Health and Startups: December Event Recap

by Christine Mortensen on December 11, 2013

From the moment we started planning this event, December 10th couldn’t come fast enough. The topic of staying healthy while starting a business is something I’ve struggled with for over a year now. The late nights (that turn into early mornings), lack of sleep, and the huge swaths of time sitting on my duff at a computer have been taking it’s toll.

Last night’s speakers were a huge inspiration and just the shot in the arm I’ve needed.



Take control over your work environment

Our first speaker, Jamie Russo, told her story about how her company, Enerspace came to be. While working for large corporations she saw first hand how unhealthy some of the seemingly harmless day-to-day aspects can be: poor lighting, sitting all day, and not to mention the mindless eating that happens. Seeing all of this she decided to do something about it by creating a co-working space that fully integrates work and wellness.

One of the things that stuck with me most was when she mentioned that she recently geeked out a bit, revved up her favorite spreadsheet software and calculated what all of those treats your co-workers bring into the office meant for your waistline. If you consume just 5 cupcakes a month and did nothing to burn those off you’d gain TEN pounds per year! Her blog post on how the stuff people bring to work is making you fat explains this in much more detail but that’s an astounding figure.

Integrate activity into your day as much as possible

Our next speaker, Julie Smolyanksy, shared her personal story about how her father’s personal and professional habits played a role in his untimely demise, leaving her to take over Lifeway Foods in her twenties. Determined to not follow a similar path, Julie strives to make exercise as much a pa

rt of her work-day as she possibly can. We learned that she’ll often go out for a run only to come back three hours later having completed both a run and several phone calls (with less running during the calls of course).


Julie also emphasized the importance of the foods we choose to consume and that kefir has long been a tradition in Russian households because of the many health benefits we are only now starting to understand.



Focus on establishing positive habits

Our final speaker, Dawn Jackson Blatner RD, CSSD, lit up the stage and provided a refreshing perspective on the importance of healthy habits. She stressed that it’s not just about health and nutrition information any longer. It’s about the transformation and how we actually integrate that health information into our daily lives.

She walked us through her six points to living a healthy lifestyle that are flexible and anyone can start incorporating right away. I’ll do my best to capture the essence of each succinctly below:

  1. No tech allowed: Do NOT even touch a keyboard or device until you have worked out. It is far too easy to get sucked into “cyber-world” and jump from task to task, mindlessly putting off your body’s need to move.
  2. Want vs. Should: Start using “I want to do…” rather than “I should do…” We all have that internal battle with ourselves (especially this time of year when your warm bed is so cozy) and fight to either get up and work out or hit snooze one more time. Instead of thinking “I should really get up and go for a run,” focus on why you actually want to so you’re focused on the benefit more than guilt or obligation. As entrepreneurs, we often don’t like playing by the rules of others so shifting your thinking makes it your own decision.
  3. Habit first, effort later. Create the habit of exercise first before you start to worry about how much effort you’re putting in. This helps to get rid of the “all or nothing” mentality so many of us have. To help establish a pattern, never miss more than two days of exercise in a row. She cited how great Curves was because of it’s low 30-minute time commitment. Enough to get you in and out but keep you engaged and motivated.
  4. Stage for Success. Julie stated that “it is more important to stage than it is to plan.” With a nod commending all of the meal planners out there, she knows that many people just won’t plan their food out for the whole week no matter how much we may want to. Life happens. What is more attainable is making sure you have healthy options readily available to you so that you’re setting the stage for success. For example, try having a full water bottle with you at your desk all day and you’ll likely find yourself drinking more water.
  5. Delicious monotony. Sometimes choice is the enemy. Never before have we had so many food options available to us. We have so many in fact, that simply choosing what to eat every day can be a brain drain. Take choice out of the picture all together and have simple snacks at the ready.
  6. Eat with mindfulness. Try to eat as often as you can at a table, sitting on a chair, with your food actually on a plate. It may sounds simple and easy but think of all the times you eat on the go, standing, or worse yet, while driving. When we don’t eat with mindfulness we’re likely to consume more calories and not truly enjoy our meals.

All told, the event was everything I hoped it it would be and more. We even got a demonstration of some of the chairs Jamie has over at Enerspace, called the Bouy. Let me tell you… these things are fun to sit on! I’m about ready to kick my yoga ball to the curb (except for ya know… for yoga). We also had tasty treats from Lifeway delicious belly-warming gluten free chili from My Fit Foods. A perfect way to spend a chilly Chicago night.

Thanks to all who made it out last night! Hope to see you again in January for Jason Fried and others speaking on the topic of working remotely. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter for details on this and all our future events.

About the Author

Christine Mortensen Owner of Sprk'd Marketing and DesignChristine Mortensen believes in creating content that educates and builds trust in order to grow your presence online. She’s a Visual Designer, UX Advocate, Social Medial Maven, and Entrepreneur. When she’s not awkwardly writing her own bio she’s a runner, volleyball player, and bloody Mary fan. She’s the Founder of Sprk’d Content Marketing and Design. You can find her on Google +, and The Twitters.

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