How to Stay Skinny While Running a Startup

By November 4, 2011

Mark Suster got fat while starting his company and – if you’re not careful – so could you.

Weight gain is a common symptom of working 90 hours/week building a company on the cheap. Late nights give you no time for excercise and no money reduces you to the dollar menu at McDonald’s. Even our fearless leader, Edward Domain, battled with weight while working on a startup:

“I was getting fat last year because all I did was work on my startup.  I finally realized I had to make a change and started running again,” explains Domain. “I dropped 25 pounds in three  months and have found that exercising has made me more effective when I am working.  It clears the mind and lets me focus more on what’s important.  I’d say any entrepreneur that isn’t making time for exercise is doing themselves a disservice.”

Despite all of the forces working against you – from the convenience of delivery food to extra-large portions at most restaurants – here are a few ways to keep the pounds off while running a start up:

1. Learn a few healthy recipes.

Look here, here, and here. These are simple, healthy recipes that will keep you coding late nights or running to the next sales call. Take an afternoon to learn them. Not only are they quick to make, they will save your wallet and your waistline.

2. Find another release when you get stressed out.

Many of us get eat when we get stressed and, for entrepreneurs, stress is pretty much a daily part of existence. Instead of resorting to eating, find another way to relieve some stress. Find something (not someone) to punch or kick. Learn to meditate. Even better, try exercising when you feel stressed. If it helps you calm down, you’ve taken another step to becoming healthy while in startup mode.

3. Eat first thing in the morning.

Many people with irregular schedules skip the first meal of the day. Then, later in the day, they get hungry and tend to eat more than they need. To solve this problem, eat a small meal in the morning no matter what. It will help regulate your metabolism and keep you from snacking and binging throughout the day.

4. Drink more water.

Not only does water help curb your appetite, but it keeps you from drinking another can of pop or a coffee filled with cream and sugar. Yes, you need energy, but a Red Bull is not the way to get it. Try drinking black coffee or tea. They might taste funky at first, but you learn to love them. Plus, you’ll have something to talk to Kevin Rose about when you meet him.

5. If you are hungry, eat!

Many entrepreneurs pride themselves on their willpower, but starving yourself is not a long term solution to eating healthy. Being hungry does not help you work, plan, or manage better, and it is likely to take an emotional toll. If you are hungry, eat – in moderation.

In short, treat food as a way to sustain yourself, not as escape from stress or burden on your life. Whether your startup succeeds or fails, you will still have to live with your body.