Entrepreneurs are always on the go — meeting with customers, vendors and investors. Here's how to stay healthy through it all.
“He who fails to plan is planning to fail,” Winston Churchill is thought to have said during WWII.
I use the same mantra each day when I decide, in advance, what I’ll eat and what I’ll do for daily exercise. As a wife, mother of two boys (ages 12 and 14), triathlete and entrepreneur who works and travels at least six days a week, I know that if I don’t put my health first, then nothing will get done — and that is the biggest threat to all hard-charging small-business owners like me.
Knowing how to stay fit isn’t rocket science. Search the terms “eating healthy” (14,600,000 or so Google hits) or “staying fit” (3,150,000) and you’ll realize there’s more information on these two subjects than you can possibly read. But the truth is that staying healthy really takes two ingredients: making a decision about your regimen, and committing yourself to it.
So while knowing what it takes to stay healthy might not be difficult, committing to a regimen must be tougher, otherwise more people would be doing it. Here are a few tips to get you on the path to fitting a healthy lifestyle into your busy day.
- Morning workouts. For many entrepreneurs, if you don’t exercise in the morning, it doesn’t get done. Between last-minute conference calls, deadlines, meetings and planes to catch, the list of reasons not to exercise grows as the day goes on. Decide each night what exercise you’ll do the next morning, and prepare everything you need for it the night before.
- Make a date. When you’re accountable to someone, it’s much harder to roll over and hit snooze on your alarm clock every morning. Whether you plan to meet a trainer or friends for a run or spin class, you’ll be more likely to get up to exercise if there are people you don’t want to disappoint.
- Cross-train. Many entrepreneurs have a lot of energy and need a variety of activities to keep them busy and interested. The same strategy works for them in the gym — vary your exercise routine to remain interested. For example, switch off each day between running, biking, swimming and weight training. Aside from keeping you engaged, it also has tremendous health benefits.
- Stay fit on the go. When I think of exercise on the go, I think of Sue Parks, founder and CEO of WalkStyles, a company that creates individual and corporate wellness programs. As a former jet-setting senior corporate executive, Parks found the only way she could keep fit was to adopt a “no excuse” rule for herself about walking.
Now she wears a pedometer and commits to 10,000 steps as her minimum goal per day (five miles). On the road, she uses the extra time at airports to walk the terminals instead of sitting.
Parks doesn’t just stop at 10,000 steps each day. “I do squats while I brush my teeth — 60 in the morning and 60 at night,” she says. “On weeknights, whether at home or in a hotel, I put a towel on the floor [and] do leg lifts, push-ups and crunches while watching some mindless TV show.”
At many roadside hotels and motels, a concierge is nowhere to be found. If you’re in such a situation and want to find a good walking or running route, try www.mapmyrun.com or www.mapmywalk.com.
- Exercise in the office. A couple times a week, try sitting on an exercise ball to strengthen your core. Not your cup of tea? Check out this fun and informative article on workout gadgets for the workplace.
- Plan your menu. Each morning, try writing down what you’re going to eat that day. Whether in the office or on the road, make sure there’s healthy food wherever you go. Check restaurant menus online when you need to meet customers or clients for a meal.
Also, supermarkets are carrying more and more single-serving healthy foods like cottage cheese, peanut butter, hummus and veggies. When you’re traveling, be sure to stock up on these munchies so you’re less inclined to eat junk food when stuck on the tarmac.
- Get help planning. If you don’t want to be bothered planning your menu yourself, www.weightwatchers.com or www.southbeachdiet.com can help. You don’t necessarily have to be participating in their weight-loss program to join. For a nominal monthly fee, they can create daily menus for you. Cooking Light magazine and its online website also have healthy recipes.
I’ll leave you with one more adage: “Don’t leave for tomorrow what you can do today” — especially if you’re a busy entrepreneur whose success depends on your ability to power through a day and stay healthy in the process. Now that’s food for thought.