I Lost 50 lbs, How That Relates To Your Business

You may not need to lose 50 pounds, but you may need to do this


One day in 2010 I stepped on the scale, leaned over to read the LED output, and finally determined I was obese. The scale told me I weighed 209 lbs. That was a Body Mass Index (BMI) equal to 30.0 for my 5’10” frame. I was 50 years old and OBESE! I had let myself go without even realizing it.

I was running a $3m business I owned along with my partner, my family was doing well. Sure, I was stressed working 60-70 hours a week, but I loved owning my own business and felt I was on top of the world. I had my second knee surgery in 2005 and that was really the start of my weight problems. When my doctor told me that I was pre-diabetic I finally woke up!

What does this have to do with your business? Are there any aspects of your business that you may have neglected? Are there areas you wish were better but never took the time to figure out how to make them better? Are competitors beating you out and you are scratching your head to figure out why? Are employees happy? Are you sure?

I was neglecting a part of my life because I was so focused on my business and my family. It is just as easy to neglect parts of your business. Those things that you know you need to get to, but just don’t have the time. Or perhaps things you have not even looked at for years that may be causing problems you are unaware of?

Since I had not realized I was letting my health deteriorate for so many years, I was not quite sure what I had done wrong and what I needed to change to reverse the trend. I knew diet and exercise were part of the solution. Attention to the problem was number one. I was addicted to cookies and crap food, but generally ate healthy meals. So, just cut out the bad stuff, right? I was also so out of shape that exercising was not something I relished, and it certainly was not part of my regular routine. So, just start doing it, right?

I needed data. I needed data on both what I was eating and what worked/did not work exercise-wise. My feet, knees and back all ached, I had sleep apnea and I assumed much of my health was related to the back surgery I had in mid-30’s and the two knee surgeries I had in my life at that point (it is 3 now). I needed to figure out what would work without putting myself in harm’s way.

The same thing is true with your business. If you have issues you first need data, the right data, and a way to analyze it. A great place to start is understanding your income statement (P&L) and balance sheet. For a specific problem, more specific data may need to be collected, although in many cases it already is hiding in some system you have, you just have to go get it.

I started tracking the calories, carbs, sugars, etc. for everything I ate every day. I used a little notebook and then measured what I had eaten against the daily norms published by people who are much smarter than me. I only had to do this for about 6 weeks to realize how bad my diet really was and where the changes needed to come from. I started stretching and using my weight machine (which I had not touched for over 10 years). But I also started pulling muscles constantly, forcing me to stop my routine. The next problem was I needed a plan to change how I ate and get back in shape.

Bingo! Once you have the data and understand what needs to be accomplished, you need a plan to make sure it is accomplished in a timely, effective and efficient manner. A written plan with milestones and identified responsibilities is the key to successful planning. But it has to be a flexible plan, too, one that evolves as the situation evolves.

My wife convinced me to try her almond-flower based cookies instead of the wheat-based ones I got my daily dose of satisfaction from. We cut out sugar from our diets by using Stevia as a replacement, too. We also avoided gluten in our food. My wife also started me on a regiment of supplements that eventually was one of the keys to my success. The impact was astounding, and I lost about 20 pounds in a 3-month span, but at 190 lbs my BMI was still in the obese range.

I was still very out of shape. I had started stretching in the hot shower and stopped the weights for a while. Eventually I got myself past the “aches and pains” to where I could stretch on a regular basis and do light weightlifting. Over the next year I got my weight down to 180 lbs, but still was not in the greatest shape of my life. I hurt my shoulder and that stopped the weight lifting.

The point is I started down paths and then pivoted until I was able to find the right mix. Plans are only guidelines; they need to be flexible and change with the situation. Processes and procedures that you establish in your business are the same way. Nothing should be everlasting, and everything should always be eyed for improvement.

After I sold my business in 2013, I started walking every day with my wife. We also found and starting taking probiotics, prebiotics and antioxidants…gut bacteria! Today she is down 85 pounds and I am down 50. We walk 3 miles every day, I stretch every day, and I lift weights regularly (Chris does yoga). We recently got new in-line skates (have not skated for 15+ years), and inflatable kayaks. Most of my aches and pains are gone, my sleep apnea is under control, my feet don’t ache like they used to and…I am nowhere close to being pre-diabetic!

It takes humans 3 months of doing something regularly for it to become a habit. That was always part of my plan; to hold out doing the next step in my progress for 3 months. Eating better staying away from sugar and gluten while emphasizing greens. Stretching in the shower, slowly starting weightlifting, walking. All these things are now habits. If I don’t do them, I feel down; I’m mad at myself, my body starts to ache, or I fall asleep early from binging on sugar. They are now part of my new healthy lifestyle. Chris has been at her goal weight for about 5 years, me about 18 months and the causes are all regular habits now.

The same goes for changes in your business. They may not work right away, but that does not mean they are wrong. Decisions should be data driven but be altered as real outcomes dictate. Data you use early on to make decisions may become irrelevant later but collecting it and analyzing it will be proven to be a necessary part of a successful ending. Implementation must be driven by a plan, preferably a written plan that is regularly reviewed and updated during implementation.

You may not need to lose 50 pounds, but my guess is there is something within your business that has been neglected and needs some attention. Your challenge this month is to find it, collect the data, and implement a plan to change things for the better.

Reach out, we can help!

Mitchell Bolnick – The Excel Consulting Group