Nikki Barua, the 49-year-old co-founder and CEO of the leadership-development firm Beyond Barriers, hit a wall in 2016 while leading a previous venture. She was prediabetic, suffering through ulcers and acid reflux, and dealing with frequent migraines.
“I’m not the kind of person who could reduce my ambition—that’s just not who I am—but I also knew that if I kept going the way I was going, I would die very young,” she says.
Barua lost 70 pounds over the next 18 months through diet and exercise, and committed to taking regular time off to recharge. She got better at declining personal and professional requests that would stretch her too thin and now follows a strict daily calendar with every meeting, meal and deep-work session scheduled.
Female leaders are more prone to suffering silently, she adds, because women remain underrepresented in CEO ranks and feel they can’t afford to appear vulnerable.