Each week as Smallbizlady, I conduct interviews with small business experts on my weekly Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. This is excerpted from my #SmallBizChat interview with Debi Silber @themojocoach. Debi is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s in Nutrition, a Personal Trainer, Whole Health Coach, author, speaker and founder of www.TheMojoCoach.com . Debi’s branded The Mojo Coach® because she’s personally led hundreds of clients to achieve their ultimate body, mind, image and lifestyle; inspiring them to “get their mojo back.” She’s also the author of A Pocket Full of Mojo: 365 Proven Strategies To Create Your Ultimate Body, Mind, Image and Lifestyle. http://www.themojocoach.com/book_pocketfull.php
SmallBizLady: What are some of the common health issues you often see with small business owners?
Debi Silber: The most common health issues I see are stress related illnesses, chronic disease (which is largely caused by stress and bad habits/conditioning), unmanaged stress, frustration and overwhelm.
SmallBizLady: Why are stress related issues so common?
Debi Silber: It’s a combination of many things but with the small business owner, it’s usually due to where we place our priorities. Many of us put our work at the top of the list. This usually means that our health and wellness gets pushed to the bottom of the list and we take care of ourselves if we have any time, energy and motivation left after all of our other priorities are taken care of. Unfortunately, by the time we’re finished with everything else, we’re usually too tired to do anything different, especially if it involves change. For many people, we’ll live this way until a health crisis or illness forces us to make changes.
SmallBizLady: What can a small business owner do to find more balance?
Debi Silber: There’s really no such thing as balance because your attention is given to whatever you deem important at the time. The key is to make the decision to view health and wellness as important too because really, the better you feel and live, the better your business will be. You’ll have more energy, confidence, be more productive and positive. You’ll exude a sense of confidence and personal power that makes people want to work with you. Can you wake up earlier and get your exercise in? Make lunch plans with a friend each week? Cook healthier meals on the weekend when you have more time? Journal, meditate, or find another way to de-stress? Take away from any unproductive time during your day and allot it to time spent on making yourself healthier and happier.
SmallBizLady: What are a few tips to eat healthier during a busy day?
Debi Silber: Always start with a healthy breakfast. It kick-starts your metabolism and is a great place to fuel up on fresh fruit, whole grains, lean protein and high fiber. Also, pre-plan your day. If you’ll be out, make sure you have some healthy snacks/meals and plenty of water to keep you nourished and hydrated. It’s also best to eat well-balanced meals (healthy carbs/protein/fruit or veg/little bit of fat) every 3-4 hours to keep your blood sugar and mood stable. This will prevent an energy surge and crash as well as prevent a binge because you got overly hungry or ate too much sugar.
SmallBizLady: What are some unhealthy habits you often see with your small business clients?
Debi Silber: We think we can only have a dysfunctional relationship with people but we often have it with food too. Binge, mindless, social and emotional eating behaviors can have us struggling with food, weight and health for years, and often decades. Some are just bad habits and something like emotional eating for example, is a way to soothe, calm, numb and relax us. It’s a way of self-medicating. We stuff ourselves to “check out” or “stuff” the pain from an uncomfortable emotion we don’t want to deal with. It’s an easy way of meeting an unmet need like anger, frustration, loneliness, boredom, feeling unfulfilled and even fatigue.
SmallBizLady: Exercise is important but we’re either too busy or we just don’t want to do it. What are a few tips to make sure we exercise?
Debi Silber: The first step is to understand our “fitness personality” so we can create a program we like based on our needs, health, preferences and lifestyle. Next, it’s usually best to get it in before the day starts because as the day progresses, things come up and exercise is one of the first things to go if you have a lot to do. If that’s not an option, keep your gym bag packed and ready to go, exercise on a lunch break, hit the gym before you come home, find a fitness buddy for accountability, TiVo your favorite shows and treat yourself to them while you exercise, create a reward system for getting your workout in, etc. The key is to find a way to get exercise in and stay motivated while bringing results.
SmallBizLady: When running your own business, especially from home, it’s difficult for many of us to “leave the office.” Any suggestions?
Debi Silber: Having my business from home, I find it helpful to physically leave the office and shut the door behind me once my kids come home. Shutting the door subconsciously reminds me that that part of the day is over and it’s time to move back into my role as wife and mom. I try not to go into the office much once the kids are home but when you love what you do, it’s especially hard to leave because it doesn’t feel like work! It’s also important to realize that there will ALWAYS be more to do so learn how to pace yourself for the sake of your health, your wellness, your sanity while keeping your priorities and values in check.
SmallBizLady: How does stress affect our health?
Debi Silber: When we’re stressed, we’re not interested in making healthy choices, reading labels, etc. We want comfort foods (which are loaded in fat, sugar and calories) because we’re looking for that feeling we felt when they were served to us long ago. Under stress, we’re also secreting more stress hormones, which encourage us to eat more. Stress also suppresses the immune system. A weakened or compromised immune system puts us at risk for many illnesses and diseases. Stress also affects our ability to heal, affects our nervous system, digestive system, reproductive system, hair, skin, organs, cells…just about everything.
SmallBizLady: What are some of the dangers of stress?
Debi Silber: Stress creates physical, mental, emotional wear and tear. It’s hard to imagine though because we think a physical cause causes a physical pain (ex: stub your toe, it hurts) but think about it. You hear something and your face reddens with anger, you’re embarrassed and you flush, you’re nervous and you feel butterflies, you’re upset and your stomach hurts. These are physical reactions to emotions/feelings. These emotions release stress hormones and chemicals and over time, these chemicals cause huge wear and tear.
SmallBizLady: Sometimes our lifestyles (spouse, family, running a business, etc.) can affect our sleep. What’s the link between a lack of sleep and our health?
Debi Silber: When stressed, we’re not sleeping well and will look for more energy through sugar and caffeine. The empty calories coming from sugar is one of the easiest ways to gain weight. A lack of sleep also leaves us groggy which makes us less productive during our day. It also makes us irritable, less patient, etc.
SmallBizLady: What’s the best way to start living a healthier lifestyle and making changes that last?
Debi Silber: Start small, making changes that work for you. Make 1 change in each of these areas-nutrition, fitness, relationships, emotional health, stress, and spirituality.
Here’s some examples: Nutrition-can you leave over a few bites of food at dinner, drink more water, make a healthy substitution? Fitness-can you commit to walking 1 day this week, bumping up the intensity of your jog, joining a class, working out with a fitness DVD or taking the dog for a run every day? Relationships-can you go out on a “date” with your partner, make plans with a friend, play more with your kids, call an old friend or make a new friend? Emotional-can you talk back to your “inner bully” (that voice that tells you that you can’t, you’re too old, not smart enough, not ready, etc.), change your perspective, lighten up? Stress-can you take 10 minutes to read a magazine, get more sleep, journal, meditate, relax in nature, listen to soothing music, laugh more, exercise to de-stress, knit, do yoga, etc.? Spirituality-can you find a way to feel more connected to something bigger-be more appreciative, donate your time or money to a cause you find meaningful, pray daily.
For more tips on starting or growing your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog at www.succeedasyourownboss.com
Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady is one of America’s leading small business experts. As a seasoned entrepreneur, professional speaker, and small business coach, she develops audio, video and written content to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. As CEO of MFE Consulting LLC, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business start-up, business development and social media marketing. She has been featured on NBC Nightly News, the Tavis Smiley Radio Show, in the Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur and Black Enterprise Magazine. She hosts #SmallBizChat weekly on Twitter for emerging entrepreneurs and publishes a resource blog www.succeedasyourownboss.com Melinda is also the author of the national bestseller Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works. (Adams Media 2010)