Startup Body: 6 Ways to Lose it

Recently, I heard someone use the term “startup body” for the first time, and since then I’ve been hearing it all over the place. Do you know how, when you buy a new car in that peculiar shade of blue that no one else has, suddenly you see “your car” everywhere? It’s like that. Yes, I’m in Silicon Valley, and yes, every other person here is in a startup. The other thing that’s true is that so many of us keep our heads down all day long and never get up and go outside. We have a decidedly workaholic culture here. So how do you lose your “startup body”?

Last year, I was asking myself that very same question. How do I dig myself out of this workaholic hole? I’d seemingly found a way to Stay Sane while Working from Home, but had also put on 15 pounds, practically overnight! Here’s what helped me. Now, this is a really simple plan. It wasn’t easy, but it was simple. I’m a big believer in simple.

Read Thinner This Year.

Actually, I became a beta tester for the book. The authors, Chris Crowley and Jen Sacheck, were looking for people to read and test their first draft. So I read it three times, each time making notes, and changing my diet and exercise. Many of the changes I made were a direct result of reading the book. Note: I am not an affiliate, and receive nothing from recommending the book (except maybe good karma!).

Exercise 6 Days a Week.

Yes, you read that right. For me, six days a week was the tipping point. Now, I don’t go all out every day. But I do four days of hard intervals every week. Mondays are my hardest aerobic workouts. Tuesdays I lift heavy weights at Alive! Fitness and do Pilates. Wednesdays are intervals again. Thursdays are for yoga or Pilates. Fridays, I do intervals and weights. Saturdays, I cycle or hike. And Sundays is usually for resting, or maybe a walk on the beach. And stretching every day, after working out.

Eat More Vegetables.

For me, that means I eat around 9 different vegetables for breakfast, along with scrambled eggs and whole wheat toast. As recommended by Crowley and Sacheck, I cut out most “white things” such as white bread and replaced them with whole wheat. If I don’t get started in the morning with vegetables, it just ain’t gonna happen the rest of the day. Lunch is a sandwich and/or a salad with some protein. Dinner is something like broiled salmon with green beans and a chunk of good bread. Snacks are usually fruit.

Pretend It’s Your Job.

You know how dedicated you are to your startup? Apply some of that same crazy dedication to losing your startup body. If you like gadgets, get the latest downloadable heart rate monitor with all the bells and whistles. Measure your Key Performance Indicators if it helps you. Get an exercise buddy. Or create a Meetup if that gets you to the gym. Most people in startups don’t slack in the motivation department, but knowing what kind of exerciser you are certainly helps. If you’re social and in social media like me, then going to the gym or working out with someone else is the only way to go. And if you’re competitive, you could train for a marathon or century ride.

Don’t Look at the Scale.

You know where I’m going with this one. Muscle weighs more than fat, so use your jeans as your first indicator and don’t get too obsessive-compulsive with looking at the scale every 5 minutes. Once a week is fine.

Reward Yourself.

When you reach that goal (and you will), consider a reward–one that isn’t food. Only you know what will motivate you. But a reward is crucial. One thing people in startups don’t do is sit around and gloat for long. But basking in the glow of your recent victory could be a very good thing.

What About You?

If you’ve had to lose your “startup body,” how did you do it? No, really. Staying at your ideal weight is a constant struggle. Leave me a comment below! I’d love to hear what helped you!


  1. Hi Carol,

    Great post with fantastic advice on exercise and nutritious eating! I never realized how much of a warrior you are; what you described takes true discipline. Good for you!

    When I was growing up, I was always active and the majority of the time, I was running around playing outside. As we get older, our priorities and interests shift. I’m not someone who is naturally drawn to exercise. I’ve enjoyed ballet and ballroom dancing at different points in my life, but it’s the study of martial arts that has stayed with me. Nothing motivates me more; it’s a wonderful way to maintain my conditioning and muscle tone. It also challenges me because it requires a certain degree of skill and knowledge.

    Some weeks I have the luxury of working out 4 days a week, roughly two hours at a stretch. I have a warm-up and toning routine, and then it’s hardcore aerobic conditioning, followed by half an hour of stretching. At the least, I’ll squeeze in two full workouts per week. Nothing can compare to the feeling of natural strength and health in your body; it’s truly invigorating!

    As for what I eat, I’m lucky in the genetics department. I can eat whatever I want, but I do moderate the amounts. Perhaps my biggest weakness is my addiction to sugar. It’s my kryptonite, you could say. ;)

    Wish you well, Carol! Excellent job, and I look forward to reading future posts.


    • Dear Zoey,
      Thanks so much for the “warrior” comment. I never thought of it that way! Yes, on playing outside most of the time while growing up! Many of us grew up that way, and then eventually stopped playing outside. Never thought of you as someone who did martial arts, so will have to shift my idea of you. Is there one form of martial arts you especially love, Zoey?

      I have to agree with you on how invigorating workouts are! And two hours at a time is a perfect length of time, if you can manage getting away for that amount of time. An hour and a half is about what I can manage with my work load, and feel lucky to be able to do that much. But when I return I feel refreshed and able to focus more fully on my work. It’s like a mini-vacation every day!

      My Kryptonite and yours are similar–chocolate in almost any form (cake, candy, cupcakes, etc.). And without sugar, what would chocolate be?

      Thank you again for commenting. I do appreciate it so much, Zoey! :-)


  2. Thomas Ando says

    Carol great piece. I just started here on twitter and am trying to get the hang of it. This is probably your blog? I want to use twitter for lost in America66 and expand. Excersise , cut out sugars , solid sleep will start things moving. Thanks

    • Hello Thomas,
      Twitter is an amazing way to meet people and stay in touch. I hope you enjoy it!
      Sugar is a tough one for me to give up. Chocolate is just too yummy. And so is wine. But just a little at a time, right?
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  3. Danny Parker says

    Nice to see your method to keep things under control!

    Everybody has something individual I think, but the combination of eating AND exercise does seem the key. That and constancy.

    Thanks for your perspectives.

    • Hello Danny,
      Working out six days a week was the tipping point. That sixth day isn’t always easy, but the working out helps so much, along with eating a LOT of vegetables. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I do appreciate that very much!

  4. Carol, I just today found your blog via one of your Twitter posts. I too work for a startup and used to be in much better shape. I’ve been making an effort to improve that situation this year and am just not getting there. Your notes on working out six days a week and eating lots of vegetables hit me hard. Ummm, no, I’m not working out that much. I love vegetables, but don’t take the time to prepare and cook them. So definitely some ideas that can help me.

    Question: what are the approximately 9 vegetables you have for breakfast? I’m looking for ideas.


    • Hello Jay,

      When I made the shift and started thinking of working out as part of my job, that’s when the weight came off.

      What I do is have a “kit” of the veggies. Carrots, celery, green onions, purple cabbage, snow peas, red and yellow bell pepper, tomato, mushrooms, and spinach are in there right now. I chop up everything, saute it for 3 or 4 minutes, then toss in the spinach. I put all of the veggies in a plastic bin so I access it quickly.

      Thanks for stopping by to comment, and best luck with getting back into shape!


      • Hello Carol,

        Thank you so much for those suggestions. For me, most of the barrier to cooking with vegetables is the prep. It really doesn’t take long to actually cook them. So I really appreciate your idea of doing all the cleaning and chopping ahead of time and putting the veges into a plastic bin.

        And I have no problem working a 12 hour day at a startup (I love my work). So the idea of giving some of that same dedication to my health makes sense as a way to make progress.

        Thanks for helping me to find you (via Twitter).


        • Hello Jay,

          You’re so right–the prep with the vegetables is the lengthy part. I don’t chop them ahead of time, but you could probably do that, and put them into plastic bags. My concern would be if you’d lose vitamins (maybe freezing them ahead of time would help with that?). But getting vegetables at all probably outweighs the loss of any vitamins that cutting ahead of time would incur.
          Hardly anyone gets enough of them!

          Thanks so much for finding me on Twitter! I’m glad we’re connected (and now I absolutely must go and look at your blog, too!).


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