CEO’s Blog – 60 pounds heavier: The reality of being a start-up founder
You sacrifice a lot when you decide to build a start-up. Money. Time. Sleep.
Over the last few years, it has been a relief to see more coverage of the mental and physical toll that creating a business can take on you. It feels like a stigma is being slowly eroded, and entrepreneurs are more able to discuss issues such as loneliness, anxiety, and depression.
In some ways, I’ve been incredibly lucky. I’ve built several businesses over the years, and managed to hold on to my sanity and good humour throughout. But I do have one vice. One that poses a real risk to my health.
When I’m under pressure, I eat.
The first five years of building BigChange were a total rollercoaster. First I had the idea, started raising capital, and built a business. Pretty soon, I started running out of cash, which meant I had to go out and raise more money, all the while accelerating sales to stay afloat.
During that crazy period, there were times when I was unsure how I would make payroll. We’d buy in new hardware, and it wouldn’t be quite right. And despite all these problems, I had to maintain my energy levels. I worked hard and stayed late at the office.
I started over-eating to cope. It creeps up on you. First, you eat to stay awake. Then, as you get more tired, you feel hungrier. Over the last five years, I’ve put on four stone.
Carrying around all that extra weight is horrible. You feel uncomfortable. When you wake up in the mornings, you’re sluggish: you don’t feel ready for the day. I developed mild sleep apnoea, which can affect people who are overweight. This means that while sleeping, your breathing becomes irregular and your brain can be starved of oxygen. This, of course, made me feel even more tired, and my concentration was affected.
“Go on a diet!” It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Every day, you plan to start eating more healthily but then an issue arises, and you order two main courses at dinner. Or you take a prospect out for lunch, and eat the whole breadbasket. I just love bread.
When my blood pressure started to rise, my wife and children had enough. They were on at me constantly to sort out my weight. I felt like Aunt Marge, the woman who Harry Potter accidentally inflates in The Prisoner of Azkaban. I was ready to float away.
Then, at the end of December last year, I finally decided to start my regime. I set myself the challenge to lose 60lbs in six months. I started a JustGiving page and pledged to donate £60 for every pound lost to Cancer Research. Other people started sponsoring me too. Every donation helped to focus my mind on my goal – I didn’t want to let anyone down.
Right now. I’ve lost over 30lbs and raised £2,813 plus gift aid for charity. I’m delighted to say I’ve lost 4 inches off my waist. I’ve also got bags more energy and feel great.
It’s going to take me much longer than six months to hit my goal but I hope I’ll be my target weight by the end of this year.
I lost the weight by using a meal-tracking app called MyFitnessPal. I promise I’m not being paid to say this, but it has transformed my life. My daughter told me about it, and it’s helped me stick to my target of no more than 1,500 calories a day. Friday nights are hardest because we keep the Sabbath and have a big dinner. I break bread but skip the roast potatoes – and only fresh fruit for dessert!
Every start-up founder ends up punishing themselves in some way. Some smoke, some drink too much. I’m grateful I’ve never drunk alcohol – although I’m partial to the occasional cigar. Eating became an addiction for me, and I’m so proud that I’ve regained control. I hope this post is helpful to other over-eaters, who use food to deal with stress. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
If anyone fancies sponsoring me, as I continue to shed the pounds… it’s for a good cause. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martin-port
I’ll keep you updated.
Sharing this post is another way of holding me to my promise.
Thanks for reading, and take care.
Founder & CEO