For many mobile entrepreneurs, the ability to travel and experience different cultures not only has a sense of captivation and excitement but also adventure. However, as a mobile entrepreneur, you literally face many incoming stimuli that you have to deal with, which is usually associated with the initial culture shock coming out of the airport – the typical includes: coping with language barriers, social norms, customs and unfamiliar food. Then, depending on what country you go to, there’s nearly always the well known annoyances such as pick pockets, getting ripped off and so forth.
Whether your constant travels are perpetuated by work related or social reasons, it’s very easy to forget about one important thing: yourself. In the context of this article, I’m talking about your physical health (the concept of “health” is large, and best spread over future posts!) Okay, for the sake of simplicity we’re going to follow the KISS rule for health – “Keep It Simple Stupid” is an easy mantra in our angst driven society. First, it’s totally essential that you get your diet right, and secondly that you exercise adequately.
For those familiar with the life hacking philosophies espoused by Tim Ferriss in the Four Hour Work Week, one significant concept is the application of the 80/20 Principle. To state it simply, roughly 80 % of effects come from 20 % of the causes. This was based on the observation by an Italian Economist, that 80 % of the land was owned by 20% of the people.
In a practical sense, I think it’s best to not think “80/20” in a literal sense, but use it as an over guiding philosophy that you can get more value by using few means. The important thing to remember is that in terms of managing your weight, 80 % of the work involved is diet based, with the remaining 20 % exercise induced. That’s right, it’s actually counterproductive to spend endless hours in the gym running around like a mouse on a hamster wheel, and can actually lead to diminishing returns. So, think of diet as the “cherry on top”.
So with that in mind, we shall first of all proceed with diet:
In the particular context that I’m in, living and travelling around South East Asia, it can at first be hard to deal with unfamiliar food and customs and for the “newbie” LD, it can be easy to stay within one’s comfort zone and resort to what is familiar with in the West – that is takeouts such as Burger King, KFC, Dunkin Donuts and the like. Compound this with impending work deadlines and being invited to social events/work meetings with all manor of calorie laden food thrown right in front of you, makes for an easy formula for putting on the pounds.
For those in the know, you would have heard of the concept of “Paleo Diet” been thrown around as the new “diet fad”. To explain, it’s based on the concept of what our neanderthal ancestors would have most likely eaten whilst roaming around looking for food. Hence, it’s stressed that eating unprocessed foods such as vegetables, meat, fish and nuts, and excluding sugar, legumes, dairy products and so called “Western Modern foods”. Basically, if you can pick it up from the ground or hunt it, then it’s paleo.
So, you may be asking, “So, great, how do I go paleo when I’m in this completely foreign culture and don’t even recognise the food these people are eating?” Well, from my experience walking around the streets of South East Asia I apply two simple rules for street food. Rule one: If it’s green and looks like it walked on land or swam in the ocean, then good. Rule two: Once you’ve completed the first rule, then either point at the dish in front of you, or do the good ‘ol fashioned point at food being eaten by local residents, whilst smiling at the storekeeper. This technique worked for me particularly well in Vietnam.
However, from my experience and particularly if you’re an active individual who’s constantly on the move, I wouldn’t completely remove myself from grains as being carb-depleted sucks when you’re trying to think straight. So go for moderate portions of rice, beans and other legumes, but then severely limit or eliminate starchy carb intake after 6 pm, at which time you’ll switch to meat and veggies. I found this guideline to be more sustainable then pure paleo.
Next, add some exercise:
Even for those who are time deprived, there’s no real excuse not to exercise. It should form one of the bedrocks of your life. Don’t just listen to me. Even Richard Branson whose super busy running a conglomerate of 400 + companies stresses the effects of exercise. The story goes an exclusive group of entrepreneurs were gathered with him at a meeting his private island, Necker island. As they crowded around him, one person asked “ Richard, how can I be more productive?” to which he replied “Workout”. Simple. To add insult to injury, this advice is coming from an academic failure and dyslexic.
Okay, so I know depending on what part of the world your are, it may not exactly easy to find a gym, especially if ancient sanskrit is plastered everywhere. Here are some easy exercises you can do with no equipment at all:
Room based workout (bodyweight) for 30 minutes:
-Running on the spot
Running: Going for a half hour jog whilst alternating between intensity levels can be a great metabolism booster. Aim for an alternating cycle of 5 mins medium intensity, followed by a burst of 2 minutes at 80% peak, then back to medium again. If you’re new to fitness, go by feel and alternate between slow jogging and walking, then build it up.
I suggest you alternate between Day One and Day Two 4-5 days per week with a rest/cheat day at the end.
As a final motivation, remember that you’re not just keeping healthy for the sake of it, but you’re health is forming the bedrock of everything else in life – your confidence, relationships and work.