Business CEO’s and startup founders are usually too busy to lead a health-conscious lifestyle, we often think. But what happens if your business has a mission to improve people’s health by transforming everyday lifestyle? As a CEO/Founder, can you represent these values if you have BMI of 29, rely on snacks during working hours and dismiss the active life of student years? Our Founder/CEO Laszlo Varga tells how development in his professional life changed his private life in 2019.
Authenticity has always been of great importance to me on all aspects of life, including my work.
Our team created a fantastic lifestyle advisory system in 2019, which needed a „face”, someone representing corporate values. This „face” is usually the head of the organisation – but I could not represent these values if I was struggling with obesity myself. So let me share my own personal story.
From the active student to the overworked, overweight businessman
After finishing my university studies (in 2002) my weight was 68 kgs to my 175 cms height. I used to do sports about 2-3 times a week, which meant mainly playing as a football team member, in rather fierce matches and competitions.
I have always been fond of doing my tasks with maximum intensity, which applies to my work style as well.
As my professional career started to rise, which also meant higher level commitments, I tended to invest more and more time into my job. I worked 10-12 hours a day, undertaking tasks and challenges of increased level of responsibility.
I started to treat my job as a kind of sport. If our team had won a large and significant business, or managed to complete a strategic project, my body reacted by releasing a big dose of adrenaline.
However, this also meant that the time I could spend with “real” sport had been reduced to 4-5 occasions per month, and, which was even more important, my eating habits had been changed.
My eating routine had become very hectic, while I also noticed that I started snacking more and more during my long working hours. So my body gained 15-17 kgs during 15 years of professional business career.
When my second child, Bogi was born on the 8 February 2019, I was already 85 kgs.
(At this time the main modules and pillars of our application, ALSAD – Automated LifeStyle ADvice – started to emerge)
I had been working continuosly, while at home I had to do my share as a husband and a father of two (Rebi and Bogi) as well. My eating habits became a real mess, consuming very little fruit. Needless to say, the only means of exercise at that time was pushing the stroller.
And the time has come (in the last week of April 2019) when the scale showed 89 kgs which corresponds to a 29,1 BMI index. Frankly speaking, I was overweight. So at this point I said ‘STOP’.
We have been developing a fantastic system. I am the one person behind the concept, the one who elaborated the strategy of this application to achieve a healthier lifestyle, and, look at me, I am the one continously gaining weight. Am I doing what I am supposed to do? Nope. This has to be stopped. Immediately.
I was aware for some time that things were not going the right direction. Earlier, in 2012 spring I completed a 4-week-long, strict low carb diet and managed to achieve 7 kgs weight loss. However by August I gained back 8 kgs which means that overall my weight increased by 1 kg, experiencing the typical yo-yo effect.
I was reading a lot about diets on websites and in facebook groups, but did not understand why a woman (1,6 m, 84 kgs) was asking a man (1,92 m, 145 kgs) how he managed to lose 42 kgs.
They have different body types, with different BMI indexes. They obviously have different needs and daily calorie consumption. Then I have realized that most people are simply not educated well enough to know about diets and and their impact on their body and individual health status. This can – and should – be improved.
The journey begins – testing our application, my body and my level of commitment
Atthe end of April, 2019, my colleagues János and Béla demonstrated me features of the application. At this time the system was almost fully functional. We were about to launch a pilot for patients with kidney diseases, diabetes and obesity. Then I thought that why not include myself in this pilot? It could be the perfect time to get rid of that obsolete weight.
Therefore, on the 2nd of May I started using our own application.
I was doing it with great enthusiasm, I consulted a dietitian and set my goals.
My first goal was to reach a body weight value which starts with a 7, namely 79 kgs.
In order to reach this value I had to intake 2500-2600 calories (15% Protein, 55% Carbohydrate, 30% Lipid). The system informed me that in case of proper performance I can reach my goal by 5th of September.
I was very happy seeing this date, because this was almost coinciding with the birthday of my older daughter, Rebeka.
I tried to grasp this mentally, thus I quickly managed to switch to a routine of having 5 meals a day. First I thought it would be difficult, however, as mentioned before, it had been a mental decision.
Rather than starting eating whenever I felt hungry, my days became planned and organised. I have developed a new daily routine, which was fully supported by my family. My wife was particularly supportive and happy about my new lifestyle.
I was planning my days according to the recommendations of the system. And soon the results have reflected to these changes, and I started losing weight.
I felt encouraged and enthusiastic, which has been noticed by all my family members, colleagues and business partners. They were asking how I was doing that.
Keeping it simple: personalised change of lifestyle combined with awareness. However, the first step for me was designing my diet.
Getting a professional dietitian to create my personal day-to.day menus seemed mission impossible, as it had two bottlenecks straight away: capacity of dietitians and available financial resources. But this is where technology could help me: after we configured my objectives and main guidelines with a professional (human) dietitian, the application was able to plan suitable (and enjoyable) daily menus, adjusted to my actual health and personal data, my goals, and some of my personal preferences.
Regarding sweets and snacks, I decreased the quantity to the bare minimum. To my surprise, I did not feel the urge to go for something sweet very often after my diet changed. When I felt like having a snack, I chose fruits and focused my attention to reach my goals with the help, or rather the guidance of the application.
Of course, I have some “days of sin”, but who does not have them?
I have my share of the birthday cake when celebrating my daughter or my wife, although I keep it in mind that I will have to manage this on the following days. I register these in the list of “consumed meals” which means that I am in the “red zone” in ALSAD on that particular day.
Is it worth lying? No! That would mean lying to myself what I have been done in the last 10 years – the price was 1 kgs weight gain in every single year.
Share your experience to help others to find their own path
My awareness has gradually developed, not only for me but my entire family. When we go shopping together, the first thing we check on food labels is not the warranty date of products and ingredients, but the table of nutritional values.
Sharing awareness with others for me is part of my job (in terms of sales), while sharing the experience is also an education process. Being able to educate each other is an important factor for me.
Not incidentally, authenticity stems not exclusively from the data delivered by the application, but my laboratory evidences. My laboratory results show excellent values concerning liver function, blood glucose level, cholesterol, while blood pressure and ECG results are also said to be ideal.
I arrived where I wanted to. My new objectives are to lose additional 4-5 kgs of weight, and then retain this result. However, I would like to achieve this not just by diet, but by doing regular sport.
My work, my little children, my family cannot be blamed anymore for not doing at least one hour’s vigorous exercise at least 1-2 times per week.
I got the proudest when my elder daughter once told me “Dad, I also want that salad and meal what you have” although she had the option to choose her favourite spaghetti bolognese.
Why I am telling all this to you?
I want to stress that „it is all in our heads”. Our mental approach is key, while our gadgets (smartwatch, mobile phone in our pockets, non-invasive blood glucose meter, intelligent scale, etc..) can help us effectively to navigate our lifestyles in a proper direction.
And what is more: we can also help and motivate others. We are able to educate our mates without a medical degree, based on our own experience. Fashion and fad diets, however, are short-term solutions. The real solutions should come from professional medical and patient experience (We are all born as patients).
The most effective way of assistance I think is using a smart combination of personalised methodologies and tools, once our objectives are clear.
I am proud to say that ALSAD (Automated LifeStyle ADvice) application was also helping me to achieve my goals, and so “the shoemaker’s son does not walk around barefoot” 😊.