “Is this something my ancestors would have eaten?” I don’t eat nitrates, MSG, artificial colors or flavors, or artificial sweeteners. And despite my hectic schedule, I always carve 60 minutes a day (minimum) for exercise, even if it means walking on my treadmill at 10:00 pm while watching my favorite shows on Netflix.
I still write 50 to 60 hours a week, but instead of microwaving a ghastly frozen dinner, I eat a salad with chicken or have eggs with salsa. I eat as much as I want, but I just ensure my diet is filled with unprocessed meats, fresh vegetables, nuts and legumes and organic dairy products.
Since May of 2017, I’ve gone down three dress sizes and all it took was a few lifestyle adjustments. But mostly it took a change in my attitude about being healthy. And guess what? I buy all organic food but I don’t spend a dollar more on my food bill. That’s because I’m no longer spending money on all the other nutritionally-void foods I used to buy.
If you truly want to become healthy, you can do it and it’s really not that hard. As an entrepreneur, you naturally have the mental toughness needed to set goals and see them through. Now it’s time to shift that focus on a healthier you.
Elainna Ciaramella is an independent journalist, business blogger, and ghostwriter for entrepreneurs and business professionals nationwide. She has written extensively on the topics of business, entrepreneurship, law, and medicine. She is well-versed in search engine optimization, content marketing, and social media. You can follow her at www.elainnaciaramella.com , on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and Instagram.