In order to build a sustainable business that runs well without you, it helps to have a high level of good health and to then continue to sustain that health. You need energy and stamina for those long days and to have the clear thinking necessary to strategically position and plan your business. You want flexibility and strength to be able to get in there and help your people move equipment, even if rarely, so you still feel connected to the basics of your business although it may have grown significantly. How do you do this?
According to an email I received from Dr. Bernadette Melnyk, Dean of the College of Nursing at The Ohio State University (note: OSU is my undergraduate alma mater), “Research has shown that just four behaviors—i.e., not smoking, eating five fruits and vegetables per day, engaging in 30 minutes of physical activity five days per week, and drinking only in moderation if you drink alcohol, which is one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men—results in 66% less diabetes, 45% less heart disease, 43% less back pain, 74 % less stress and 93% less depression in addition to less absenteeism and higher presenteeism at work.” Let’s break that down and expound on each of the four behaviors – not just what they prevent but what they help with.
Do not smoke.
Smoking shortens your life span and ages you. According to the CDC, nearly 20%, or 1 in 5, deaths in the U.S. are caused by smoking. Smoking doesn’t just lead to lung cancer. It also causes or worsens a number of cancers and other illnesses, including diabetes. For example, approximately “80% (or 8 out of 10) of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are caused by smoking.” The cardiac surgeon told us my mother’s heart attack and coronary heart disease was greatly adversely impacted by her smoking. The CDC’s studies corroborate this.
I know it’s hard to quit. The key to successful quitting, whether you do it cold turkey or gradually, is to replace your smoking habit with another, healthier habit. If you smoke to reduce your stress and calm down, learn to stop and take 10 deep breaths or learn another rapid relaxation technique. If you smoke when you’re bored, instead review your goals list for 10 minutes, play a game on an app, or do brief exercises such as stretching or walking around.
As a business owner, eating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily will help you focus, give you energy and prevent you from becoming sick.
Eat five fruits and vegetables per day.
The World Health Organization recommends eating 5 servings of at least 80g of fruit and vegetables a day from a variety of sources. This way you ensure that you get the fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. This dietary base also helps provide you with a strong immune system that resists diseases and other illnesses.
If you find it difficult to get at least 5 servings, try preparing a multi-fruit and veggie smoothie in the morning. This will give you 3-5 servings, depending on how many fruits and veggies you mix in. You can also try a full or side salad with romaine lettuce or spinach as the base (no iceberg lettuce – it has minimal nutrients and is primarily water). In addition, a number of small local restaurants offer vegetable plates with 3-4 servings of vegetables as a lunch option.
Engage in 30 minutes of exercise daily, 5 days per week.
You can take this recommendation literally and engage in exercise for 30 minutes per day, five days a week or you can modify it and engage in 1 hour of exercise 3 days per week. The point is to move your body continuously multiple times per week for extended periods of time. How do you get this exercise in? Don’t tell me you don’t have time. You know you always make time for anything that is a priority!!
You can ride a bike, walk the treadmill, or do active stretching while watching the news. You can go roller skating with your kids or hit the trails and go rollerblading, walking, hiking or biking. You can take up boxing or Muay Thai or join a fitness class at your local gym. You can swim laps before work or take 30 minutes to dance around to your favorite music. Have difficulty getting motivated or inspired? Get a medium energy dog that requires regular exercise. Your dog will certainly let you know when it needs more exercise!
Drink alcohol moderately.
Excessive alcohol taxes the liver and other organs. You may know that alcoholism often leads to cirrhosis of the liver and ultimately, liver failure. But did you know that your liver processes and removes much of the oil-based toxins in your body. According to the American Liver Foundation, you could also develop hepatitis and fatty liver disease from excessive drinking.
If your liver’s function is compromised, you’ll notice that your eyes are more yellow or red. Look at the white of children’s eyes and see how white they are. Are yours similar? If not, look at how much your drinking. According to the email mentioned earlier, drinking in moderation is one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. This considers the typical body size and musculature so you may need to adjust your amount accordingly.
You want to build a sustainable business that runs well without you. This means that you eventually want to elevate yourself to not being involved in the constant day to day. This gives you time to focus on building an even larger business, expanding into new businesses, spending time on hobbies or other outside pursuits, and spending time with family and friends. Your business works best when it is an integral part of your entire life, NOT your entire life. For you, balance could be 14 hour days at work or it could be eight. The point is that you want it to be your CHOICE, not your necessity. By focusing on and sustaining your own vibrant good health, you have more energy, better focus, and more time to devote to all your goals…and, as Oprah says, to “live your best life”.