Startups, Stress, and Your Weight

Holeeeeeeeeeyyy shiiiiiiiiiiiiiit:

Robert Sapolsky, who studies stress in primates at Stanford University, says a chess player can burn up to 6,000 calories a day while playing in a tournament, three times what an average person consumes in a day.

Based on breathing rates (which triple during competition), blood pressure (which elevates) and muscle contractions before, during and after major tournaments, Sapolsky suggests that grandmasters’ stress responses to chess are on par with what elite athletes experience.

“Grandmasters sustain elevated blood pressure for hours in the range found in competitive marathon runners,” Sapolsky says.


It all combines to produce an average weight loss of 2 pounds a day, or about 10-12 pounds over the course of a 10-day tournament in which each grandmaster might play five or six times. The effect can be off-putting to the players themselves, even if it’s expected. Caruana, whose base weight is 135 pounds, drops to 120 to 125 pounds. “Sometimes I’ve weighed myself after tournaments and I’ve seen the scale drop below 120,” he says, “and that’s when I get mildly scared.”

via ESPN

The same goes for early-stage startup employees (and founders!) who, without proper care and attention, will spend every single waking moment of their startup’s life obsessing over every last detail.

This… is… stress. A startup is nothing but a commitment to live in a never-ending, anxiety-inducing environment!

And, if you stay in that state for too long, you’re going to start losing weight. I know this from experience and even right now I’m in the middle of sorting my own brain and mental state out; I am the lightest I’ve been since Middle School and that’s not a good thing for me.

I will suddenly find myself not moving but profusely sweating, as if I had just run a race. I’ve also discovered that I’ll be almost entirely out of breath and sometimes need to hold something, sit or lie down to recover.

It’s been happening so often that I just thought this was normal (shows how dense I can be at times!) until I realized that I’m on the wrong side of the scale in my bathroom most of the time.

If you’re losing weight, consistently, it probably means there is something not just physiological wrong… but also something mental and emotional. It’s probably time to get that checked out.

So, that’s what I’m doing.

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