Lessons from my first year in business

The first year of freelance business has been amazing.

But my health has taken a back seat.

I knew that if I wanted a healthy freelance business, I needed to be healthy too.

I know getting the balance between health and building a business is something many small business owners struggle with, so I wanted to share my experience.

Sure I’m busy, but the fittest I have ever been was during my most stressful job.

Ok, so we were overseas and had someone running our house and prepping my meals. But working full-time, I just factored in exercise like another meeting.

Since we moved to the Barossa 5.5. years ago, I’ve put on over 20 kilos.

I’ve been going to CrossFit for almost 4 years. But I’m not that consistent. Some weeks I’ll be there 6 times, others it’s only twice.

I eat well – most of the time. But I also love a glass of wine or 3, and I love a bag of chips.

BUILDING A HEALTHY COPYWRITING BUSINESS

healthy freelance business new start

As 2019 ended, I was eating and drinking too much – and using every excuse to eat, drink and not exercise.

  • Stressed – eat chocolate, drink wine
    • Tired – eat chocolate, drink more coffee, stay up too late thanks to said coffee.
    • Win a project – I deserve a wine, and maybe some chips, cheese or chocolate
    • Lose a project  – see above

Apart from looking bad, I was feeling bad.

It wasn’t helping me build a healthy freelance business.

I embarked on the Whole 30.

You can read more here, but it involves no dairy, grains, sugar or alcohol for 30 days. Afterwards you reintroduce those foods to work out which of them you should include in your diet.

I planned food and prepped and got ready to struggle through.

But  it wasn’t a struggle. Instead, hitting the reset button has been super useful.

I don’t have any issues with food (apart from too much of it). I was just eating the wrong things.

Too much bread, not enough vegies.

I wouldn’t have dreamed of eating several cakes in a sitting. But I’d happily consume the same number of calories in my wine glass.

This week marks the end of my Whole30. And apart from resetting my eating and drinking habits, it’s made me really think about my health.

1. EATING WELL IS KEY

  When I eat well, everything else works.

And to eat well, I need to plan and shop well.

Instead of focusing on what In couldn’t eat, I focused on what I could eat.

I found new recipes and tried new things. I even discovered some new family favourites including these Sichuan meatballs and this Greek chicken dish.

I stopped using food for anything other than its intended purpose.

Food is fuel.

Yes, it’s enjoyable, but I stopped snacking and using food to reward/console me.

The extra 5-10 minutes to pack my lunch was nothing.

And knowing I had a meal prepped reduced the stress in the evening.

I’m looking forward reintroducing some food but chips, cheese, bread and pasta won’t be 75% of my diet anymore.

2. ALCOHOL IS A SOMETIMES DRINK

Living in the Barossa with a husband in the wine industry, it’s too easy to drink most days.

Too many glasses of wine equals staying up late, watching too much bad TV.

Too much wine + too much TV equals the snooze button and skipping my morning workout.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy that first glass of wine.

But I’ll be sticking to a few more alcohol free days and waking up with a clear head.

3. PRIORITISE EXERCISE

I never regret going to CrossFit or parkrun.

It might be horrible and I might be sore. But the feeling of getting a workout done is the perfect start to the day.

If I miss my morning workout, I’ll aim for an afternoon workout even though it’s too easy to make an excuse not to go.

On the days I do afternoon workout, I feel so good. But I am definitely someone who needs to work out before my brain realises what is going on.

Exercise is not just about losing weight any more. It’s about gaining strength and trying to slow the aging process.

And the more I work out, the more I realise what a brilliant stress relief it is.

I can’t worry about a project when I’m pedalling on the assault bike or trying for a deadlift PB.

4. GO TO BED EARLY

OK, so I am still rubbish at this.

I have never been a great sleeper.

My biggest issue is usually getting off the couch and going to bed.

So I have an alarm that goes off an hour before I want to be in bed. It’s a reminder to wind down.

My devices switch to night-mode.

I know sleep is great and after seeing this Ted talk, I realise it is not a luxury.

And as my kids get older, I have realised I need to set an example.

My boys love books. So while reading before bed is great, I need to stop staying up too late to finish my book.

healthy business sleep

5. LEARN TO RELAX

The final ingredient I need to work on building a healthy freelance business is relaxation.

I have a bad habit of opening my computer in the evening, thinking I’ll ‘just check a few messages’.

Before I know it, I’m caught up in something (like writing this blog).

Then it’s time for bed and I can’t switch off.

As I lay down, the perfect line of copy I’ve been working on appears.

My head hits the pillow and I start rehashing a difficult conversation.

I have become a big fan of magnesium spray on my skin at bedtime. I’m using this one from Natural Supply Co and I find it helps.

I tried a meditation app for a while. It worked until one night it played waterfall sounds and I kept having to go to the toilet.

I’m writing down 3 things I am grateful for as I go to sleep to focus on the positives.

And I write a to do list at night so I don’t have unfinished business stuck in my head.

So that’s my five ingredients for building a healthy freelance business.
They are nothing new or groundbreaking.

There is no magic secret.

But writing this post has reinforced how important it is to make these things habits.

If I’m fit and healthy, then I’ve got a better chance of building a healthy freelance business.

I’d love to hear from you.

What do you do for your health and the health of your business?

If you liked this article, please share it.

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