Yeah, yeah you've heard it a million times. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for men and women in the United States. And, like Charlie Brown, you're only hearing "wah-wah-wah, wah wah." You're just too busy running a business and a household to deal with this right now, right? Wrong! Besides the fact that someone proclaimed February, "American Heart Month," you need a strong heart to run a healthy business.
Heart Risks for the Business Owner
Long Working Hours
Whether you work for yourself or you're a worker-bee, a recent study from the Journal of Occupational Health and Medicine determined that the more hours someone worked per week, on average, the more likely he or she was to be diagnosed heart disease. On average, entrepreneurs work anywhere from 52-60 hours a week, which is 63% longer than the average worker.
What the study actually says...
"After controlling for factors including age, sex and income, the researchers determined that, over a 10-year period, participants who worked a 55-hour-week were 16 percent more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease diagnosis than those who only worked 45 hours per week. As the number of work hours per week increased, so did this relative risk. Participants who worked 60 hours per week were 35 percent more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease than those who worked 45 hours, while those who worked 70-hour-weeks were 74 percent more likely."
Obviously working long hours isn't the only thing that is tied to an increase risk of heart disease. Stress, of course is a biggy - And what entrepreneur doesn't feel stress? After all, it taxes every aspect of your being - often all at once. Your physical, mental, emotional and psychological factors are all working together to keep you and your business running on all cylinders.
A Strong Heart Leads to a Healthy Business
Self-Care is Not Selfish
This is Sandra Yancey's mantra - Self-Care is Not Selfish. Hopefully, by this time you are at least thinking about doing something about protecting your heart. If not, why? What will it take for you to put YOU first? If you don't, everything and everyone around you will suffer in some way. At the end of the day, your health isn't just about you. It's about your personal universe. By taking care of yourself, you are taking care of others.
Discover more about Odoo
You might have figured out by now that I'm a health nut. In addition to my work here at eWomenNetwork, I'm a certified Health Coach and Yoga Teacher. So, I have a few tips up my sleeve to get you started towards a healthy heart:
(Disclaimer: Before you begin any exercise program, please get permission from your Doctor first)
- Love yourself. If you don't think you're worth saving, then who will? If your negative self-talk is stopping you from taking care of yourself, then it's time to talk to someone to find out why. Consider talking to a therapist or a Life Coach.
- Begun is half-done. Wake up tomorrow and take your first step towards health. If all you do is put on your sneakers, at least your off to a start. Then the next day you might add some workout clothes to your sneakers. If you do 5 minutes of some kind of movement (walking, dancing, etc..) you've done great. The next day, go for 10 minutes.
- It's not a sprint, it's a marathon. Transformation happens after a series of small shifts in your behavior. Be patient with yourself. Slow and steady gets wins the race.
- Do what you love. If you don't like to exercise, it's probably because you don't like what you're doing. Find some kind of physical activity you enjoy like dancing, Yoga or Pilates. My mother is 82 years old and does line-dancing twice a week. She loves it and is fully committed to it on the days she dances. No excuses.
If you are looking to lose weight, just know that success is 80% diet and 20% exercise. However, you could be a skinny-minny person and still be at risk for heart disease. Exercise is integral to a healthy heart. Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood and oxygen throughout your body. Make sure you're building that muscle strength to keep it pumping.
Eat What You Love
Yes, you read that right. I am not a nutritionist or a dietitian, so it is out of my scope of training to provide you with a meal plan. But I can offer some general tips to think about next time you sit down for a meal.
Food is fuel.
That's all. Your body is a machine that needs fuel to function. But is it an old jalopy that's ready for the junk yard? Or is it a fine (plug in your favorite luxury car here) that needs the best fuel money can by. Hopefully, for your sake, it's the latter. So that means, take the emotion out of eating. I know it's easier said than done, but if you can wrap your head around that concept, then you're half-way there.
Step away from the computer or TV when you eat! Use all 5 of your senses while your eating. What does it taste like? Smell like? Feel like on your tongue? Does it make a sound when you chew? What does it look like? If you are mindful when you eat, you will not only enjoy your food more, but you will probably eat less. Also be conscious of what you've eaten during the day. If you had a big breakfast with a lot of calories, then eat moderately during your other meals. But by all means, don't starve yourself! Remember a car will not run if it doesn't have fuel.
Eat the rainbow.
Try to have 3-5 colors in every meal. That will help assure you that you are getting the nutrition your body needs.
Eat what you love.
Salads and foods that taste like cardboard is not the way to sustain healthy eating habits. That means, don't eliminate what you love from your diet, just manage it. If you have to eat a piece of cake, then eat 2 bites and throw away the rest. Begin adding 1 nutritious food each day. After a while, every meal will have something healthy and nutritional in it.
Not all healthy food is created equal.
Visit with a nutritionist or dietitian if you can to determine if you are allergic to any foods. Almonds, for example, might be good for one person, but might cause inflammation in your body. Inflammation can lead to weight gain and an overall feeling of yuckiness (is that a word?). You might be aware that a particular food causes inflammation in your body, but you will see the difference in how you feel once you eliminate it.
Your Heart is Your Business
Your heart is more than just a pumping machine. It's what we put our hand over when we say the Pledge of Allegiance. It's your promise to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It stands for love - of others, and most importantly of yourself. We commonly say, "You put your heart into your business." Your heart stands for passion and purpose. It's who you are. Stand up for it, protect it and love it.