Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Keeping healthy when doing a startup

Aside from our time in China, Mike and I have been working from home since starting our custom shoe business, Jodie still has her full time job. Working from home we've found it's very easy to spend the day on the couch and do no exercise. I think my record was 5 days in a row without going outside - that's bad.

I recently read an article that talked about a study showing the biggest factor in heart disease risk is stationary hours - that's hours spent not really moving much, whether that's watching TV or in our case, sitting on the couch with a laptop, basically not moving all day.

I then watched this video on longevity from a recent TED conference:



If you don't have 20mins to watch the video basically some people did a study on communities around the world with a high proportion of centenarians and found the following common themes amongst those communities:

  • The people move naturally - they don't exercise as we do, physical activity is part of their daily lives. Whether they're out collecting firewood, doing the gardening or cleaning the house, they have lots of natural movement in their average day.
  • Right outlook - they're positive and aren't overly stressed.
  • Sense of purpose - they don't retire
  • Eat wisely - they don't binge drink, they have a plant based diet and they don't overeat.
  • Connect - they have strong family groups, are often involved in faith based groups and their friends also do the points above, making it easy and natural for them to stick with these healthy habits.

I'm not doing a particularly good job yet, but here's what I've been doing to try to meet some of these things:
  • I do a fair amount of exercise - I aim for 1.5 hours a day of yoga, running or something similar and I've recently started to get into indoor rock climbing. But I'm now trying to add more general movement activities like walking or running places instead of catching the bus, as well as attempting to get excited by things like cleaning the house as that means I can move.
  • Running a startup is definitely stressful but I'm trying to put less pressure on myself and take some of the unnecessary stress out of my day.
  • Retirement isn't exactly on my radar just yet, and I'm pretty sure I'd be bored by that anyway, but not 'retiring' is a good thing to keep in the back of the mind so that I develop interests that I can keep for the rest of my life.
  • I love overeating but have recently been doing less of that. And I've pretty much eliminated binge drinking which I did a lot of in my uni days. I read another article a few years back about a study showing that rats who eat very light meals live 50% longer than average rats. I'm not a rat, but I've been eating a little less anyway. I've also been getting into cooking healthyish meals and have been making quite tasty salad sandwiches for lunch everyday.
  • Losing connections with people was one of my big fears with leaving Google and working from home. I'm quite happy with how this is panning out. I catch up with friends regularly and head into the Google office for a game of poker and to catch up with friends every once in a while. Twitter and Facebook are both fantastic tools for staying connected with people too. And I've been making some new friends who are also doing startups, and a few of them are keen on exercising so we've been combining rock climbing or running with startup related catch ups.

What do you do to stay healthy?

5 comments:

  1. I find it hard at work when there is so much food everywhere. I tend to find I lose weight as soon as I'm out of the office. My NY resolution is to eat less, particularly at work.

    I don't like sitting down all day so I'm up frequently in the office to talk to people instead of emailing or IMing them, etc, just to get moving and increase my movements during the day.

    You could come back and play in our netty team!

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  2. Oh man I feel like you are my brother from another mother. I think the same things as you. I mean I too LOVE overeating. And if I didn't have my metabolism I should way about 5,000 pounds. But its also the struggle of spending all day at work at my desk and then coming home and trying to establish a social media presence by spending all night on my couch. At what point will success entail running around the block? But I combat it by doing pushups or squats throughout the night. It also keeps my energy up and helps me stay focused on whatever task I am trying to do online. Great post. And btw I also watch TED in the morning instead of the news. I find that keeps me a bit more motivated.

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  3. Christine - Haha, when I started at Google I put on 5kg, then within a month of leaving I lost the 5kg! Sooo hard to avoid eating when there is so much delicious food around. I'd even managed to avoid the chocolates and bad stuff, but eating enough healthy food to feed an army was still enough to keep my a little chubbier then I should have been. :)

    Boomka - Love your blog http://boehmcke.blogspot.com/ hilarious, I've subscribed! Glad to hear you eventually got your coat back. ;)

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  4. I guess the advantage for you working from home is the flexibility....

    You don't have to schedule your exercise sessions early in the morning or late in the evening to accomodate working hours.

    You can schedule exercises throughout the day which should make it more interesting.

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  5. Yeah, the flexibility definitely helps, though the flip side of that was spending 3 hours replying to customer emails on Christmas day. :) Still, I really like the flexibility. Mike lives at Bondi so I've taken to running the 6.5km each way to his place one day a week, and going for a swim at the beach when I arrive in the mornings, that's great exercise, fun and something I could never do before.

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