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Is Startup Life Turning You Into a Zombie? 4 Tips to Get Healthy

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Take-out, no exercise, not enough sleep. Sound familiar? Here’s a few tips from one founder to keep you from looking like a zombie.

by Kim Kaupe (Co-founder, ‘ZinePak)

If you are looking to entice an entrepreneur, just use simple, sweet words like easy, quick, and minimal effort. If you don’t believe that these words ring true, I urge you to check out the number of pizza boxes, soda cans, and Starbucks cups in the trash at any startup. For entrepreneurs, there is never an excess of time, and more importantly, they are always compiling a never-ending to-do list in their minds. While this passion and persistence is important in order to getting a startup off the ground, it sometimes comes at the price of personal health and wellness.

From sleepless nights, a weakened immune system and forgotten lunches, my early days of growing ‘ZinePak turned me into a zombie. Instead of running parallel paths, my success and health ratios seemed to create a big, fat, ironic X: the more successful ‘ZinePak became, the less I maintained my health. Juggling projects, meetings, and pitches left me no time to maintain a healthy diet, work out, or combat the fact that I looked like a shell of my former energetic self. While I will never find a perfect balance (the persistent curse of the entrepreneur), I have found a few key strategies that help keep me from being mistaken for an extra on “The Walking Dead”:

Take Your Vitamins

Even for on-the-go founders, there is nothing simpler than popping a pill in your mouth before you brush your teeth. While getting balanced meals and a few solid food groups in at every meal is ideal, it’s not always realistic. Grabbing a multivitamin will keep you energized while stabilizing your immune system as you bounce from meeting to meeting or airport to airport. Make it part of your daily routine before you even set foot in the office.

Remember to Hydrate

Remember when, in elementary school, you would have water-fountain breaks? Those teachers were on to something! Drinking water rehydrates your body, helps your skin, and can even suppress food cravings (like those 4 p.m. candy-jar trips). Find a large decorative glass or water bottle and keep it at your desk to drink from throughout your day. Not only will you surprise yourself by how much you consume, but you might find yourself skipping that late-afternoon caffeine fix as well!

Get Your Beauty Rest

Ever wonder why Sleeping Beauty was so beautiful? Well, it wasn’t because she was up working until 3 a.m. And beyond physical appearance (contrary to popular entrepreneurial belief, dark eye circles are not in fashion), sleeping can help your mind work faster and problem-solve more efficiently. It will leave you less prone to emotional outbursts with employees or clients. I cannot stress enough that a full seven hours of sleep are important not just for your personal wellness, but also for the wellness of your company. If you are run down, tired, or grumpy, chances are that will leak through into your work, client relations, or company culture.

Go the Extra (Minimal) Mile

I know I said the sweet words to an entrepreneur are easy, quick, and minimal effort—but sometimes you just have to go the extra mile. Whether it is parking at the farthest spot from the mailbox or deciding to walk 10 blocks instead of jumping on the subway, every little bit counts. Many articles preach about the gym or fitness classes, but I know from personal experience that those were the articles I would disregard completely. “Who has time for such luxuries?” I would often vent. If you find yourself echoing that sentiment, there is still hope! Pacing instead of sitting while on a conference call; taking the stairs instead of the elevator; walking over to a colleague’s desk instead of emailing her — there are small, low-effort steps to increasing your physical activity and boosting your mood. Even if that means walking to get that pizza box instead of having it delivered.

This post was originally syndicated on the YECThe Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

kimKim Kaupe is the co-founder of ‘ZinePak, a custom publication company that creates engaging fan packages for entertainers, brands, and celebrities. She graduated with a B.A. in marketing from the University of Florida in 2008 and roots loyally for her Gators. Most recently, she and her business partner, Brittany Hodak, were named to Advertising Age’s 40 Under 40 List for 2013.