It is 1pm and you have been sitting at your desk for the past four hours trying to find ways to be productive. Emails are sent, social media is checked, and you’ve logged in some numbers on your spreadsheet. Feeling satisfied, you push your chair away for a small break, and then it hits you…hard. That slow rumble in your gut, the thirst in your mouth, and you realize you are hungry. You make your way down to the kitchen and open the refrigerator, only to stand there….staring for several minutes. You close the fridge, open it, close it again, and open it again, hoping that magically, something edible will appear.
Believe it or not, maintaining a healthy diet is one of entrepreneur’s biggest struggles. When working in an office, it is customary to follow the crowd out for an easy, grab and go lunch.
However, now you are at home and you have to prep, cook and clean up. Just that thought is exhausting. After all, you want your energy devoted to your new business, not the dishes.
Self-care is one of the most important components of having a successful business. You are the face and the voice of your business. If you do not feel or look well, then you cannot accurately represent your company. While we are taught to not judge a book by its cover; when it comes to first impressions in business, we most certainly do that. So your health must come first, and what you eat is a major contributor to your health.
You have approximately 80,000 meals per lifetime. Each of these meals is an opportunity to nourish your amazing body. However, between client calls, emails, and all the intricate details that a successful entrepreneur must do, planning meals and healthy eating quickly fall to the wayside. It is easy to let yourself come last; when in fact, you should be first. After all, if you don’t put yourself first, who will?
Approach self-care like you would any new job: Outline your goals, do some research, make an implementation plan, then carry things out step by step to ensure victory. For instance, if your goal is to have enough energy to accomplish your business plan, then make a plan to cook three wholesome recipes at home each week. Look up some recipes, plan out your list, and head to the store (or order online) to ensure your kitchen is stocked with the right ingredients. In doing so, you will empower yourself to be as successful in the kitchen as you are in your business. You don’t need to be a skilled cook, and you don’t need to post every meal on Instagram. With the meal planning methods outlined below, you can make your week days easier, give your body the fuel it needs for you go out and conquer the world, and keep you from blankly staring at the refrigerator shelves or ordering take-out for the third day in a row.
It’s all in the prep
Once a week, after the supermarket, take one hour to wash the vegetables and fruits, chop up celery, carrots, pineapples, melons or whatever is easy for daily snacks and/or kids’ lunches. This is also a good time to throw some vegetables and herbs into a large stock pot with some water to make vegetable stock. You can use this stock throughout the week in soups, sauces or as a warm snack. Freeze whatever is left over for a later date.
Photo: Mommy Hates Cooking
Cook once, eat thrice
If you do get around to cooking for yourself or your family, then make sure to think just one step ahead. Cook once, eat thrice is a time-saving, multi-tasking method that helps you plan several meals at one time. For example, if you are boiling rice, make one cup extra. You can make a dish with that rice the next day, freeze some for soup later on, or create a rice pudding later in the week for dessert. All whole grains like rice, quinoa, millet or barley are versatile. Another example is chicken. Cooking eight chicken breasts takes just a few more minutes than making one, and you can use the leftover meat in so many ways such as soup, curry, casseroles or salads. Store them in individual baggies, so you can quickly defrost one the night before.
Don’t be afraid of short cuts in the kitchen
We live in a culture that emphasizes glamourous, high quality, chef-styled meals. But let’s face it; you are a successful entrepreneur, not a chef. In fact, even chefs and accomplished home cooks take short cuts. So, take the pressure off and get out your slow-cooker, serve omelets for dinner or make a quick salad. It’s okay. The important part is to focus on fresh, vegetable-centered meals that are nourishing and provide the energy you need to succeed.
Many people are dismayed by the thought of actually going to the supermarket or even planning meals. However, in most cities, you can easily order your groceries online. Take it one step further, and explore services that deliver prepped meals with recipes to your door. All you have to do is cook. If this fits your budget, it can be a great time-saver.
Organize your pantry
Having a well-stocked pantry with healthy items is a time-saver. Stock your pantry with whole grains, beans, canned tomatoes, coconut milk and store-bought broths, which will help create a quick and nutritious meal and complement fresh components well.
Remember that each day you have the opportunity to eat in a way that either heals or harms your body. As an entrepreneurial woman, it is important to keep your body fueled, nourished and at the top of your game, so that you can live out your passion and purpose. Creating health should be your number one business strategy.
"Steal the mesh underwear you get from the hospital," a friend said upon learning I was pregnant with my first daughter.
It was the single best piece of advice I received before giving birth in December 2013. My best friend delivered her daughter eight months previously, and she was the first to pass along this shared code among new moms: you'll need mesh underwear for your at-home postpartum recovery, and you can't find them anywhere for purchase. End result: steal them. And tell your friends.
My delivery and subsequent recovery were not easy. To my unexpected surprise, after almost 24 hours of labor, I had an emergency C-section. Thankfully, my daughter was healthy; however, my recovery was quite a journey. The shock to my system caused my bloated and swollen body to need weeks of recovery time. Luckily, I had trusted my friend and followed her instructions: I had stolen some mesh underwear from the hospital to bring home with me.
Unfortunately, I needed those disposable underwear for much longer than I anticipated and quickly ran out. As I still wasn't quite mobile, my mother went to the store to find more underwear for me. Unfortunately, she couldn't find them anywhere and ended up buying me oversized granny panties. Sure, they were big enough, but I had to cut the waistband for comfort.
I eventually recovered from my C-section, survived those first few sleepless months, and returned to work. At the time, I was working for a Fortune 100 company and happily contributing to the corporate world. But becoming a new mom brought with it an internal struggle and search for something “more" out of my life--a desire to have a bigger impact. A flashback to my friend's golden piece of advice got me thinking: Why aren't mesh underwear readily available for women in recovery? What if I could make the magical mesh underwear available to new moms everywhere? Did I know much about designing, selling, or marketing clothing? Not really. But I also didn't know much about motherhood when I started that journey, either, and that seemed to be working out well. And so, Brief Transitions was born.
My quest began. With my manufacturing and engineering background I naively thought, It's one product. How hard could it be? While it may not have been “hard," it definitely took a lot of work. I slowly started to do some research on the possibilities. What would it take to start a company and bring these underwear to market? How are they made and what type of manufacturer do I need? With each step forward I learned a little more--I spoke with suppliers, researched materials, and experimented with packaging. I started to really believe that I was meant to bring these underwear to other moms in need.
Then I realized that I needed to learn more about the online business and ecommerce world as well. Google was my new best friend. On my one hour commute (each way), I listened to a lot of podcasts to learn about topics I wasn't familiar with--how to setup a website, social media platforms, email marketing, etc. I worked in the evenings and inbetween business trips to plan what I called Execution Phase. In 2016, I had a website with a Shopify cart up and running. I also delivered my second daughter via C-section (and handily also supplied myself with all the mesh underwear I needed).
They say, “If you build it, they will come." But I've learned that the saying should really go more like this: “If you build it, and tell everyone about it, they might come." I had a 3-month-old, an almost 3 year old and my business was up and running. I had an occasional sale; however, my processes were extremely manual and having a day job while trying to ship product out proved to be challenging. I was manually processing and filling orders and then going to the post office on Saturday mornings to ship to customers. I eventually decided to go where the moms shop...hello, Amazon Prime! I started to research what I needed to do to list products with Amazon and the benefits of Amazon fulfillment (hint: they take care of it for you).
Fast forward to 2018...
While I started to build this side business and saw a potential for it to grow way beyond my expectations, my corporate job became more demanding with respect to travel and time away from home. I was on the road 70% of the time during first quarter 2018. My normally “go with the flow" 4-year-old started to cry every time I left for a trip and asked why I wasn't home for bedtime. That was a low point for me and even though bedtime with young kids has its own challenges, I realized I didn't want to miss out on this time in their lives. My desire for more scheduling flexibility and less corporate travel time pushed me to work the nights and weekends needed to build and scale my side hustle to a full-time business. If anyone tries to tell you it's “easy" to build “passive" income, don't believe them. Starting and building a business takes a lot of grit, hustle and hard work. After months of agonizing, changing my mind, and wondering if I should really leave my job (and a steady paycheck!), I ultimately left my corporate job in April 2018 to pursue Brief Transitions full-time.
In building Brief Transitions, I reached out to like-minded women to see if they were experiencing similar challenges to my own--balancing creating and building a business while raising children--and I realized that many women are on the quest for flexible, meaningful work. I realized that we can advance the movement of female entrepreneurs by leveraging community to inspire, empower, and connect these trailblazers. For that reason, I recently launched a new project, The Transitions Collective, a platform for connecting community-driven women entrepreneurs.
As is the case with many entrepreneurs, I find myself working on multiple projects at a time. I am now working on a members-only community for The Transitions Collective that will provide access to experts and resources for women who want to leave corporate and work in their business full-time. Connecting and supporting women in this movement makes us a force in the future of work. At the same time, I had my most profitable sales quarter to date and best of all, I am able to drop my daughter off at school in the morning.
Mesh underwear started me on a journey much bigger than I ever imagined. They sparked an idea, ignited a passion, and drove me to find fulfillment in a different type of work. That stolen underwear was just the beginning.