Building a company takes a physical toll too which can lead to burn out. All the hard work you put in will be for nothing if the process costs you your health. It is incredibly important that you focus on your physical, emotional, and nutritional health by taking active measures to improve them.
Rather than think in terms of work-life balance, think in terms of work-life harmony. Integrate health into your lifestyle. Go to the gym during the day, if that suits your schedule better, dial in to all-hands if you need to drop your kids off at school, and use our untracked vacation to unwind.
Developing good habits is the key to health. Getting into habits of regular exercise, meditation, and therapy, to name a few, will give you daily incremental improvements that over time will result in complete transformations.
On the flip side, bad habits will slowly chip away at you. For example, consuming more calories than your body uses won't be noticeable day-to-day, but after a few years you'll look in the mirror and ask yourself: "However did I get so out of shape?"
How are habits formed? It turns out that every habit starts with a psychological pattern called a "habit loop," which is a three-part process. First, there's a cue, or trigger, that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and let a behavior unfold. Then there's the routine, which is the behavior itself. Lastly, there is the reward: something that your brain likes that helps it remember the "habit loop" in the future.
We often forget about the first and last part of habit loops. In order to automate positive habits, it can be useful to create intentional cues and rewards. For example, the cue for going to a Barry's Bootcamp workout could seeing the event in your calendar, and the reward is the delicious milk shake at the end. Going consistently on the same days each week helps form a habit better than one-off workouts. The more ingrained a habit, the more automatic it becomes.
There are many types of triggers or cues for habits. Your environment is an important one that can set you more up for success or failure. Make sure you have healthy defaults in your life. This means healthy food options, regularly scheduled exercise, etc.
All the evidence shows that exercising is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health. From longevity to happiness, exercise is the key.
You should ideally take some form of movement or exercise every day, but at least ensure that you’re working out multiple days a week. Experiment with what type of movement and exercise works for you, be that weight training, dancing, running, or yoga. Make sure to have a regular cadence by scheduling this ahead of time in your calendar.
If you find your self-motivation is slipping, get a buddy to train with, sign up for group activities (e.g. Barry's Bootcamp), or get a trainer.
Nutrition is not about dieting or losing weight. Nutrition is about giving your own unique body everything it needs to perform optimally. What you do or don’t eat can affect your mood, ability to focus, quality of sleep, and the amount of energy you have to get through the day. Some people are more sensitive to eating processed foods than others. For some, a vegan diet is what works for them, whereas another person would become very sick without having meat in their diet.
It is important to develop the ability to notice how foods interact with your unique body chemistry, become aware of which foods make you feel heavy and which foods give you energy. You may begin to notice that you’re drawn to certain foods when you feel a particular emotion or that you seem to be crashing every day at 3 p.m. Most of us have inherited unconscious eating habits from our families and fall into eating patterns based on the pressures around us.
If you suspect that your diet is not serving you, consider working with a nutritionist who is knowledgeable about the way food interacts with the body and can introduce you to better eating habits. You might also choose to consult a naturopath who can offer testing to find out if there are any foods that are causing problems for you.
Many of us go through life sleep-deprived. This has huge knock-on effects on our health and happiness. We make excuses to ourselves and we put off investing in sleep, but imagine how great you would feel if you woke up rested and ready for each and every day. Now imagine that incremental improvement over your entire life — it might change its course dramatically!
Do not stop iterating on your sleep until you have perfected it.
The first step, as with all things, is awareness. How can you work toward a goal if you don't know what your current status is?
There are some great sleep tracking tools out there, like the Oura ring, Emfit (which goes under your mattress), Gyroscope, and Sleep ++. Everyone in the company has access to our team account on Gyroscope.
Most of these apps will give you a score so you can start to get an idea of what, say, a late night of drinking does to your sleep.
This is a simple one, but works for almost everyone: use a sleep mask. It'll help filter out light and, once you're used to it, it will give you an almost Pavlovian response once you put it on by indicating to your body that it's time to sleep.
Make sure you get a contoured one that doesn't put pressure on your eyes. We recommend the Alaska Bear mask.
We live so much in our heads that it can be hard to quiet the chatter of our thoughts and drift off to sleep. Indeed, the harder we try, the worse it gets. If you related to this experience, then we have a simple solution.
The key is to distract your “left brain” and lull it off to sleep. We find that listening to podcasts, or Calm's sleep stories, is a really effective way to do this.
This is a given, but try and reduce the screen time in your bedroom. Leave your phone and your laptop outside of the room. Ensure that you are using f.lux, or Apple's built-in Night Shift mode, to shift the colors of your display to the warmer end of the color spectrum after dark.
Temperature can have a dramatic impact on the quality of our sleep. It's a key part of what regulates the circadian rhythm that determines when your body is ready to go to sleep and when it’s ready to wake up. Your core body temperature needs to drop a few degrees in order to fall asleep, and then stay at a consistent temperature for deep REM sleep.
It doesn't help that we have mostly switched to using foam mattresses, which absorb heat and then radiate that heat during the night, causing us to wake up in a hot sweat.
If you suffer from this, then the solution is a bed cooler. The best one on the market is called a chiliPAD, and although pricey, it will pay itself back in time. If you really want to go all out, we recommend a bed called 8 Sleep, which both self-cools and tracks your sleep quality.
Note: Men especially are often best suited to a colder bedroom.
We recommend the book Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker.