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.
Victoria's Secret is best known for what it has to offer women. However, a few days ago as I was strolling around the flagship store on Bond Street, I discovered that the store also has a lot to offer men as well. Just not exactly what you'd think.
My experience began like many other shopping excursions, casually browsing for a few practical items. The store was bustling with women who were relaxed but focused on their own purchases. The women in the store all displayed a quiet confidence in knowing what to do and how to do it. My browsing journey took me into another room where I noticed a man behaving quite awkwardly while being guided around by one of the many well-trained twenty-something shop assistants. My first thought was: "Good for him coming in here alone! I imagine it isn't the most comfortable experience for a man." It was clear he felt out of place. His discomfort was obvious by the way he was shuffling around and avoiding eye contact with any women nearby.
This otherwise unremarkable experience sent a spark through my mind. This man was professional and smartly dressed; perhaps he could have worked for one of the many private equity, hedge fund or banking firms in the nearby area. I imagined that he was confident in his own world of work, but in this female haven he was not. He was the only man in the room, and it showed.
This world - that of Victoria's Secret - was not created to make someone like him feel comfortable. In this environment—a store catering to women, filled by women and selling feminine merchandise—the familiar patriarchal dynamics of the world had completely shifted.
This was a world that can transform an otherwise confident professional into an introverted, self-conscious and indecisive man who needed the help of a twenty-something female to make one simple purchase.
I have seen this story play out with the gender roles reversed many times throughout my career in the corporate world. Today, the culture of many companies are built and sustained by men, for men. Traditional male characteristics are still encouraged, rewarded and expected from female professionals, especially if they expect to reach the executive suite. Being the only woman in the room is still an everyday reality for so many women in business; most men do not understand how corrosive this situation can be to a person's confidence.
I have often heard men say that they believe gender inequality is not an issue in their firm. They hire women and now even have some women on their teams. Well, on those terms this man should not have experienced any issue either. There is no sign at the door of Victoria's Secret barring men from entry. Men are allowed to freely enter and buy whatever they choose. No woman in there would tell them to leave or suggest that to get to the front of the queue they must behave in a certain way. So, what was the problem? Why did this man appear so uncomfortable? Why did he suddenly lack the confidence he seemed to have in the outside world?
It's all in the numbers. If that store catered towards the needs of men, or if there were simply more men in the store (either equivalent to or greater than the number of women), then it is likely that man would have felt a greater sense of belonging.
Just because women are allowed into the workplace now, does not mean their experiences are equivalent to those of their male peers. Women, as the minority, simply do not have the same sense of freedom to be their true authentic selves in many corporate environments, even today.
Just like that Victoria's Secret shop assistant guiding the lone man through an ostensibly unwelcoming environment, so, too, do women benefit from the guidance of sponsors, helping them navigate the male dominated corporate world.
Before a man talks about gender parity, perhaps he first needs to take a trip to a lingerie store and experience what it is like to be the only one in the room. Maybe if more men had experiences like this, they may begin to understand what it is to feel so out of place. Maybe they would join us in creating greater gender equality in the workplace.