Jul 05

How to Make the Most Out of Sacrificing Your Health for Your Startup

Apparently Jeremiah Owyang, Mark Cuban, and Jason Cohen have all sacrificed their health for the sake of their business. I too understand this. At one point, I was doing so much working and blogging, I checked in to a doctor to see if there was any medical reason behind my exhaustion. Turns out I was just working too hard and had to cut back. And I had to learn to say no. It happens.

I understand that in a competitive landscape and in a recession, you have to dig deep and make sacrifices. Here are a few health tips that are easy to execute and will help you stay positive and focused:

1.) Exercise helps you sleep better, and sleep helps you concentrate. There is no point in working harder when you can simply work smarter. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you could be missing a lot of opportunities to be more effective. I’ve found 20 minutes of swimming to be the most efficient way to get a workout without the injuries you get by running. If you can’t make it to the pool or gym, start by taking the stairs at your office or walking somewhere whenever possible.

For thousands of years, your ancestors probably worked very hard physically to survive. Or they conserved their energy because they had no food to eat. Do you think your body can evolve to be a pile of cheeseburger-eating mush in front of your computer? No. Thousands of generations before us have not evolved to do this and you haven’t either.

2.) Avoid heavy amounts of caffeine. A cup of coffee in the morning stimulates brain activity and actually can be good for your blood pressure. Any athlete will tell you though–caffeine dehydrates you and gives you energy in spikes. Eventually, you’ll come down again and will need more. For a steady stream of energy, try eating dark chocolate, and by dark, I mean 70% or more. Dark chocolate was actually consumed by the Aztecs before battle to give them energy and suppress their appetites.

3.) Take time to stretch. I hate my laptop computer because it makes me hunch over. This hunched position prevents your lungs from breathing at full capacity, which means you have less energy. To reverse the effects of this, try a yoga tabletop position, the wheel, or a handstand against a wall. Any position that essential stretches your pectorals and engages the muscles between your shoulder blades will help.

4.) Skip the soda in lieu of water. Honestly, soda is disgusting. It’s water, high fructose corn syrup, a little bit of flavor and caffeine. And if it’s diet, it’s full of a chemical which is banned by most of the world. Hmm. If you aren’t a water drinker, try drinking iced tea or see if you can find things sweetened with Stevia, which is 1.) an acquired taste just like all diet drinks are, but 2.) is 100% natural and has been used for centuries.

Our ancestors couldn’t get a hold of sugar and fat, so your taste buds are rewarded to encourage its consumption. Guess what? You don’t work as hard as your ancestors did, and fat and sugar aren’t as rare for you. Avoiding overconsumption will mean you won’t “bonk”, i.e. crash, sometime in your day.

5.) Get your veggies and whole grains. Meat. It’s everywhere in Texas. Lions eat meat, and guess what? They are one of the laziest animals on Earth. After it eats, a lion’s energy is directed to its stomach so the huge chunks of fresh can actually be digested. They lounge or sleep all day. As lovely as lounging is, you can’t effectively work that way.

Being fresh can mean you are better in a time of opportunity or crisis. It can mean the inspirational ideas come with less work. You will have the stamina to get through the times when stuff just sucks. You are not some superevolved species of a human being that can look like the Simpsons comic book guy and still be effective (and why would you want to be)? Put 40 hours of awesome work into your day instead of 60 hours of coffee-inspired, YouTube plagued drivel. Take the extra 20 hours and clean your house, see a movie, or just chill.