Founder well-being: Check your health, before you wreck yourself!

This is a public service announcement for founders and the startup community.

Let’s be real about the treacherous lifestyle you have chosen. It is a roller coaster, one with many big dips, ups and loop the loop moments. Your friends and family think you are insane but you secretly love it. You know the startup grind requires courage, decisiveness and endurance.

Are you ready for the physicality of the startup grind?

Let me elaborate with a story about my mate Joe, an amazing entrepreneur from Melbourne.

Joe is a larger than life personality by nature, very likable and an extremely confident net-worker. Over the period of twelve months he successfully launched a health technology platform to the market and as any entrepreneur would do, he drove sales and joint ventures quickly.

Joe set the pace of the business and in year two his team grew very rapidly. Running on enthusiasm, adrenaline and excitement Joe started to find it a little difficult to switch off and get enough sleep. But there was no time for rest, exercise or time zone adjustments as he expanded into Singapore where he spent three months raising funds, networking and leading product expansion.

Joe’s friends and family were so happy for him, he was an overnight success until one night the fast paced lifestyle had caught up with him. After an intensive asian banquet for dinner and a few beers, he suddenly felt dizzy, had severe chest pain, headache and serious stomach pain.  Joe was instantly scared and worried.

Was it the dumplings, beers or a heart attack?

Let’s talk about three key components of well-being that Joe has neglected.

Fuel to the Fire

An internal fire burns inside the heart of an entrepreneur like Joe.

It burns, it burns and then it runs out. I failed to mention was that Joe was living on a diet of long macchiato and espresso during business meetings (at least four a day). For dinner, uber eats was too convenient not to mention pizza deliveries and coke zero for all nighters with the team!

With so much caffeine and fast food options in his lifestyle, Joe was literally running on empty and the stomach pain was the symptom of a greater issue, his diet.

To the start up community I highly recommend consuming at least three glasses of water for every coffee you consume. Coffee in any shape or form is a stimulant, anti-diuretic and acts on the central nervous system to increase alertness.  Combining high stress work with caffeine and foods high in sodium, carbohydrates and fat will result in weight gain, sluggishness and decrease your performance. If you are a go-getter and want to excel like Joe you want to consume foods rich in protein and low glycaemic index (GI).

Low GI foods can improve your ability to concentrate, sustain energy and make you feel fuller for longer – curbing the carbohydrate cravings such as pizza. Pick the right fuel for your engine.

No rest for the wicked

Founders are not immune to sleepless nights, feeling worried and working long hours. As travel schedules demand early morning starts and late night finishes, sleep becomes a liability.

In the case of Joe, his sleeping patterns become erratic. Over time, his sleeping pattern become so disrupted that four hours a night was considered the norm and the feelings of dizziness was a symptom of exhaustion.

Sleep can affect every part of your life. Your mood, energy, weight can all be influenced by the amount of sleep you achieve.

For founders, committing to healthy sleeping habits such as going to bed and waking at a consistent time is essential. Seven to nine hours minimum a night for healthy adults is required to perform well. Stay wicked but make sure rest!

High intensity lifestyles require physical resilience

With less than ideal amounts of sleep and terrible food habits – Joe did not feel up for exercise. Prior to launching his business he was an F45 member and attended six times a week., it was cult-like! His preference for fitness was high intensity and variety was important.

With the success of the business and travel requirements, getting out for a short run even become difficult.

Founders, please know one thing, the more physically active you are the greater your ability to think and create. If time is your excuse then do a short burst of high intensity exercise for fifteen minutes daily.

Being a brilliant entrepreneur requires creativity and resilient. Physical fitness will aid and improve these two areas dramatically.

Summary

Founders you have chosen a difficult and challenging lifestyle. Fueling, resting and staying fit will enhance your performance and help you achieve your dreams. Don’t be like Joe and burn out over dumplings and beers you are better than that!

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