Take care of your body and your body will take care of your mind.
This is a topic I have become an expert on over my past eight years as an entrepreneur and I wanted to share the lessons I have learned on my health and fitness journey.
I will preface this by saying that almost overnight, I went from playing competitive hockey to sampling every bar and restaurant in Canada in the process of growing my start-up. I went up and down over 30 pounds during the last five years so I know a lot about what NOT to do in terms of health…
Entrepreneurs and Grinders, let's face it – you read all about the importance of maintaining good health. People who have shown a commitment to living healthy at any point in their life have likely noticed a positive difference, so why do few of us continue to make exercise and our health a priority? It’s like this overly committed mindset where you are actually getting less accomplished, doing more damage to your health - all because you think working more is more important than taking care of yourself.
I was there. I lived there for four years straight. It’s actually crazy though, right? Imagine not preparing for that presentation? You’d never let that slip, but so many entrepreneurs wake up every day short of sleep and decide working out won’t take priority, even though it’s a key to having more energy, getting a better sleep and being much more productive running your business..
It’s my hope that telling my story will help drive change, even if it’s just for one person..
Hockey, school, launching Loop:
I was fortunate to play college hockey and then spent some time playing professional hockey in Europe, as well, during the first couple years I was working on GetintheLoop and attending school in Antwerp. I look back and realize how much I underestimated the impact my hockey had on my mind. I know now that as I was building a business and studying for school, the one thing that made a huge impact on my ability to work long hours and think creatively was great sleep and all the high intensity exercise I was putting myself through.
You can read all about the benefits exercise has on your stress levels, energy levels, ability to think creatively and even your mood. Those days were the glory days; I was attending school full time, working on Loop in mornings and nights and competing at my favourite game in the world. I wouldn’t have been able to function in one of these areas nearly as well if it wasn’t for all areas working together to keep my body and mind pushing the limits.
I landed back in Canada to set out on the path of growing GetintheLoop. I was trimmed up physically and excited about the future.
With the internal pressure to grow, it all changed very quickly for me:
Let me set the stage: GetintheLoop had launched and we were doing everything in our power to prove how much our product helps businesses, prove why users should download our app for great offers and prove to investors and ourselves we can grow and succeed in markets outside of Kelowna.
Que the grinder mindset. As we partnered with media companies, grew into our own corporate markets, started building capital relationships in Edmonton and Toronto and were beginning to open up international doors with sports teams, it got serious - like 200 nights a year on the road serious. I have written a piece on my 39 night road trip.
Anyways, I am someone who can deal with tremendous amounts of pressure and uncertainty really well; I pride myself on my ability to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. The one thing I struggled to overcome was the pressure I put on myself and the belief that the harder I worked and the more I put in, the better my chances for success would be.
BTW, I still believe this mindset is 100% right, it’s just I went about it the wrong way. I would wake up early (5:30 a.m.) and work until 8-10 p.m. in the lobby bar, the local watering hole, you name it. I started out optimistic about keeping up my fitness - I really did. I literally travelled with runners and gym gear in my bag for two years before I finally said, “This is stupid, I haven’t used a gym or went for a run once.” My mindset wasn’t to fix that problem, but rather to find a way I could bring two different colours of dress shoes by dropping the gym gear - bad move.
So, to sum it up quickly, I gained about 30 lbs, started sleeping about three hours a night and started to literally blow the back end out of my tight suit pants…There are some funny stories about this for another time… (big meetings with a breeze).
No exercise started to affect my energy and my ability to think creatively. These factors, combined with the stress I was feeling, meant I couldn't sleep. So what did I do? I smashed about nine coffees a day. I was too focused on the goal and committed to putting in the hours to ensure success. I was lucky enough to push through this time without any major lapse either mentally or physically but I was nowhere near my best and I could feel it.
It was not until a move to Toronto in October of last year that I started to figure it out:
I feel like for a lot of years, I was on the road and on my own in terms of peers to chat to or folks who cared as much as I felt I did. When I moved to Toronto, my energy got ignited even further and my eyes opened up. I have met so many extremely motivated entrepreneurs and grinders here in Toronto who work unbelievable amounts of hours and their commitment to their health was the one thing I realized I was missing. At the start of January this year, I committed to working out six days a week and make a better effort to practice and play other sports.
What was the one thing that made this change successful for me?
I convinced myself this was the single most important thing I could do for the company and myself each day. That’s all it was. I had to add fitness and exercise into my mind as a key factor to GetintheLoop succeeding. I’m embarrassed that I basically had to trick myself into fitness, but hey, it worked and now I could never look back. I now find a quick workout each day as the energy and creative burst I need to help contribute to the impact I can make each day. The fun part is I have way more energy, sleep better and have started liking sports again… Funny how you don’t like playing sports as much when you’re not in shape… I can’t believe I became that person for a while.
Many factors of my life have improved since started mixing fitness into my life:
Less Stress: I have a calmer approach to the day after a workout.
More Energy: I can work later in the days and evenings if I had a good workout during the day.
Creativity Boost: I come up with many of the concepts for #LoveTheGrind and creative ideas for GetintheLoop during almost every single workout I go on… I am also one of those crazy idea guys with a notebook at all times on my phone or in my hand.
Increase Confidence I feel more confident as I am more energetic and able to accomplish more each day in and out of the office. You feel better about yourself when you treat yourself well.
I want to stress something to everyone who is reading this and has not found the time to make their health and exercise a priority: please do! If it means you will be a better parent, a better business owner, a better companion or if you have the willpower to just tell yourself it’s better for you and that’s important enough, just start pushing forward and get that first workout in. The most important piece of advice from here is to be disciplined: it’s the key to success at anything.
It has been quite the road growing GetintheLoop with my health swaying up and down for years and if I have one regret on this long road, it was not taking care of myself like I know I should have for years. I am lucky enough to be on the other side and reaping the benefits of a disciplined approach to fitness and health and hope anyone reading this will get started on their journey tomorrow.
Love The Grind - Matty