By Melissa Thompson
Thinking about your fitness as an entrepreneur can be intimidating. For me it takes a few positive affirmations, meditations, and supplements as soon as I get up to have the energy I need to push myself physically. Physical fitness, for most people, is an all-or-nothing commitment; they’re either in the gym every day, or not at all. I already spend far more hours in the office than most people, and that doesn’t leave much time for relaxation or family, so the thought of wedging in several additional hours of gym time can make me stressed just thinking about it.
Fortunately, you and I don’t need the harsh regimens or vigorous ambitions that are often correlated with fitness goals. Instead, we can set minimalistic goals—ones that even the busiest entrepreneurs should be able to keep.
Why Small Fitness Goals Can Help
Why are these smaller, less intense fitness goals better for busier entrepreneurs like us?
- Stress. Since you won’t be majorly changing your lifestyle or schedule, you won’t face much—if any—additional stress. And of course, living healthier will help you reduce the stress you already experience, leaving you with the net effect of stress relief.
- Death isn’t as unpredictable as you might think—a person’s lifestyle plays a heavy role in how and when they ultimately die. Less stress and higher physical fitness, even across small changes, can increase your lifespan significantly.
- Small commitments don’t require hours of additional work—instead, they require minutes, which almost any entrepreneur can sacrifice.
- Consistency. One of the most important elements of health and fitness is consistency—it’s even more important than frequency or intensity, which is why setting goals is so important. Setting smaller commitments increases the chances that you’ll stick with them for the long haul, which means you’ll outperform even the most intense short-term commitments over time.
Minimal Fitness Goals to Keep
So what are these goals, specifically? There’s obviously room for customizability here, but these are five I recommend starting with:
- Refuse to sit for the entire workday.
Sitting for long periods of time is linked to a 50 percent increase risk of death—from literally any cause. It’s linked to the development of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular events as well, so it should be no surprise that sitting is bad news. You don’t have to change your schedule at all to commit to less sitting; consider investing in a standing desk, or take short breaks throughout the day to walk or stretch, maybe even during phone calls so you lose zero work time.
- Eliminate sodas and sugary beverages.
A can of soda contains 150 calories, and some sugary beverages (like lattes) can contain several hundred more. Eliminating two cans of soda a day can cut more than 2000 calories per week, which is the equivalent of running 13 miles or more. There’s little to no nutritive value in these beverages, so switch to water and you’ll feel an instant improvement in your life.
- Pack your lunch when you can.
At my office, it’s easy to order food from a nearby restaurant, but restaurant meals tend to be packed with calories (and come in massive portions). The more proactive you are here, the better, so I suggest you take an extra 15 minutes in the morning to make and pack a healthy lunch for yourself. You’ll also save money, which is an added bonus.
- Keep healthy snacks in the office.
Eliminate temptations for yourself and your co-workers by keeping healthier snacks around the office. This could mean stocking the fridge with fresh vegetables, or including cashews, almonds, and dried fruit at your desk for a quick fix. Snacks are always good for a midday boost in energy, but reaching for a candy bar will leave you feeling sluggish an hour or so after you consume it. Simple substitution here will give you more nutrients, a longer lasting energy boost, and of course, caloric restriction to keep your fitness plan on track.
- Get some physical exercise three times a week.
It may not be your favourite activity, and it will definitely take some extra time commitment on your part, but it’s essential to get some physical exercise. Fortunately, you don’t need a massive commitment—or even a gym membership—to get it. As little as 20 minutes of exercise can be effective in improving your health, so long as you get your heart pumping, and 3 times a week is enough to have a serious impact on your life. If you can, try resistance training and cardiovascular exercise, such as jogging or biking. But even a brisk walk around the neighbourhood is better than nothing.
There’s no excuse for you not to pursue at least some of these five fitness goals. They may seem small, but working together, they’ll have a cumulative effect on both your body and your mind. Within a few weeks, you’ll feel more energetic, more alert, and with less stress—and you might even lose a few pounds! No matter how busy you are, there’s always time to improve yourself, so don’t stop here—try adding more small commitments to your regimen.
By Melissa Thompson (Forbes)